Staying Where God Wants You

Acts 16

May 4

In Chapter 15 Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement and they end up parting ways. Paul ends up taking Silas and departing on Paul’s second missionary journey and goes back to Derbe and Lystra, where Paul had been stoned on his first missionary journey (read Monday’s devotion for the details on that). In Chapter 16 Paul and Silas revisit some of the cities of Turkey that Paul had previously visited and Paul is forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach in the rest of Asia (which includes the western part of Turkey). Paul is then visited in a vision by the Macedonian man. The man from Macedonia asks Paul to come over to Macedonia. Paul and Silas then immediately seek to go to Macedonia believing God called them to preach there. 

In the city of Phillipi there was a slave girl, who had a spirit of divination. This spirit had caused the owners of the girl to profit by fortune telling. This spirit had caused her to follow Paul and Silas and cry out in a loud voice. Paul heals this girl. Her owners become angry because they can no longer profit off her fortune telling. They have Paul and Silas imprisoned. 

Paul’s behavior in this chapter is definitely weird. Paul, a missionary to Gentiles, goes through all these Turkish towns, Gentile towns, and doesn’t preach the gospel to them. This is a man who won’t let a stoning stop him from preaching the Gospel but walks through all these cities without speaking a word. Paul was truly led, guided, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel. It says that in verse 7 that the spirit of Jesus didn’t let them preach in those regions. 

The next extremely weird behavior in this chapter happens in this prison scene(v.25-40). Some of you may remember in Acts 5 when Peter is imprisoned and an angel opens the doors of the prison and sets him free. What happens to Paul and Silas is similar except for a couple of details. There is an earthquake that sets all the prisoners free but instead of leaving the prison Paul and Silas stay (v.26). Actually they do something even more radical than just staying in prison; they keep all the other prisoners from leaving the prison (v.28). 

Pretend, you are imprisoned for preaching the gospel. Imprisoned with no privacy, no family and no wifi. Also you are imprisoned with people who have actually committed crimes. Probably not a low security facility either. I am talking about the type of crimes that make Law and Order. So, you survive the first day and there is an earthquake and you and all the prisoners can escape. You decide not to leave and also decide to keep all the actual criminals inside the prison as well. Does this sound like something you would do? No, me neither. 

When the jailer awakes and sees all the doors open for the cells he pulls out his sword and is about to kill himself when Paul yells out that the prisoners were still there (v.27). Remember the jailer is the guy that is supposed to keep you in prison. The jailer killing himself means that you could leave. The jailer killing himself would be very advantageous to you, as someone in prison. The jailer was going to kill himself because that was the only honorable move for a Roman soldier after presumably losing all his prisoners. 

Paul must have been completely and totally reliant on God’s spirit through this for leading, guidance, and power. Immediately after this Paul is given the opportunity to preach to the jailer and he and his family were baptized that night. 

At many points during this Paul could have just escaped; he could have escaped right after the earthquake or let the jailer kill himself. Paul decided to stay in his prison cell. Even when it would have been easy for him to get out of that situation; Paul decided to stay where God had put him. He did this throughout his missionary journeys. Paul continually decides to stay where God wants him. Even when it is to his own physical harm or it could lead to his death he continually decides to stay. 

If we decide to go with God we could end up in similar positions. Positions where harm to us is possible to us whether physical, or mental. We, like Paul, have to decide whether to stay where God puts us or is leading us or go our own way. Our own way is so much easier and is almost guaranteed to involve less pain (at least for the moment).

Paul stayed though. He stayed where God wanted him. 

His reward … bringing a whole family to know God and His Son Jesus.

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you ever felt God wanted you to stay in a difficult situation? If you did stay, what were some positive blessings that came as a result – for you and/or others?
  2. Why is the easy path not always the best?
  3. After reading Acts 16, what are some adjectives you would use to describe Paul? Which of those adjectives could also be used to describe you? Which is not a strength for you, but something you would like to develop more? How so?

God Focused Response

Acts 16

There are so many things that I find interesting in Acts 16. Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia asking for him to come share the gospel with him. When they get to Macedonia to the region of Philippi they meet a woman who comes to belief along with her whole household. But what unfolds next is really fascinating. Paul and Silas get into a situation and end up being severely beaten and thrown into the inner holding rooms of the prison. But what I want us to notice is their reaction – they aren’t crying, they aren’t in there feeling sorry for themselves or busy being angry or muttering threats – they are Praying and Singing Hymns to God! What a contrary reaction to what everyone would expect!

If we were in that situation, sore, and bleeding, in a dark, inner, dingy room with criminals around us would we be that confident and flat out bold? We would more likely be in there feeling sorry for ourselves, scared out of our wits, and wanting desperately to call our lawyer or mom or anybody that could help us get out of there! But Paul & Silas’ response was God focused. By praying and singing hymns to God they were communicating with the one who has all power and authority to change and alter any and every situation. Who needs a lawyer when you have God on your side? God used the situation to open the hearts of the Philippian jailer and his household to hear and accept the gospel message. Paul and Silas were also released to go free from the prison where they were being held. When Paul and Silas exhibited the right response to their unfair situation God turned their situation around for His glory.

If we were to be bold and confident in the Lord and say within ourselves as the Psalmist did in Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” And keep an attitude of worship, praise, and open communication with God in our trials; maybe we would stand in the same place of victory as Paul and Silas did. One of the biggest challenges that we face in our Christian walk is keeping the right attitudes when things don’t go our way or get difficult for us. I hope we are inspired by the actions of Paul and Silas and remember to communicate with the author of life and outcomes when we face our next difficult situation.

-Pastor Merry Peterson

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Samuel 13-14 and Acts 16

Worship God with your Heart and Voice

Acts 16 25

Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: Acts 16

Singing is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of worship.
However, singing is not just some common and mundane practice that believers do
when they gather, say on a Sunday. Actually the Bible teaches that singing praises to
God and Jesus is incredibly powerful and moving and has consequences in the
supernatural realm.
The difference between worship music that is alive and worship music that is dead is
based on two things. 1. The hearts of the music leader and/or band are not in the right
place and they will not be authentic and genuine in their worship. And 2. because their
hearts are far from God, God will not dwell and inhabit their praises meaning the spirit of God will not move in them or through them. Inversely, if the music leader/band’s heart is ready to praise God and solely be devoted to his glory then God will inhabit their
praises, the spirit will be moving, and exciting things will happen. When speaking about
praising God through our voice it is imperative that our heart be in the right place. God
doesn’t want a voice to sing to him. He desires a heart overflowing with love and
worship that manifest in singing praises. There’s a difference.
With that being said we’ll look at Acts 16.22-34. I won’t type out the passage but I’ll
summarize it. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in the city of Thyatira. While preaching a
slave girl was following them praising their work. However, she was demon-possessed
and was being a hindrance to their work. Paul cast the demon out of her and her
owner became furious. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison.
Then read what happens next as they are in jail:
“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors
were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” – Acts 16.25-26
Paul and Silas were singing songs of praise and were praying prayers of praise. Despite
their circumstances, their hearts were solely set on God and praising him. The result
was God caused an earthquake, the inmates were set free, and the jailer and his family
were saved.
Setting aside the circumstances and details of the story, we see two men praise God
wholeheartedly and their worship in the natural realm moves God in the supernatural
realm to affect their current circumstances. We see from this account that singing and
praying can actually move the heart of God. Our worship in the natural can make waves
in the supernatural.
We see the same principle in II Chronicles 20.1-23 (please read). Worship can move
mountains in the supernatural realm. Singing can be a weapon used against the enemy
and dark spiritual forces. Our warfare in the supernatural is waged by singing and praying. Praising God and Jesus with our voice does not have to be mundane and
routine though sometimes it can be. Rather, singing has the ability to make waves in the
supernatural realm, move God, and wage war against the enemy. But this is only
possible with a sold-out heart seeking the glory of God. A heart that praises him in all
circumstances and gives him glory in all seasons of life. That is the kind of worship that
God responds to.

-Jacob Rohrer

The Best Influence

acts 16 9


As Paul and his group were traveling around what is modern day Turkey they kept having messages from the holy spirit telling them that they were not allowed to preach in that area, and that they need to go farther, and eventually led them to Greece.  With this the Gospel made its first direct contact with the “Western World” in the city of Philippi. It is here that Paul converts Lydia who is the first known convert in Europe. As they were going along and preaching Paul got in trouble with some of the local officials and they were thrown in prison because of a popular uprising against them.  It was in this prison that Paul and Silas were singing praises to God after being beaten, and an earthquake came and freed them, but they stayed and preached to the jailor instead of running away. Because of their unusual behavior and their powerful message the jailor believed and his whole family was baptized.


Throughout this story we see that the people that Paul spends the most time with and interacts with one on one are the ones that he has the most influence on.  Lydia and the jailor both spend time with Paul and invite him to their homes and listen to his message and believe. The leaders of the city who get mad at Paul only see how his message is disrupting their business and how their culture and religion is different from their own and throw them out of town.  In my experience this seems to hold true, that the people you spend time with are the ones that you are going to impact the most for Christ. Many people will post on social media about different parts of Christian culture or parts of their Christian life, but to unbelievers seeing that, all they see is that you are different, just like the city leaders in Paul’s day.  Without being deeply involved in your life they are never going to see the benefits of a life that is free from the bondage of sin. Everybody knows that everybody puts forth their best image online and we have all seen enough stuff online to be skeptical of most of it. The best way to spread the gospel is to be right there day to day with people and praising God even in the worst of times.  This is how they will know that you are truly different.

-Chris Mattison

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