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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Listening To The Word Part 3 (Thought for the Day Part 103)

Today’s reading: Acts 16:22-34

The other day it was Cornelius. Yesterday it was Lydia. Today it is the prisoners and the jailer. Paul and Silas had been thrown into prison after being beaten with rods, and they were in the innermost cell with their feet secured to a stake. Being in the innermost cell placed them among the worst of the prisoners. They were in a deplorable situation. “About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened” (v.25), there was a severe earthquake and the prison doors flew open and the chains of all were pulled loose. The jailer was going to kill himself, thinking the prisoners had escaped. Paul prevented him, and “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house.” (v.32).

The prisoners listened. What else were they to do? Well, they could have told Paul and Silas to shut up so they could get some sleep. They could have ridiculed them for worshiping in such a sorry situation. They could have prodded them to get their God to provide help, as the thief crucified with Jesus did. But they just listened. How soothing it must have been. In darkness and desperation, how comforting it must have been for them to hear about God.

And so it is with us. In our most desperate moments, God breaks in through someone. A word of comfort. A word of encouragement. A word of hope. We just have to listen.

The angels of God listened. Paul and Silas did not get angry with God for allowing what happened to them. They did not just blast God with their cries of anguish. They did not just throw up their hands in hopelessness. They prayed. They sang. They worshiped. They entrusted all to God, not asking for any specific need, but just giving Him the praise that was His due. And who were listening? The angels of God! And they acted. Miraculously.

And so it is with us. In seeming hopelessness, there is always hope, because there is always God. We do not even have to ask God for our needs. He knows, and He acts. In fact, when we ask, we limit God with our human thinking. But when we leave the matter up to God, He acts miraculously. We give God what is His due, and God gives us what is our due.

The jailer and his household listened. The jailer was listening as well to the prayers and hymns. Then he listened to Paul telling him, “Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.” (v.28). Then he and his household listened to the proclamation of the good news of salvation in Jesus. What a dramatic and totally life-changing time in the jailer’s life. The jailer does not even have a name in this narrative, but God had his name imprinted in His heart. He could never have imagined how God would break through in his otherwise mundane life. When “he asked for a light and rushed in” (v.29a), he could not have known he would be given the very light of Christ, and the Holy Spirit would rush into his very being. He was so radically changed, right at that instant. Where he was going to kill himself, thinking the prisoners had escaped and he had failed in his duty and would face the wrath of the authorities, he took Paul and Silas into his home, bathed their wounds, was baptized with his family, and fed them. He was fraternizing and giving comfort to the enemy! He was doing what had caused the authorities to beat and jail Paul and Silas in the first place. Though at the start he was “trembling with fear” (v.29), he was no longer afraid. He had come into salvation, and he “with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.” (v.34b).

And so it is with us. We are just about our day-to-day life and work, but God breaks through. In totally amazing and unimaginable ways. We listen to the word of God and we begin to be totally transformed by the proclamation of the word. Our life is changed forever. We are brought into the light of faith. We are saved.

Let us listen to God’s word. And let us proclaim God’s word. It is absolutely life-changing. So this word is to be proclaimed to the very ends of the earth. “All the kings of earth will praise you, Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth.” (Ps 138:4).

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