Thursday, February 9, 2017
Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 10-12; Acts 16
SCRIPTURE: Acts 16:20-31
20 They brought them (Paul and Silas) before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice."
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household." (Acts 16:20-31 NIV)
As Paul and Silas sat chained in that jail cell they were anything but comfortable. Their backs ached from the beating they had received. The stocks around their feet were no decorative anklets, they were hard, heavy and cold. The jail itself was not a comfy room; it was dark, damp and drafty. Such were the external conditions. However, Paul and Silas had something on the inside which could not be touched by external things. So full of the presence of the Lord were they that they began to rejoice and sing praises.
That is incredible! How could they still have joy after having been so severely and unjustly mistreated? The answer to that question for them, and for Christians today, lies in the fact that true joy is realized only by the presence of the Lord. It may reside within us whether or not we may be enjoying the temporal comforts of life. The joy of the Lord is not derived by conditions or things that come to us or surround us from the outside; it is the by-product of the presence of Jesus that resides within believers.
Wow! Even in the midst of physical suffering the joy of the Lord can still be manifest in my life!
Lord, I confess that I often live more for the comfort of my flesh than for the maturing of my spirit. Thank You for this reminder that You reside within me as my Lord, Savior and Friend. Whatever comes to me from outside of myself, whether comfort or pain, cannot alter the joy of Your presence within me. It is joy untouchable. May that be what flows out of me for others to see and be blessed. For my best and for Your glory. Amen. -AP