Reading for today
[b said:Quote[/b] ] Acts 16:16-34 (NRSV)
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, "These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation." She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.
But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, "These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe." The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
[b said:Quote[/b] ]After a severe beating, [Paul and Silas] were thrown into jail, and the jailer was ordered to lock them up tight.
-Acts 16:23 (TEV)
[b said:Quote[/b] ]PAUL and Silas were arrested for preaching the gospel, then beaten and jailed. Their time might have been spent in complaining and self-pity. Instead, these two followers of Christ prayed and sang hymns. When an earthquake opened their prison doors, their jailer was terrified that he would be punished for their escape. But Paul and Silas did not choose to escape. The jailer was impressed by their behavior; he asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved. They testified to him. As a result, the jailer and all his family were baptized.
Their behavior makes me feel shame for the times I have complained about my circumstances -- that my living conditions were less than perfect, a neighbor was unfriendly, or my job was not fulfilling. Despite abuse and imprisonment, Paul and Silas prayed and praised God with song. Their courage and commitment inspire me not only to be thankful for my life but also to look beyond my circumstances to the needs of those around me.
Miriam Hill Caviness (North Carolina, U.S.A.)
[b said:Quote[/b] ]Prayer
Help us, O God, to seek you in all our experiences, both positive and negative, and to witness by example. Amen.
Thought for the Day
God works for our good, even in difficult times.
Those persecuted for their faith