BY: JUSTIN HENRY
E-MAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
BIBLE TEXT: Acts 16:16-40: The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
PERSONAL REFLECTION: Change. One of Webster’s definitions of change is to undergo transformation, transition, or substitution. Sometimes change is good – getting a raise for instance. Sometimes change is confusing. For example, some intersections in Costa Rica have both stop signs and traffic signals – which can be quite confusing for a gringo when the light is green! A little investigation and the gringo discovered that after 10:00 PM a red light is optional unless there is a stop sign at the intersection. Then you have to slow down and make sure nothing is coming before proceeding. This law was passed, by the way, because of all of the car-jackings at night.
While much of the change we deal with is physical in nature, the way we respond to it begins in our minds – and for us as Christians, it’s really a spiritual response. If you read the entire Bible passage, you’ll see that Paul and Silas were just walking down the road, minding their own business, when they were harassed by a demon-possessed girl. After several days of this constant harassment, they did what any other follower of Christ would have done and cast the demon out! Ten minutes later, they’re being whipped and beaten before being thrown in jail. Talk about some major change!
I know if I were in the same situation, I would be raising all kinds of Cain about how unfair this was and how I should not be in jail. I’d be calling embassies and lawyers, the media – basically anyone who would listen. Ok, maybe I would be amazed at how God cast the demon out, but I would also be complaining! Not so with Paul and Silas. They simply worshiped.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: We may not be able to control all (or any) of the changes that happen in our lives, but we can control how we respond. Praise and worship is not my natural reaction to change, but maybe it should be. If I cannot control the change then none of my reactions are going to change the event causing the change, but if I respond the way Paul and Silas did praise may cause a rumbling in the heavens that grabs the attention of the Almighty who just might step in and rescue me. Who knows, it may even have an eternal impact on those who are sitting in the cells around me as well!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to realize that change is inevitable. Help me also to realize that the only thing I can control is my reaction, and by worshiping You, my Savior and Creator, I may lead others to you as well. Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Justin is currently living the “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica, while learning Spanish until heading to Cochabamba, Bolivia in December, 2106 as an Assemblies of God Missionary to the Bolivian Hope Center. He likes getting caught in the rain, he’s not into yoga, but has half a brain. He’s not into health food or champagne. Actually, only part of this is true, but he wasn’t sure anyone would read it. If you do read this, guess which parts are true!