16One 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. 17While 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.” 18She 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. 19But 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. 20When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Today, our story begins with Paul and Silas on their way to a prayer meeting. They're minding their own business and a young woman begins to call out to them, “these are men serve the most high God.” Why is she calling out to them like that? Why? She was enslaved. Her owners didn't even notice that she was calling out to Paul and Silas. It even says that Paul and Silas didn't notice what was going on – they were just annoyed.
The idea of a woman without freedom calling out to others with freedom is not only a story in the Bible.
Thank God that Paul and Silas, our examples of those living by the Spirit, finally hear her and respond by offering her freedom. Under the subtitle of “no good deed goes unpunished” Paul and Silas are arrested, beaten and imprisoned. Why? Politics and money. The woman's owners had connections.
The story says that they began to sing. Who started the singing? I mean really fellas, I love to learn from your example. Are you telling me when we find ourselves stuck, we ought to sing happy songs? I had a friend in college who if we were being too negative, we would make one another list 3 things for which we were thankful. You know when you're in a bad mood, that's neither fun nor easy. I'd often roll my eyes and say something like “I'm thankful for peanut butter.”
Something magical happens though when we allow ourselves to rise above ourselves and our circumstances. An ordinary act of gratitude or joy or thankfulness turned into an extraordinary act of freedom... an earthquake. Paul and Silas were no longer imprisoned. Paul and Silas didn't make a run for it. The jailor – who had beaten them remember – he saw what happened and assumed that the prisoners had escaped. He was about to kill himself when our heroes called out to him.
Hey don't do that. And the jailor asks, “how might I be saved?” How do I rise above this world filled with its prisons? Economic, political, family systems, daily grind, disappointments, failures. How do I rise above?
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I am grateful for