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April 5, 2017

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Praising God, Broadcasting Victory

April 5, 2017

When we are beset by afflictions and adversity, we often see nothing positive in these
events. Apostle Paul was a great leader because he could always find something
beneficial in the worst of circumstances.
He never coveted the pity of fellow Christians. Even while imprisoned, he didn't wish
that anyone would feel sorry for him. From his jail cell, he wrote, "But I would ye should
understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather
unto the furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). Rather than bemoan his own pain
and suffering, he instead rejoiced in the spread of the gospel.
Many sermons and songs have celebrated the night that Paul and Silas spent in a
Philippi jail. However, some of the most crucial points of the story are often skipped.
The two preachers were accosted for ridding a damsel of demons. They were brought
before the city authorities and accused of being troublemakers. Evidently, the trial was a very public spectacle.
It didn't require much persuasion for the magistrates to decide that Paul and Silas
should be punished severely. As the amused crowd looked on, the two men were
handled quite roughly. It is recorded in Acts 16:23, "And when they had laid many
stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely."
The city fathers were sure that this treatment would curb the religious enthusiasm of the
two Christian leaders. Perhaps after a night of being locked up in a cell, Paul and Silas
would slink out of town. The magistrates intended to humiliate the preachers into
silence.
But the civic officials got more than they bargained for. The men of God did not react as
predicted. Acts 16:25 states, "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises
unto God: and the prisoners heard them." In the worst situation imaginable, it is possible
to maintain an attitude of praise. Even in a horrible environment, it is possible to speak
words of thanksgiving and gratitude.
Every student of scripture knows well the outcome of the apostles' prayer meeting. The
Bible says, "And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the
prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands
were loosed" (Acts 16:26). This is a wonderful illustration of the power of prayer and
praise.
The following morning, the city magistrates sent word to the prison warden that the two
incarcerated evangelists should be quietly released. Much to everyone's surprise, Paul
steadfastly refused.
Notice how it is recorded. "But Paul said unto them, 'They have beaten us openly
uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us
out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out'" (Acts 16:37). He
understood a principle at work in this story. Do not allow your victories to remain private
– especially when your persecutions have been so widely publicized.
The only representation of Christianity that many townsfolk of Philippi had seen was the
painful treatment Paul and Silas had suffered. Paul insisted that the deliverance God
had provided become just as well known.
It is time for the people of God to proclaim the benefits of believing truth. This is one of
the reasons praise is necessary. Many people in this world have wrong-headed notions
about what it means to serve God. All they perceive about church life is what must be
given up. They miss the beauty of the tabernacle because they cannot see beyond the
bloody sacrifice.
The only thing they observe is the price that Apostolic Christians pay. The commitment,
dedication, and devotion that is necessary in the life of a saint is quite unattractive and
unappealing to many sinners. They would rather find a place among the crowd of
scoffers than bear the reproach of Christ.
But real worshipers are the ones who are truly wise. They refuse to allow their victories
to remain hidden while their trials are advertised. They are not always moaning and
groaning about their troubles. They would rather discuss how God has provided for
them and made a way through the seeming impossibilities of their lives.
The last few chapters in Psalms are exhortations about praise. These songs list many
reasons we should take the time to worship. Psalm 149 is about how powerful praise is.
Praise executes judgment upon enemies and causes worldly authorities to be bound.
That should make everyone want to worship.
The world doesn't need to hear reluctant testimonies. When a child of God speaks,
those in need of salvation should witness something more than weary clichés. Lost
souls need the presence of a church that is broadcasting victory.
The Psalmist recognized what it meant to give God praise. It was more than a duty or
obligation. He accurately described praise when he wrote, "This honour have all his
saints" (Psalm 149:9). He wanted each of us to understand what a privilege it is to be a
saint and to be able to give God praise!
 

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