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Joy in Jail


Acts 16:22-40

Verse 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.


Yesterday we talked about the shepherds and how their contagious joy sent them from the stable spreading the Good News of the Messiah being born. Today we will talk about another time where joy caused the gospel to spread.


Paul and Silas had not been having a good day. They had been heading to the place of prayer when a demon-possessed, fortune telling girl starts following them calling them out for being men of God. They cast out the demon and the girl’s masters knew their money making girl was ruined and they were going to be out a lot of money. They bring Paul and Silas into the marketplace and tell the authorities that the men we causing an uproar among all the people of the city. A mob quickly forms and before Paul and Silas know it, they are being thrown into the inner jail.


How do they respond to being thrown in jail? They start praising God! They had been about God’s work and that was the reason they were in this unpleasant situation and yet they don’t blame God for where they find themselves. This was not the standard time to praise. What did they have to praise God for? From a worldly point of view, not much but from a spiritual point of view they knew that this was a moment to praise. They knew that people wouldn’t have become upset with them had they just gone along like everyone else. They knew that this imprisonment was due to standing up for God and so they knew that it was pleasing to God and that was reason for joy.


Once again we see how joy was not being kept for the people feeling it. The act of praising God aloud through singing and prayer was a way that others were exposed to the joy they had. And what God did next was something that none of them would ever forget. An earthquake rocked the area so hard that all the walls collapsed and every prisoners’ chains fell off. Now you would think that this would have brought great joy to everyone but not one person left the jail. The person that felt the least amount of joy was the jailer, as he had the most to lose. He knew his life was worth nothing if any of the prisoners were missing.


But that was just the beginning for the jailer. After finding everyone still there he brought Paul and Silas to his home where they presented the Gospel and the jailer found the joy of Christ.


Making It Personal

Do you pray and sing when you are in a bad situation? What keeps you from feeling joy in a situation that is not what you would have chosen? Would joy be easier if you thought about what God could be doing through your situation?


Making It Personal Kids

Why were Paul and Silas singing and praying in the jail? Do ever sing when you are sad? What about Jesus makes you sing?


Closing Prayer

Father, thank You for giving us this example of having joy in the midst of a trial. Please help us see things from Your point of view so that we can find joy in our trials too. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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