Throughout the next few weeks, we will be discussing the topic of using our voice. The base scripture comes from Acts 16:16-40
But first, I want to ask that y’all join me in praying for our Pastor Joe and his family. The enemy has been hard at work disrupting their lives in multiple ways. Pray for Gods grace and mercy to be upon Pastor Joe, Jeannie and the rest of his family. Including his son in law’s upcoming surgery for the tumor in his brain. We pray for peace upon him and his wife. That he would continue to lean into God during this time and seeking out His direction for their lives. We pray for wisdom for his doctors and steady of hand during the surgery. Let them remove every single part of this foreign object from his head and restore him back to his original form and purpose.
Also, continue to pray for every single member of Christ’s church. These times are tough and none of us are immune to any form of persecution by the enemy. Let us remember to lift each up by putting on the garment of praise and the full armor of God daily. Let us fight this battle together with His truth and love! Amen.
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NKJV
A few years back, I woke up one morning to the sound of two words, “worship more.” I knew it was God who said it, I just wondered why He said it to me. Because when it comes to tuneage of the vocal chords, I have nothing. I cannot sing.
As time passed, I kept thinking about “worship more.” Hours turned to days,days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. And, right after I read Acts 16:25, it dawns on me. Wow, I missed it all along. My singing to Him didn’t only mean my freedom, it was a way to help others gain theirs.
So, here is what I want you to do, think of your favorite song. No, it doesn’t have to be in the Christian genre.
What moves you about your that song? Is it the lyrics or the chorus? How about the piano or guitar, does the melody get your juices flowing? Does it speak to you? Can you see yourself in that spot? Can you feel the singers’ heart through his voice? Can you feel the energy? Does it motivate you?
The really, really, really, good songs, have all of those things embedded in them and they touch every part of your mind, body and soul. There are songs that I heard as a child, that still move me today. Meat Loaf’s, Objects in the Rearview Mirror always touches my heart and that song is almost twenty years old. I can also remember being stuck in traffic on I-35 just under the Sam Rayburn Tollway bridge and felling the anxieties set in moments before I heard Hillsong’s, What A Beautiful Name. The song calmed my storm and moved me in a way that made water leaked from my eyes uncontrollably. I love listening to the wisdom of older men’s music like Hurt, by Johnny Cash. Or the raw emotion of Disturbed’s, The Sound of Silence. All of these songs and many more have had a significant impact on my life.
When I began reading about Paul’s experience in prison, my first thought was, Ahhhhh how cute. All the good people kumbayain in prison. I imagined all the men sitting around a fire, singing joyful songs as they ate their s’mores. That is when God opened my heart to see the conditions of the prisons in which Paul was placed in. Life was miserable. There are no three hot’s and a cot. There wasn’t even one hot. Or a cot. There was no fire, no kumbaya. The rooms were dark and cold room. A place so dirty, wet and nasty that the stench of death hung high 24/7.
Prisons are nasty.
You see, if we could open the door of our DeLorean and time travel back to 40ish AD, we would see the Roman prisons had three different levels. Top, close to the sun light; middle, can see a few moon rays; and bottom, no light ever. Paul and Silas, they were prisoners on the lowest level. They caused the most trouble against Rome, so naturally they were given the most severe punishment.
Before these two men arrived in their cell, they had to endure some horrifying conditions. First, they had to face public humility. A crowd of men tore Paul and Silas’s garment right off of them. As they lay there, half naked and helpless, the mob beat them mercilessly with wooden rods. There was no way to tap out, no way to get them to stop. Their bodies were destroyed. The crowd did what they did, because Paul and Silas had broken the Roman law.
The laws in the land in which they were roaming around said, your customs are not welcome here. Basically, we do it the way we want to, because we are in charge. You will follow our ways or you will die. You cannot have it your way. Burger King did not get it slogan from Roman laws.
Next, Scripture tells us that Paul and Silas were dragged while their hands and legs were bound. This stops you from any movement, escape or the ability to simply turn over. If your hands bent one way, but your legs twisted another, oh well. The Romans didn’t care. If their handling of you caused extreme pain in your lower back, too bad. It didn’t matter to these men. They were in charge of you, they didn’t care what happened or what pain you felt as they pulled through the streets.
Now y’all. I have been pulled over some pavement by the simple force of gravity and inertia after falling from my bicycle. But what happens here is Paul and Silas are drug through a market place. A hot, dusty, dirty, stinky place full of animals, blood, spit, urine and pooo. Ewww. Everything that happened in that market place was now all over their half-naked bodies. Whatever diseases laid on the ground now lay inside each of these men’s fresh wounds.
The crowd handed these two men off to the jailer and said, do not let them escape. So, the jailer, tied them up again and pulled them through three levels of prison to the inner most area called the Tullainium. Maximum security. Their feet were placed in stocks. Which is a heavy piece of wood with holes bore in it to keep the prisoner still, bound together and unable to escape. This torture left the prisoners in constant agonizing pain.
Listen, I don’t know all of your story. I don’t know what prison your trapped in. But here is what I do know, we understand the pain and disgust you are facing. We all understand what it means to have every ounce of strength drained from us. To have debilitating pain rush through your body as you sit in filth. To feel shame and sadness. To feel as though you are a failure and your life is worthless. To sit in a dark dungeon with no way to escape. We understand because we have been there.
Every single one of us has endured this, from Adam and Eve, to everyone today. If you open your Bible to the very beginning, chapter three says this.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So, Adam said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:8-10 NKJV
Even, Adam and Eve knows what it is like to feel ashamed. The question you need to ask yourself, should I run and hide or should I listen for someone singing like the prisoners did in the story of Acts.
Now is the time to listen. Now is the time to show emotions. Now is the time to war against the enemy. Now is the time to say, I am worth it, I am worthy, I am loved. We have been stuck in prison for too long and now is the time to be free. Now is the time to stand up!
As this series continues, we will talk about how to do other things with your voice. But for right now, if you find yourself in a tough spot, if you find yourself in prison, listen for someone singing. See if their countenance is no more sad, because they are pushing through.