1751) Delivered… In God’s Good Time

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By John Piper, Daily Devotional, at:  http://www.dgm.org

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Acts 16:19b-26  —  They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  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.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

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     God rescues his people from some harm.  Not all harm.  That’s comforting to know, because otherwise we might conclude from our harm that he has forgotten us or rejected us.

     So be encouraged by the simple reminder that in Acts 16:19-24, Paul and Silas were not delivered; but in verses 25–26, they were delivered.

     First, no deliverance:

  • “They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace.”  (verse 19)
  • “The magistrates tore the garments off them.” (verse 22)
  • They “inflicted many blows upon them.” (verse 23)
  • The jailer “fastened their feet in the stocks.” (verse 24)

     But then deliverance:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God . . . and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (verses 25–26)

     God could have stepped in sooner.  He didn’t.  He has his reasons.  He loves Paul and Silas.

     Question for you: If you plot your life along this continuum, where are you?  Are you in the stripped-and-beaten stage, or, the unshackled, door-flung-open stage?

     Both are God’s stages of care for you.

     If you are in the fettered stage, don’t despair.  Sing.  Freedom is on the way.  It is only a matter of time.  Even if it comes through death.

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Deliver us from evil.  –Jesus, Matthew 6:13b

PRAYER BASED ON MARTIN LUTHER’S CATECHISM EXPLANATION TO THIS PETITION:
     Heavenly Father, we pray that you would deliver us from all manner of evil, whether it affect body or soul, property or reputation;  and, at last, when the hour of death shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to yourself in heaven.