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The Lord Who Delivers

Acts 16:25-28
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. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, 'Don't harm yourself! We are all here!' (NIVUK)

In the Philippian prison for preaching the gospel and releasing a demonised slave girl from her oppression (Acts 16:16-21), Paul and Silas were full of praise, singing and praying from the depths of their dark cell. The authorities assumed that with their ankles trapped by stocks in the innermost part of the jail, they would be safely out of the way of a vengeful crowd (Acts 16:22-24). The last thing the city leaders wanted was a riot: that would show their weak management and risk their careers, or possibly their lives.

But they were not in control. The Lord is always in command. So, an earthquake shook the prison; the doors opened and all the prisoners were released from their shackles. The prison governor (who probably lived in the prison complex) woke up and realised that his worst nightmare was happening. All of his charges were now free to escape; his career was over and he would probably be executed for failing to secure the inmates.

God's man was ready to take command. Paul did not want the jailer to take his own life and so took responsibility for all the detainees, shouting to the desperate official that nobody had escaped.

The Lord knows how to rescue His people (2 Peter 2:9). He has no formula, but He has infinite love and power, mercy and grace. Every act of deliverance is unique and delightfully surprising to His people; awesome and terrifying to His enemies. Whenever you think the situation is impossible to resolve, the Lord has a way. Whenever you are trapped with no way out, the Lord knows how to release you. Whenever you think that God cannot: He can. He knows how to deliver His people so give your time and energy to prayer and praise. Your future is not in the circumstances but in Christ – His love and power, His mercy and grace.

God of power and love. Thank You for knowing when and how to deliver Your people. Forgive me for wasting time and emotional energy in worry and despair when You already know what You are going to do and how You are going to do it. Please help me to be more trusting, learning to pray with confidence and praise with the joy which comes from Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams