And They Didn’t Leave

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Job 38-40; Acts 16:1-21

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 All at once there was such a violent earthquake that it shook the prison’s foundations. The doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the open doors of the prison, he thought the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted loudly, “Don’t harm yourself! We’re all here!”

29 The jailer called for some lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He led them outside and asked, “Honorable masters, what must I do to be rescued?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your entire household.” 32 They spoke the Lord’s word to him and everyone else in his house. 33 Right then, in the middle of the night, the jailer welcomed them and washed their wounds. He and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his home and gave them a meal. He was overjoyed because he and everyone in his household had come to believe in God. (Acts 16:25-34, Common English Bible).

Now that I finished with the biographical sketches of the six composers I needed to work on, we are back to normal. I will tell you that with my career change I am contemplating some other ideas for this blog. If and when I come to any conclusions I will let you know. In the meantime, I would ask that you join me in prayer about this. If you have suggestions I would welcome them, just leave them in the comments.

A few times I have had some struggle with not being able to decide between the two texts but I think this is the first time I have had trouble deciding between two stories in the same text. As a seller of purple cloth, something very expensive in the biblical era, Lydia was an important character to that community and would be influential in the spread of the Gospel. The story of Paul and Silas in prison is also a great story and in the end, I just couldn’t pass it up.

You are sitting in jail. You have had the daylights beat out of you unjustly (as if there is cause to beat anyone in a similar situation. You spend your night talking to other prisoners, singing hymns and praying. Then an earthquake happens. The doors of the jail fly open. It means you are free to walk away. That would be an answered prayer would it not???? I don’t really think I would stick around to find out.

It’s pretty obvious that the guard knew what was going on and that all his prisoners were gone. He also seems pretty sure of what happens to guards who has all his prisoners escape simultaneously. He figures that falling on his sword, literally, was better than whatever fate the Romans would have in store for him! He is ready to make sure they don’t get the chance.

In my imagination of the story, I see Paul and Silas standing back watching the guard until it becomes obvious what he is about to do. The two stop him. They tell him everyone is still there and the two disciples have the guard’s attention. He wants what they have. He wants that faith, the kind of faith that lets them stay in jail when they could walk away. And, if I am the guard, I am thinking, they stayed to save me. And they don’t even know me!” The power of their faith, their willingness to see the event through is a great testimony for what they are showing us in the lesson.

I need that kind of faith. I want to be the kind of person, and sometimes I am, who thinks of the impact a situation has on others and not just on myself. What I do matters. It does matter for me and my family but it also matters sometimes for people I don’t even know. Lord, help me think of them too.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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