Here's a look into the jail cell of Paul and Silas from Dr. Michael Youssef. Even though they were falsely accused and maliciously treated, Paul and Silas were singing praises even though they were in the midst of the darkness of injustice and unfairness. This is Leading the Way with Pastor, Author and International Bible Teacher, Dr. Michael Youssef. So if you were living out your days in prison facing the potential of a death sentence, do you see yourself spending your time singing? Well, that's exactly what Paul and Silas were doing.
They faced intense and ongoing persecution for naming the name of Jesus. On today's Leading the Way, Dr. Michael Youssef opens the Bible to this incredible event, revealing how you can experience abundant life no matter the darkness around you. Here now is Dr. Michael Youssef and the message he's called, Praise from the Prison of Affliction. Somebody told me years ago, the way you perceive God has a direct impact on your attitude toward your circumstances.
I have never forgotten that. How you see God will directly affect whether you are a praising person or a complaining person. If you see God as the all powerful, the all sovereign who loves you dearly, then nothing is going to get you down. If you view God as being in total control of all circumstances for those who love Him, then nothing is going to hassle you in this life. If you view God as the one who has a perfect plan for your life, then nothing will intimidate you.
No one will frighten you. If you see God as the one who cares for the minutest details of every area of your life, then nothing and no one is able to rob you of that joy. If you see God as the one who saved you and called you and He knew you by name before the foundation of the earth, that in order that you may live with Him forever in heaven and that nobody can take that away from you, you will be an overcomer. It all depends on how you view God. But you see, if you view God as a benevolent dictator that you go to when you want something really big, then the slightest change in your circumstances are going to discourage you and going to disappoint you and it's going to intimidate you. If you view God as a big Santa in the sky who is ready to give you presence if you've been good, then I'm going to tell you right now, the slightest change in your circumstances is going to rob you of your joy. It all depends on how you view God.
How do you perceive God? Now, Paul and Silas, their perception of God caused them to rejoice, not on the Mediterranean sipping iced tea, but with their bodies bleeding. Paul and Silas perception of God caused them to sing praises in the middle of the night, not in a luxury suite, but in the solitary confinement. Paul and Silas perception of God caused them to sing praises to the Lord, even when their bodies were raked with pain. Paul and Silas perception of God caused them to behave like they own the world, even though they were in chain in a dungeon. Paul and Silas were singing praises to the Lord, even though they were falsely accused and maliciously treated. Paul and Silas were singing praises, even though they were in the midst of the darkness of injustice and unfairness. Well, look at verse 25 of Acts 16.
If you haven't turned to Acts 16 already, turn to it. Look at verse 25. Dr. Luke inspired by the Holy Spirit tells us that about midnight they were praising God. About midnight. He said, what's so special about midnight? Why did the Holy Spirit and Luke see it important to record that it was about midnight that they began to praise God? Now, remember, people went to bed right after sundown and then they got up at sunrise, didn't have light.
Just remember that, keep that in mind. But you see, the reason midnight is mentioned here because at midnight everything is accentuated. At midnight is when loneliness is accentuated. At midnight is when weariness is accentuated. At midnight is when fear is accentuated. At midnight is when your imagination runs wild. At midnight is when the smallest problem becomes a giant problem.
At midnight is when your feeling sorry for yourself is multiplied a hundred times. But Paul and Silas, instead of throwing a pity party, they threw a party to Jesus. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they began to be filled with thanksgiving. Instead of griping about the lot in life, they were glorifying the greatness and the glories of God.
Instead of constantly protesting the blatant injustice and make no mistake about it, there was a blatant injustice. They praised God for their salvation. Instead of licking their wounds and saying, oh poor me, they were blessing God for giving them the privilege of suffering for the name of Jesus.
Most of us Christians, when we face adversity, we get ourselves in such a model that we don't know how to get out of it. It's like getting on a treadmill and we stay on, don't know how to get out of it. I'll never forget, a dear friend of mine in Texas sent me a treadmill as a gift.
It was great the first day. But being a non-mechanical that I am, I stood in this thing and I saw it says on, so I turned the on button. And I kind of started walking, this is great. And I kept on speeding, kept on speeding, kept on speeding and I kept speeding and finally I kept looking for the off button. I couldn't find the off button. And you talk about nightmare. I mean finally I had to jump out of the thing and I just let it run until I found the off button.
I've never used anything after that without checking where the off button is. But I have seen it literally in the lives of so many believers. I'm not talking about people who don't know God and only become religious when they want something from God.
No, no, no. I'm talking about people who love God. I'm talking about people who trust in the Lord's plan for their life. I'm talking about people who know both intellectually and in their heart that God works all things together for their good for those who love God and they know that. I'm talking about those people. But when they face difficult circumstances they don't know where the off button is.
Listen to me very carefully please. Because as I learnt the hard way where the off button is, I want to share it with you. The off button is in praising the name of the Lord. In the middle of your pain, not afterward, the off button is lifting up the name of Jesus in the middle of your trouble. The off button is in thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord in the middle of your dilemma. The off button is in exalting the name of the Lord Jesus in the middle of your frustration and in the middle of your difficulty. The off button is taking your eyes off the problem but the only way you can take your eyes off the problem is when you begin to focus it on Jesus and the praise of the name of Jesus. I love it when people say, well just take your eyes off the problem.
They never told me how. How can I take my eyes off the problem when I am knee deep in it? And the Lord taught me several years ago.
The only way to take your eyes off the problem and problem people is by focusing on blessing His name and glory in His name and magnifying His name. And I believe Paul and Silas would have spent their time commiserating with each other had they not understood this all important lesson. And who would blame them? I wouldn't blame them, would you? You wouldn't blame them. Paul and Silas would have spent their time patting each other on the back. Paul and Silas could have spent their time going over what they could have done differently in order to avoid being in prison.
I think Paul and Silas could have spent their time wondering if they really are in the will of God by coming to Philippi. You know people like that? You know sanctimonious Christians drive me nuts.
They really do. I love hearty Christians. I don't like sanctimonious Christians. You know the moment you start doing something and you face a problem, they say, oh brother Yusef, they may be out of the will of God. Do you think God is in this? I don't know where this crazy idea comes from. The moment you face a problem, you're out of the will of God. Who said so? If this is the case, Paul would never have preached the gospel anywhere.
Why? Because everywhere he went, he faced problems, he faced difficulties, he faced persecution and he faced threat to his life. Everywhere he ministered.
Please hear me right on this one. Paul and Silas knew that the secret of victory is not going around the problem. Paul and Silas knew that the secret of victory is not the quick fix. Paul and Silas knew that the secret of victory is not pretending that there is no problem. Paul and Silas knew that the secret of victory was to look at the devil in the eye and spit praises to the Lord. They knew that the secret of victory was to appropriate the power that God has for them in praising Him in the middle of trouble. They knew that the secret of victory is to brag on Jesus. They knew that the secret of victory is to rejoice and again I say rejoice. You know the apostle Paul knew that affliction works with patience and therefore he said I rejoice in afflictions.
Paul knew that afflictions produces far more exceeding eternal weight of glory therefore he said I will rejoice in affliction. You see this is not anywhere documented here that ever Paul and Silas prayed to be released. They may have but it wasn't recorded here. They didn't ask that they be taken care of. They didn't.
They didn't at the end when they try to get them out. You know why Paul would not go out without a public apology? Because he was concerned for the welfare of the little church in Philippi not for himself and he wanted to make sure that they had set a precedence for injustice and at least he suffered he did not want them to suffer. But he never asked for anything. He never even asked for an earthquake. Sometimes when I think things happen you know I say God send an earthquake just shake the place up. He doesn't listen to me.
But the earthquake came as they began to praise God at midnight. Do you know really what causes the devil either joy unspeakable or pain unbelievable? Do you want to know?
Look let me level with you. You and the devil cannot be both happy. If you are happy the devil is miserable.
If you are miserable the devil is happy. Write it down. Don't ever forget it. It works like a charm. It really does. I know from my own life from my own experience it works.
It really does. How do you make the devil miserable? Do you want to know how to make the devil miserable? Here's how you make the devil miserable.
Is the way you handle your circumstances. If you go around and says oh poor me why did God do this? Why am I suffering so? Oh please everybody feel sorry for me.
Why is this happening? Satan and all the demons having a party. They really are. I mean they are absolutely having a ball. I mean they're going around in the pit high-fiving each other and say hey we got him.
We got him. But if you say this is puzzling. This is confusing. This is painful.
This does not make any sense from my point of view. Oh but I know that he promised that he could incorporate all things to work together for my good because I love him. And then you begin to bless the name of Jesus.
Praise the name of Jesus. He is my rock. He is my deliverer. He is my fortress. He is everything to me and I will trust him. I'm going to tell you I guarantee you the devil is miserable. You have made him miserable. Demons are squirming and they're running around in confusion and very unhappy.
Why? Because the devil knows, listen to me please, the devil knows that there is power that you can only experience when you are able to bless the name of God and praise the name of God in the midst of the storms of life. But here's the problem. Most Christians are brainwashed with television. They are brainwashed with pop psychology. They are brainwashed with the world system. They are brainwashed with the circumstance.
They are brainwashed with all the principles that come from godless people. Please listen carefully. There is power in praising the name of the Lord. If you agree, say amen.
But that's not all. That's only half the story because I believe in the scripture teaches there is even greater power in being able to praise the name of Jesus in the midst of your pain. Far greater power than you thought possible. There is far greater power available to you and available to me when we are able to bless the name of the Lord in the midst of confusing circumstances. There is far greater power that is ready for you to appropriate when you glory in the Lord, when everything is blowing up in your face. There is special power that God promised.
Listen I want you to look at verse 26, 1626 of the book of Acts. As Paul and Silas praise God, an earthquake hits the town of Philippi. Now I don't know whether that's a part of the world that is prone to earthquakes.
And I'm going to tell you basically a use of understanding of this. They probably never had an earthquake until this day. You know back then prisons were built mostly, and I don't know that this is the case in Philippi or not, but normally the Romans built prisons in mountains and on rocks in caves because it's natural fortification for prisoners not be able to escape. And if this is the same case here, the Bible said that it shook the foundation of the prison. If it was built on a rock in the mountain, it's built in rocks, and it built in caves, I want to tell you the whole place was shaking up so much so that the prison warden who lived obviously on the compound as they normally did was ready to kill himself.
Why? The Roman law was very stringent. And it says that any soldier who allows prisoners to escape, no matter what the cause might be, no matter what the cause might be, never have nothing to do with it, they will pay with their life. And the prison warden in Philippi probably said to himself, there's no way that any of the prisoners are still around and the doors are open and the earth is shook and the mountain was shaking and he preferred to put the sword to his heart than to let the Romans do it for him. But the apostle Paul cried out to him, don't hurt yourself for we're all here.
I don't want you to miss this one, please don't miss this one. Here's the table turned. See how the table turned?
The jailer falls on his knees before the prisoners. Look, the table turned. For that's the power of praising the Lord in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the power of God working. It turns the world upside down.
It turns the table around. The prison warden said, what can I do to be saved? How do you think he knew about salvation? How did he know about salvation? What does he know about salvation? Earlier in Acts chapter 16, there was a demon possessed woman who was running around.
Listen, this is a small town, this is a tiny town and the word gets spread very fast in small towns, believe me. And here is this demon possessed woman running around, what was her message? These men are messengers of the most high God. They are here to bring you the message of salvation. And the Philippian jailer heard that a few days earlier. And the Holy Spirit was working in his life, salvation. You know, I have guilt that all the gods of the Romans cannot erase salvation. I wake up in the morning, I look to the sky and I wonder if there is a God.
Is he pleased with me? All these things the Holy Spirit was preparing him when he heard the message of salvation from this demon possessed woman. Heart is being prepared, God is working in him. And so it took a crisis for him to say, what must I do to be saved?
What happened? Paul said to him very simply, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Why just that? Why just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Because this man had nothing between him and salvation other than belief.
Do you remember when Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and he said to him, go sell all that you have and then come and follow me. Paul didn't do that, you know why? Because he knew for this man there is nothing is in the way of the believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. And by the way, when Paul said believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it doesn't mean just believe that he existed or believe that he was a good man or believe, no, no, no, no.
The word means total surrender to him. That he become the Lord of your life. If you want to have a legacy to the next generation, if you want to leave a legacy to your children, model to them the praise of God in tough times. If you want to leave something of value to your offspring, model to them how to appropriate the power of God in your life. The power that can only comes from learning to praise God in the midst of difficulties.
If you want to make an impact on the next generation, then let them know what you know. That earthly power is fleeting. That worldly power is a mirage. That political power is temporary.
That material power can take wings. But the power of praise is real. The power of praise is lasting. The power of praise is everlasting. Dr. Michael Youssef, with a challenge to put on the garment of praise. Maybe you feel like you're in some sort of a prison, but you're just not able to lift up praise like Paul and Silas did. Well, we do hope that you'll consider a conversation with one of the Leading the Way pastoral team members. Ask how you can experience freedom in Christ and see praise rise from within. Just start by visiting ltw.org slash jesus.
Do that right now, ltw.org slash jesus. Hey, before we run out of time in today's episode, allow me to offer a challenge to engage deeper with your community and your culture. Many people want to engage with culture, but they feel ill-equipped. Well, that's exactly why we would like to encourage you to listen to a powerful podcast produced by Dr. Youssef in Leading the Way. It's called Candid Conversations with Jonathan Youssef. Listen to Candid Conversations with Jonathan Youssef for discussions about life, love, marriage, sexuality, education, and so much more. Simply search for Candid Conversations with Jonathan Youssef in your favorite podcast platform and listen to new episodes each Tuesday. You can also listen and learn more at ltw.org slash candid. Again, that's ltw.org slash candid. Got a question about Dr. Youssef or Leading the Way? Call 866-626-4356. Again, that's 866-626-4356. This program is furnished by Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, passionately proclaiming uncompromising truth.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-17 13:08:46 / 2023-04-17 13:17:36 / 9