Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!
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Kendra Graham notes from Acts 16:23-25
“When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; (24) and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (25) But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:23-25
(Verse23) struck with many blows, threw into prison, (verse 24) fastened feet in stock, (verse 25) Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God, prisoners were listening.
Recently, some of the information about what happened behind closed doors to Saeed Abidini has come out in interviews in the media. I had the honor of spending a day with the Abidini family not so long ago. It overwhelms me when I hear the horrible atrocities that Saeed had to endure. Saeed was beaten so badly one day that he was unable to sleep for 20 hours, he was in so much pain. What did Saeed do? He prayed for his captures, his family, the other prisoners and praised God. This blows my mind. How is this humanly possible? Answer, it isn’t.
How often do we read these stories, especially the one of Paul and Silas in prison, and we tell it with such gusto each and every VBS season, how God shook the prison and set the captives free, and they sang in prison and it was great! It is great… but when you hear of a beating first hand, of someone you know, and you look in their eyes, and you see the scars, and you hear of the torture… it is almost something you don’t want your children to hear or ever know about.
It’s sobering. It’s frightening.
At least it is to me. Perhaps you have a greater faith than me and would step up with gusto to endure such cruelty. I tend to have an easier time bringing questions to God about the whole situation. I did not listen to Saeed’s story and break out with a hymn of praise as he was describing the beatings. Tears were welling up in my eyes and my heart was heavy. That was me, don’t get that confused with how Saeed was.
Saeed had the most peaceful look upon his face, as if he was remembering those moments in the dark with Jesus. Saeed is not bitter or angry, instead he is grateful that God entrusted him with such a story of grace. There were others in the prison who needed to hear Saeed’s prayer and praise. There were others, an American, who needed his encouragement. There were prison guards who needed to know that Jesus saves, and gives strength to the weak.
Saeed said that while in prison, the presence of God was so permeated that you could not miss it if you tried. God was so close to him, and His presence so real to him in this time that he could not help but praise His name. Saeed was pressured to turn his face away from Jesus, but he said he couldn’t… not even if he tried. Then he praised even more. God trusted Saeed with a difficult testimony.
It takes so much less for me to run from God and shake my little dust fist in the air and tell God that He got all this difficulty wrong in my life. God needed Paul and Silas to press in here, in this prison, because there was a jailer and captives that He loved more than anything. Paul and Silas had been in the streets for days preaching about the Gospel to the Philippians, but alas, it would not be the testimony preached from the rooftops that would reach these particular people… it would be the testimony lived out in prison that would finally capture the heart of the jailer.
God was trusting Paul and Silas with suffering, they had to be in the innermost cell… they had to have a jailer employed to keep them in… the lengths God will go to for one person, a jailer no less… but through it all, the presence of God would so drench that place, that even when the foundations of the prison would shake, the captives would refuse to leave.
This is what the presence of God does.
We were created to experience His presence, and in His presence, joy is inevitable even when your feet are in stocks. It wasn’t the fact that Saeed, Paul and Silas were delivered from the pit that gave them joy, the fact of joy was the presence of God in the pit.
“Freedom in Christ is not a matter of location, but a matter of the heart” -Casper Ten Boom (when he was captured and placed in a concentration camp in World War 2.)
What about you? Perhaps today you find yourself in a pit, in a place of struggle and everywhere you look is darkness and frustration, and you are questioning where God is in this???
Today, will you ask Him to focus your eyes on Him, and even in this place of bondage, give you freedom? Where is it that you need to press in to, and grab a hold of that testimony God wants to forge in your life? “When God leads us down hard paths, He gives us strong shoes.”- Corrie Ten Boom from The Hiding Place.
LIVE IT OUT: Today Lord, open my eyes to see where You are working. Give me strength to walk where You lead.
What Scripture are you studying now? What have you learned? How has the Lord spoke to you? Share with us in the comments section.
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