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November 1, 2017

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SHACKLED BY MAN...SET FREE BY GOD

"And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely ... 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 bands were loosed." Acts 16:23,26

The believer has the joy of knowing that his life is "hid in Christ." He has the choice of living day by day with confidence in the ONE who orders his steps and will direct him in the paths of righteousness for HIS name's sake. There are no circumstances in his life that have not first passed through the permissive will of God, and are formed in the providence of His plan and purpose.

In the life of a believer, who is committed and loyal to God, there is no such thing as chance or luck. God often brings us into circumstances that we do not understand, among people that we do not know, into places we have never been that we may trust him in these strange encounters, and bring them before Him in unwavering faith, that the Holy Spirit may work to glorify God through it all. God does not ask us to understand these circumstances, but to trust Him in them, and see His mighty power being manifested in ways beyond our finite resources.

Such encounters challenge the depth of our faith which must be tried before the reality of faith is actual. God brings these circumstances into our lives for many reasons. One that is foremost is to turn our "head faith" into a personal possession. In this, we get constant opposition from Satan himself. It is not a fight sometimes, but always. But God has a purpose in these trying circumstances. He wants to show us that the nature of faith is to make its object real. Faith is the whole man rightly related to God, that activates an unwavering trust in Him, in whatever circumstance he finds himself by the power of the Holy Spirit. God wants the focus of our faith to be centered in Him, regardless of the measure of our circumstances, large or small. The smallest detail in which we follow in simple obedience and child-like faith has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it.

Paul and Silas had just seen God's power manifested through them, in casting out the evil spirit that possessed a young girl. They were falsely accused, stripped, beaten, unjustly thrown into prison, and their feet bound fast to the stocks. This was the unjust reaction of ungodly men, shackled by man. What a scene! They had every human right to complain, cry out for justice, and plead for mercy. Their eyes were not fixed upon their circumstances, for they knew God was in control, and in His providential care, permitted this encounter to reach one man, the jailer...and then, his whole family.

Look at the scene. Paul and Silas were a pitifully beaten sight of humanity, and what was their response? "At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God, and the prisoners heard them." Can you imagine what went through the minds of these prisoners as they heard Paul and Silas pray and praise God in word and song? But then, we see them set free by God. "The earthquake shook the prison, the doors opened, and everyone's bands were loosed." We may not be responsible for the circumstances we are in, but we are responsible for the way we allow those circumstances to affect us: we can either allow them to defeat us, or we can allow them to transform us into what God wants us to be. Paul said, "And in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37). God has promised an overcoming spirit to all who will dare to trust Him! "But thanks be unto God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him." Shackled by man...set free by God!

© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.


This page was reprinted by permission from: http://litmin.org/dare.php?date=2017-11-01


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