The True Breaker of Chains

Background Story: Paul and Silas were a dynamic duo preaching the gospel. Often they found that not everyone was excited to see them come to town.

Read: Acts 16: 16-36

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 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. 27 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. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

Big Idea: We Were Not Meant to Live in Chains.

This story is so powerful with so many lessons but today, let’s talk about chains. In this story, Paul and Silas were in physical chains shackled on their feet. While our story might be different, many of us live our lives in emotional and spiritual chains. For me, my chain has been food addiction which has been a constant struggle throughout my life. For others, it might be the chains of unforgiveness, pornography or sexual sins, the constant need for approval, unforgiveness from your past, or envy and discontentment. No matter what chains us, those chains shackle us from the abundant life that Christ desires for us. So often, I have tried to remove the chains that bind me. I figure if I try hard enough, I can remove them myself without God’s help. All I end up doing is scarring myself through the struggle.

When Paul and Silas found themselves in chains, it says they were “praying and singing hymns to God.” Why that combination? Prayer and worship brings us back into alignment taking our eyes up from our struggle and onto the One who parted the Red Sea and raised the dead life. Shame, pride, and fear fall away in the presence of God. As we continue to approach His throne daily, Hebrews 4:16 says, “There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” He will daily give us victory over sin and our past and become our hiding place.

What I love in this story is that when those chains fell off of Paul and Silas, the jailer saw it and came to faith in Jesus. Often God will use our chains and our liberation as a testimony to those around us. Our testimony of Jesus’ faithfulness in our own life often impacts everyone around us. So take heart. We serve a God who is the breaker of chains and the freer of captives!

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