Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: Acts 16
Singing is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of worship.
However, singing is not just some common and mundane practice that believers do
when they gather, say on a Sunday. Actually the Bible teaches that singing praises to
God and Jesus is incredibly powerful and moving and has consequences in the
The difference between worship music that is alive and worship music that is dead is
based on two things. 1. The hearts of the music leader and/or band are not in the right
place and they will not be authentic and genuine in their worship. And 2. because their
hearts are far from God, God will not dwell and inhabit their praises meaning the spirit of God will not move in them or through them. Inversely, if the music leader/band’s heart is ready to praise God and solely be devoted to his glory then God will inhabit their
praises, the spirit will be moving, and exciting things will happen. When speaking about
praising God through our voice it is imperative that our heart be in the right place. God
doesn’t want a voice to sing to him. He desires a heart overflowing with love and
worship that manifest in singing praises. There’s a difference.
With that being said we’ll look at Acts 16.22-34. I won’t type out the passage but I’ll
summarize it. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in the city of Thyatira. While preaching a
slave girl was following them praising their work. However, she was demon-possessed
and was being a hindrance to their work. Paul cast the demon out of her and her
owner became furious. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison.
Then read what happens next as they are in jail:
“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors
were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” – Acts 16.25-26
Paul and Silas were singing songs of praise and were praying prayers of praise. Despite
their circumstances, their hearts were solely set on God and praising him. The result
was God caused an earthquake, the inmates were set free, and the jailer and his family
Setting aside the circumstances and details of the story, we see two men praise God
wholeheartedly and their worship in the natural realm moves God in the supernatural
realm to affect their current circumstances. We see from this account that singing and
praying can actually move the heart of God. Our worship in the natural can make waves
in the supernatural.
We see the same principle in II Chronicles 20.1-23 (please read). Worship can move
mountains in the supernatural realm. Singing can be a weapon used against the enemy
and dark spiritual forces. Our warfare in the supernatural is waged by singing and praying. Praising God and Jesus with our voice does not have to be mundane and
routine though sometimes it can be. Rather, singing has the ability to make waves in the
supernatural realm, move God, and wage war against the enemy. But this is only
possible with a sold-out heart seeking the glory of God. A heart that praises him in all
circumstances and gives him glory in all seasons of life. That is the kind of worship that
God responds to.
“but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening: he thought he was seeing a vision.” Acts 12:9 “Pinch me! I must be dreaming.” We are not so different from Peter. When miraculous things happen, we doubt that they are real. When we finally accept the reality, we make ourselves crazy trying to explain it rationally.
I have had many moments where God has worked in a miraculous way. And I was so thankful for those moments at that time. But then those fade and you begin to question whether that was God or if it was just you hoping it was God. We all have those doubts. We have to ask – do we believe it’s God…do we want it to be God? We all have those moments where God is speaking to us and we have to be able to recognize His voice. The more we know God the more we are able to recognize miracles for what they are. God working in our lives.
Mighty God of Miracles, we confess that we try to explain your miracles rather than enjoy them. Help us to accept that you use all of your creation including other people to work your miracles. Open our hearts to your generous gifts and use us to deliver your miracles to others.
Next time something amazing happens to you or someone you know, don’t try to explain it away. Accept it as a miraculous gift from God. Give Him the Glory!
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 12:21-24
In Matthew 22:37, the first and greatest commandment for Christians is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. Likewise, the 10 Commandments warn us against idolatry. In today’s passage, Paul talks about Herod’s meeting with the people of Tyre and Sidon. Once Herod won their approval, they praised and idolized him as a god. Giving another the praise God deserves is turning away from Him who gave you life and a way to salvation, including the death of His Son. What more must God do to prove how much He loves you and deserves your love in return? We can even lose sight of His authority by relying too heavily on a fellow Christian for guidance. Give all your praise and honor to Him.
I love the book of Acts as we get a glimpse into Paul’s missionary journeys! In this exciting chapter (go ahead and read it all) Paul begins his second missionary journey with Silas.
Right off the bat we get to meet Timothy and Lydia – two faithful believers at their start. One thing I love about FUEL is looking out over the crowd and seeing the youthful energy and passion – and knowing that they won’t stay youth too long. It is fun to wonder who might one day be my pastor, or my pastor’s wife? Who might go on a missions trip with one of my children? Who might teach a class at FUEL to my grandkids (years and years from now)? The Christian life is a process of growth and ups and downs and new experiences and deeper maturity. It’s fun to see the first steps of this developing growth in our church youth – and in those touched by Paul’s ministry.
One of the signs of growing in your faith – which can even be difficult for those who have been Christians a long time – involves putting your own plans aside when God would have you go in a different direction. Here, Paul and companions (which now includes young Timothy) “were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (vs. 7). I wonder how the Spirit of Jesus worked this time: torrential rain flooded out the road, lost passport, contagious disease in town… Can you think of a time when you were upset by something that suddenly changed your plans? Looking back now, is there a chance that instead of circumstance or bad luck it was actually God leading you where He had a job for you to do?
Even when it looked like “bad luck” landed Paul and Silas into jail….God was at work. And, with continued faith in God and His plans, Paul and Silas were singing and praising God in their chains. At the time, they didn’t know that later that night an earthquake would open the jail doors and unfasten their chains. But they sang praises to God. They didn’t know that the jailer and his family would be baptized that very night, because of the life examples and testimonies of the faithful witnesses. But they were praying to God – and the rest of the prisoners were listening.
Beware of crumbling under your “bad luck”. Instead, keep growing your faith in God. Continue praying and singing praises to God. You never know who is listening and how it might also change their life and the lives of their family.