Yesterday, God showed up at church. It was my privilege to return and preach at The Fellowship Church in White Plains, Maryland and TEN adults trusted Christ as Savior and the entire altar was PACKED with folks making various decisions for JESUS. Pretty amazing with just under 200 in worship. God gave me a new message from Acts 16:16-36 entitled: “What To Do When Your Back Is Against The Wall.”
Paul & Silas were en route to prayer meeting (church) and interrupted by a woman with a demonic spirit. She was the first “Damsel in Distress.” She made her living as a fortune teller. Paul and Silas in kindness but boldness shared her future was a dead end without trusting Christ as Savior. True friends and genuine Gospel preachers will tell you what you need to hear NOT what you want to hear. When Paul shared Jesus with her the demonic spirit immediately departed from her and she got gloriously saved! Moments before she was enslaved by Satan but now a daughter of God.
HAVE YOU EVER DONE THE RIGHT THING and yet, got in trouble. Paul and Silas extended grace but got grief. They just honored Heaven but now going through Hell. The leaders escorted these two Christians to the town square and didn’t bless them but beat them, shackled them and tossed them in prison with their “back’s against the wall.” When you are in prison (solitary confinement) you do a lot of thinking with time on your hands.
I shared in my sermon that you will learn three things when your down and out.
1) WHO YOU ARE (When you get to end of you is BEGINNING OF GOD)
2) WHO YOUR REAL FRIENDS ARE (A friend of mine was in prison briefly and shared that not a single one of his “party” friends ever came to see him while incarcerated).
3) WHO GOD IS (self help is something but GOD HELP is EVERYTHING!
The SITUATION was Paul and Silas were honoring God. They were going to church but God orchestrated their steps and enabled them to bring church to this woman in need of God. She now got her reservation for the Palace but they got thrown in the prison. Even Jesus had to endure Good Friday for us to partake of Easter Sunday! Scripturally what seems like a temporal demotion is often a ETERNAL promotion! #ThatWillPreach Paul and Silas learned their SALVATION was still their SOLUTION. When your back is against the wall we need to do four things like never before.
PRAY – Paul and Silas began to pray. “When you are down to nothing – God is UP to something.” Plus, when you kneel before God you can STAND before any man. We need to fear (respect) the Lord more than worry what man can do to us. God is eternal. Man is temporal.
PRAISE – At their lowest point they worshipped God on High. You cannot worship anxiety and the Almighty at the same time. We need to stop telling God how big our mountains are and start telling our mountains how BIG our God is! They never pouted but began shouting praises to the Lord while in prison. The guards heard about their God. Convicts heard their caroles of Christ, singing of their Savior and their HYMNS about Him!! Divinity Dejavu – once again, these lost, shackled sinners couldn’t make it to church so their witness brought church to them! EVEN in jail!! FACT: Paul and Silas (not ELVIS) was the first to sing JAILHOUSE ROCK! #ThankYaVeryMuch
PROBLEMS – Will tempt you like never before to compromise, cut corners, cheat and leave Christ out of the equation. WORD OF THE DAY: “When you are TESTED. God can be TRUSTED.” Cling to God’s PROMISES in the midnight hour or as Dr Adrian Rogers said: “Never doubt in the dark (or dungeon) what the Lord taught you in the light.” Your world may shake but the Word of God never moves. Faith in Christ is a firm Foundation. When you read and trust God’s Promises your problems will evaporate and experience the PRESENCE of God in a powerful way. The Bible says: “I have yet to see the righteous forsaken” and true to His Word, the Lord sent an earthquake, the jail cells flew open and Paul and Silas were set free. The irony is they were free even when hand-cuffed. With the Lord we find liberty and you cannot contain God in a box or handcuff His Holiness (read that again). Atheists are actually in “prison” while walking with no shackles but Christians are free even in confinement.
Paul and Silas shared the Gospel with their jailors and led him and his entire family to the Lord (while they were in prison). Your dissapointment may be a Divine Appointment to shine God’s Light and love to dark people in dark places (even dark prisons). I closed with this story and the church went wild. The next time your back is against the wall may you be reminded to honor Christ even in your darkest dilemma. Plus, others are watching how you deal with adversity. Let them see the Almighty in you.
“More than 24 years ago, Pam and her husband Bob were serving as missionaries to the Philippines and praying for a fifth child. Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. She went into a coma and was treated with strong antibiotics before they discovered she was pregnant.
Doctors urged her to abort the baby for her own safety and told her that the medicines had caused irreversible damage to her baby. She refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted. Pam said the doctors didn’t think of it as a life, they thought of it as a mass of fetal tissue.
While pregnant, Pam nearly lost their baby four times but refused to consider abortion. She recalled making a pledge to God with her husband: If you will give us a son, we’ll name him Timothy and we’ll make him a preacher. Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy August 14, 1987. Pam’s youngest son is indeed a preacher. He preaches in prisons, makes hospital visits, and serves with his father’s ministry on ocassion in the Philippines. He also plays football. He doesn’t preach in pulpits but in massive stadiums. However, they both preach on Sunday’s. Pam’s son is Tim Tebow.”
Friends, if Pam compromised, cut corners and left Christ out of their decision making process they would have missed out. Tim would have missed out. We would have missed out on what God has done with this boy whom grew to mature as man to shine Light with the whole world watching. “Trust in the Lord with ALL thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding but in all thy ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM (God) and HE will direct thy paths.”
WHEN YOUR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL – hit your knees, raise your hands and praise God through it all! People are watching and God is worth worshipping.