Sr. Pastor Darrell G Vaughn
                                                          Faithfulness - A Key Step to Happiness
Mar 28, 2012:                                  "Man on Mission"  To Listen the Audio with this Great Sermon click"  "Here"
Wed PM Worship                           Is God's perfect will                                 

Text: Acts 16:9-31 (King James Version)         

  "Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."

                                       The Fields are white and the laborers are few!
C.H. Spurgeon said, "If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival;"

 

Acts 16:9   And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

Acts 16:10   And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

Acts 16:11   Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;

Acts 16:12   And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

Acts 16:13   And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Acts 16:14   And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Acts 16:15   And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Acts 16:16   And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

Acts 16:17   The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation.

Acts 16:18   And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

Acts 16:19   And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

Acts 16:20   And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

Acts 16:21   And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

Acts 16:22   And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

Acts 16:23   And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

Acts 16:24   Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Acts 16:25   And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Acts 16:26   And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

Acts 16:27   And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

Acts 16:28   But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

Acts 16:29   Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

Acts 16:30   And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Acts 16:31   And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

 

Let's pray. Father,  Open my eyes so I can see Your truth.

Open my ears so I can hear Your voice.
Open my mind so I can understand Your Word.
And open my heart so I may receive all that You want me to receive. AMEN

 

How we come out of a trial often depends on how we went in to it.
Paul told Timothy to be a good soldier. Soldiers prepare for battle in time of peace. They practice.
When the enemy is closing in, you don't have time to get out the Book and find out how to load your weapon.

 

The Bible says that Daniel was in the habit of praying 3 times a day before he was thrown into the den of lions, but that's the reason the lion's mouth's were shut.
You don't have time to figure out how prayer works as you are being thrown into the lions.

 

I am convinced that the safest place in the world is in the center of God's will. You will never find a place more secure than being in the center of God's will for your life. At the same time, I am also convinced that the center of God's will; though it is the safest place, it is not always the most pleasant and pain free place. Are you going to pray with me? Many of us have been seduced into believing that as long as our lives are being lived out within the will of God, everything is going to be alright. I've found that not to be so. What I've discovered is that God is far more concerned about making us holy than He is in making us happy. The God we serve is seeking our holiness and not our happiness. And I think we see that in this scene in Acts chapter 16.

We discover that there is a connection between Paul's vision in Troas and his visit to Philippi. There is a connection between his vision and his visit. You see, at Troas, Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia' crying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us." And the Bible said that they assuredly gathered that the Lord had called them to preach the Gospel in Europe. Now no sooner than they arrive in Macedonia, a woman by the name of Lydia is converted. And the Bible says that this young girl begins to follow Paul and Silas everyday as they made their way to the house of prayer. She's following them and Luke says that she was a fortune-teller. And she follows Paul and Silas daily saying that these are servants of the most high God. She had the right message; Paul's concern was that it was coming from the wrong source.

The Bible says that it vexed him in his spirit. And one day he turns and he says to her, to that unclean spirit within her, "In the name of Jesus Christ come out of her!" And the word says that she was delivered that same hour. Now her pimps, who were profiting from her, when they saw that Paul had brought an end to their meal ticket; the Bible says that they captured Paul and Silas and brought them before the magistrate on trumped-up charges. And the word says that the were beaten and thrown in jail.

It is the Lord's way of reminding us that we must remember that when you get delivered, not everybody is going to be happy about it. Are you praying with me? That when the Lord delivers you. That when God sets you free. That when the Lord has delivered you from something that has been holding you not everybody is going to get all excited.

For there they are, beaten, and bloodied, and broken lying in a Philippian jail. And Luke says, "and at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God." Have you ever wondered, what is so special about midnight? Wilson Pickett said, "I'm gonna wait until the midnight hour." Maria Mulduar spent her midnights at the oasis. And we know that Gladys Knight take the midnight train to Georgia. Midnight is not one word, but it is the combination of two words, mid and night. If we analyze each piece of this word midnight,  we will find that the first part of the word midnight is mid. The word mid is a short way of saying middle. According to the dictionary, it is that which lies in the center of things. Not too far to the left and not too far to the right, but somewhere in the center. Well, the dictionary defines the word night as a period of darkness. A period when darkness covers the land. A time when it is hard for us to see things that are around us. Can I get a witness?
Now if you put mid and night together with mid meaning the middle and night meaning a period of darkness, it means in the center of darkness. Midnight is a peculiar time. Mothers began to worry about where their children are when they have messed up and stayed out past midnight. A lot of pacing the floor and a lot of restless hours come when they stay out pass midnight. Not only that, but husbands and wives have a whole lot of explaining to do when they go out and mess up and stay pass midnight. Midnight is a peculiar time. I wish I had some help. Midnight is the point where PM ends and AM begins. Midnight is the dividing wall between PM and AM.

What makes midnight so special? Well midnight is the darkest part of the night. It is the deepest part of the night because one second after midnight it is a brand new day; it is officially morning. Paul and Silas find themselves beaten, and bloodied, and broken but at midnight, they're not whinning and crying. Luke says they prayed and sang praise unto God.

All of us who have lived any time at all know what it means and how it feels to have a midnight crisis in our lives. Those times when we find ourselves in situations that are beyond our control. We find ourselves caught up in things we cannot handle on our own. We've all been faced with some midnight experience! Be it sickness, suffering or sorrow. Be it troubles, trials, or tribulations; we've all had our midnights! Not only have we had our midnights but we've shared in the midnights of other people. We know how it feels to be there with other people when they are experiencing their midnights. Now if you haven't face nor experienced midnight, keep going to bed at night. Keep getting up in the morning. Everybody in here this evening is either in a midnight experience, on their way out of one, or heading to one. We all will be faced with midnight but staying on the mission will determine how you come out.

Now one of the things reminds about midnight; is the midnight hour reminds us that often times God does some of His best work when we think it's too late. When we've given it all up as lost. God has a way of showing up. Even in our midnights. Paul and Silas were aware of that; and so, STANDING FIRM IN THEIR FAITH, Luke says that they prayed and sang praises unto God.

Now it does not surprise us that they prayed at midnight. You would be surprised if they had not prayed at midnight. Because those of us who have had to face a midnight, know that the midnight hour of crisis is a time of prayer. Have I got a witness? If you haven't prayed in a long time, you'll pray when you are faced with midnight. When you think you know how to pray, you'll learn how to pray all over again when you are faced with midnight. Midnight is an hour of prayer. So it does not surprise us that they prayed at midnight.

What's remarkable is that Luke says, not only did they pray but that they sang praises unto God.

It's one thing to pray at midnight. It's another thing to be able to PRAISE at midnight. See most of us don't have any problem praying at midnight; our problem is, we haven't learned how to praise God, at midnight! It's easy to praise God in pleasant circumstances. When the sun is shining. All is well in your life. Oh, it's not difficult to shout hallelujah' and say, the Lord will make a way,' when all your bills are paid. It's not difficult to be able to throw your hands up and say, I bless the Lord,' when you have a reasonable portion of health and strength. When it is well with you and yours. But Luke says, they praised God at midnight; they sang praises unto God.

 

Was Paul on Mission? Was Paul in the center of Gods Will?

I have looked at this passage several times of the years and it did not occur to me until this week that when you think about this passage; and Paul and Silas, hearing the Macedonian call, leave Troas and come to Macedonia to Europe and bring the Gospel into Europe for the very first time. And no sooner than they're there, they are beaten and thrown into jail and at midnight they prayed and sang praises unto God. The Lord reminded me that first Gospel Concert in Europe didn't take place in a concert hall. Didn't happen in a church or a chapel. But it happenend in a Philippian jail. Because Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. Now, as I was doing the analysis on this particular passage of scripture several questions came to mind.

The first question is, how were they able to sing at midnight? They were able to sing because they were assured that their God was able. But they did not know what God was going to do in this situation. And yet they stood firm in their faith. Praying and praising the Lord. No, it's not difficult to pray at midnight. But how do you praise God at midnight? These men, their backs are bruised, broken, and bloodied. And they're not cursing. They're not singing the blues but they are singing praises unto God. Amen goes right there. They were able to sing praises because Paul turned his pain into a pulpit. And only FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ will enable you to turn your pain into a pulpit. And maybe I ought to raise the question this evening; what kind of sermons do you preach from your scars? When life has bruised you? When life has bloodied you? When life has broken you? What kind of sermons do you preach then?

 

It's easy to preach a good sermon when everything is alright. But what kind of sermons do you preach after life has scared you?

They were able to praise God. They were able to have joy. Because their joy was not in their circumstances; their joy was in the Lord Jesus. And that is because Paul was not living under his circumstances, he was living ABOVE his circumstances.

And I want you to know that if your joy is in the Lord Jesus, you can have joy in spite of everything that is going on around you. That's why we say, "This joy I have..." Yes, you need a prayer for the midnight hour but you also need a song that will pierce the darkness. And in a dark, damp, dungeon they prayed and sang praises unto God.

When you think about it, some of the sweetest songs of the Christian faith were composed in the darkness. Fannie Crosby came down with a fever, a few month after her birth, that left her completely blind. But she later testified that with the loss of physical sight and moving around in darkness, God turned a light on in her soul. That though she was in darkness, she sat down one day and she penned the words: "Blessed assurance. Jesus is mine. Oh, what a fore taste of glory divine. Heir of salvation. I've been purchased of God. Born in His spirit and washed in His blood." She penned the words: "Jesus keep me near the cross." Why? Because she learned how to sing in her darkness.

They didn't escape from the prison. Their faith allowed them to escape within the prison. And when you've got faith in God, you don't have to escape out of everything. You can learn to escape in the midst of some things. That's the blessing of the believer. That's the blessing that the Child of God has. Without pills to pick them up. Without any alcohol to drown their troubles away. Without a party, or a television set, or a radio they escaped in the midst of the prison.

And what the Lord is saying to you today is that He is not going to remove all the pain out of your life. There are times when you can't escape from your pain but if you trust in the Lord. If you stand firm in your faith. You can learn to escape in your pain. You can learn how to have joy in sorrow. Hope in the midst of despair. Light in the midst of your darkness. You may not be able to escape from it but God, by faith can allow you to escape in the midst of it.

Which leads me to my second question, what songs do you sing? For at midnight, they prayed and sing praises unto God and Luke says, "and the prisoners heard them." Which says that they had an unseen audience. They were singing for their own comfort. They were unaware that the other prisoners were listening. Which says to us, that all of us must be aware that we have an unseen audience. Uh, on the other side of the wall. In that house across the street. In that room or office next to you. There is somebody listening to the song you are singing. Not necessarily that the words that are falling from your lips but by the life that you live., every now and again someone will call me and say, "Pastor, what ya doing?" And that is an indication to me that they have seen me out in the city but I haven't seen them. And I think God that I am always trying to do the right thing because I would hate to get that call and I am acting a fool. Amen. We all have an unseen audience.

I SEE OTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE THEM!

I SEE DAVID ON THE RUN - HIDING IN A CAVE (COLD, SCARED AND HUNGRY..) RUNNING AWAY FROM THE VERY MAN - THAT HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN HIS LIFE FOR!
I SEE JOSEPH IN PHARAOH'S PRISON - SENT THERE BY HIS JEALOUS BROTHERS!
I SEE DANIEL SLEEPING LIKE A BABY - WHILE THE LIONS PROWLED AROUND HIM!
I SEE THE 3 HEBREW BOYS - THROWN INTO THE FIERY FURNACE!

WHAT GAVE THE PRISONERS A LISTENING EAR?
WELL, PAUL AND SILAS WERE ON THE INSIDE - JUST LIKE THEM!
THEY HAD BEEN BEATEN, CHAINED AND BOUND - JUST LIKE THEM!

(IN OTHER WORDS..) THEY WERE IN THE SAME BOAT AS THE OTHER PRISONERS (BUT AT MIDNIGHT..) THEIR TEST BECAME THEIR TESTIMONY!

 

The word says that the prisoners heard them. So the Lord is telling you and I. That our task in life is to be a witness to other people. Who are in the same prison house that we are in. What gave the prisoners a listening ear is that the men who were singing were not on the other side of the prison bars but were behind bars just like they were. What caused them to listen is that the men had chains on just like they did. What caused them to listen is that the men had been beaten and thrown in jail and yet at midnight; they heard praying and singing praises unto God. What are folk hearing from you in the midst of your suffering? What kind of witness are you being in the midst of your pain?

And Luke says, "And suddenly, there was a great earthquake." Luke says that God shook the foundation of the jail until all of the doors burst wide open. And every man's chains fell off. And Luke calls it a great earthquake. That doesn't appear to be much of an earthquake. The roof didn't cave in. The walls didn't fall in. The doors just opened. Every man's chains fell off. That doesn't appear to be much of an earthquake. I mean when I think about an earthquake; I think about walls falling in! Roof caving in! Buildings being shook to crumble! But Luke calls it a great earthquake and all that happens was that the doors fell open and the chains fell off. Doesn't seem like much of an earthquake; so it has to be something more than doors opening up and chains falling off.

What made it a great earthquake was not the doors and the chains falling off. What made it a great earthquake is that the prisoners were released and yet restrained. The doors opened. The chains fell off. And nobody left. That's what made it a great earthquake. I mean, if you are in jail and you've got shackles on. And all of a sudden there is a rumbling and the shackles fall off and the doors fly open. Your first...What you...Reason says, get on out of there! I mean that's what you do. You're locked up. You're in chains. The doors fly open. The chains fall off. Get up and run!

The jailer just knew that everybody was gone. When he saw the doors open. Drew his sword to take his own life. Because the price and penalty for losing a prisoner, for losing a jailed person was that your life must be taken. And rather than going through all the drama he decided to kill himself. But to his surprise, Paul says, "do thyself no harm; we are all here." And it was at that time that the jailer realized that there was a greater power at work in that jail house. That there was something a stir in there. Much greater than the earthquake that shook the jail house. It was greater power that kept every man in his cell. And the jailer cried out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

What an earthquake. An earthquake that not only shook the jail house; but more importantly, it shook the jailer. The Jailor was Paul's mission field and the center of God's will! God didn't just shake up the jail house. God shook up the jailer! And what did it take to shake up the jailer? It took an earthquake. So my final question is, what else is God going to have to shake up in your life to get your attention? What earthquake does He have to send your house before He gets your attention? Is it more sickness? Is it more pain? Is it more suffering? It took an earthquake to get that man's attention. He realized that there was grater power at work. And he says, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

Save from what? The earthquake was over. The trimmers had stopped. The after-shock was over. All of the prisoners were in place. Saved from what? He was literally saying to Paul and Silas, "How can a man like me be saved?" And that's the great question many people are asking. How can a person like me be saved? After all the wrong and evil I've done. How can God save somebody like me? Well there are those of us here this evening who can stand up and testify for you. If God can save people like us. God can save anybody! He saves from the utmost to the gutter-most!

And Paul, who was one of the greatest theologians this world has ever known, didn't give this man a lecture on the doctrine of Salvation. He didn't go into long discourse on how a person gets saved. He doesn't tell this man to settle down, there's no need to be alarmed. Because he didn't want the man to miss the urgency of the hour. And I would to God that I would preach enough to get you to see the urgency of this hour. If you're here today and you're unsaved, this might be your last chance to get right with God. If you're here this evening and you're out of fellowship with the church or grown cold and indifferent, this may well be your last chance. Don't let this moment...pass you by! "Pass me not out gentle Savior..."

Paul didn't tell this man be good and you can be saved. Because some of us are trying to operate on the goodness principal. We are living in what John Bunion called that Town of Morality. We believe that if we are just good enough we can make it into Heaven.

But what does Paul say to this man? Paul says, "Believe! On the Lord Jesus Christ. And thou shall be saved!" He says to the man, what you've got to do is believe.

After experiencing this great earthquake. Seeing this jail shaken. After being shaken himself. Crying, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Their response is, "Believe on the name of the Lord. Jesus Christ. And thou. Shalt be saved." Notice Paul didn't tell him. That you need to understand. But he said. You need to believe. But too many us. Want to understand first. Before we'll believe. What want it to make sense. Before we'll say yes. And I've said this before. You are not saved head first. But you are saved heart first. For Romans. Chapter 10. Verse 9 says. That if thou shalt believe in thine heart. That God has raised Jesus. From the dead. Thou shalt be. Saved.