Monday, March 12, 2012

An Explosion of Joy

Acts 16:26 (NKJV) 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 chains were loosed.

Acts 16:25--34 gives an account of the apostle Paul and his assistant Silas in Prison. Paul and Silas are in chains after having been beaten and thrown into a dungeon (see Acts 16:37). It was the midnight hour and Paul and Silas were praising God and singing hymns. Suddenly there was an earthquake and immediately the prison doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

The prison guard---thinking the prisoners escaped---was about to kill himself. Paul stopped the man and instead, the man and his entire household were saved and baptized. All this began after Paul and Silas praised God. So how did this release God's power?

The Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." It seems ridiculous to believe that someone chained and in a cold dungeon, would want to sing praises. They were singing because of a very special joy. It was the joy of the Lord. It was a powerful, supernatural joy.

Now look what Nehemiah goes on to say in verse 12, "So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them" (Neh. 8:12 NLT). That second last word, understood, can also be translated to the word know. The people not only heard God's Word, but they knew God's Word. This produced the joy of the Lord.

The apostle Paul and Silas knew God on a very personal level. They may not have known what was going to happen, but they knew that God was with them. They had a revelation of God's love. They knew that no matter what they faced in the natural, the supernatural power of God was with them. This same awareness can trigger the joy of the Lord for you in your toughest situations.

I am quite certain, Paul and Silas were praising God with a real desire to do so. From my own experience, the awareness of God's presence often gives me a desire to praise Him. The best way to continuously sense the presence of God is to get to know Him. The best way to get to know God is to fellowship with Him.

Talk to Him continuously throughout your day. Spend some time reading the Bible. Fellowship is both ways. You talk---you listen. The more you talk to Him---the more you will hear Him. As you get to know God in this way, you will see joy released even during your difficult situations. When the joy of the Lord is released, the power of God is released.

If you want to experience joy---get to know God and His word. If you talk to God continually, His Word will come to life when you read it.

Be Blessed!

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