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November 4, 2019

 

Sacrificial Worship

My Dear Friend,

     In reading Acts 16 recently the Lord impressed me with the intensity of Paul and Silas' suffering. Not only were they shamefully humiliated by a public beating but their physical condition was terrible, intense, painful beyond our imagination.

     Roman lictors had laid "many strips" on their bare backs, with canes or scourges, leaving hundreds of lacerations, free bleeding, deep bruises, and burning, unrelieved pain, as they were not attended to by a physician (only hours later did the jailer wash their wounds, 16:33). Besides this they were placed in stocks (16:24), which often twisted the legs and feet into a painfully unnatural position or, at the least, rendered them unable to move in the dark, filthy, stench-and-insect-ridden "inner prison." Talk about hurting? They were hurting in every way, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. We cannot imagine how pained they were.

     But in the depths of agony they made a monumental decision: they would not let their pain quench their praise! Quivering and trembling with weakness, they began praying and singing praises to God (16:25) and, as God's Spirit met their brave sacrifice with His power, I'm sure their chorus increased in volume and steadiness until throughout all levels of the jail "the prisoners heard them" (16:25). Witnessing this wonder of grace, God responded with His own wonder, shaking the foundations of the prison and releasing His two master overcomers from their pit of pain. "Suddenly ... all the doors were opened," their chains fell off, and they walked out (16:26). But there's more.

     Their sacrificial worship moved God's heart so mightily that He not only freed them but also set others free all around them. "Every one's bands were loosed" throughout the prison (16:26)! What a lesson for us!

     This text is telling us that if, when hurting badly, we offer sacrificial worship with our prayers, the Spirit of God will not only fall afresh upon us with powerful peace and strength, make our psychological, emotional, and physical "bands" fall off, and open new doors of opportunity, blessing, or ministry for us, but He will also fall on and liberate others all around us. Spouses, children, parents, neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, fellow Christians, and others we've never even met (as in Paul's case) will be liberated from sin and bondage. Unexpectedly, miraculously, inexplicably, yet undeniably, "every one's bands" will be loosed. Why?

     We made this monumental decision: "I will not allow my pain, however acute, to quench my praise! Pardon me, while I pry a little.

     Are you hurting today? Lost a friend? Suffered a shocking injustice? Experienced a sizeable financial loss? Stuck in a long, hard trial with a sharp-tongued person who tongue-lashes you often? Physically ill, infirm, or injured with little hope of full recovery? Unfulfilled in your profession? Unsuccessful in your business? Unfruitful in your ministry? Unable to have children? Unable to help your children? Unable to find a spouse? Stressed and challenged by your spouse daily? Misunderstood and slandered by people you've never even met? Betrayed? Or suffering some other kind of psychological, emotional, or physical pain?

     All these "hurts" put you in Paul's position - in an "inner prison" of intense pain. Why not follow his example and see what God, who plays no favorites, will do for you?

     Offer sacrificial worship with your prayers. Yes, worship while you're hurting. Turn your mind from your "bleeding" to your blessing - and begin blessing your Blesser! Expect the Holy Spirit to come upon you with fresh strength, peace, and inner liberty and praise Him when He does so. And don't stop there.

     Expect Him, as you continue offering sacrificial worship daily, to set others free all around you. One here, one there. One this week, another two weeks later, four next month. The joy of seeing God's hand spontaneously moving and steadily ministering in response to your sacrificial worship will lift you out of your "prison" of hurt just as surely as if you walked out of it through a tangible door into a brand new life of flowing joyful fulfillments, miracles, and ministry.

Offering sacrificial worship,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261
1-336-882-1645