About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
In the summer of 1963, after an all-night bus ride, US civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and six other black passengers stopped to eat at a diner in Winona, Mississippi. After law enforcement officers forced them to leave, they were arrested and jailed. But the humiliation wouldn’t end with unlawful arrest. All received severe beatings, but Fannie’s was the worst. After a brutal attack that left her near death she burst out in song: “Paul and Silas was bound in jail, let my people go.” And she didn’t sing alone. Other prisoners, restrained in body but not in soul, joined her in worship.
According to Acts 16, Paul and Silas found themselves in a difficult place when they were imprisoned for telling others about Jesus. But discomfort didn’t dampen their faith. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (v. 25). Their bold worship created the opportunity to continue to talk about Jesus. “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to [the jailer] and to all the others in his house” (v. 32).
Most of us will not likely face the extreme circumstances encountered by Paul, Silas, or Fannie, but each of us will face uncomfortable situations. When that happens, our strength comes from our faithful God. May there be a song in our hearts that will honor Him and give us boldness to speak for Him—even in the midst of trouble.
A hero pastor said divine intervention led him to discover the place where an abducted girl was being held captive in Fort Worth.
Jeff King, Pastor at Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, helped track down 8-year-old Salem Sabatka after she was snatched while out walking with her mom in Fort Worth on Saturday.
A man, named as Michael Webb, 51, reportedly grabbed Salem and pushed her into his car at around 6.30pm.
Heart-wrenching surveillance video showed Salem’s mother jumping into the vehicle and desperately trying to save her daughter before the kidnapper shoved her out and drove off.
The car sped off and the mother immediately dialed 911, screaming: “Help me please, someone call the police, my daughter just got kidnapped.” Her call sparked a massive police operation to try and find the little girl.
After King, a childhood friend of Salem’s parents, heard about the shocking incident he and a friend started scouring the streets of Fort Worth searching for the suspect’s car.
“I was sitting at home with my wife when a friend texted and said that our friends’ daughter had been kidnapped. All I could think is what are we going to do to help?” King told NBC DFW.
He and the friend searched until after midnight when they got a tip from someone that they should check out a hotel in Forest Hill.
After searching the car park at the tip-off location they found no sign of the suspect’s car.
But, purely by chance, the pair then pulled into another hotel nearby, the Wood Springs Suites, and saw a car fitting the description.
“God literally led us to this place. It was not on my itinerary, I was not trying to go there, we just drove by. It was divine intervention, 100 per cent,” he said.
King called police and it was just a matter of time before they figured out Salem was inside of the hotel and they were able to rescue her.
Two hours earlier, police had already searched the motel room of the man suspected of kidnapping the girl but didn’t see the child there. Yet, after the pastor called the police, they found her in the same room after breaching the door.
“It was a crazy moment. I asked police, ‘Did I hear that right? Did they find her? Is she safe?’” he said. “Then finally one officer said, ‘Yes sir, they have her.’”
Police allowed King to be the one to call Salem’s parents and tell them the little girl had been found alive.
“I feel like God allowed me to be a tool,” the pastor said.
On Facebook, Bear Creek Bible Church celebrated the little girl’s rescue, writing: “The Lord is so faithful!”
Following the little girl’s rescue, King, who local media dubbed a hero, led a prayer at a press conference in her neighborhood.
“Thank you, Father, that she’s alive and she’s with us still and that she has a wonderful life to live ahead of her, Father,” he prayed. “I can’t thank You enough for the redemption and grace You show us all the time. I can’t thank You enough for the death of Your son on the cross as a substitutionary atonement in our place. Father, I can’t thank You enough for last night and being able to locate that vehicle. Thank you, Father, for guiding us every step of the way.”
Michael Webb has been arrested and booked on a charge of aggravated kidnapping. He a lengthy criminal history — including being charged with aggravated and sexual assault in April 2018.
With information from DailyMail and The Christian Post.
Today’s passage is a frightening one. The thought that a sin could be so bad that it is unforgivable sometimes leads people to fear that they may have committed it. That’s why it is important to understand the context of this statement, which Jesus made to the Pharisees.
Although they had seen compelling evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, the Pharisees refused to believe in Him. What’s more, they even attributed to Satan the miracles Christ performed by the power of the God’s Spirit. This blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was unforgivable because despite the clearest possible revelation of God, they still weren’t willing to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Their unrepentance prevented them from receiving salvation.
Since people living today do not have the undeniable physical presence of Jesus Christ in the world, the Pharisees’ unforgivable sin doesn’t apply to us. However, it is possible for people to end up in an unpardonable state. This happens when a person repeatedly rejects the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and the clear revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior. With each rejection, the heart becomes harder—eventually the calcification prevents it from sensing any impression God’s Spirit tries to make.
If you are worried that you may have committed the unpardonable sin, then I can assure you that you haven’t, because you are still feeling the conviction of the Spirit. God doesn’t withhold salvation from a repentant sinner who comes to Him for forgiveness through faith in His Son. The only thing that makes sin unforgivable is a hard, unrepentant heart.
“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
“Elias” is the New Testament name for Elijah, the great prophet who lived during the darkest days of Israel’s apostasy, when Ahab and Jezebel ruled the land and had turned it over to the worship of the demonic god Baal. “Elijah” means “Jehovah is God,” a most appropriate name for a prophet of the true God in a nation and time given over to paganism.
Elijah suddenly appeared before King Ahab with the ominous prophecy: “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (1 Kings 17:1). This was not presumptuous. In his commentary, James said Elijah “prayed earnestly” before he spoke, and that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
This remarkable prophecy was miraculously fulfilled. There was no rain in all the land of Israel for 3.5 years (as also confirmed by Christ in Luke 4:25) until Elijah defeated all the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-45).
Yet, James reminds us that Elijah was “a man of like passions as we” and that both ends of the miracle—the onset and termination of the nationwide drought—were simply answers to Elijah’s two fervent prayers. James has much to say about how we also can receive wonderful answers to prayer. In addition to praying fervently, we must “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). But faith must be expressed by action (as when Elijah confronted Ahab), for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Finally, if we “ask, and receive not,” it may be that we “ask amiss,” wanting the answer only for ourselves (James 4:3). HMM
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
My faith does not rest on God’s promises. My faith rests upon God’s character. Faith must rest in confidence upon the One who made the promises….
When I think of the angels who veil their faces before the God who cannot lie, I wonder why every preacher in North America does not begin preaching about God—and nothing else. What would happen if every preacher just preached about the person and character of God for an entire year—who He is, His attributes, His perfection, His being, the kind of a God He is and why we love Him and why we should trust Him? I tell you, God would soon fill the whole horizon, the entire world. Faith would spring up like grass by the water courses. Then let a man get up and preach the promises of God and the whole congregation would join in chorus: “We can claim the promises; look who made them!” This is the confidence; this is the boldness. FBR042, 045
Lord, begin with me. I commit myself today to knowing You more fully and preaching and teaching Your person and character as the foundation of faith. Let confidence and boldness be my testimony. Amen.
Serve the Lord with gladness. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.—Psalm 100:2, 5.
Teach me Thy love to know,
That this new light which now I see,
May both the work and workman show:
Then by a sunbeam I will climb to Thee.
Why should we not rejoice in the good things of God? If the day is pure and serene, we enjoy its gladness. Why should we not rejoice in the serene light of truth that shines from Heaven upon us? We find a joy in the presence and cheerful greeting of our friends. Why should we not look up to Heaven, whence so many pure and most loving faces look upon us with divine affection, and with most tender desires to cheer and help us? Having an almighty and most loving Father, in whom we live, and move, and have our being, let us rejoice in Him. Having a most loving Savior, who has made Himself our brother, and feeds us with His life, we ought surely to rejoice in Him. Having the Holy Spirit of God with us, making us His temples, and pouring His love into our hearts, we ought certainly to answer His love, and rejoice in His overflowing goodness. “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice.”
“The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure.” Deut. 28:12
This refers first to the rain. The Lord will give this in its season. Rain is the emblem of all those celestial refreshings which the Lord is ready to bestow upon His people. Oh for a copious shower to refresh the Lord’s heritage!
We seem to think that God’s treasury can only be opened by a great prophet like Elijah, but it is not so, for this promise is to all the faithful in Israel, and, indeed, to each one of them. O believing friend, “the Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure.” Thou, too, mayest see Heaven opened, and thrust in thy hand and take out thy portion, yea, and a portion for all thy brethren round about thee. Ask what thou wilt, and thou shalt not be denied, if thou abidest in Christ, and His words abide in thee.
As yet thou hast not known all thy Lord’s treasures, but He shall open them up to thine understanding. Certainly thou hast not yet enjoyed the fullness of His covenant riches, but He will direct thine heart into His love, and reveal Jesus in thee. Only the Lord himself can do this for thee; but here -is His promise, and if thou wilt hearken diligently unto His voice, and obey His will, His riches in glory by Christ Jesus shall be thine.