He Broke The Chains

Creative Commons License photo credit: ericmcgregor

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I love this verse. I’m not always good at following it, but it’s always close to mind. We’re encouraged to rejoice at all times, to pray continually and no matter what is going on in our lives – give thanks!

It is not suggesting we give thanks for our current circumstances, but in (and despite) our current circumstances!

Look at the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. They had just been severely beaten with rods and now sat in an inner prison cell with their feet in stocks. There was so much they could complain about. Instead they started praying and singing hymns to God.

Suddenly everyone’s chains fell off! Here we see the power of praise and worship in the midst of trial. I’m fairly confident the story would have had a different ending if they had let their circumstances pull them down.

I emphasized “everyone’s” in the last paragraph, because I had never read this passage in that way before. This story is not just about Paul and Silas – it’s bigger than that, as God’s story always is.

The rest of the prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas singing and praying, and in a moment, God showed up and broke everyone’s chains.  Let us pray we see that happen when we meet!  Jesus is our chain breaker!


Check Your Motives

Creative Commons License photo credit: db Photography | Demi-Brooke

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
– 2 Chronicles 16:9

When God looks upon us, he looks past our latest fashion apparel, our highly crafted stage presence, even the words that come out of our mouths.  He looks into our hearts.  That’s where it’s at.  That’s the true gauge of where we stand and we can’t hide it from God.

Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.
– Proverbs 23:19

It’s important to always keep our hearts in check.  We know from Luke 12:34 that where your treasure is, your heart will be also.  As worshippers it’s not enough to just look the part.  We will not be able to sustain that for long and eventually veer off the path.  Our hearts must be in it and our hearts must be forever chasing after the things of God.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
– Proverbs 4:23

I was totally affected many years back by the story of Keith Green in No Compromise.  Keith struggled constantly with his calling as a musician.  This spoke to me and continues to shape me.

I admired Keith for considering walking away from it all if he thought he was not doing it for the right reasons, or even distracting people from Jesus in any way.  I love that.

We need to continually check our motives.  No matter where you serve in Church, are you doing it for the right reasons?