The Upper Room Devotion for Wedneday, November 22, 2023, was written by Roberto Alonso Rodriguez of Nevo Leon, Mexico.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
Acts 16:25-34 NRSV
I have usually made a point to arrive early to worship so that I have time to listen for God's message for me. But then my church began playing praise music ahead of the service - music I am not familiar with and really do not enjoy. So I started arriving just prior to the sermon, thinking this is the only thing I need from God.
One Sunday the sermon was based on Acts 16:16-40. The story of Paul and Silas in prison spoke directly to my heart. Rather than dwell on their pain and suffering into the night, they began to pray and sing praises to God! That message had a powerful impact on me. Praise is a sign of love we can always offer to God, who is faithful, generous, and compassionate. More than that, praise is the affirmation of God's love for us.
Moving forward, I began to join in every praise song, whether I was familiar with it or not. Later, I would search the internet for the less familiar songs so I could learn them. Now I don't want to be late for worship because I don't want to miss the song of praise. Being present and fully prepared to participate is something I have come to value - and enjoy!
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
Amidst all our preparations for Thanksgiving gatherings, I invite you to pause and breath deeply, and find a quiet moment to spend with God.
Heavenly Father, attune our hearts to worship you in spirit and in truth. May we all find joy in praising you. Amen.