Devotionals by Dale O'Shields


 

Staying out of the Pity Pit

Most likely you have experienced times when it seemed like the weight of the world was on your shoulders.  Joy escaped you.  You were pressed and pressured by burdens, worries and a heavy heart.  Times were tough and life was hard.  Maybe this describes you today.

What do we do when life gets hard and pressures get heavy?  How do we get through times like this?

We find a simple, but wonderful answer in the life of the Apostle Paul and his ministry helper Silas.  The story is found in Acts 16.

Paul and Silas went into the city of Philippi to preach the Gospel.  As they began preaching, they encountered opposition that eventually led to false accusations and trumped up charges being filed against them.  They were severely beaten and thrown into the worst part of Philippi’s prison.  Outwardly, this looked like a very bleak circumstance.  It was an extremely hard time for them.

Take a look at how the Bible describes their predicament:

“They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison.  The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape.  So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in stocks.”  —  Acts 16:23, 24 (NLT)

Talk about a bad day!  It doesn’t get a whole lot worse than this!

We learn a lot by observing how Paul and Silas handled this tough time in their lives.  Would they become angry, discouraged and disillusioned?  Would they sink into the muck and mire of despair?  Would they practice what they preached or would their faith fail them in this moment?  How would they respond to their hard situation?

The Bible takes us into their Philippian prison cell.  It gives us a front row seat to their response:

“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”  —  Acts 16:25 (NLT)

Immediately we are taken to a whole new spiritual level.  Instead of falling into the pity pit, Paul and Silas raised up pillars of prayer and praise to God.  In doing so, they set an example for us.

The result of their response is amazing.  It got God’s attention.  Take a look at what happened next:

“Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundation.  All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!”  —  Acts 16:26 (NLT)

Paul and Silas, in one of their toughest moments of life and ministry, did something unnatural.  They chose to worship God.  They chose to look up and lift up the name of the Lord.  They chose to rejoice in the One who was with them in their dark, dank cell at Philippi.  They welcomed God into their world, at the time of their greatest pain and need.

And their worship made a difference!  It opened the way for God to work in their world.  And work He did!  Deliverance came to Paul and Silas, the other prisoners saw God’s might at work, and the jailer came to know Jesus Christ.  That’s the power of worship!

Are you going through a tough time?  Is the weight of the world on your shoulders?  Is life hard for you right now?  Let Paul and Silas’ example instruct and inspire you.  Do the unnatural thing.  Instead of falling into a pity pit, raise up pillars of prayer and praise.  Give God an opportunity to invade your world and demonstrate to you, and those around you, the power of worship!

 

Dale O'Shields

 

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About Dale O'Shields

Dale O’Shields is the founding and Senior Pastor of Church of the Redeemer, a multi-cultural church that operates four campuses in Maryland, just north of the greater Washington, DC area.

Dale O’Shields is known for his relevant teaching style focused on practical application in people’s lives. His messages are regularly broadcast on radio and television. He is also the author of several books, devotionals and group study guides.

Dale O’Shields is a frequent conference speaker with a passion for leadership development and church growth. He has served as the Senior Pastor of a thriving local church for over 25 years. His heart to equip and encourage pastors and church leaders has led him to be a key founder of United Pastors Network.

Dale O’Shields has been involved in pastoral ministry since 1978, serving previously as Director of Campus Ministries and as an adjunct instructor at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. He and his wife Terry have two married daughters and seven grandchildren.

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