The In-Between, To Be Continued Moments of our Lives…
The other night my son was watching the very last Harry Potter movie in the series. He’s been reading each book & after he finishes a book he watches the movie.
But it was getting late. It was time for dinner. I hated to do it to him, but right as Harry Potter was walking into the woods I had to pause it & say those dreaded words… “To be continued.”
Worst words ever.
He would get to finish it the next day, but He had to wait to see what was going to happen next.
We hate “to be continued.” We dread the in-between moments.
This is why so many of us binge watch tv shows on Netflix these days. We can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next!
This happens in our lives sometimes too. Some of us are in the “To be continued…” moments of our lives right now where we don’t know what’s going to happen next.
You were in a place of security, then something changed, something happened, & you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Your living in the middle of the unknown.
And it’s in the “To be continued…” moments of our lives that the source of our faith is revealed.
What do we do when we don’t know what’s going to happen next?
There is something different about the people of God when it comes to those in-between, to be continued moments of our lives.
In Acts 16, there are two guys named Paul & Silas who are on a mission trip in a town called Philippi when this happens…
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.
19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
Can you imagine what Paul & Silas are experiencing here? They came to Philippi on a mission trip. If you go back a few verses you can see that their mission trip has already been a success! They’ve met some incredible people & seen them come to faith in Jesus.
Then they’re heckled by a demon possessed slave girl. And I know that Paul was annoyed by the demon possessed girl, but I have to imagine that Paul’s motive for casting the evil spirit out of this girl was also out of compassion for her.
She was being used by her masters to make money for them because the evil spirit inside of her had some ability to tell the future. So here is this young girl, being used & abused by her maters to make money. Can you imagine how her parents felt? Can you imagine the torture she endured?
In fact, I wonder if this girl didn’t follow Paul on purpose, hoping that he could cast this demon out of her. I find it ironic that the demon within her who could tell the future for others didn’t see this coming!
Then Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit & the name of Jesus, removes this spirit from her & sets her free. The power of the Holy Spirit in Paul was great than the power of the unholy spirit in her!
Now, because of that… Paul & Silas are stripped, beaten bloody with rods, thrown into the dungeon & put in stocks.
Now, they’re sitting in the blackness of the night, in the middle of the dungeon… this is an “in-between” moment in their lives. A “to be continued moment” in their lives.
Before, they were on a mission trip sharing the good news of Jesus & seeing people come to faith in Christ. But now, they’re trapped, beaten, & have no idea what’s going to happen next in the middle of a jail cell with maximum security.
We were made to worship.
What do you do in the in-between, to be continued moments of your life?
What do you do when everything falls apart & you don’t know what’s going to happen next?
Where do you turn? What happens to your faith?
Where is God in the middle of the night when your beaten & bloodied with no hope in sight?
I want you to see what happens with Paul & Silas in the middle of the jail cell in the middle of the night. I want you to see what happens in this “in-between,” “to be continued” moment of their lives…
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.
In the middle of the night, with no hope in sight, with the raw wounds still exposed on their backs from being beaten with rods, with dried tears still on their face, with bodies wearied from the fatigue of it all, with more questions than answers, with worry about what might happen next… Paul & Silas worship.
And the other prisoners? They were listening.
When the world sees us worship in the middle of our pain they wonder.
As believers in Jesus, we have faith that God isn’t just the God of our past or the God of our future, but that God in Jesus is God with us in our present, in the in-between moments, the to be continued moments of our lives.
Even in the darkest of night, we can count on God & on the promises of God.
This is what Paul & Silas knew in the middle of the night, in the middle of the dungeon.
Some of you right now are in the middle of the darkness of night. Job loss. More bills than you can pay. Sickness. Grief. Shame. You’re in the middle of your darkest night.
But here’s what I believe..
There’s something powerful about giving God your worship in spite of your circumstances.
There’s something about coming to those moments in life when we have more questions than answers, when we don’t know what’s going to happen next, when we are going through suffering, when we are hurting, & yet we respond in worship.
And we can do that because our faith in Jesus is rooted in an event, it’s rooted in a cross — the ancient symbol of suffering & pain. Yet when we see the cross, because of Jesus, we have hope & we respond in worship.
There’s something powerful about proclaiming that God is who He says He is even when He is silent.
There’s something powerful about us believing in God’s presence even when it appears God is absent.
The Rest of the Story
There is more to the story, by the way. If you keep reading, something powerful happens.
26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!
There’s something powerful about giving God your worship in spite of your circumstances. That night, God heard the worship of Paul & Silas. And God sent an earthquake that somehow set them free.
Earthquakes don’t normally do that you know. They break stuff. They cause things to fall & they trap people in places like dungeons. Earthquakes aren’t generally known for setting people free. But this one does.
But Paul & Silas don’t run away. If they had, the head jailer would have lost his life because his prisoners escaped. Paul & Silas valued the life of the slave girl possessed by a demon. They valued the life of this Roman jailer as well.
Because of that, they went to his home that night & were able to share with him & his family the good news of Jesus. He & his family believed in Jesus that night & were baptized.
Because that jailer heard Paul & Silas in worship in chains before the earthquake came. He knew their worship was real & their God was real.
And just like that jailer, those closest to us are listening to us.
They know when we’re hurting, when we’re suffering, when we’re uncertain.
And when what they hear from us when we’re at our lowest point is worship… it has an impact.
So today, if your in an in-between moment in your life, I want to invite you to worship.
If the headline over you right now is “To be continued,” I want to invite you to worship.
Because there’s something powerful about giving God your worship in spite of your circumstances.
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