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EARTHQUAKE to JAILBREAK…might make an enticing book title. The only slight tremor I have ever experienced was last year when a mild earthquake shook Irving and parts of Dallas. I remember feeling it. Our daughter really felt it when some items fell from shelves in her house. All of us have witnessed, either personally or through the media, the massive destruction caused by earthquakes. 2017 saw quite a number of them around the world, two of the bigger ones being in Mexico and Iraq/Iran.
I have taught in prisons and jails for more than 46 years, but I have a clean record. Never once have I been locked up or held against my will requiring a jailbreak for me to get out. WHEW!!! The covering of prayer helps! What I have experienced is the toll incarceration takes on the inmates. I have experienced the chilling sound of a large prison gate or door shutting behind me-on the way out. It is a sobering sound. Not sure if I could mentally handle being locked up.
Okay, Bill, what do earthquakes and jailbreaks have in common that you would put the two together? Glad you asked. Last Sunday, Chad Scruggs preached a riveting sermon at our church on Acts 16. Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown in prison, and admonished for sharing Jesus. Can you relate to them?

 “And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely” (vs. 23).

That was no modern day Hutchins State Jail where I teach each week. Dark, dingy dungeon was more like it. And guess what they were doing? Right–singing and rejoicing at being worthy of this treatment for the gospel! Stop–examine your faith right now. Does it match theirs?
And then an unpredictable and unsettling act by God took place. An earthquake blew the doors open to the cells, the prison guard panicked thinking there had been a jailbreak and he would have to fall on his sword and commit suicide for losing prisoners.
Watch this–these Jesus followers did not break out, but stayed put, even convincing the jailer not to take his own life. And then, the jailer pleaded with them, asking what he needed to do to be saved. The gospel was shared, and the jailer and eventually his entire household were saved for eternity, right then and there.
Has your faith ever been challenged like that, to the point God would send an earthquake to get you released, and save a gentile jailer and his family? And the most astonishing thing happened. He wanted to be baptized. So in the same pool of water where he began to wash his prisoners’ wounds for their physical healing he was baptized by the disciples symbolically illustrating the washing away of his sin based on his confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Physical and spiritual healing in the very same pool of water! Do we not serve an amazing Savior? “…by whose stripes you were healed” (I Pet. 2:24b).
In a split second, this new convert was showing charity to men who only minutes earlier were his captives, even enemies. Where did this miraculous set of circumstances begin? Was it after the earthquake or before? Paul and Silas had demonstrated incredible faith in the direst of circumstances, well before the earthquake hit. Do you recall the scripture about faith and mountain movement? ‘So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”‘ (Mt. 17:20) Not suggesting that the disciples exercised their faith in order to bring an earthquake and accomplish what happened. What I am saying is their faith was rewarded by God taking action to release them and to save a jailer and his family. This served as a springboard for the ministry of the Gospel at Philippi and beyond. What an omnipotent God!
And one of the more incredible results of this event was the start of the church in Philippi by the jailer, his family and two other people who had been saved in a different manner in the same city. Lydia and the demon-possessed slave girl joined them in starting the First Church of Philippi (non-denominational). All because some rag tag Apostles had the bold faith to worship the Lord in the face of persecution.
Might we in America soon be called to exercise this kind of faith?
May God prepare his Church–to bring about earthquakes and jailbreaks!
Copyright 2018
Bill C. Dotson, inspired by Chad Scruggs and the Spirit
Scriptures taken from the NKJV

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