Acts 16:16 “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
Paul and Silas did something when they were doing what God wanted and the world hit them hard. They prayed and praised God, and the other prisoners heard them.
Acts 16:26 “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”
The church can set everyone free. The middle of the night can be a time to be depressed or a time to praise God.
Spiritually, darkness is a time for fear or questioning, things are unfair. Paul and Silas chose to sing. In the darkness, you may feel like things were taken from you. Paul felt a song. Silas felt it was time to praise. You may feel so burdened. You may be one song away from the presence of the Lord. ‘In the presence of the Lord, there is liberty.’
It was at Men’s Camp that I realized how noisy birds are when it is still extremely dark. Why do the birds sing before the dawn? The Lord said, ‘They’re singing of the coming sunshine.’
Why do birds sing in the night? They know the sun is about to rise. Even though they couldn’t see the worms, there was something that caused them to sing because they knew what was coming—the dawn.
There is something innate in a bird that tells that something good is coming. In us, that something in us is faith. ‘I know that my Redeemer lives. He is more powerful than what is going on.’
Mal 4:2 “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”
Luke 1:78-79 “Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Dayspring is that which is rising up within me. In the ‘night,’ faith rises up, leading us to peace.
Isa 60:1-3 “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
Sunrise is a quiet, tranquil beauty. It’s a new day. The darkness is over. The sun is rising up over our lives.
The beginning of a new day is not midnight, it’s at the crack of dawn.
There’s a place in Georgia called Stone Mountain. There’s a statue of a barefoot, confederate soldier whose caption reads, ‘Men who saw night coming down on them could somehow act as if they stood at the edge of dawn.’
What do you do at the edge of dawn? You give praise to God.
Job 35:10 “But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;”
Psalm 119:62 “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.”
Isa 30:29 “Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the mighty One of Israel.”
There is a place for those who criticize. It doesn’t always happen the way we envision it. When darkness closes in around us, can we be ready to sing a song to the Lord?
‘I love you, I really love You. I will try to live my life to show it too. I really love You.’
Lam 3:40-41 “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.”
The next levels of praise involve making music to the Lord through instruments and singing.
47:1 “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”
Sometimes, we have to engage the enemy, but we start with victory. We start and end with victory. We win. That’s how we engage. It’s not a cry for help, it’s victory.
Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”
Isa 12:6 “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.”
How big you see your God is how much you praise Him. We don’t need somebody to get a point in a game in order to shout.
1 Chron 16:25 “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.”
Psalm 63:7 “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”
When engaging a lion, the instructions are to stand still and shout (not in fear, but in victory). This causes confusion and fear in the enemy. Your shout will cause walls to fall down. That’s how we engage the enemy.
Another level is ‘zamar’ playing music, touching strings and worshipping with all kinds of instruments, ‘to strike with the fingers,’ ‘to celebrate in song and in music.’
Where do you want God to be King in your life? When you yield up everything to Him, lift up a song of genuine praise to God. Then, God will activate His promises. His Spirit is released. God will set the prisoners free.
Isa 43:18-21 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. 21 This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.”
Don’t dwell on the past. We are in a desert place, but that’s the time to praise the Lord. God is still our refuge. It’s time to sing a song of praise to God. It’s not about how good you sound, it’s about your praise.
Our song of praise is powerful. It can bring water into the desert, it can set chains loose. It brings us into the very presence of God.
Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
2 Chron 20:21-22 “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”
Nighttime is hard for people. We are not the people of the dark. We’re people of the Light.
In the dark, there is fear. People lash out. God will take care of things in times of darkness. We are called to trust Him and let Him do what He does best—be Who and What He is.
When it’s time to praise God, singing should be a part of it. Praise, prayer, kneeling, worship, singing, music should be a part of it. God literally inhabits the singing, the worship.
‘What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’
Turn on the Light. We flip that switch by singing praises to Jesus. Let there be a song in your heart to Jesus. The dawn is coming.
2 Chron 7:13-14 “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
This is what we need to do going forward.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- What is your favorite worship song and why?
- What helps you to relieve stress? What are some of your coping strategies? Are they consistent with God’s Word?
- Read Psalm 42:1-8. How does the psalmist deal with his depression? What can we copy and learn from him?
- How can you reach out and bless someone else?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.