Day 25

Conversion of the Philippian Jailer

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan


Acts 16:16-40, 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, 1 Peter 2:19-21

Has God ever brought you to the end of yourself?

When I was an RUF campus minister at the University of Oklahoma, I received a phone call from one of my students on the Saturday of the OU-Texas football game. This match-up is played every year in Dallas, and it’s a huge party.

My student had already called his dad, who had instructed him to call me next. He told me he was calling from jail. He’d been arrested for public intoxication. I told him I was glad to hear from him, that I hoped he was okay, and that I’d talk to him next when he returned home. But that was all I could do for him.

Going to jail might be one of the most stressful things that can happen to a person. My student’s incarceration turned into a time of gospel renewal for him. His embarrassment became a turning point in his life.

Though I wish my student had been in jail for a different reason, the Lord used that time to change his life. But in Acts 16, when Paul and Silas were also sent to jail, their time behind bars ended up changing their jailer’s life. This chapter tells a fascinating, and rather odd, story. Read the text and you’ll see what I mean.

Paul commanded an evil spirit to come out of a slave girl who was being used to make money for her masters. The owners weren’t happy their fortune-teller could no longer profit them. So they had Paul and his buddy Silas put in jail.

What happened next was nothing like the story my student told about the night he spent in the drunk tank in the West End in Dallas. The earth shook and the prison doors opened and prisoners were free to escape—but they didn’t. The jailer knew this was somehow connected to their God.

Luke describes it this way:

“Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God” (Acts 10:30–34).

It’s amazing that God uses things like incarceration for His glory. He did this both for Paul and Silas and for my student at OU. God uses evil for good. He redeems bad situations. This is His way. One of the ways God gets our attention is by bringing us to the end of ourselves.

How has He done this, or how is He currently doing this, in your life?

Written By Doug Serven 

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