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SCRIPTURE READING         Acts 16:16-34

Once when we were going to prayer, we met a household worker who was possessed by a spirit of divination, and who made a great deal of money for her employers through its fortune telling.  She began to follow Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These are faithful followers of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation!” She did this for many days.

Finally one day Paul lost his temper, and turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave this woman!” It left her that moment.

When her employers saw that their profitable operation was now hopelessly dead, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the public square.  They brought them to the chief magistrates and said, “These people are Jews and are disturbing the peace by advocating practices which are unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

The crowd joined in the attack on them, and the magistrates stripped them and ordered them to be flogged. They were whipped many times and thrown into prison, and the jailer was told to keep a close watch on them.  So, following these instructions, the warden threw them into the innermost cell of the prison and chained their feet to a stake.

About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the other prisoners listened.  Suddenly a severe earthquake shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundation. Immediately all the doors flew open, and everyone’s chains were pulled loose.  When the jailer woke up and found the doors wide open, he drew a sword and was about to take his own life, presuming that the prisoners had escaped.

But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We’re all still here.”

The jailer called for a light, then rushed in and fell trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas, and, after a brief interval, led them out and asked them, “What must I do to be saved?”

They answered, “Believe in Jesus the Savior, and you will be savedyou and everyone in your household.”

They proceeded to preach the word of God to the jailer and his whole household.  At that late hour of the night he took them in and bathed their wounds; then he and the whole household were baptized.  He led them up into his house, spread a table before them, and the whole family joyfully celebrated their newfound faith in God.

Song of Faith