August 23 Sunday School

Today’s Bible story is about the apostle Paul. Everywhere Paul went, he searched for opportunities to preach and share the good news. Paul’s news wasn’t always welcome, however. During Paul’s conversion experience, God told Ananias that Paul would have to suffer and sometimes he did. In this week’s Bible story, we read about one of the multiple times Paul was put in prison.
Paul was thrown into prison for healing a slave woman. While healing a woman sounds like a good thing to do, especially for the woman concerned, the woman’s owners were not pleased. Once the slave woman was healed, they were no longer able to use the woman as a fortune-teller to make money for them. The owners’ indignation with Paul and Silas was mitigated by greed.
The experience of Paul and Silas in prison illustrates Paul’s zealousness in spreading the good news. While Paul and Silas were in prison, they passed their time by singing songs and praising God. There was an earthquake that opened the prison doors and broke their chains. Presented with an opportunity to escape, Paul and Silas instead stayed and witnessed to the jailer.
It might be tempting to applaud Paul’s efforts, then sit back and assume that the work of spreading the good news is done.
However, there are still people today who need to hear this good news–the news that Jesus is alive and that God loves them.
Paul and Silas were not singing and praising God because they were in jail, but because they believed God was with them in jail. They believed that God was with them in good times and bad times. We believe that God is with us in good and bad times also. It is OK to praise God in the hard times as well as the good.
Paul and Silas could see only a part of what God was doing in their situation. They chose to praise God anyway, with surprising results. We, too, can choose to praise God in our dark moments.
What difficulty do you face? Pray that God will help you sing praise in difficult times.
Fellowship with others and education were central to Paul’s ministry of encouragement and spreading the good news. When we gather together as a community of faith for worship and Sunday school, we are recognizing what Paul knew—that for the church to grow and thrive, people need to meet together and learn about God. When we invite others to join us at church, we are helping spread the good news of Jesus.

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