I Praise Because of the Cross

Micah Simpson

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:25)
Something that I admire about the early church, is there earnestness to seek God. Among other things, their focus was on preaching, teaching, strengthening the brethren, and praying, and we can see that these things were not tradition! Seeking God was not out of duty, it was out of joy. And when the going got tough, the position of their heart did not change, they continued to worship God and seek Him.

Can you imagine getting seriously beaten for your faith! Can you imagine the city of Honolulu gathering together against you, dragging you to Halawa prison, beating you with many blows, and then tossing you into a cell. That would certainly be a lousy day!

But remember that Paul and Silas were not merely following Jesus because they were obligated or because they had to! NO, these men were madly in love with Jesus, and when beaten and tossed into prison, they did not curse God, they did not give up, they did not throw in the towel or complain, they were praying and singing hymns to God!
If I were to follow Jesus out of obligation, or if my faith was just a little concert that I put on each week, then when the going got tough, I would probably bail out! This is why Jesus Christ has to be number one. When Jesus is number one, then my praise will not be determined by what happens, it will be determined by the cross. When the cross of Jesus governs my decisions and my focus, then prayer and worship will be a natural response no matter what the situation.

Take notice that Paul didn't write a book on how to break out of prison. He continued on with preaching and teaching and praying and seeking God. I never want to take my eyes off the cross and put them on to myself. I desire to keep my eyes on the cross and my heart fully devoted to Christ. I want to praise because of the cross.
Lord I pray that I would not be a person who follows you out of duty or obligation. Where I feel like church is a chore, and that faith is merely adhering to a list of rules and regulations. No, I pray that my faith would be alive, that my eyes would be fixed on you, that my heart would be devoted to you, and that my worship would be directed towards you.

I understand that Christianity today expects God to give, expects God to bless, expects God to free us from prison and save us from every trial, but honestly, it doesn’t matter what God decides to do, it matters that I follow him with faith until the day that I die. If God does decide to work on my behalf, awesome, and if he doesn't, awesome. My faith isn't swayed by how much God might give me, my faith is determined by the blood that He shed and the life that He gave. My praise is determined by the cross.

Devotions for February 09

Leviticus 10,11,12
Acts 16

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