ODJ: hard paths

January 14, 2015 

READ: Acts 16:22-37 

Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God (v.25).

When I was hiking in a park with my grandfather, our trail lassoed a lake at the bottom of a valley. As we walked, several smaller paths broke away from the main trail. Each time we came to a fork in the road, my grandfather let me choose which way to go. I always picked the steepest, rockiest, most difficult choice. My grandfather sighed a few times, but he took on the most challenging path for my sake.

Paul and Silas consistently chose the hard path for Jesus. Even after being beaten and placed in a dungeon in Philippi (Acts 16:23-24), they praised God in their chains. “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (v.25). They glorified God when it would have been easier to simply complain and cry.

Choosing the hard path again, Paul and Silas stayed inside the jail when an earthquake presented them with an opportunity to escape. Because of the quake, “all the [prison] doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!” (v.26).

When the jailer realised what had happened, he assumed the convicts had fled, so he prepared to commit suicide. Deciding to bless the one who placed the shackles on him, Paul shouted, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” (v.28). The relieved jailer then escorted Paul and Silas out of the prison. Later, he and his entire household committed themselves to Christ (v.34).

Although things went well for Paul and Silas in Philippi, the path that honours God is rarely pleasant. It often requires courage and self-discipline, for the end may be uncertain. But no matter what we face, we know that Jesus will never leave us on the hard path alone (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day plan› Genesis 24:1-27

Read Hebrews 11:24-26 to see what choosing the hard path meant for Moses. See Daniel 3:19-29 to learn what happened when three men chose a furnace over unfaithfulness to God. 
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve done (or avoided doing) for the sake of Jesus? How does His sacrifice inspire you to choose the hard path for Him?