About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once, all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” —Acts 16:25-28 NIV

My guess is Paul was a firstborn child. “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” just sounds like something the oldest sibling would say. Also, like many firstborn children, Paul was a get-it-done kind of guy. His personality was bold and unapologetic. And, providentially, the Holy Spirit transformed Paul’s zeal for God as a Jewish leader into zeal for Jesus Christ.

Paul was a deep thinker, a rule follower, and a fierce debater. He understood human nature (especially those Jews who persecuted him), yet he persevered to the end. And Paul was no stranger to conflict. The scene in Acts 16:25-28 is set in a prison. It is also one instance when Paul’s boldness for Jesus overflowed into a demonstration of joy and love, resulting in broken chains and saved souls. Whether hunted, hounded, or imprisoned, Paul was an unapologetic ambassador for Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In contrast, as a child, I resented being the second-born. I felt invisible and useless because I wasn’t the oldest with responsibility nor the youngest with vulnerability. I was just there. However, I see now that God gave me a unique and valuable role as both a younger and an older sister in my family. Similarly, God gave me a unique role as a child of God with gifts like contemplation, intuition, discernment, and faith. I have less ambition for what the world calls success than I do a desire to create beauty. I like to be alone with God, so much so that I must intentionally seek opportunities to reach out and love others. (I’m told this comes naturally to some people … probably first-born children.)

Through all this discovery, I have learned that God fulfills his purposes His way, and I can rest in that because God doesn’t make mistakes, He loves perfectly, and He’s the best parent ever. Therefore, living with open hands and accepting my God-given gifts and circumstances means I am always prepared to receive more from God. He moves in and through us to mold us more and more into the likeness of His Son. But that kind of Kingdom living is possible only by abiding in the Spirit, which is so evident in the life of Paul.

When I read the Book of Acts, I am struck by the diversity of the church. For instance, Timothy was both Jewish and Greek, and Roman soldiers, jailers, and idol worshipers repented and followed Jesus, while Jewish leaders were rebuked in love. The beautiful message is that regardless of your position in life, God will greet you, Jesus will love and forgive you of all sin, and then, if you are willing, He’ll transform you from the inside out.

Father, continue to change me from the inside out. Renew my heart and my mind. Use me however You see fit and show me how to love those who are different from me because we all need Jesus. Amen.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and
peace in believing, that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NJKV).

Marlene McKenna



Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.





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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Margaret Fowler
    March 11, 2024 10:04 pm

    Thanks Marlene, always enjoy your messages. The phrase that I especially like, “Renew my heart and mind” . We need to renew daily. Love that picture.

  • Donna V Perkjns
    March 25, 2024 2:45 pm

    Ha! I was last born and still felt very invisible. I am worth you in wanting to spend alone time with God and have to make myself spend time with people. It’s well worth it when I do. I’m so glad God uses all kinds of people and personalities in His plan. You are loved!


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