2018-12-09 – Acts 16:16-24 – Troublemakers
2018-12-09 – Acts 16:16-24 – Troublemakers
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Today we are going to read about the apostle Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, and they are going to be labeled as Troublemakers, as is the title of this message today. These missionaries are in the middle of the second missionary journey of the early church. They were going about starting new churches and right now are in the area of Phillipi and Macedonia (south-eastern Europe).
Please turn now to Acts 16, verse 16, page 983 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
Last week we read where Paul, Silas and Timothy were trusting the Holy Spirit to guide them as they traveled. The met and subsequently baptized Lydia (the lady of Purple cloth) and her family, and now they are ministering and reaching out to the people in that area.
16 Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 As she followed Paul and us she cried out, “These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the servants of the Most High God.” 18 She did this for many days.
This slave girl was a fortune-teller or medium that was demon possessed. She made money for her slave masters by telling peoples fortunes. We have these fortune teller things around our neighborhoods as well. You should know that God considers these things to be detestable and evil. He tells us not to partake in such things. You can read about this in Deuteronomy 18:9, where God tells Moses and us not to imitate the detestable things of these types.
Do I believe she was really telling the future? Perhaps, we do not know for sure. But demons were guiding her. Many people believe they have special powers, but really they are just hosts or slaves to Satan and his demons. The problem is, you never know if what they are telling you is real or not. Satan has powers, but he is not all powerful. Satan is not like God in his unlimited knowledge and wisdom. These fortune tellers, like the one in these verses, may have the ability to channel the demons for information, but weather the information real or not is the gamble. God doesn’t want you to gamble upon demonic influenced fortune tellers. He says for us to stay away from them, as well as witches, and Ouija boards and the like. I don’t even like astrology as it kind of falls into that same dynamic arena. Don’t give Satan a foothold into your good character.
Paul was greatly annoyed. Turning to the spirit, he said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away.
So again this lady was shouting over and over again,“These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the servants of the Most High God.” What she was saying was the truth, however she wasn’t shouting this for the purposes of spreading the Gospel or giving God reverence. She was trying to make a mockery of Paul and the missionaries. She was calling attention to them so that they wouldn’t be successful, and it says that “she did this for many days”. Paul was a foreigner in that land, and the last thing he needed was somebody embarrassing him as he was trying to appeal to the people’s hearts about accepting Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord.
Then it says here that Paul got rid of the demon spirit. Another verb phrase used for this is exorcizing the spirit. Just like we use the word Exodus for when Moses and the Israelite exited Egypt, Paul caused the evil spirit to exit or leave this lady. Notice Paul used the name of Jesus Christ to do this; the demons didn’t leave because of Paul, it was Jesus who had this power. Paul just called upon the power of Jesus Christ to get rid of the demon. We know that Paul later wrote in Philippians 2:10 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
So you might be wondering if we too, as Christians have such power like Paul showed us here. I did a little research and I believe the apostles were unique, and God granted them special abilities for a season that isn’t as necessary today. However, now that we have the Bible and we believe the Word of God to be complete, we as Christians have even more armor and weaponry to battle the spirit world than even the early Christians did. The role of casting out demons is secondary in priority to that of evangelism and discipleship through the Word of God.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we should be proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ in what ever we do, and I personally keep His Name and His Word at my side and use them like the gunfighters of old would use their revolvers. If you are feeling like satan is on the prowl, or that demons are impacting your life in some way. Then pray, and even pray aloud, and don’t hesitate to say Jesus Christ in those situations. The main point here is that we should stay away from anything that takes us away from acknowledging God as our Lord and Jesus as our Savior. Like this fortune teller, God doesn’t like it, and we don’t need it.
19 When her owners realized that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. 20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. 24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.
Again, Paul didn’t physically do anything wrong here to anyone. The woman was going out of her way to make a mockery of Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy. Paul then helped the lady be freeing her from that evil spirit. But the owners (plural) of the slave lady were now denied their ill-gotten profit. They roused up the crowd who drug them off to the courthouse. Notice they didn’t even charge them for taking away their livelihood, no, instead they exaggerated their charges now to going against the Roman laws, which was a lie. As a result, they were denied any defense, stripped of their clothes, beaten or flogged, and thrown into prison. This is the life of a missionary sometimes unfortunately.
Paul and his friends knew they were going up against odds when they set out on mission to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus. To go to all the nations and make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here they were putting themselves in harms way in an attempt in love to save people’s eternal lives, but instead they were seen by the world at large as Troublemakers. Unfortunately that is the life of many a missionary.
Today we have seen the video about missionaries, talked to missionaries, and now we are reading about missionaries. God is trying to tell us something here today I believe. We need to be supporting these missionaries. We need to be considering how we to can serve as missionaries ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean traveling the world and putting ourselves in dangerous situations physically, but maybe it does? Or maybe it means we should consider more putting ourselves on mission in our local communities, or in the marketplace. Are you willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to share the Gospel? What do you have to loose? I don’t want to put you on the spot, but please ask yourself what are you willing to do in order to carry out the Great Commission for Jesus Christ?
Like Paul and his band of brothers, we know that our security is in heaven. Jesus said He prepared a place for us, a mansion even. We know that there is nothing we can do that will take that away. With that understanding we should be brave.
These folks were trying to do good, but they ran into troubling circumstances. We will see how this turns out in the verses ahead next week. But I want you to consider taking the example given here by Paul in your own lives going forward. And please don’t participate in fortune telling, witchcraft or dark magic of any type. These things are the ploys of satan and his demons, and they are detestable to God and they are not to be part of our Christian walk.
We are to be “Salt and Light” to the world. Salt cleanses and Light aluminates and reveals sin. That is what Paul was doing when they were persecuted as Troublemakers. Are you willing to be ridiculed and persecuted for bringing Salt and Light to the world? And as you go, don’t be discouraged dear Christ follower, even if and when you are labeled as a Troublemaker, because as what was read to you at the start of our service today, Jesus said to them, and He says to us now “behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And in that we can have much comfort.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”