Friday, March 9, 2012

Paul: Acts 16: 16- 24

"These men are servants of the Most High god, who are telling you the way to be saved!"
The voices in her head are screaming at her to yell out these things.  Her masters are not happy, but she is compelled by the dark voices in her head.  She must cry out, to defy them means she is attacked, she is wretched and miserable. 

The people in her town look at her and despise her but they are willing to come to her to have their palms read and futures told to them because they don't know anything else.  Life is not horrible, as long as she does what her master's ask of her and what the voices in her head ask of her then things go smoothly.  But the darkness consuming her, the darkness that comes with the voices is heavy upon her.  She is trapped.  Trapped by the evil ones who possess her, trapped in slavery, trapped in her life, but these men seem to rile up the evil ones even more.  The voices scream, they are afraid and call out because something commands them.

For days she follows these men.  She wonders what the point is of her following them, but she must go, she is compelled.  Finally, one of the men turns around.  He is not happy, they have been trying for days to ignore her, but he seems unhappy and annoyed.  He stares for a few moments before speaking to the voices/the evil ones.

"In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!"

Her head becomes quiet.  She is free from the voices, she is happy.  But her masters have been following her and watching what she is doing and they are not happy.  Paul and Silas are thrown into jail - after being beaten.  Her masters caused a crowd to rise up against Paul and Silas.  

Imagine being lost in despair - trapped by the decisions of others?  Trapped into servanthood by men or women who do not have your best interests at heart?  The young girl who Paul rescued from demon possession, this was her lot in life.  She was a servant, her masters used her demon possession to read people's futures for money.  We never hear what happens to her after she is released from the demons that haunted her and took over her body.  We only know that Paul and Silas spent part of the night in jail, feet in stocks, singing praises to God when an earthquake set them free.  The jailer thought his life was over and almost killed himself until Paul and Silas set yet another captive free.  The jailer became free from the chains of sin.  This is an amazing story of how God uses even a demon possessed girl to change the lives of many.

I'm sure the reason Paul was annoyed was that the people in the town feared the girl.   They liked that she could answer their questions about their future, but they feared her probably too.  As she cried out, she most likely scared off more people than she attracted towards God.  By silencing her, the Holy Spirit could move as God wanted him too.

Sadly, men's evil hearts often do their best to thwart God's plans.   After being released from jail Paul and Silas were asked to leave, but they had planted some seeds with Lydia - a prominent business woman.  And we all know that God can take seeds that have been planted and turn them into great trees bearing beautiful fruit. 

Father,
Help us as we struggle to be bold for you.  Help us to remember that others have suffered for your name, and you took care of them always.  May be bold like Paul and Silas and feel compelled to speak of you to those who will listen.

Amen.

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