Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 16:16-34 (ESV). A Spirit of Divination As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. The young woman was possessed by an evil spirit which gave her the ability, it would appear, to be a fortune-teller. What the evil spirit said through her, though, was the truth. So, what would Satan gain by having the girl follow the apostles, claiming the truth about who they were and what they were doing? It doesn’t say, but we might surmise what Satan’s objective might have been, from what we know about him. Satan could have been mocking them. We don’t know the tone of voice with which these words were spoken. As well, sometimes Satan has his servants tell the truth, but in such a way that people think it is not the truth, and so they don’t believe it. In other words, he is proactive in presenting the truth in such a manner so as to make people think it is not the truth so that when they hear it from a legitimate source, they are already predisposed to ignore it. This is happening much today in the world of global government, in the news media, and in the institutional church, where much truth is often presented as “craziness” that is not to be believed. Also, Satan could have been trying to present the image that the girl and the apostles were working together, and thus he would use this to discredit them. Today there are many false apostles who pretend to be true apostles, and by loose association with Christ and with Christianity they are thus able to work to discredit Christians and the gospel of Christ. They may also blend truth with lies so as to give their lies legitimacy, to make them believed. If Satan cannot beat us one way, he will find another way to try to destroy us. I thank the Lord that He is greater and He has all power and dominion over Satan and over all his workers of iniquity, and that Jesus Christ already conquered Satan, so the victory is ours in Christ! Chains came loose when this young woman was delivered from this demon. False Charges But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Another way in which Satan will try to defeat us is by bringing false charges against us. If we are among those who are refuting Satan’s lies, especially within the church, and we are exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness, and we are leading people out of darkness into the light of Christ and of his gospel, he is going to pull out all the stops to try to bring us down. Satan does not like losing his disciples, and he will fight hard and dirty to try to get them back or else to destroy those who were instrumental in their deliverance from Satan and from sin. So, he will try to discredit us, will bring false charges against us, and will facilitate “beatings” against us, whether with a physical whip or with harsh and slanderous words. As well, there is more than one way he can “imprison” us. One of the ways, obviously, is by having us falsely accused and arrested on trumped up charges, and for us to be physically thrown into a factual prison, and perhaps to also be put in real (physical) chains and/or even to be killed. He is not limited by the physical realm, however. He can also discredit us, which might put restrictions on us so that we don’t have the freedom to speak out as we once did. He might be proactive, as well, in trying to make serious followers of Christ out to be looney, crazy, fanatical, hyper-religious, or to be terrorists, et al, so that the church and the world believes that living the crucified life is “over the top” and “legalistic.” He might, too, accuse serious followers of Christ and of his Word of being hate-mongers, judgmental, unsympathetic, bigoted, unkind, unloving, disunifiers, self-righteous and trouble-makers who need to be avoided and discarded within the church by the church leadership so that we cannot have any kind of influence there in presenting the Word of Truth. This could be our “prison” and/or our “chains.” Praying and Singing About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. Yet, again, our God is all powerful and Satan is subject to God and to his authority and he cannot do anything to us but what God gives him permission, and God does so for a good purpose. Jesus already conquered Satan, so Satan has no real power over us. He may be able to inflict harm on us, but God is greater! Amen! God’s purposes will always prevail, and his word will never return empty. God makes a way for us where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot possibly fathom. Humans cannot close any doors that God intends to remain open, and they cannot open any doors that God intends to remain closed. They are only able to do as much as what God allows, and he allows for a purpose. So, we should never fear humans and what they might do to us, because God is absolutely in control and is sovereign over every aspect of our lives. We just need to remember that! Chains came loose when the apostles responded to their mistreatment by praying and by singing hymns to God. Chains came loose, too, when all the prisoners were delivered from their physical imprisonment. “What must I do?” When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Because the apostles responded correctly to their unfortunate circumstances, by praying and by singing, and by being sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings within them not to leave, they were instrumental in the saving of a human life, both from physical and spiritual death, as well as in bringing salvation from sin to all who responded to the message of salvation. The jailer asked what he must do to be saved. Paul and Silas responded by telling him he must believe in the Lord Jesus. This promise was for him and for his household. Some people interpret this that if a man is saved that his household is also saved, but I don’t believe that fits with the rest of scripture or within this context. I believe the message here is that he, as well as those in his household, must individually believe in Jesus in order to be saved. As well, I believe it is clear in v. 34 that when the man rejoiced it was because he and his whole family came to believe in God/Christ. It says here that the apostles also spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. I am assuming here that the apostles then explained more clearly what it means to believe in Jesus Christ and to have eternal life, though it does say what exactly they said. So, if this is so, they would have told all who were listening that to believe in Jesus Christ means to die with Christ (be crucified with Christ) to their old lives of living for sin and self, to be transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind, and to turn to God/Christ to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for their lives, for in Christ they are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Luke 9:23-25; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1-5). It was after this that the man and his family believed in Jesus. Chains came loose when this man and his family died with Christ to sin and were resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ Jesus, no longer walking after the flesh, but now walking after the Spirit. Have Thine Own Way, Lord / Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862-1934 George C. Stebbins, 1846-1945 / Tune: ADELAIDE, Meter: 54.54 D Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, While I am waiting, yielded and still. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Search me and try me, Master, today! Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now, As in Thy presence humbly I bow. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Wounded and weary, help me I pray! Power, all power, surely is Thine! Touch me and heal me, Savior divine! Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Hold o'er my being absolute sway. Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!