Sunday, 7 April 2019

Divine Appointment

Scripture: Acts 16 v 16 - 18: "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 
 17  The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
 18  And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour."

Whenever we embark on a mission to win souls we need direction from the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 16 it started with Paul asking the Lord if he should take to gospel into Asia. The Holy Spirit twice refused them permission. "I forbid!", He responded.

Then the Holy Spirit gave Paul a vision calling him to preach in Macedonia. The Lord had prepared a place where there was a great need. The Lord also prepared a place for the apostles to stay.  Our God leaves nothing to chance.

Right at the outset they were met by the woman who was possessed by a psychic demon, or spirit of divination, and her fortune-telling pronouncements concerning Paul's ministry actually undermined it. It does not recommend a ministry if the enemy is cheering it on!  But even this was a divine appointment.

Paul prayed deeply for many months to bind the spirit of divination or fortune telling in this woman. It had a very strong hold on her. She was possessed by this demon.  It controlled her completely and she was a slave to those who took whatever she earned.

One day Jesus said to Paul, NOW! The stronghold was broken through all his intercessory prayer, and the spirit departed as soon as Paul rebuked it.  She lost her psychic powers immediately and those who used her to earn money for themselves were furious. 

The attack escalated when Paul and Silas were thrown in prison by them. In the deepest dungeon they praised God with Psalms and hymns, and He caused an earthquake to conveniently open the prison doors, releasing every prisoner.

This miracle (including that none of the prisoners ran away) caused the jailor and his family to be saved and baptized at midnight. By this time the whole city knew about Jesus!

The fortune teller woman was set free and God was glorified. Paul and Silas were brought before the magistrate who told them to leave that city. When they left the name of Jesus Christ was widely known. 

The Holy Spirit had led them to a place which was prepared so that God's power and authority through the name of Jesus Christ could be displayed through His care for the wellbeing of the apostles; His desire to set the possessed woman free; His power over nature - sending an earthquake; His desire to save the soul of the jailor and his family. All these Godly acts left a strong impression on this city and all Paul's teachings would be remembered and a strong ministry established in the city.

When the Lord wants to start something He directs every stage of the operation. All we need do is follow Him and do what He tells us. When we try to add our clever schemes to His divine plan, that's when problems arise and when our programs flop we blame God for not blessing it. God only blesses what He initiates according to His own perfect will. 

Yesterday, in Pretoria, South Africa, nearly a million Christians gathered to declare themselves the Kingdom of God in this communist country.  It didn't make the news, but it was a Divine Appointment blessed by the Lord.  A praying people who are calling on a Holy God to change the direction of this country.  To change a government that has closed its embassy in Israel in favour of Hamas terrorists who want to destroy her.

Another Divine Appointment is the rain falling in Iran right now, whose leaders are pushing Hamas and Hezbollah to wipe Israel off the map.  Serious flooding has caused utter destruction to many towns in Iran and they are having to evacuate thousands more people as more flooding and rain is on its way.  God has always said I will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse her.  If we look at the state of those nations that continually oppose Israel and see how ruined they are its sufficient evidence that our God means what He says.

South African ANC government has thrown down the gauntlet before the face of Jesus Christ.  He has raised up a standard in our capital city and seat of government in this birth of a new Kingdom.  Verse running through my mind says what you do to others will be done to you.  Our God responds to the way we treat Him, saying what you do to the least of these, you do it to Me.  Hope springs eternal for a change of government!

Prayer: Heavenly Father how wondrous You are. There are many like this woman who need spiritual help and prayer. Teach us to pray like Paul did to reach the lost, the bound, the addicted and the broken people. Teach us to wait upon You to initiate plans. WAIT means Wisdom, Anointing, Instruction, Timing. In Jesus' name. Amen.