Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Released by Jesus


Scripture: Acts 16 v 16 - 17:  "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 servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation."

Whenever we are in serious and effective ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ, it will not be long before strong spiritual opposition confronts us. In this passage in Acts it started with Paul asking the Lord if he should take to gospel into Asia. The Holy Spirit refused them permission.

Then Paul had 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.  

Not long after their arrival they were met by a woman who was possessed by a psychic demon, or spirit of divination, and who brought her masters large financial gain.  However, her pronouncements concerning the ministry of Paul and Silas actually undermined it. It does not recommend a ministry if the enemy is cheering it on!

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.  One day the Holy Spirit said to Paul, NOW! The stronghold was broken and the spirit departed as soon Paul rebuked it.  She lost her power of divination or fortune telling,  immediately and those who used her to earn money were furious.  

Acts 16 v 18 - 21: "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.
19  And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 
20  And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21  And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans."

Those words concerning Paul "being grieved" was actually a strong nudge from the Holy Spirit that the demon was now fully bound and must be cast out.  The result was their arrest and the strong protests.

The attack escalated when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison by the magistrates. 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 caused the jailor to attempt suicide, but it turned out right when he and his family were saved and baptized at midnight. By this time the whole city knew about Jesus! The 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.  

Notice here, as in Mark 5, in the testimony of the Gadarene demoniac, when he was delivered by Jesus of a stronghold consisting of thousands of demons, and was immediately restored to his right mind, while the demons went into a herd of pigs, which dived over a cliff; Jesus was asked to leave the district.  

Mark 5 v 6 - 9: "But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many."

This passage needs deeper explanation.  When the Gaderene demoniac, i.e. the man who was possessed by demons, saw Jesus, he ran towards Him and worshipped Him.  He may have had a vision of Him coming to help him.  He knew that face.

Then the demon cried out with a loud voice, What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the most high God?  Please don't torment me.  Because Jesus had commanded the demon to come out of the man.  The demon knew exactly who Jesus was, and what He was empowered to do.

Jesus asked the demon what his name was....Legion, because we are many.  A Roman legion had a minimum of 6000 soldiers, therefore there were many demons under the control of a ruling spirit called Legion, troubling this man.

People were as shocked then as they are today that deliverance from evil spirits is real.  They do not understand it.  They chase people who do understand it away.  The fact that a very scary person who needed to be chained and separated from the community, was now sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus and in his right mind, was even more scary to them.  But this is what Jesus taught His followers to do, and it is still desperately needed today.

The Holy Spirit had led Paul and Silas 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 plans flop we blame God for not blessing it. God only blesses what He initiates according to His own perfect will. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father how wondrous You are. There are many like this woman, and this man, who need spiritual help and prayer. Teach us to pray like Paul did to reach the lost, the bound, the addicted, alcoholics and broken people so they can be set free.  We praise and thank You, Jesus, for overcoming Satan and his demons to give us this same authority today.  In Jesus' name. Amen.