On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series “Church of Power” by talking about the importance of praise. There are many things in our lives that try to steal our praise because the enemy knows that our praise is the one thing that can defeat him. Our praise is the battle cry that causes our King to come in and save the day. God inhabits our praise (Psalm 22:3). Paul and Silas encountered this as a result of a fortune-teller who would not stop following them.
In Acts 16:16-18 it says, “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour.”
Isn’t it funny that it was when they were on their way to pray that this woman started heckling them? It says that she had a spirit of divination, which comes from the word ‘pathos,’ which is where we get the word ‘python.’ The python spirit was common in the early church, much like it is today. It may seem like the woman was promoting Paul and Silas but she was actually stealing their voice. A python sucks the life out of people, and Paul knew what she was trying to do and commanded that spirit to leave her. It’s time for us to start getting annoyed at the things that try to heckle us and steal our voice. When we follow the Lord and get free from the things that ensnare us, people won’t always react well. When the masters of the slave girl saw that she could no longer bring them profit, they imprisoned Paul and Silas. People often profit off of our dysfunction because our dysfunction makes them feel better about their own. When they no longer can benefit from our chains, they will try to imprison us themselves.
After being beaten and put in chains, Paul and Silas have the most unexpected reaction: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 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 chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’”(Acts 16:25-30).
Wow! What a powerful moment. In a time of complete despair, Paul and Silas decided to praise, and upon hearing their praise, God came in, which brought about the salvation of the prison guard! Some of us need to find our praise in the midst of our midnight because it’s not just about our freedom, but it’s about the freedom of those around us. In whatever situation you find yourself in, choose to praise because there’s always someone’s freedom waiting on the other side of it!