We are considering three conversions from Acts 16. Over a few days we dealt with Lydia. From today I want to consider the conversion of a demon possessed slave girl. Now, I am certain if you have been reading the newspapers and watching TV news over the past few years you will have seen how many so called “pastors, prophets, apostles and priests” have been caught out for misleading their congregants. Far too often they disguise their operations as a church, but the intention is to milk people of their money and assets. There are even people operating as a “church” who will give you cash to start a business but you sign an unchangeable will leaving your fix property to the “church”.
Often such people are called charlatans. Personally I think that is far too lenient. They are criminals because they literally rob people, twisting the Scriptures to make it say what they want to say, working on peoples’ emotions to get them to give their money, watches, rings and jewelry and fixed assets to the “church”. This as you are aware damages the name and image of the True Church and slanders the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you need to know that this is not only done in the Name of Jesus, other religions have fallen prey to the same thing. Although the passage I want to consider briefly is long, it is worth hearing what Paul, writing to Timothy, has to say:
1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Notice a link here … “teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching … has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth … and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” Did you see that? False doctrine leads to all shapes of sinful behaviour, disguised as godliness for one purpose … financial gain. Then in verse 9 he informs us that those bent on becoming wealthy will ultimately come to their “ruin and destruction”. Then we see in verse 10, not money, but the love, obsession of it is the sin. Passion for money is a root of all kinds of evil causing many such people to drift from the faith. God wants His people to be “godly and content” with what we have (v6). The point I am making before looking at this girl’s conversion is that it is impossible to serve two masters … Our Lord put it like this:
Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
The Greek is God and Mammoth (money and possessions). Although I am totally convinced that there is only one true God and that is the God of the Bible with true religion being that of Christianity, as said above, all religions experienced criminals seeking to prey on followers for their financial gain. So now we come to the conversion of this demon possessed slave girl.
Ac 16:16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
(1) The importance of prayer.
Ac 16:16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer.
If you are careful as you read the Bible you will observe how often prayer is spoken about. The early Christian Church and especially the apostles and their colleagues were committed to engaging with God regularly because they understood the importance of prayer in their ministry. Not only had Jesus taught the importance of “asking with the right motives”, the first prayer gathering after Jesus’ Ascension experienced the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost, saving many souls. I want to encourage you to encourage your pastor, Church Council and Church to set apart special times each week or month or quarter for prayer, with the specific focus on souls being saved.
(2) Another divine appointment.
Ac 16:16 we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.
There is so much to deal with in this verse that I want to rather look at divine appointments with the space I have left today. We cannot divorce their prayer life from the meeting up with this girl. God encourages us to pray … and to pray for souls to be saved and as we pray like this He arranges ‘divine appointments’ for us to meet up with people with whom we may either share the Gospel immediately or build a bridge of fellowship to gain the right to share the gospel. When you or your Church do this advance praying about God bringing people to you or the Church so that they might hear the gospel and be saved … God works. Never forget that prayer is the powerhouse of the church. It is the spiritual oxygen of the spiritual lungs of the Church.
O God, teach me to pray earnestly for souls to be saved. Amen.