One thing that I’ve learned in my nearly 40 years of being a Christian is that God seldom works the way that I expect Him to work. Paul and his team saw God bring salvation to Lydia and her household. Now, as they are traveling to a place of prayer, they are met by a demon possessed slave girl. Luke writes that she had a “Python spirit.” Python was a mythical serpent that guarded the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The slave girl had become the enemies’ mouthpiece. . .and God’s tool to expand His church in Philippi.
The girl kept following Paul and his companions saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” (Acts 16:17). Day after day she kept this up. Annoying? Most likely. But, also free “publicity” for Paul and company. “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.” (Acts 16:18). Presumably, another added to God’s church!
Things get messier for Paul and Silas. With the loss of income from the slave girl, her owners drag Paul and Silas before the town magistrates, order them stripped and beaten, then thrown into jail fastening their feet in the stocks. Enough to cause most of us to despair, but not Paul and Silas.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:25-26).
“The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.” (Acts 16:27) Under Roman law a guard who allowed his prisoner to escape was liable to the same penalty the prisoner would have suffered. This jailer had no hope until he heard Paul shout, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:28). In response to the jailer’s question – “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” – Paul and Silas share the Gospel with him and as a result the jailer and his household are saved!
As Paul and Silas leave Philippi their hearts must have been filled with joy. God had planted His church there. A small church, but His mighty presence. It began with Lydia and her household. . . then the demon possessed slave girl. . . and a jailer and his household. Kind of a bizarre way to grow a church! But, God’s embryonic church at Philippi grew in strength and numbers.
How are you trying to fit God into a box? How are you imposing your expectations on Him and hindering His work? Why not trust that God is God, that you are not, and allow Him to work His way!?!