Intro. Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit to take the gospel to Macedonia. He came to the city of Philippi, and on the Sabbath day went down by the river and spoke to the ladies who had gathered there.
I. THE ANNOYANCE OF THE WOMAN WITH THE SPIRIT OF DIVINATION.
A. She followed them and cried saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation."
1. What she was saying was basically correct.
2. It must have been the way that she was saying it that bothered Paul.
3. It is just possible that Paul did not like the devil doing his advertising.
B. Paul, in the name of Jesus Christ, commanded the evil spirit to come out of her.
1. All evil spirits are subject to the authority of the name of Jesus.
2. Thus the evil spirit came out of her.
C. This created a problem, for men had controlled her life and had used her divining powers for their own personal gain.
1. When they saw that she was no longer a channel for the evil spirit, they realized that their hope for making money off of her powers was over.
2. They brought Paul and Silas into the market place before the rulers of the city and began to make accusations against them.
a. "These men being Jews trouble our city." There weren't many Jews in Philippi, perhaps because of anti Jewish sentiment among the people.
b. "They teach unlawful customs that we cannot receive or observe being Romans." They were teaching that Jesus was Lord. The Romans would often demand the people to say, "Caesar is lord." Christians would refuse to do so and were thus looked upon as insurrectionists.
c. It is interesting that they did not mention the true reason that they were upset with Paul and Silas.
1. They tried to pretend that it was their deep devotion to Rome that motivated them to bring them before the magistrates.
2. In reality it was their deep devotion to their pocketbooks, that caused them to level charges against Paul.
3. This is so true to human nature.
4. The very thing that they are accusing you of is often not the real issue that has them upset.
5. They don't want to mention the true issue for it is often so foolish and trite that they are afraid to acknowledge it, so they pretend to be angry about something else.
D. The magistrates commanded that their clothes be torn off and they be beaten.
1. We are told that many stripes were laid on them and they were then thrown into prison.
2. We are told that the jailer put them in stocks in the inner prison.
3. Can you imagine a more dismal plight?
a. We know from the continuation of the story that the blood from the beating was not even wiped off.
b. Their feet and hands held in the stocks in the inner prison.
c. It would be sort of like being in a Mexican jail with no representation.
E. What do you think that you would do under such circumstances?
1. They were probably too uncomfortable to sleep, their backs still smarting from the beating.
2. Their future was certainly uncertain at this point thus the potential of emotional distress.
3. Satan often uses such circumstances to attack us spiritually.
a. If God loves you why did He allow this to happen to you?
b. Are you sure it was God calling you to come to Macedonia?
c. How long are they going to keep you here? Will they ever let you out?
d. Have you ever noticed that Satan's attacks often come in the form of questions.
1. Question God's word.
2. Question God's love.
3. Question God's fairness.
F. What they did. They prayed and sang praises unto God at midnight.
1. Jails are not noted to be the friendliest places in the world.
2. Can't you imagine the remarks being made by the other prisoners who were trying to sleep.
3. It is an interesting note, though their bodies were bound, their spirits were free.
a. A man whose spirit is free though physically bound, is light years ahead of a man whose body is free but whose spirit is bound.
II. SINGING AS A MEANS OF PRAISE.
A. Why is it that we think that one of the greatest ways to express love is to sing about it.
1. Think of how many love songs have been written.
2. Somehow singing is a great way of expressing our emotions.
a. Whether it be sorrow or grief, like in so many country western songs.
b. Or love and joy.
3. It is also a great way of stirring our emotions.
a. Singing has thus become an important part of worship.
b. Singing of the One we love.
c. Singing to the One we love.
4. Our spirits are lifted by singing.
a. A dark dungeon can be turned into a house of worship.
b. It takes our minds off of ourselves, our pain or fears, and it focuses our minds on the Lord.
c. I have discovered that the more I focus on my problems the bigger they grow, until they seem insurmountable.
d. The more I focus on the Lord, the smaller my problem seems until it becomes insignificant.
5. When I was a child, my younger brother had asthma. When he would start wheezing at night my mother would come and take him out of bed and sit in a old wooden rocker that squeaked as she would rock him. I can still hear vividly her singing Jesus never fails over and over as she comforted him and now that I think of it comforted herself. Songs in the night hours, how comforting they can be.
6. My experience of food poisoning at a conference in Penn. I feeling so miserable, and I was so weak.
7. Singing actually becomes a faith builder, for as we become focused on Jesus rather than our problem, we then see our problems in the light of His power and ability, rather than our own weakness.
8. Notice the Psalms, so many of them were songs written by David in response to dire circumstances that he was facing.
a. Notice how they focus on the Lord, His power, His greatness, His strength. He is my fortress, He is my high tower, He is my strength.
b. Next time you are worried, start singing.
III. THE CONVERSION OF THE JAILER.
A. As they were singing there was a great earthquake that opened the prison doors, and broke the stocks that held them.
1. The jailer was awakened by the earthquake and seeing all the prison doors open, assumed that the prisoners had escaped and started to commit suicide.
2. Paul cried out to him to stop, assuring him that no one had escaped.
3. He came in trembling asking how he could be saved.
B. We now see the hand of God and understand why God had allowed Paul and Silas to suffer such injustice.
1. God was wanting to reach the hardened heart of a jailer and bring salvation to his whole family.
2. He no doubt became an important part of the church that developed in that city. Perhaps even one of the elders.
3. We do know that there was a strong healthy church in Philippi that continued to send support to Paul to further his ministry.