Summary: Have you ever had "one of those days?"
ACTS 16:16Once 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. 17This 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." 18She 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. 19When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or ractice." 22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Have you ever had "one of those days?" One of those days when there was a hint that things were not going to go well, and then it got worse? One of those days when one bad thing after another seemed to hit you before you could recover? One of those days when you’ve just told someone, "Well, at lease things can’t get any worse." And then it does? Let me share some examples of what I’m talking about. These are true stories:
1. The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later both of the seals were eaten by a killer whale.
2. In 1992, Frank Perkins of Los Angeles made an attempt on the world record flag-pole sitting record. Unfortunately he had to come down only eight hours short of the 400 day record. When he got down he found that his sponsor had gone bust, his girlfriend had left him, and his phone and electricity had been cut off.
3. A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to knock him free from the deadly current she found a large piece of wood and whacked him on his arm, breaking his arm in two places. What a shame, he had only been listening to his Walkman.
4. Then there was the Iraqi terrorist, Khay Rahnajet, who didn’t put enough postage on a letter bomb he had mailed. It came back stamped, "return to sender." You guessed it, he opened it and it exploded in his face almost killing him.
Our Scripture text shows us that the Apostle Paul and Silas were having "one of those days." They were on a missionary journey in the area of Philippi and initially things seemed to be going all right. There was no synagogue in the area, but they met several women down by the river who were hungry for God, and who would accept the gospel. One of these women, Lydia, would become instrumental in spreading the gospel into Europe.
One day, however, things began to change. They were out by the river for prayer and a certain woman, who had been a fortune teller, began to follow Paul and Silas declaring, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." Now, at first this might have seemed like a good thing--free advertising. But this didn’t just happen once or twice; she kept up this chant for "many days." What might have appeared, at first, to be a good thing was becoming a nuisance and a distraction. Finally, Paul couldn’t take it any longer so he turned around and said to the demonic spirit by which she was possessed and from which she received her apparent fortune telling power, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And she was delivered from the demonic spirit. Of course she also lost her powers of soothsaying.
This young woman was being used by certain influential men in the community to make money. When they saw what Paul and Silas had done they seized them and dragged them to the marketplace. And things just go from bad to worse for Paul and Silas from here. They were brought before a kangaroo court, were found guilty, were stripped, beaten severely and thrown into the inner prison where their feet were fastened in stocks. This had been a bad day. As a matter of fact, it seems that the constant chanting of the woman had made it a bad several days for Paul and Silas.