Summary: As Paul and his team went out into a dark world, it was no surprise that there were times when the light came smack up against the darkness. These "power encounters" are inevitable. How do we handle them?

Passage: Acts 16:16-41

Intro: When we hear the word power, certain pictures come to mind.

1. huge guns, bombers, nuclear warheads.

2. human beings are obsessed with power, we love to be the ones with more.

3. every Sunday in the Fall, teams walk onto the football field for a “power encounter,” to see who has more.

4. I’m not sure we realize that as believers living in a sinful world, we are involved in power encounters every day.

5. constant temptations from the world, attacks, resistance to the gospel message.

6. Paul and Silas had the same experience, and we can learn from them what to look for, how to respond, what God is doing.

PP Ephesians 6:10-11

7. the battle is with the forces of evil, for the souls of men and women, of boys and girls.

8. what do these power encounters look like, what is our responsibility, and what is God’s ultimate purpose.

I. The Set-Up

1. in Philippi, preaching the gospel, a problem develops.

2. young slave girl, demon-possessed, giving free advertising.

3. she had “owners”, men who used her condition for their own gain.

Il) spiritual pimps

4. let’s not rush on, because this young slave is the prize in this power encounter

5. Satan wants to keep her enslaved, destroy her life.

6. God wants to rescue her and give her life.

7. Paul and Silas are like a rescue boat sent out to save the people on a sinking ship.

8. there is another person in this story too, later on in vv22-34

9. this hardened, cruel jailer, most likely a retired Roman soldier, who fastened Paul and Silas in stocks.

10. he too was a slave to sin, a man in need of rescue.

11. Paul and Silas were surrounded by evil, and so are we.

12. every person without Christ is a slave to something, and Satan wants to keep them there.

Il) talking with someone the other day who refused to listen to the gospel, because she was a slave to her own philosophy of “whatever I believe is fine, and whatever you believe is fine. Don’t try to convert me.”

13. many times, this slavery has a physical element.

14. slave girl’s predicament very clear. Jailer less so, but clearly cruel.

15. we can see Satan’s work in the body, the mind, the hardheartedness

16. for Paul and Silas, mob requiring beatings and imprisonment.

17. for believers in the Tribulation, as well as for many in our day and before, execution.

18. brothers and sisters, we live in a world packed with power encounters, because as believers we live in a world hostile to God and therefore to us.

19. Jesus put it positively, and we need to see it that way.

PP Matthew 9:37-38

II. Our Responsibility

1. do you often feel like we have little to fight with?

2. they’ve got the money, the stage, the media.

3. let’s look at how Paul and Silas behaved during these days.

4. preaching the gospel, constantly interrupted by this slave girl.

5. we assume Paul just got fed up with this statement, but notice his response.

6. v18, “troubled, disturbed”, at what?

7. she was actually telling the truth, but the source of it was destructive to the mouthpiece.

8. could have just silenced the spirit, but instead, he commands it to “come out of her.”

9. this indicates to me that Paul was concerned for her as a child of God enslaved by the enemy, and so he commanded the enemy to leave!

10. and that’s what Jesus did!

PP Mark 5:7-8

12. we are to display the character of God, do the works of God, show the love of God.

13. our power is not in numbers or arms or money or position.

14. our power is right where Paul knew it to be. “In the name of Jesus Christ…”

15. and they trusted God. There in jail, in agonizing stocks designed for torture, with bleeding backs from a severe flogging, they sang and prayed. Why?

16. because Satan can attack our bodies, but our eternal spirits are safe in the hands of God!

17. and we know that suffering causes our lamps to burn even more brightly.

Il) there is a neurosurgeon at Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix who has had the privilege of seeing two fine Christian men and their wives from this church face brain surgery without fear because they trust in God.

18. and our responsibility includes a readiness to proclaim the gospel.

19. I can’t be sure what the jailer was really asking when he asked “what must I do to be saved?” after the earthquake had freed all his prisoners.

20. but Paul and Silas sure took the opportunity, didn’t they.

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