Summary: Releasing the Shackles. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: chapter 16 verses 11-41


Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist;

• Issued a challenge wherever he went:

• He claimed he could be locked in any jail cell in the country,

• And set would set himself free and he would do it quickly and easily.

• He always he kept his promise,

• But on one occasion something went wrong.

Houdini was placed in a prison cell:

• The heavy, metal doors of his cell clanged shut behind him.

• And Houdini set to work by escaping.

• He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, which was strong and flexible.

• And he started picking the lock.

• But something seemed to be unusual about this lock.

• For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere.

• An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door.

• By now he was bathed in sweat & panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock.

• Finally, after labouring for 2 hours,

• Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock.

• But when he fell against the door, it swung open!

• It had never been locked at all!

• But in his mind it was locked;

• And that was all it took to keep him from opening the door & walking out of the jail cell.

Each of the characters of this story are imprisoned, trapped:

• But unlike Houdini;

• Not all of them will find the door of escape!

(1). The slave girl is imprisoned in her insanity and by her owners (vs 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”.

• This slave girl was acting as a medium or a psychic,

• Her powers came from evil, demonic sources.

• This evil spirit used her as a channel and to convey clairvoyant messages,

• As well as interpreting the events of the day and predicting the future for people.

This evil spirit was obviously dominating and ruining her life:

• And even if she found the power to break free of it,

• She was trapped by her owners who were using her to make money.

Verse 17: This girl encounters Paul and his companions and starts following them:

• Wherever Paul and Silas go, she follows them over and over again,

• But the trouble is she keeps calling out, shouting about them.

"These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation."

For Paul this girls shouting was at first irritating, then annoying, then wearisome:

• Here cries were a distraction to the people who Paul was trying to speak with,

• So in verse 18 Paul says to the annoying spirit,

"I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her."

• And with those authoritive and powerful words,

• She is freed from this spirit which has ruined her life.

• She is also free of her owners’;

• Unable to make money from her, they no-longer want her.


• Readers Digest reported this true story.

• A helicopter was flying toward Seattle;

• When an electrical malfunction;

• Disabled all the aircraft’s navigation and communications equipment.

• Due to the extreme haze that day,

• The pilot now had no way of determining the course to the airport.

• All he could make out was a tall building nearby,

• So he moved closer to it, and quickly wrote out a large sign reading

• “Where am I?”

• And held it in the chopper’s window.

• Responding quickly,

• The people in the building penned a large sign of their own.

• It read: “You are in a helicopter.”

• The pilot smiled, and within minutes he landed safely at the airport.

After they were on the ground,

• The co-pilot asked how the sign helped him determine their position.

• The pilot replied:

“I knew it had to be the Microsoft building,”,

“Because like any computer company’s help staff, they gave me a technically correct but completely useless answer.”

To the money making owners:

• This girl was technically their property,

• But completely useless for making money.

The story doesn’t tell us what her life is like afterward:

• We don’t know if she is grateful or if she was converted or if she leads a productive life,

• But we can imagine her life was changed for the better!

• She now has mental and spiritual health;

• And she is no longer exploited by her owners.

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