The Annoyance

16 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.

19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, 20 and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, 21 and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”

Paul met an obstacle and an annoyance, in the form of a little slave girl, while going to the place of prayer. Prayer attracts the eyes of God, and it strikes fear in the heart of Satan. When Satan hears people praying, he fears the attraction of the power of The Spirit. He meets attraction with distraction...EVERY TIME.

Those who believe the place of prayer is a secluded garden, or a devotional exercise for the faint of heart, soon find out it is a battlefield. Prayer warriors! Be prepared. Take a knee. When you assume the position, you will meet the opposition. Fire when ready.

For every true gift of The Spirit, the spirit of evil has a counterfeit. This slave girl had a spirit of divination. She heard voices. She was in touch with an unseen spirit world. She dazzled the locals with her fortune telling, and made her owners a fortune in the process. The people were paying to get in touch with the gods. Paul knew praying was the only way to get in touch with God. It still is.

Not by accident, or coincidence, but by design, The annoyance met Paul at the place of prayer. The slave girl was a hand puppet under the influence of an ancient evil. When she spoke you could barely see Satan's lips move. Those who embrace prayer as the world class weapon in the battle against evil must be able to discern between the real and the counterfeit.

Note to self: There are people who will tell you they pray for you, but will never let you hear them do it. Saying it and praying it are two different things. Be careful.

On the rare occasion I use a large bill of currency to make payment, the cashier will hold it up to the light. There is an awkward pause in the transaction. Cashiers are trained to look for a mark, and if it is not there, then the form of payment will not be accepted.

When someone brings a word they want to speak into you, or say about you, hold it up to the light. Everything that comes out the mouths of well-meaning people is not a word from God. Test it with time, and the Word of God for accuracy. A good word is not always God's word.

The slave girl had some kind of connection with the spirit world, and her owners profited from selling her skill set to the gullible public. When she spoke under the influence of this spirit of divination, she could predict the future, and tell a paying customer's fortune. This con isn't new, and it is still around.

Sometimes the truth can be spoken by a person who is not granted God's access or authenticity, to be identified with the message. They do not have the mark of The Spirit. They may appear to be in line with the truth, but The Truth is not in them.

The enemy isn't opposed to using the truth to distract people from the true messenger. Paul's message was drawing a crowd, and the owners saw a cash cow to be milked. The puppet master placed his distraction right in the middle of an awakening. If Satan can't stop the truth, he is willing to distract people from the true messengers of the truth. He plans to compromise the messenger or massage the message. By using his false messengers to distort, and dilute the truth, he muddies the water, until it isn't fit to drink.

Every Great Awakening has had its detractors and distractions. The Light always attracts bugs. Jesus had Judas. Paul had the slave-girl, and the contemporary church has voices that claim to speak with authority a word for God, while chipping away at the foundation of the Word of God. When someone has a fresh word for you, hold it up to The Light. The Word never lies, and it is new every morning.

"But Paul was greatly annoyed..." v. 18

The Blue Letter Bible gives a translation that describes Paul as greatly "troubled, displeased, offended, pained, worked up." Paul was greatly worked up. He was not lulled into a "can't we all just get along" philosophy. Good to know.

For everyone who supports the self-muzzling, and emasculation of preachers, take note. Paul was not a punching bag, or a soothing voice, when the truth was at stake. He was not just annoyed at the distraction. He was greatly annoyed at the opposition. He didn't require the endorsement of hell to draw a crowd, and he wouldn't share the spotlight with "the spirit of divination."

The ministry of the church is not a vehicle for people or false spirits to test drive. Nor is it a bazaar where they can hawk their wares at Christ's expense. Paul made it very clear to the spirit of divination to get out of the girl. The spirit in her, and the people intent on using her were not going to benefit from their association with the church. They were told to get out of it. Before there is an Awakening the church is going to have to have a backdoor revival. All that glitters isn't gold, and all that Twitters isn't of God.

Paul knew that the girl was not the problem. He knew exactly who to blame. He fixed the blame and fixed the problem, but there were consequences. There always are.

Paul and Silas were dragged into the market place, taken before the authorities, and accused of letting loose a spirit of confusion in the city. They were not rewarded for doing what was right. They were punished for it. The enemy loves to do this. This is the ultimate distraction to messengers of the truth.

I am not a prophet, or the son of a prophet, but it doesn't take much discernment to see what is coming down the road in this nation. Is there anyone left who believes American Christianity is going to be immune from having their faith tested and their preachers arrested, in the very near future? Raise your hands. I didn't think so.

The pressure from inside the church to compromise with the culture, and the pressure from outside the church to conform to it is immense, and it is intensifying every day. If this greatly annoys you, then The Spirit of Christ is alive in you. The Spirit lives to speak the truth, and to glorify Christ.

When there are prevailing winds of opposition, there must be prevailing prayer. This kind of prayer is the climate in which the prayer warrior trains for the conflict with the opposition. Prevailing prayer sails against the wind. The old timers called prevailing prayer, importunity. It describes a sailing ship struggling against the wind and the current to get into their port of call.

God is always calling His people to pray. He is not calling them to the concept of prayer, to read about prayer, to teach about prayer, to study about prayer, or to preach about prayer, but to PRAY. Annoyed yet? Paul met the opposition at the place of prayer. Expect no less. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!