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Tag Archives: Philippi

Recognizing Distractions Early Before It’s Too Late

There is a strange phenomena that occurs when individuals are about to draw close to God.  The apostle Paul points to the spiritual realm to explain distractions, interruptions and unexplained events, Ephesians 6:12.  According to Paul, the devil’s strategy includes three waves.  The first enables certain rulers to rise to power such as judges, kings and political leaders.  This wave is reinforced by worldly forces, areas, regions and territories under demonic oppression where evil is allowed to reign.  Finally, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm fueled by demons, minions and strongmen to execute Satan’s schemes on earth.

It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” – Acts 16:16-17

Using this criteria, Luke details an example from Paul’s ministry while visiting Philippi.  While on his way to participate in a prayer and worship service, a slave girl was sent to distract Paul.  Apparently, a demonic spirit recognized that Paul’s missionary team were servants of the most high God.  Just as spirits hounded Jesus, this revealed truth caused a slave girl to interrupt Paul’s message of salvation to Europe for several days, regularly screaming and shouting as Paul tried to preach.  According to Luke, this gradually wore Paul down, annoyed by this constant distraction.  When Paul rebuked this spirit, the owners of this slave girl complained to the chief magistrates, convincing law enforcement to imprison Paul and Silas.

She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment, Acts 16:18.

While in prison, Paul and Silas could have been distracted by anger, bitterness and injustice.  Yet, prayers of the saints strengthened these men, turning this setback into a golden opportunity.  How you may ask?  Well, Paul and Silas transformed their prison cell into a worship service.  As Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great earthquake rocked Philippi.  When this quake opened the doors to each cell, some would have taken this as a sign from God to escape.  However, Paul demonstrated amazing leadership, convincing all the prisoners to stay put; saving the life of the jailor who was about to kill himself, the fate he would have faced if any prisoner escaped.  These are the blessings that await those who recognize spiritual distractions early before it’s too late..

by Jay Mankus

Humility and Tears

During a period known as the Healing Revivals of the 1950’s, prosperity theology first became prominent in the United States.  Yet, the origins of the prosperity gospel can be traced back to the New Thought Movement which began in the 19th century.  Based upon the teachings of Malachi, referencing the storehouses of heaven, those who embrace this theology emphasizes that God will deliver his promises of the Bible for those who believe.  Unfortunately, this mindset differs from the ministry of the apostle Paul.

I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents, Acts 20:19.

In a meeting with the elders of Ephesus, Paul gives a farewell address, preparing church leaders for a time when he will longer be with them.  Paul’s description of his service is interesting, similar to words shared in Philippi.  To avoid becoming prideful, Paul felt led to pursue meekness.  Despite the victories Paul experienced, he admits that ministry can be painful, especially when someone you love abandons or leaves the faith.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12.

Warning a community of believers from complacency, Paul suggests to diligently work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  Sure, part of the journey of faith is to pray for and cling to God’s promises.  However, genuine faith involves overcoming hardship, leaning on God’s grace in times of trials.  Thus, as this new year continues, may you follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul by practicing humility and crying out to the Lord in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Great Fortune Teller

crystal ball photo: Crystal Ball Crystal_ball.jpg

Modern fortune tellers rely on crystal balls, horoscopes, psychics and tarot cards to predict information about a person’s life.  At the turn of the first century, there was a girl from Philippi, a city on the north shores of the Aegean Sea, who possessed a powerful spirit.  According to Acts 16:16, she was purchased by a group of businessmen who greatly profited from her ability to predict the future.  While unknown, apparently this young girl was tired of being enslaved, reaching out to the apostle Paul by interrupting his ministry, Acts 16:17.  Thus, Paul was left with no choice, casting out the demon within her along with this special ability, Acts 16:18-19.  Although this girl was delivered from her bondage, Paul and Silas received a night in the slammer for their efforts, putting the slave owners out of the fortune telling business, Acts 16:19.

Today, fortune telling is considered taboo for many Christians to discuss, especially within evangelical circles.  By squashing debate on this topic within churches, people are overlooking the greatest fortune teller of all time.  In the gospel of Mark alone, Jesus is a perfect 21 for 21 without counting the same category twice.  The Holy Spirit, poured out upon Jesus during his baptism in Mark 1:12 enabled God’s son to read hearts, minds, motives and thoughts.  In addition, Jesus predicted betrayals, conversations, foresaw shortcomings, future events and reactions of his disciples and religious leaders.  A prophet may be perceived as getting lucky if they go lets say 3 for 3 on predictions.  Yet, once you foretell 21 future events exactly as they occur, luck is taken out of the equation.

I think one of the main reasons the Bible is under attack by college professors, scrutinized by the media and considered obsolete by Naturalistic Scholars is due to fear from within that Scripture does foretell the future.  Based upon Revelation 20:7-15, in the end, Satan loses, the Book of life will be opened, each person will be judged according to what they have done on earth and God’s sheep will be separated from the goats who will spend eternity in hell.  Though only the Father knows the date, year and time of day, Mark 13:32, the future is pretty obvious.  Use your talents that the Master has given you on this earth while you still have time, Matthew 25:14-30, before Jesus’ eminent return.

by Jay Mankus

Fortune Telling References:

Mark 2:8-11, 18-20, Mark 4:37-40, Mark 5:36-41, Mark 6:4-6, 38-44, 48-52, Mark 7:6-13, Mark 8:16-21, 31-32, Mark 9:17-29, 31-32, Mark 10:22, 32-35, 41, Mark 11:1-7, 17, Mark 12:38-40, Mark 13:32, Mark 14:6-9, 12-16, 18-21, 24-25, Mark 14:30-31, 42, 62, 66-72.  All verses are from the New International Version of the Bible.

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