Acts 16:18 She 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.
Several things are interesting about this. One is that the demonic spirit was causing the girl to speak truth. Paul and his group were indeed “servants of the most high God, telling [the people of Phillipi] the way to be saved.” (verse 17) The fact that the girl’s pronouncements were accurate was precisely what made her owners so much money. You might think Paul would have welcomed such a method of getting the news out. However, we don’t have any record of people being converted at this point, though perhaps some were. It would seem that not all publicity is good after all! The second thing that interests me is that the girl’s constant shouting really got on Paul’s nerves, and he exercised the power of the name of Jesus to cast the spirit out. God even uses our irritations! We have the record in the following verses of the response of the girl’s owners to this happening, but I find myself wondering about the response of the girl herself. Did she become a follower of Christ, or did she miss the power and influence the spirit had given her? We really don’t know, but I like to think she was a part of the group to whom Paul later wrote so warmly. The Philippian church obviously had a special place in his heart. All of these events were setting the stage for what would be a severe trial for Paul and Silas, but which blessed many people at the time and countless people in the centuries since then who have read Luke’s account. We never know when God has a special appointment for us, nor whether that appointment will be pleasant at the time or not, but we can be confident that the outcome will be very good, and for His glory, if we will yield ourselves and our circumstances to Him.
I couldn’t begin to count how many “divine appointments” I’ve had, particularly because I haven’t been aware of all of them. I’ve said and done things that later turned out to have been Him using me, that I myself didn’t remember at all! That’s not at all to say that everything I do is “a work of God.” I would be foolish indeed to think that! At the same time, I need to operate in the awareness that God can use anything at all for His purposes – even my irritation, as He used Paul’s in this instance. I can say that it feels very good to meet divine appointments when I’m aware of them, and it causes me to shake my head in wonder when I discover I’ve met one without realizing it. We use Romans 8:28 to comfort ourselves and others when things are rough, but that actually applies to every element of our lives. I am to be as intentional as possible in yielding every detail of my life to God so that He can use it for good, according to His perfect plan.
Father, thank You for including me in Your plan. Thank You for the appointments You have set up for me today, though I’m only aware of a fraction of them. Thank You for giving me the notes yesterday for Sunday’s message. I ask for Your guidance and anointing today as I prepare the notes for speaking to the Rotary Club on Tuesday. May my every encounter, every action today accomplish Your purposes on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!