Pieter de With ~ Paul and Silas in Philippi drive the devil out of a woman possessed of a spirit of divination

My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul

“Silas, do you think she’ll be back tomorrow?” I said.

“Please Lord, make it stop,” was his reply.

We had arrived in Philippi two days earlier. As we made our way down to the river, to join a prayer meeting, a young woman—a girl really—met up with us. At first it seemed like the Lord was giving us great favor, because she started calling out that we were men of God who came to proclaim the way of salvation. She actually gathered us quite a crowd on that first day. Her declarations made me stand up just a bit straighter. I was feeling pretty good about this new city—this new harvest we were about to work. It seemed ripe for the gospel.

But as the day wore on, she never stopped her proclamations. Over and over she called out:

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

The distraction grew until I couldn’t keep my mind on my message. As I preached, or tried to preach, at the riverside, she stood at the top of the path and called out. It rattled me. I couldn’t even get my testimony out. Finally I called for a time of silent prayer, and just sat down.

She was back the next day too. All day she followed us around. All day she called out. By the end of the second day these cries disheartened us.

I spent the night asking the Lord what to do about this woman. Her words pierced like a thorn in my side. She stifled ministry. She drove seekers away. She got under my skin. I asked the Lord to send her way, to keep her from returning. This vexation had to stop, or we would just have to move on.

I felt foolish even asking the Lord about this. After all, look how far I’ve come. I’ve seen the Lord do so much. We’ve seen hundreds, thousands perhaps, enter the kingdom. I can’t count those we’ve seen healed from all manner of disease and malady. Besides the visible ministry, there’s all the amazing revelation. I’ve seen things in the heavenlies that I’m not even permitted to share.

It vexed me. I prayed all night. How could something so simple, just a girl, have such a devastating effect on ministry, and on my own peace.

As dawn broke, I heard the voice of Jesus.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

I had no idea I was so weak—so vulnerable—to satan’s ploys. After all I’ve seen and done in the Spirit of Christ, this messenger of satan was battering me. My weakness became so plain to me, and I saw how everything I had—everything I was—came by His wonderful grace.

That night I slept little, but I rose refreshed. I knew today held great promise. We would see the grace of Jesus in action today.

Breakfast was light and our plan was to head back to the river midmorning. I was planning on preaching until midday, and then Silas would baptize those the Lord called.

As we left the home of Lydia, where we were lodging while in Philippi, we met the young girl again. At first my heart sank. I really did not want another day of distraction.

Before I could say a word to her, she began her proclamations again.

"These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."

As she said the words “Most High God,” it all clicked into place. I saw it. Satan exploited my weakness. He pecked away at my patience. But, by the grace of God, now I could see his—satan’s—fingerprints all over this girl.

Thank God for His abundant grace. The grace that saved me. The grace that called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light. His all-sufficient grace rose up inside of me, and I saw it.

She started to speak,

“These men…”

I put my finger to her lips to stop her. With the full authority of the Holy Spirit I said,

“I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”

The spirit started to speak again,

“These men are…”

“Come out!” I nearly shouted.

At that I could see her change. There was a brief shaking, she rose up to her full height, on the tips of her toes, as though she was going to float away. Then she fell into the dust.

Her collapse alarmed me at first. I wondered if she was dead. But in a moment she was crying.

“Thank you,” she said through her tears.

We watched as her new-found freedom dawned. The spirit that ruled her life vacated. Everything she knew was about to change. The first change was to introduce her to a new Master, Jesus, the Messiah. No longer would she be under the mastery of the demonic. From that moment she joined the service of the King of kings.

What strikes me as I look back at this encounter with Jesus is how easily satan disrupted my ministry. The moment I began to move on my own, instead of allowing the Spirit to lead, I was undone. God’s grace truly is the answer to every one of life’s needs. The only hope for this dark world is Christ in me—Christ in us—we who call upon His name. When I feel strong in my abilities or in my accomplishments, my weakness is exposed. When I see my weakness, He comes in like a flood and demonstrates His strength.

What a glorious salvation.

~~~

To read the original story, see Acts 16:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 12 1-10

I hope you have enjoyed this story. It's part of my upcoming book, Encounters With the Holy Spirit.

To read more first person encounters check out my new book Encounters With Jesus. It's a collection of forty stories from the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched. Available now in paperback or kindle editions or for your nook.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by,

See you again soon,

Ben

6

photo credit: A Single Tear via photopin (license)
photo credit: A Single Tear via photopin (license)

Because of its length, I've decided to split this story over three days. You can find Part 1 on Monday's post and Part 2 on yesterday's post. Today we have the conclusion. Thanks for coming back for day three.

Enjoy:

---

As I approached Paul looked at me. His shoulder’s slumped a bit as I approached. Then, I think he noticed I was limping, favoring the leg that had not been pummeled.

I started my torturous chant.

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

He looked at me. He looked into me. There was a flash in his eyes and a wave of recognition washed across his face.

As I started to speak,

“These men…”

He put his finger to my lips to hush me. In a stern and powerful voice he said,

“I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”

The spirit in me started to speak again,

“These men are…”

“Come out!” he repeated.

Then my mind—my heart—flew into turmoil. I felt anger, fear, frustration, humiliation, shame, and then fear again. All of this raging within as the voice wanted to scream. But for the first time since my mother gave me her ‘gift’ I was able to keep quiet when it wanted to talk.

And then it was gone. It was over. The spirits obeyed this stranger. I felt them run up my spine and out the top of my head. Gone. Completely gone.

I crumbled to the floor in front of him.

“Thank you.” I was crying again, but this time they were tears of relief.

Then I thought about my master.

Silas, who was standing near by, saw my expression change, and said,

“What is it, daughter?”

“My master will kill me when he learns that I’ve lost the gift. You can see the way he beat me for the two days I’ve been with you. Now that my seeing is gone, he’ll just kill me.”

“Let me introduce you to a new master,” he said with the compassion of a father. “His name is Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He’s the one who set you free today, and He'll save you. If you will open your heart to Him, He will come in and fill the void left by the evil He drove out.

“As to your old master, we’ll go with you to tell him about your freedom. Don’t be afraid of him. Once the Lord is on your side, there is nothing man can do to enslave you. Every slave in Christ, is a free man. The bonds may remain, but they know freedom on the inside.

“I’m sure Lydia will let you stay here in her home, while you figure out what comes next.”

From the door where she’d been standing, Lydia came to my side and surrounded me with her arms. I felt like a little girl in my momma’s embrace, free and safe.

I prayed, “Lord Jesus, if you will have me, I want to be Yours. You've freed me from the master that held me. Will you come in and be my Master now?”

As I said these words a new freedom swept over me. The shame that haunted me lifted. The fear left too. I was crying again, but this time it was joy streaming down my face. I heard the laughter of others around me. Lydia helped me to my feet, and the women swarmed me with a great hug as the men stood back and clapped their hands, and shouted praise to Jesus.

They taught me a song of praise, and we sang together. Then Paul and Silas took me by the hand and we headed back to my master’s home.

When he saw me with these two men, his face darkened with anger.

“These had better be paying customers, or last night will seem like a stroll through the market,” he threatened. He reached for me, but Paul wedged himself between the master and me.

“Sir,” Paul started, “Jesus Christ delivered this young girl from the demonic oppression that has plagued her these many years. I’m sure you will rejoice with us at her new-found freedom.”

“Delivered? Freedom!” He was almost barking.

“You’ve ruined my livelihood! You’ve robbed me of my income! You’ve stolen my most valuable asset!” His anger grew with each accusation. Now passers-by were stopping to see what was happening.

Again he tried to reach me, but Silas managed to fill the gap as well.

He looked past them and found my eyes.

“You can’t see?” he shouted.

“No, but I can still cook or clean. I can still serve you.”

“What good is that? I don’t need a cook or a maid. I need a seer—I need your gift. Without that gift, you’re nothing—worthless. Go and don’t let me see you back here again. Don’t bother coming for your things. I’ll sell them to make up for what you’ve stolen from me. Get out!”

With his dismissal, he slammed his door in our faces.

Paul and Silas turned to me to see if I was alright. When they did they saw my relief and my brand new joy.

I was completely free.

The chains that held my insides, the chains that kept me in this house and with this man, all broken. Jesus set me free, and my new brothers—fathers—stood with me to face my old life.

Lydia did set me up with a cot in her room. She became a sister and mother to me. We laughed together. I hadn’t laughed since my mother died. She taught me to pray, and taught me of Christ and His ways. She taught me her trade, and paid me to work in her shop.

Today, I am free.

~~~

To read the original story, see Acts 16:16-18

I hope you have enjoyed this story. It's part of my upcoming book, Encounters With the Holy Spirit.

To read more first person encounters check out my new book Encounters With Jesus. It's a collection of forty stories from the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched. Available now in paperback or kindle editions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by,

See you tomorrow,

Ben

2

photo credit: A Single Tear via photopin (license)
photo credit: A Single Tear via photopin (license)

Because of its length, I've decided to split this story over three days. You can find Part 1 on yesterday's post, and the conclusion will come tomorrow morning bright and early (if you live on the east coast of the US.)

Enjoy:

---

This brought a smile to his face, so I said it again.

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

This time I heard some accent from the crowd. Once again, this time even louder I cried out,

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

The more I called out the more the crowd grew. It was curious to me that my captors would help this one they so feared, but they—I—continued to call out the virtues of these men of God.

When we got down to the river, we had quite a crowd. This manPaul, began to try to quiet the crowd. He said they had come down to the river to pray. It was the time of day that those women meet down here every day.

But today, the crowd was large. Rather than pray, Paul tried to teach, but the crowd was restless. He tried to lead in prayer, but that did not work either.

All the while, I stood up at the head of the path that lead down to the river calling out my now familiar declaration.

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

Finally Paul sat down and kept silent. After about an hour of silence, he got up and walked back out to the road we came in on. He and his companion, Silas, headed back into the village, and the crowed followed along with them.

I led the way, calling out as we went,

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

I wasn’t sure where they were headed next, but as we got to the edge of town, they headed into the Lydia’s, the fabric shop. Lydia lived above the shop, and there they went for the evening meal.

I stood outside in the street, and continued calling out  the words my seeing spirit gave me every few minutes.

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

I finally went home after dark, fearing my master would have harsh words for me. He didn’t disappoint me. But this time there was something new. He hit me. I knew, or thought I knew anyway, that he had beaten my mother from time to time, but until that night, he kept his hands to himself around me.

“Don’t you ever walk out on our shop again while we have a line of customers,” he roared.

I slept well that night. The night was cool. The air was still. The voice was silent.

But with the light of dawn, the voice returned. It compelled me to find Paul again, so I headed back to Lydia’s where I found him speaking to a small group in front of the shop.

Then I started again,

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

All day and everywhere they went, I followed with my incessant call. I could see now my keeper’s plan. This call, though it seemed like a great pat on the back at first was wearing, not only on Paul and Silas, but on those would be followers as well. By the end of the day, their number was down to just a few women. There was no longer a man in town who would walk with the pair.

Again when I returned home, my master beat me.

“I don’t have a choice.” I wept. “The spirits make me go, make me follow. If I don’t go, there no telling what they would do to me.”

He didn’t understand—or carebut he did stop hitting me.

“You’re mother could turn it on and off. She didn’t go trailing after strange men.”

“She didn’t make you the kind of money I make you either, did she?”

As soon as the words left my mouth I was sorry. The blows began again. Finally he left me, sobbing and huddled in the corner. He stormed out, slamming the door. I locked it behind him. I wouldn’t venture out even to eat that night. I cried myself to sleep, hoping tomorrow would be different.

I really didn’t want to taunt these men again, but there was some part of me that hoped for a chance to hear the older one, Paul speak once more. His words cut through the clamor in my head. Each time I tried to listen to his preaching, the voice would repeat my tedious refrain.

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

I’m not sure I slept that night. For hours I lay with my eyes closed, trying not to press against one of the bruises the brute left on my body. I rolled over and over, top, bottom, left, right, half asleep. I dozed off just as the birds began to announce the dawn, and there it was again, this irresistible  urge to go find Paul and Silas.

I crept out of my room, trying not to wake my master. Thankfully I could hear him snoring in his room as I tip-toed by it. Off I went to find them.

[To be continued.]

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of I Am Free

To read more first person encounters check out my new book Encounters With Jesus.It's a collection of forty stories from the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched. Available now in paperback or kindle editions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by,

See you tomorrow,

Ben

1

photo credit: A Single Tear via photopin (license)
photo credit: A Single Tear via photopin (license)

Over the next three days, I will be sharing the first draft a new story that will be part of an upcoming book, Encounters With the Holy Spirit. This story ran a bit longer than my usual posts, so I am breaking it into three installments. You can read it day by day, or come back Wednesday and read all three at once.

Some of the ideas for the life of this young slave girl were inspired by the Praying Medic podcast:
"Alan Champkins – From Witch Doctor to New Creation."

And now, with no further ado:

I Am Free

A Slave Girl

I wasn’t always able to see, but my mother told me it was in my blood. She could see. Every time she put food on my plate, she reminded me it was her sight that paid for the food. It was the sight that gave us a place to sleep.

She told me tales of her life before the master bought her, on the street, begging, starving, in rags and tatters. She loved to tell me of the day her gift caught the master. To hear her tell it, you might think she was the master and he the slave. But that’s not really how it was.

On my sixth birthday my mother first put her hands on me, and asked her spirits—that’s what she called them—to share her sight with me. She told me it was for my own good—that I would thank her some day.

She must have already known she was sick then, but she didn’t tell me until she could no longer serve the master’s customers. That day came two years later. I was almost eight the day my mother couldn't get out of bed to sit with the guests.

I thought he would kill her right then. When she choked out her refusal with blood on her lips, I feared he would kill her for her weakness.

Then she told him about me.

“She has the gift too,” she told him. “She can see your guests.”

His eyes searched me. At first, pride filled me. My mother trusted me. But as he looked me over, I felt like property for the first time. The change hit me. My sight was not just going to put food on our table. Gone were the day when my mother and I would play at seeing. Now I had to see on demand, I had to tell his guests their fortunes. I had to put food on his table.

My gift—this sight—shackled me. It demanded my obedience. It put requirements on my life which I was too young to bear. My sight was my jailer and I felt it’s manacles. Every time I tried to stop seeing—stop knowing—life would turn against me. I can’t explain it. It seemed like everything turned sour. So I kept seeing, and my sight treated me well. And that made my master happy too.

The master seemed unsure that first time, but in a few short weeks, lines of customers down the dusty path to his door—all day—every day, convinced him. The gift was strong in me, stronger than it had been in my mother.

Those weeks were my mother’s last. She grew worse every day. My time with her grew shorter as the lines at the door grew longer. She died in our bed while I told a Grecian man of the woman he would meet. I cried myself to sleep that night. He hired a couple men to bury her in back of the house that was my home—prison—workplace. The men who buried my mother didn’t know her. No one spoke a word on her behalf. I was reading leaves for a hand full of Phoenician women when the soil filled her grave. He cared so little for her—for me. She worked for him for thirty years without complaint. She gave him her days, her nights, her body, her soul, and now, her own daughter—me. And he tossed her into a hole in the ground without so much as a wooden marker.

That’s when I began to hate him. The sight of him turned my stomach. And yet, I had to eat, and I knew of no other way to live.

One day, two men walked past the door of our shop in Philippi. As they walked by, I felt them and looked up. Really it was my internal jailers who sensed them walking by. The business men who had come from Antioch to get advice from my seeing voice started as I ran out of the room and into the street.

When I caught up with these men, the spirits in me went berserk. My insides were out of control, and I couldn’t stop them from speaking. Usually I have a measure of control. They show me things, and I use my words to bring their influence to my customers. But this was different. I’m not sure what I was sensing. At first I thought it was joy—a strange elation—at the sight of these two men. But now I see it was darker—perhaps fear—dread.

The spirits that speak to me—show me things—have never been fearful before. Never before has their command been so immediate and so compelling. They drove me out into the street, and I started following these two men. I was not the only one following them. There were at least eight other women and two or three men following after these two as they headed for the river. There’s a place down there were some of the women of the city have been meeting to pray and worship the Hebrew God. That’s exactly where we went.

I pushed through until I was right behind the one they called Paul. When I was sure he could hear me, I started saying,

“These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

[To be continued.]

Come back tomorrow for part two of I Am Free

To read more first person encounters check out my new book Encounters With Jesus. It's a collection of forty stories from the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched. Available now in paperback or kindle editions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by,

See you tomorrow,

Ben

3

But Peter said,"I do not possess silver and gold,
but what I do have I give to you: In the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"
Acts 3:6

Look At Us

A Supplicant

From before I can remember, my papa and I would go down to the temple at the hour of prayer. He wouldn’t close his shop for the day. He put a note on the door and left everything just as it was. Then he stopped at home to get me. Mama and the girls would stay at home getting dinner ready.

“Men are made for prayer,” my papa would tell me, when I asked him why my sister didn’t have to come.

Before the praying started, the rabbi would say a few words, to guide our petitions. Mostly I didn’t know what he was saying, and didn’t much care. But I still remember one talk.

The rabbi read from the scrolls containing the Psalms. The Psalms were always my favorite readings. That day he read from one of Solomon’s psalms.

He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. Psalm 72:13

Then he told us that any man who gave to the poor was doing the Almighty’s work. He continued by telling us that when we put alms in the hand of the poor, it is as if we are putting our money directly into the hand of the Lord Himself.

He reminded us of the proverb:

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed. - Proverbs 19:17

The next day when papa came to get me, I remember asking him for a penny.

“My little Gideon, what will you do with a penny today?”

“Papa, I want to give it to the lame man who sits near the temple gates. He’s there every day, and Rabbi Yosef says if we give to the poor we lend to the Lord.”

“Well then, that’s just fine, Gidi, we’ll both give the Lord a loan today.”

He went back into his room where his coin purse hung on a hook on the wall.

“Here you go Gidi my boy, you can carry them both, one for you and one for me.”

I can still remember how cool the copper felt in my tiny hand. From that day on we never went to the temple without two coppers for the lame man there. Papa told me he had been there as long as he had lived in the city.

I’m twenty now, and my papa and I still close up shop for the hour of prayer every day. I’m married and have a boy of my own, but I still work in my father's shop. It won’t be long before my little Josiah starts working with us too. We still grab a few coins to give the beggar as we head out of the shop.

One day, as we neared the temple there were some men standing over our beggar. We thought of him as our beggar, since we had given him money for more than fifteen years. We rarely stopped as we walked by. We just tossed our coins into the hat that sat before him.

I’m not sure I had ever seen his eyes. His eyes are always on the dust of the path. It may have been shame that kept his eyes from meeting ours, or perhaps he simply found people more generous without the tacit confrontation of his gaze. In any case, we never stopped there, but dropped our coins and kept moving.

These two men were standing right there and talking with him. As we approached I heard the beggar repeat the words I had heard a thousand times.

“Do you have a coin for this cripple.”

The words were so familiar to me. They were a part of me, like our meal time prayers, or my sisters giggles. I think it was those words that kept the memory of Rabbi Yosef’s message about giving to the poor so fresh in my mind.

One of the men gave a sort of shrug as if to say, we have no coin to share, but then the other reached out his hand, not as though he was going to give something, but as if he was going to pull him up out of his cot.

At this point our lame friend didn’t see what was going on, because he was still looking down.

As this stranger reached his hand out, I heard him say:

“Look at us!”

The crippled man raised his head, tentatively at first, but once he got a look at this man’s eyes, he began to look—I don’t know how to say it—with his whole face. The eyes I’d never seen, and the face I knew only by profile, now looked directly at this man—he sounded like a Galilean—with his outstretched hand.

"I do not possess silver and gold,”

At this the lame mans gaze wavered with an edge of disappointment.

“but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"

His hand hung there for what seemed like minutes, until finally the lame man grabbed it and they both pulled, the Galilean pulled up and the lame man held on with both hands. Then he was on his feet.

As I stood staring it started to dawn on me how impossible this was. I may have never seen this man’s eyes, but his feet and legs sat out there in the dust and grime of the temple courts every day. They were shriveled and useless. The man had to be forty years old, and he had never used those legs for anything.

And now he was standing just a few steps away from me.

He bent over at the waist and reached down with his hands and felt his legs. I could see that they were no longer the tiny twigs that lay beside him yesterday. These were legs, with flesh and muscle.

He took a cautious step or two—feeling for his balance—testing his new legs, getting a feel for this unfamiliar sensation. Then he was walking, then leaping, then walking and running and leaping, all the while shouting praises to the Almighty, and praises to Jesus that Nazarene who was crucified just a couple months back over on skull hill.

The crowd was growing now, and the beggar—everyone knew him—was leaping and shouting praises—and shaking everyone’s hands.

The one who had lifted the lame man off his bed called for silence, and a hush came over the crowd. We all wanted to hear what this man had to say.

I later learned this was Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples. He began to preach to us about how God the Father had sent Jesus, His servant, and how we had crucified the Lord’s holy and righteous Son. This fisherman began to open our eyes to the words of the prophets and of Moses himself, and show us how in our ignorance we had killed the very Son of God.

As he preached the temple priests saw the ruckus and called the temple guards, who arrested Peter and his companion John, but not before Peter led thousands of us to faith in Jesus.

That was the day the Lord fulfilled His promise to me. For years I had lent Him my pennies, and today, He paid me my interest. He gave me an inheritance far beyond the value of copper, silver or gold. He gave me new life.

~~~

To read the original story, see Acts 3:1-4:4.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015 - all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Holy Spirit, you might like my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben