Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
July 24, 2016
Central Passage
Acts 16:16-18
Description

THE LANGUAGE OF FAITH

          “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 girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.’  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” (Acts 16:16-18).

          Paul and Silas were on one of their missionary journeys.  They were in Greece…in the area of Philippi…and initially things seemed to be going pretty well for them.

          But one day things began to change.  A certain girl…a fortune teller by trade…began to follow Paul and Silas while chanting, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.

          At first this free advertising may have seemed like a good thing…but it didn’t just happen once or twice.  Scripture tells us she kept up this chant for many days…until it actually became a nuisance and distraction.

          Paul tired of it…cast the demonic spirit from her…and she was delivered.  That, of course, caused her to lose her alleged power of being able to tell the future.  This didn’t set will with certain men in the community who owned the girl and used her to make money.

          When the girl’s owners realized what Paul and Silas had done…they seized them and dragged them into the marketplace.  That’s when things went from bad to worse for the two preachers.

          Right off the bat they had to stand before a makeshift court…which in its judgment must have declared them guilty of economic terrorism.  Whatever the verdict…they were stripped…beaten severely…and confined in what was called the inner prison.  There they were in chains and their feet were fastened into stocks.  I think you could say that they were having a bad day.

          You’ve probably had some bad days, too…days when things didn’t go all that well.  Maybe you thought things couldn’t get any worse…but sure enough, they did.  That was the kind of day Paul and Silas had.

          If you think you’re having a bad day…think about the people who don’t know Christ.  For those who don’t choose Jesus as Lord before the end of their earthly lives…their bad days are only going to get worse.

          Of course, if you’re a Christian and not in God’s will…well, before your end comes things can get awfully bad and stressful for you, too.  And even if you’re in God’s will…bad things can happen to you.  That’s because God gifted all people with free will…and sin is a consequence of free will.

          That’s why I’m grateful for those words in 1 John 1:9…the assurance that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

          An unrighteous person doesn’t have any hope that things will ever get significantly better.  If he or she thinks things are bad now…just wait until they reach their final destination.  That’s when they’ll better understand what bad is.

          Amos 5:19 describes an unrighteous person as “…one who runs from a lion, only to meet up with a bear, and then when he gets to his house he leans on the wall in exhaustion, only to have a snake bite him.”

          I’d call that a bad day.  I’d also say that those not ready to meet the Lord will be able to redefine our idea of a bad day.  Revelation 20:10 tells us that “…they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

          While it’s true that even a child of God can have a bad day…a bad day isn’t the last word.  God has the last word…and in Psalm 30:5 we’re told that “…weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

          And Romans 8:28 assures us that God causes all things to “…work together for good to those who love Him, to those who have been called according to his purpose.”

          Take a good look at how Paul and Silas handled their bad day.  Acts 16:25 tells us, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

          Victory in overcoming bad days comes down to this simple equation: Prayer to…and Praise of God equals deliverance.

          It all begins with prayer…simply calling on the name of the Lord.  Your prayer doesn’t have to be complicated or thought out.  It just needs to be simple, honest and from the heart.  Genuine prayer is nothing more than quality one-on-one time with the God who loves you.

          Unfortunately, many Christians worry and fret about things that they can do nothing about.  Life becomes very stressful for them.  They tend to forget that Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27)… because if they listened to that voice they would know that He also said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

          That doesn’t mean life is going to be a bed of roses…but it does mean that your faith in Jesus will enable you to handle anything that comes your way.  So take it easy on yourself.  Don’t blame yourself…and especially don’t blame God for the bad that may be happening to you or all around you.  Talk to God about it…and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that He expects you to carry all your burdens by yourself.  The Holy Spirit is there to help.  Jesus has taken your burdens upon Himself.  He has already made Himself a sacrifice for your most pressing burden…your salvation.  He paid the biggest debt you’ll ever owe by giving His life for you on the Cross.

          Sometimes your bad days are simply because you didn’t take them to the Lord in prayer.  The man who wrote the lyrics to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” became keenly aware of the power of prayer.  Prayer sustained him through many bad, bitter and dark days of his life.

          His fiancée drowned the night before their wedding day…and shortly afterward his mother became gravely ill.  He penned his mother a letter and enclosed the lines of a new poem he had written…a poem that we know as the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

          In the first verse he expressed this ironic truth: “O what peace we often forfeit…O what needless pain we bear…all because we do not carry…everything to God in prayer.”

          Prayer is our open line to God's presence…an open line in time of need.  Call on Him every day…call on Him without ceasing and you will be able to handle your bad days.  Let go of the idea that you can handle the difficulties of life without God’s help.

          Too many people are being dragged through life with Satan’s chain of fear and unbelief.  Let go of that chain and truly believe in the God who never fails us…who sent His Son to die in our place…and the Holy Spirit to comfort us.  If you refuse to trust in Christ alone…and to let go of your sinful past…Satan will drag you through life until you’re battered, bleeding and scarred.  You’ll have one bad day after another.

          With prayer you can stop any bad day in its tracks.  When the storms of life come…and they will…the answer is prayer.  Pray and God will sustain you.

          And when you pray…continue on with praise.  Paul and Silas not only prayed…they sang hymns of praise to God.  They prayed and praised.  They trusted God.  They engaged in prayer and praise…which is the language of faith.

          Remember that above all else that you glean from this message…that prayer and praise is the language of faith.  Satan will attempt to keep you from praying to and praising God when you have a bad day.  He’ll try to convince you that it will do no good.  Human wisdom will do the same…but that’s to be expected.  Satan wrote the book on human wisdom.

          I’m sure that Satan and human wisdom attempted to convince Paul and Silas that their situation was so bad that nothing could be done about it…that prayer and praise were useless exercises.  But through eyes of faith they saw that God had not forsaken them.

          They knew…as all of us should…that prayer and praise equal deliverance.  Even though they had experienced a bad day…were in prison…chained and in stocks…they knew and understood that God was with them.  And that’s a lesson we all need to learn.  The Holy Spirit never leaves our side.

          When things go bad…it takes faith to praise God.  When you’re having a bad time and it looks as if there’s no help from any source…including from above…it takes faith to sing praises to the Lord.

          But think about it.  Once you’ve prayed and put your problems in God’s hands…what else is there to do but praise Him?  To do anything less is to suggest that God didn’t hear you…or that God doesn’t care.  And if your faith is genuine…you know that He always hears you…and you know that He always cares.

          So praise Him continually.  Praise Him for His love that surrounds and envelopes you.  Praise the name of Jesus and lift it up because…if you’re a Christian…it is the name of Jesus that lifts you.

          Paul and Silas sang…and they turned a bad day into a good day.  An earthquake occurred that jarred open the prison doors…along with the chains and stocks that bound them.  They were delivered.  So never forget this supernatural truth…that prayer plus praise equal deliverance.

          The life of every Christian embodies this simple truth…but until we embrace it 100 percent we will never know all that God wants to accomplish through us.  Too many of us pray half believing…and too many of us praise tentatively.  Until we’re willing to give it all up for God…we can’t expect the kind of deliverance that Paul and Silas experienced.

          Until we have an over-the-top belief in God…we will be imprisoned…shackled with chains of doubt and fear.  Half belief in God is like no belief at all.  To receive the blessings that God wants to bestow upon us…we must believe wholeheartedly.

          As Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

          cSo praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise him all creatures here below.  Praise him above ye heavenly host.  Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost.

          Prayer to and praise of God…that’s the language of faith.  And until we utilize the elements necessary to speak and exhibit that language…we won’t experience the miracles God is waiting to bestow upon us.

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