Title: They are checking you out!
Text: Acts 16:16-34
Introduction: I had a friend in college who always thought girls were checking him out. Not matter what the occasion was or where we were at, somebody was checking him out. When thinking about my college buddy I could help but to think about being a Christian with a mandate by witness to the world with the gospel. People are always going to check you out. What they are look at is your witness. They want to see if you are real or are you putting up a front. As a Christian, our life is a testimony of what God can do and is doing. But the problem is we are not good witnesses because if you see how we really act and live, it looks like God is not doing anything in our lives or we don’t even know God. We are to bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ. And the world is checking us out to see it. Our text shows us what the world is checking for in our lives.
Our story opens as Paul and Silas where on there way to prayer when they meet a young slave girl with a spirit of divination who her masters were using to make money. She would prophesy to people and they would pay. This still goes on today. As this girl with the spirit of divination followed them she would cry out that Paul and Silas were servants of the most High God. But as she kept saying it, Paul got annoyed and turned to deal with this young girl with a spirit of divination. The word for divination is translated to python. When you get ready to pray you will encounter snakes who will try to choke, distract and annoy you. I have suffered many attacks before or while I was going to into the Lord’s house to commune with Him. The enemy knows what to do to try to distract you from getting strength to defeat him! This leads to our first point.
I. The enemy is checking you out
The enemy is constantly checking you out looking for opportunities to stop your witness. Even though this slave girl was saying the right thing, she was overly flattering and it got annoying. So Paul turned and cast the spirit out of her under the authority of Jesus. When you deal with the devil you have to use your authority in Jesus. Since the enemy is checking you out you have to be bold for Christ able to speak with authority to things that disturb your peace. Like in this text, we have the power to transform our situation with the authority of Jesus! You change your atmosphere by bringing wayward spirits under the subjection of Jesus Christ. And when you do it, somebody will get free and delivered like this slave girl.
My beloved, not everyone is happy that your witness changes things. The owners of the slave girl got mad because their meal ticket was gone. Good witnesses expose darkness with light. So they dragged Paul and Silas into court and brought them up on false charges of disturbing the city tainting Paul and Silas character and had them beaten and bound in the innermost part of the jail. Here we learn about what good witnesses go through. (1) People will try to assassinate your character. (2) They will cause you harm may be not physical but emotional (3) People will try to hold you back so you can’t spread the gospel. This was the enemies calculated plan to stop our witness. But you have a promise a witness for Christ. Isaiah 54:17 tells us that no weapon formed against you shall prosper, every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servant of the Lord…This promise will come to pass! But first look how else you are being checked out.
II. People are checking you to see how you handle trial and tribulation.
You have people checking you out to see how you deal with things so they can formulate an opinion from your reaction. After being beaten by rods and having to deal the excruciating pain and placed in the most dismal conditions in a Roman prison, Paul and Silas still had the joy of the Lord. About midnight Paul and Silas were worshipping the Lord in songs and prayers. Their joy is not contingent on what is happening. Their joy was from the love of Jesus Christ. They did not focus on their situation. They focused on God. They prayed and did not complain. Their cries were cries of joy and not sadness. And the other prisoners were checking them out by listening while they were praising while in pain. My beloved, not only are people are checking you out while you are in a bad situation to see how you are going to act, they are listening. So be careful what comes out your mouth while you are in trouble because your testimony either positively or negatively can effect what others believe. But this text also shows us that the Lord shines upon people whose praise is not dictated by their problems. God is also checking you out. We can influence not only people but God in how we deal with hardship. People and God want to see our faith in times of trouble. If our actions bring glory to God (1) people will turn towards God and (2) God will turn towards us and releases favor because our faith pleases Him. The problem is that most people only praise and worship when things are good. But I have learned I need to worship most when I am at my lowest. My worship isn’t lamenting morning before the Lord. It is singing hymns and praying with joy in the Lord like Paul and Silas. And when I do this, God gives me a breakthrough in my spirit so I can endure the hardship while yet giving Him glory. Look what God does for Paul and Silas. In v. 26 suddenly there was a great earthquake that shook the foundation of the prison and the doors flew open and every shackle and chains came a loose! My beloved, your worship can get people lose! During this phenomenon, the jailor woke up and came running to see happened. When he discovered that all doors were open, he had a problem. He was responsible for the security of the prison. If any prisoners escaped according to Roman law he was to be punished by death. So in his shame, he pulls out a knife and was about kill himself. My brothers and sisters, like the jailor we will be in situations that we have not kept up our own responsibility and by law we have to deal with the consequences. But thanks be to God for His grace and mercy! Here we see how God’s grace and mercy intervenes on behalf of the jailor. In verse 28, Paul cries out with a loud voice of compassion “do yourself no harm, we are here”. The voice of compassion is crying out to somebody right now who has been dealing with some issues and you maybe thinking crazy! Do yourself no harm. Jesus is here to save you! Next, the text says that the jailor called for light (and he is about get it) and runs in trembling before Paul and Silas. Now the man who put them in them prison is brings them out and says to them “what must do to be saved”? This leads to our next point.
III. People are checking you out for hope in for their lives.
Paul and Silas give the jailor an instruction that will change his life forever. In v. 31 he says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and if your household believes they can be saved”. If they did not cry out with compassion to the jailor, this man would have killed himself and missed Jesus. But now he has the hope of salvation. So they gave the jailor and his family the Word of the Lord. My beloved, when people need help, as a witness, give them the Word along with anything else they need.
In verses 33-34a, we see the results of the apostles effective witness. The text says that night, the jailor took and washed Paul and Silas stripes and brought them into his home and feed them. The man who put them in jail and who inflicted the stripes is now the same man who is washing them. The same man who probably didn’t care if they ate or not now is feeding them. This man has been transformed! My brothers and my sisters, your witness will cause people to change. It might not be as drastic as this jailor but your boss may smile and say good morning. Your kids may stop yelling while you are reading the Word. People may stop talking dirty when you are around. Your witness can transform the world even if it’s a little bit at a time! The text goes on to say that his family was baptized. They all rejoiced believing in God! That is why the devil is so busy in marriages and in children because our main witness is at home. If we can influence our families, the ones who know us best, imagine what we can do in the world. But I wonder what some of our family members would say about our walk with the Lord? They might say we don’t know we have one.
God is telling us to today to be a good witness especially in the times of trouble because people are checking you out. And every miracle you experienced God uses for opportunity to open hearts to receive the gospel like the jailor and his family. God needs good witness to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.
Celebration: A good witness is like an infection, other people will get what you got when they come in close contact. Tried Stone, there is a bigger infection that can spread like AIDS. This is a God-created infection that doesn’t cause death but life! It is so contagious that you don’t even have to touch the person physically. But is caught by faith! It so powerful that is has been getting folks for over 2000 years. Some of you got it! And I can see it on you. And the doctor, the Great Physician already checked and confirmed the diagnosis. It is spreading and no one can’t nothing stop it. You can’t help but to spreading it because you been infected by it yourself! It don’t make sick but it will gives you joy. Everybody who comes in contact with you will get exposed if they like or not. Some will catch it. Others will be affected by its side effects. My beloved, you got what every witness of Jesus has, the Holy Ghost! The world is looking for the Holy Ghost in you life! So come check me out! Check out my love! Check out my joy etc. Check what the Lord has done for me!!!