This morning, God is providing for us a key to breakthrough in our battles.

Psalm 22:3 teaches us that God inhabits or is enthroned on the praise of His people.  Whatever we are going through, when we lift up our voices in prayer and in praise to God, we bring God’s Presence into that situation.  When we praise God, we are simultaneously casting off fear and worry and anxiety and doubt about that situation.  God’s peace and joy and strength come rushing in to replace them.

Worship is our warship!  It is a vessel through which we endure the battles of life and get through them victoriously!  It is a safe refuge that we can run into in the heat of battle!  Worship is our warship!

Elisha called for a harpist to hear the voice of God, Jehoshaphat sent the worshippers first into battle and the Lord defeated their enemy, Jericho’s walls fell at the sound of a great shout of God’s people, Gideon won the war with trumpet blast and great shout to the Lord, and I could go on and on.

When the enemy comes on strong, when the troubles of the world overwhelm us, and we lift up our voices in praise, we are raising up a battle cry.  The Lord raises up a banner (Psalm 60).  The Lord becomes our banner and the battle becomes His!  There isn’t a single battle yet that He has lost. 

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  Where the Presence of God is, there is victory!

That doesn’t mean that we won’t ever experience difficult times and that there won’t be times when we feel like failures.  That doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when it looks like a complete loss from worldly standards.  Just consider the cross and the borrowed grave of Jesus, right? 

It does mean that if we remain ever-faithful to God and keep seeking after Him, it will all end in a great victory!  The greater the theft of the enemy, the greater the restoration when God steps in!  Just consider all that Job had loss and how at the end of a very long and painful season, God restored TWICE what had been stolen by the devil!

Let’s turn now to such an account where God’s people were opposed, suffered, but experienced a great victory in the end of it all because they responded in PRAISE!

Acts 16:16-39

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.

This single verse contains far, far more information than what we realize when first reading through it in our various translations.  Understanding what is contained within it, however, sets the context for everything that happens next.

In the original Greek, this young girl possessed a spirit. the Greek word echo.  She was not possessed by a spirit, she possessed a spirit.  The spirit did not have her, she had the spirit.  We are provided no back story to this young girl to understand how this may have taken place.

However, this isn’t a possession like the others that we read about throughout the New Testament where a spirit takes control of a person and causes sickness or disease or physically harms them or whatever other form of torment they receive against the person’s will.  The Greek word used in these cases is daimonizomai which means that they were under the power of a spirit.  The Greek word used for her possession was echo.

This young girl somehow controls the spirit and uses it to tell the future.  There is a mutually beneficial agreement of some sort.  It’s sort of like some parasites that have a mutually beneficial relationship with their hosts, but this one was spiritual.

In the Greek, we also are given the spirit’s name; Python.  Most English translations just say that it was an evil spirit or a spirit of divination or a spirit that could predict the future.  However, Young’s Literal, the Darby, and the Jubilee translations of the Bible speak what the original Greek language actually says.  It is a spirit named Python.

This is significant!  The Romans and Greeks living in this area would have known this “spirit” well.  Python was a Greek god who was a giant serpent-dragon born to Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth.  Python lived in a cave of Mount Parnassus called Delphi, which was the location of an important prophetic stone. 

The primary role of Python was to protect this stone.  However, it is also said that Python shared some of the oracles of this prophetic stone with the Greek Olympian gods.  Apollos killed Python and took control of the prophetic stone and oracles and the priestesses who served Apollos were named Pythia. 

We’re all aware of the Olympic games whose origins were part of a religious festival to honor the Greek god Zeus at Olympia.  However, there are also Pythian games celebrated every four years as well to honor this event.

The modern Pythian Games were revived last year with 92 countries participating.  While the Olympic games feature athleticism, the Pythian games feature art, literature, music, and theater honoring Apollos.  Music and the arts accompanying prophecy.  Why is all of this important?  Well, we continue on now with a bit more of a common understanding with those in Acts 16.

17 She 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.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed 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.

She was speaking truth, right?  She was offering up free publicity, right?

It’s not enough just to speak or hear truth.  It’s just as important to consider the source of that truth.  In Matthew 4 when the Spirit lead Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, the devil just quoted the scriptures.  Satan spoke truth and Jesus heard truth. 

Yet, consider the source of truth and consider the motive of that source that is sharing truth.  The devil was sharing scripture, but with a perverted motive trying to get Jesus to sin and to fulfill His destiny in a way other than the Father’s plan.  Keep this in mind when modern teachers and preachers and prophets and apostles quote the scripture.  Just because it is Biblical and truth doesn’t make it Biblical and true.  Right?  Consider the source and check the motives.

This young girl was speaking truth.  In fact, she was sort of prophesying.  However, consider the source of her truth.  It was an evil spirit.  Consider the motive for sharing that truth. 

It might have been that she was trying to “ride the waves” of their success to be more profitable.  It might have also been to associate the god of Python with the Most High God.   Whatever the case, it would not have been the motive of saving people.

Have you ever been around someone and they don’t say anything wrong and they don’t really do anything wrong?  In fact, they seem to do and say all of the right things, but something still just doesn’t seem right about them?  Something just doesn’t settle well within your own spirit about them?  It’s like the Holy Spirit within you seems to always get “rubbed the wrong way” by them?

In this case, Paul either discerned the spirit of Python within her or just knew it from the people of that region.  Either way, it annoyed him.  In fact, it annoyed him for days until he finally cast the spirit right out of her.

Now, I don’t necessarily recommend ministering deliverance to people because they annoy you.  We’re supposed to deliver people because we love them and want to see them set free and they, themselves want to be set free.  That wasn’t the case here.  In any case, the spirit submitted to the name of Jesus and left.

There are, however, always consequences to our decisions.  Both bad and good, our decisions cause effects to occur.  That spirit left the girl, but what did Jesus teach about impure spirits like Python?

Luke 11:24-28

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

This is why deliverance ministry requires more than just casting out spirits.  Unless the person delivered receives Christ’s salvation and is filled with the Holy Spirit, there is a high probability that the person won’t remain delivered for long and will end up worse off than they were in the first place.

As Jesus was still teaching about deliverance, something bizarre happens…

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

Ironic, right?  A woman calls out similar to how this young girl is calling out following Paul and Silas.  She must have been the first Catholic as it sounds like she’s shouting out some hail Mary’s.  🙂

28 Jesus replied (in correction), “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

If we want to be blessed, it won’t happen by sharing things on social media.  If we want God’s blessings, they won’t come from saying a certain number of hail Mary’s.  God’s blessing comes only from knowing and obeying His word!

We now turn back to this young woman who had just been set free from the spirit of Python:

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

If you’ve ever heard the expression that “no good deed goes unpunished”, well, here is an example of it.  Also, remember what Jesus taught about what an impure spirit does when it is driven out?  It seems that Python’s influence spread throughout the people as well.

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

How did Paul and Silas respond to their embarrassment, torment, and mistreatment?

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

How did God respond to their prayers and worship?

26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

When we lift our voices in prayer and worship, things change!  Even if it is at the midnight hour, God can suddenly change things!

Worship is Warship!  When we give praise and honor and glory to God with our voices, we are declaring war on the devil and the demons and the spirits who hate God.  There is absolutely no competition, either!

Python may have annoyed Paul and had Paul and Silas stripped, beaten with rods, flogged severely, and thrown in prison.  However, God always has the final word and no matter how bad things may get for us, our story will ALWAYS end in VICTORY!

That’s why we can lift our voices in prayer and praise even if we’re naked, bleeding, bruised, and hanging in chains in prison.  We always have reason for praise!  Praise sets captives free even when the captive is our own self!   TODAY is the day of our salvation, so every single day, we have reason to dare to hope again!  We have a reason to have GREAT EXPECTATION!

Lamentations 3:22-24 (AMPC)

22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

24 The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.

Every single day, we have reason for praise!

27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. (he was about to commit suicide to avoid being tortured and killed by the Roman government for having failed to guard the prisoners) 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Who would have ever thought that the one held most captive who was about to be set free in that prison was the jailer, himself.  Salvation and true freedom was about to come to this jailer and his entire household!

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

Not only did God set Paul and Silas physically free from that prison, but He also set them legally free from their sentence.  Here, we also find an instance of something that does not happen often in the New Testament.  Paul demanded worldly justice for their mistreatment:

37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.

This is a modern Haman and Mordecai type of justice.  God switches the role of the public accuser and enemy of God’s people to be forced to defend and honor God’s people before everyone.  Just yesterday, Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten with rods, flogged severely, and thrown in prison.  Oh but today, today they are escorted out from the prison by those same men as they gravel and do whatever they can to appease them.

Yesterday may have been pretty rough just like Jesus’ Friday, BUT today is the third day!  Sorrow may last for the night, but joy is on its way this morning!

We don’t wait for the fulfillment to give God praise, we praise God while the trial and tribulation is still coming on strong!  We give God the praise and honor and glory that He is worthy of regardless of our circumstances!  We praise Him because He has the final say over our circumstances and His promises are ALL YES AND AMEN!!!

Now that I’ve talked about it and you’ve heard about it, let’s both put God’s word into practice and lift our voices in prayer and praise and expect some prison doors to start flying open!!!