One day on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and, with her fortune-telling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. She started following Paul around, calling attention to us by yelling out, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!”She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up with her, turned and commanded the spirit that possessed her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And it was gone, just like that. When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square .Then the police arrested them and pulled them into a court with the accusation, “These men are disturbing the peace–dangerous Jewish agitators subverting our Roman law and order.” By this time the crowd had turned into a restless mob out for blood. Acts 16:16-21 The Message.

At first it wasn’t a problem for the slave girl’s owners that she followed Paul and Silas and yelled words telling what the two of them were about. Maybe there would be money in it. The trouble started when Paul ordered the spirit to- in the name of Jesus Christ- get out of her. Everybody now knew what Paul and Silas were doing, but the owners could no longer make money on the girl’s psychic abilities. Competition for attention had killed their business, and would likely destroy the economy if allowed to continue. Paul and Silas and the power they brought were a threat, so the owners started a riot in order to get rid of Paul, Silas and their message.

Words have power for both good or evil, depending on who is using them and for what purpose. Scripture is full of ways words have been used for good or evil, as encouragement or as threats. And in every age, and certainly, in ours, the word, “CHANGE” is one of those powerful words.

In Acts 1:1-9:1-32, as the Holy Spirit came and the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached, huge changes happened in individuals, communities, the culture and started to spread into the world.

Go back through those chapters in Acts and pick one that encouraged or felt like a threat to you. Then look at one or more of the changes that have happened in your life as you follow Jesus and are learning to know his heart. How have you been encouraged or, perhaps, felt threatened? Using Psalm 139:23-24, go to the Lord, who knows you intimately and loves you deeply, and thank him for encouragement and talk with him about your felt threat.

By Carolyn Schmitt

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