After this we packed our things and left for Jerusalem. Some believers from Caesarea accompanied us, and they took us to the home of Mnason, a man originally from Cyprus and one of the early believers. When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry. (Acts of the Apostles 21:15-19 NLT)
Paul, his ministry team, and some believers from Caesarea traveled to Jerusalem. After arriving, they were taken to the home of an early ministry believer named Mnason. He was originally from Cyprus (the island out in the Mediterranean Sea just west and North of Israel) where Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark started their first missionary journey. There, they were welcomed by the local believers with warm hospitality.
The next day Paul, and his ministry team, went to meet with James. All of the other church leaders came to hear Paul's account. James was the Pastor in Jerusalem (See the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15). James was considered as the main overseer of the churches collectively. Paul submitted himself to this authority. Oh how we need to learn this respect in our time. God is pleased when we honor His anointed and appointed overseers. No matter how well known or popular someone is, they are never outside the boundary of accountability and submission to authority. Submission to authority and accountability to those over us is an honorable, healthy thing. (See Hebrews 13:7 and 17; I Thessalonians 5:12 and 13). Although Paul was a prominent figure in the early church, he was not the overseeing Pastor, James was. The home church, Jerusalem (see Acts chapters 2-8) was the highest point of authority within the church. Of course we all should know, and recognize, that God is the Ultimate Authority. He has, however, established His church with certain authorities within. This must be respected if we expect to honor God and gain His blessing. God blesses His order (I Corinthians 14:40).
The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (Acts of the Apostles 21:8-14 NLT)
Paul and his comrades travel just a bit south from Tyre to Caesarea. There they lodged in the home of one of the seven deacons chosen in Acts Chapter 6:5-6. Philip was his name. He is called the Evangelist here in this chapter. Philip was a man full of the Holy Spirit and of great character. We also read of him in Acts Chapter 8 where he ministers in Samaria and to the Ethiopian Eunuch. As a well respected leader among the believers in Caesarea, Paul and his ministry team stay with him. Jesus said "And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence." (Matthew 10:11 KJV). Philip is stated as having four daughters who loved Jesus , were chaste, and had the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is one of the nine manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12:10.
Another prophet named Agabus comes from Judea (Southern, Mountainous Israel). Upon his arrival, he takes Paul's belt and binds his own hands and feet with the belt. He, then, prophesied that the Jews would bind Paul in Jerusalem and turn him over to the Gentiles. This proclamation caused a stir of great concern among the believers in Caesarea as well as Paul's ministry team and they tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem. His reply was determined and steadfast. He, I'm sure, appreciated their love and affection for him, yet he was pressed to go. Apparently, Paul was compelled of the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem because he said to the crowd that he was not only willing to be thrown in jail, but to die for the Lord Jesus Christ. He was already dead to his old sinful nature and he knew that what lie ahead was greater than the life he currently lived. His focus was unaffected by the natural circumstances of life. Galatians 2:20 says "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (KJV).
Let's live life with complete abandon to the one, and only, Lord!!! Jesus is His name!!!
After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home. The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. (Acts of the Apostles 21:1-7 NLT)
Sailing from Miletus, Paul's ministry team heads for Israel. Paul wants to get to Jerusalem.
They land, first, at the island of Cos and, the next day, at the island of Rhodes. The have, now, left the Aegean Sea and have entered the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Up until this point, they have travelled along the west coast of Asia Minor (Turkey). Now, they are traveling to it's south. The next stop is at Patara, the southernmost point of Asia Minor. They leave from there and head for Phoenicia (The region of south Syria). As they sailed this longest part of the journey, they passed the large island of Cyprus (the first stop on the first missionary journey) and landed at Tyre, in Syria. The ship had to unload its cargo there. The ministry team found the local believers and stayed with them for seven days. It doesn't say exactly what they did, but I speculate that they shared the accounts of their travels, preached and taught the Word, and fellowshipped with each other. The team apparently stayed in the homes of the believers rather than the local Holiday Inn (I know there were no Holiday Inns back then, I'm just being funny:-)). This shows the hospitality of the followers of Jesus. We, too need to be hospitable to our fellow brothers in Christ and even strangers (see I Timothy 5:10). Paul must have shared his intentions of going to Jerusalem with the congregation because they felt pressed in the Holy Spirit to prophesy to him not to do so. They discerned, in the Holy Spirit, what awaited him. When the ministry team went back to the harbor to board the ship, the entire congregation went along, including the women and children. This speaks like a megaphone about the love that the church had in that time. We can't get the entire congregation together to worship and hear the preaching of God's Word anymore, let alone escort someone to their point of departure. The congregation knelt down, on the ground, and prayed with these brethren. They too, like the Ephesian congregation, felt the sting of knowing this would be the last time they saw Paul (at least on this side). Farewells were exchanged and, I'm sure, some tears. This is a beautiful picture of the love God gives His saints. John 13:34 & 35 tells us "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (NLT). Let's love one another!
The next stop along the way was Ptolemais (just south of Tyre). There, the team stayed one day with the local brothers and sisters. We can call those who are born again our brothers and sisters. We are family. The Family of God!!
Don't Look Back
“And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood —over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you. “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.
(Acts of the Apostles 20:25-38 NLT)
This is one of the most tender passages of scripture in the bible. Paul is concluding his third missionary journey and is headed to Jerusalem. He has stopped at Miletus (a coastal city just below Ephesus) and wants to meet one last time with the church elders from Ephesus. He has called them together to affirm their faith, restate his complete obedience in teaching and preaching the whole truth to them, and to warn them of false teachers that will arise like wolves to try to devour them. He knows that he will, most likely, never see them again. He makes this known to them. He had spent three years in Ephesus, longer than any other city. His heart was fond of these people. Theirs was, of him, as well. He commends them into the hands of God. At last, they knelt with him, where they were, and prayed with him. Tears were shed and affections shared. They escorted him down to the ship and we can imagine the scene as they watched the ship leave the harbor. Tremendous emotion must have gripped the Ephesian and local believers as Paul and his comrades sailed out sight.
It is always hard to say good-bye. Often, over the years, I have experienced the emotion of having to say farewell to a friend, loved one, or a brother in Christ not knowing when we may see each other again. Death has even invaded our lives and left deep voids. Yet, in the midst of this sadness, there arises a beacon of hope. His name is Jesus. Knowing Him as Savior and Lord gives us the absolute confidence that if our friends, loved ones, and fellow church family truly know Him, we don't have to say "good-bye", only "see ya later".
This is why we must preach and teach the truth of the gospel of Jesus to the whole world. The life we now live is not the eternal life that is ahead. We need to prepare for eternity. I'm ready! Are you? Jesus awaits your response. What will you do with His offer of eternal life? I pray that you accept Him, if you haven't already, and that we can gather on the shore where no one says "good-bye"! I look forward to the reunion and celebration of the ages. (See I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Revelation 19). Saints, the best is yet to come! Cheer up my brothers and sisters! If we could only see what awaits us, we would be at peace. Don't look back. Look ahead!
Surrender Your Life
Paul went by land to Assos, where he had arranged for us to join him, while we traveled by ship. He joined us there, and we sailed together to Mitylene. The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus. Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost. But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him. When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus. “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
(Acts of the Apostles 20:13-24 NLT)
Things take a distinct turn in this passage. Paul has spent his life, since being sent out from Antioch of Syria, telling the good news of Jesus to as many places as God would allow him. As he travels from Troas, he makes his way, by land, down to Assos. There, he met his comrades who had travelled with him. They had sailed by ship. He had travelled by land. Paul joined his comrades aboard ship and they sailed to Mitylene, past the island of Kios (Chios in that time) to the island of Samos, and then to Miletus. All of this travel was along the the Western coast of Asia Minor (Turkey) in the Aegean Sea. Miletus was just south of Ephesus. Paul was trying to reach Jerusalem for the Pentecost Feast so, instead of stopping at Ephesus, he sent messengers to call the Ephesus church elders to meet him in Miletus. When they arrived, he declared how he had withheld nothing in proclaiming the gospel to them and all of Asia Minor. He recounted how he had endured the plots from the Jews who tried to kill him, how he had preached faithfully in pubic and in their homes, and how he preached to both the Jews and Gentiles. Now he knows that the Holy Spirit is speaking to him that jail time and suffering await him in city after city. He lets none of these things affect his resolve about carrying the gospel wherever God leads him. He recognizes that his life is worthless if he doesn't finish what God has anointed and appointed him to do. He must testify to the world about the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
I am certainly grateful for the gospel of the grace of God. Jesus has made it possible to be saved from Hell and to be restored to God. Heaven awaits the child of God. When we look at what lies beyond this current, temporary life, we can see what life is supposed to be about - a right relationship with God. He created us for so much more then this sinful world could ever afford. May we, too, like Paul, give what we can't keep to gain what we cannot lose!
Jim Elliott, a missionary to the Huaoroni (Auca) Indians, a remote "unreached" tribe in Ecuador (Northwestern South America) once made a similar statement. He became famously quoted as saying "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He, and four of his fellow male missionary comrades were speared to death by this tribe on January 8th, 1956. He was only 29 years old. His wife, and little girl, along with Rachel Saint, Nate Saint's sister, (Nate was the pilot of the small aircraft they were using to reach the tribe) returned to the tribe and taught the gospel to them. They lead some of them to Jesus.
These, and others, have blazed the trail before us. You and I can only imagine the devotion and commitment that it takes to surrender ones life in such a way. May Jesus help us to be willing to do the same!! I leave us with this verse today -
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. (Luke 17:33 KJV)
Take Time To Hear
On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved. (Acts of the Apostles 20:7-12 NLT)
I have been accused of being long winded when I preach, but compared to the apostle Paul, I am short winded. In our day, we hear a lot about three point sermons and getting out of church in time for lunch. It is, as if, we want our Christianity like we want our fast food. I have a friend who once joked with me about starting a drive through church. We shared some laughs about it and even elaborated on how it could play out. Now, I'm not saying that things have to be drawn out and excessively lengthy. I have heard sermons over the years that I thought could have concluded much sooner. I have probably preached some of those myself (I can hear some of our church members saying a resounding affirmation to that). We live in an instant generation. We want everything available to us, and delivered to us, right now. We are always busy going somewhere or doing something.
Often, we miss the majesty and beauty of simply taking time to hear God's Word and soak up the fellowship of the saints.
In Luke 10:40-42, we read "But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NLT).
Far too often, we rush through our lives with urgency and get caught up in the rat race of daily cares of life. It is time to pause, turn off the T.V., lay down the cell phone, and situate ourselves at the feet of Jesus. We need His teaching to live right and to live well. Come away from your "busy" life to to what is best and right. Stop and listen to God's Word with the saints. Go meet with the church! The family of God needs the church like a car needs a gas station. Hebrews 10:25 says "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."(NLT).
In the story of the passage today, we read how Paul had joined his comrades in Troas and, there, met with all the church family of that city on Sunday (the first day of the week). He knew he would not likely return to Troas and he wanted to share as much doctrinal instruction, correction, and exhortation as possible. He, definitely, was long winded. As he spoke late into the night, around midnight, as Eutychus was sitting in the window seal, sleepiness overcame Eutychus and he fell into a deep sleep. The window he was sitting in was three stories high (approx. 25 to 30 feet). The building was packed with believers who were hungry for truth. So full, the room was, that they sat anywhere they could.
Eutychus fell out of the window and died. What happened next was a miracle. God used Paul to resurrect Eutychus from the dead. I could only imagine what a predicament I would be in if someone fell asleep and fell out a third story window and died while I was preaching.
Paul didn't miss a beat. He went immediately to Eutychus and spoke, in the name of Jesus, to him. God raised him from the dead!!! Eutychus was also healed of any injury the fall may have caused. What a Mighty God we serve!!! They all returned inside (I'm not sure where Eutychus sat this time) and shared in the Lord's supper, ate a meal together, and Paul preached until morning. Everyone was relieved concerning Eutychus and I am confident that this event increased the faith of those believers.
I pray that God will create such a hunger in us that we, too, pack his church with believers who want His doctrinal instruction, correction, and exhortation. We need to take time to hear the Word of The Lord!!!!!!!
When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece, where he stayed for three months. He was preparing to sail back to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews against his life, so he decided to return through Macedonia. Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. They went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. After the Passover ended, we boarded a ship at Philippi in Macedonia and five days later joined them in Troas, where we stayed a week.
(Acts of the Apostles 20:1-6 NLT)
Following the riot, Paul calls for the disciples of Jesus (not the 12 original, rather all believers) together to encourage them in their faith. He wanted to reinforce the things they had learned and he wanted to remind them to stand firm even in the midst of adversity. He had spent three years there teaching and preaching.
After saying his farewells, Paul went north and west through Macedonia. It was in this region that the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea were located. He, then, moves on west and south to the area of Greece. Here we find Corinth. As Paul was about to board a ship to sail back to Syria, he learned of a plot by certain Jews to kill him. He, then, decided to return the way he came, by land. He returns through the areas he had just came through.
Several comrades in the faith, godly men, joined him on his journey. They are listed. These men were from various places that the church had been established. I'm sure these men were of great help and encouragement to Paul as he strove to fulfill the great commission (to take the gospel to the ends of the earth). Paul's call and passion was to do just that no matter what the risks. His comrades were sent ahead to Troas. (Troas is located on the northwestern coast of Asia Minor (Turkey) and was a major port between Macedonia and Asia Minor). It isn't clear if they travelled by foot or if they boarded a ship and sailed to Troas. Nevertheless, they arrived in Troas ahead of Paul. Paul wasn't alone however.
The passage uses the words "us" and "we" (see Acts 20:5-6). The "us" and "we" refers to Luke and Paul. Luke is the stenographer (personal secretary) that is recording this history. Paul and Luke observed Passover where they were. (Passover was normally 24 hours. Immediately following was a seven day observance called "The Feast Of Unleavened Bread"). This memorial was to remember the act of placing the blood on the door posts in Goshen, Egypt when God sent a death angel through Egypt to kill the firstborn son of every house that didn't have the blood of a spotless lamb on it's door. (See Exodus 12). The children of Israel were spared because of the blood. Jesus is our Passover! (See Matthew 26 and I Peter 1:18-19). He, the spotless Lamb of God, has shed His blood and given His body for us. His blood and body were sinless! Those who have accepted Him into their lives as the substitution for their sins are under the protection of His blood. Death, eternal death, has no power over the children of God. Death, to God, is separation from Him. Our bodies are dying, but we are alive in Jesus eternally!!! Can I hear a shout of Praise!!! Amen!!! Because of our Passover, Jesus, we will get a new body when He returns as well. (See Ecclesiastes 12:7; Philippians 3:21; I Corinthians 15:23,50-58; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8).
This took place in the spring of the year and it is possible that the time lapse at the point of separation was about 20 days. This includes the time that Paul had sent the comrades to Troas, the eight days of Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the five days of journey from Philippi to Troas by ship, and the seven days stay at Troas. More tomorrow. Don't miss it.
At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater. Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess. “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.
(Acts of the Apostles 19:28-41 NLT)
The people of Ephesus were stirred up into a frenzy. Demetrius, motivated by his satanic, selfish, ambition incited a riot. The scene got so out of hand that the mayor had to calm them and address them. He told them that this behavior was unfounded and without due reason. He explained that Roman authorities would not accept this conduct as lawful and, therefore, might take action against them. After talking some sense into them, they dispersed and went home.
The gospel may require us to face situations that are potentially dangerous, politically disrupting, and socially unpopular. We need to stand strong and true to Jesus and His Word no matter what the consequences. Let us pray for wisdom to navigate the times in which we live.
"Be steadfast my brothers and sisters! So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."(1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT)
Afterward Paul felt compelled by the Spirit to go over to Macedonia and Achaia before going to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed awhile longer in the province of Asia. About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!” (Acts of the Apostles 19:21-27 NLT)
As Timothy and Erastus go into the region of Greece and its's northern area, Paul remains in Asia Minor a little while longer. A man with a thriving business of making silver shrines (idols), named Demetrius, stirs up trouble for the Christians in Ephesus. He had made a lot of money making statues to the Greek goddess Artemis (Diana) and had several employees. The gospel had spread so well and had such wide spread acceptance that it began to affect his business and the livelihood of his employees. He used this economic strategy against the furtherance of "The Way" (the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ). It is likely that he didn't really care about the Greek goddess or its spiritual significance to the city. He was wrapped up in the monetary gain that it brought him. Money was his driving force. He called together his employees and other employers and their employees to discuss the matter of their profits and losses. He used the religious card to gain an audience with the public as we will see tomorrow.
Often, in our time, as well as then, the gospel has such an impact in a culture that it changes the infrastructure of the society. When this happens, it can result in certain people getting upset because it affects their "bottom line". I Timothy 6:10 says For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT). Even in ministry, some have used the name of Jesus for personal gain. Merchandising the gospel can become the same as what Demetrius was doing. There is nothing wrong with producing, manufacturing, and promoting things related to Christ, but we must not let our motivation be simply to make a dollar. Jesus kicked over the tables and used a whip, that He personally made , to drive out merchants in the Temple. John 2:13-16 says "It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (NLT).
We, too, can get caught up in monetary and material prosperity. We must be careful not to allow "stuff" to take a stronghold in our lives. Jesus said in Luke 12:15 "...Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (NLT).
We all need financial resources to live but we must never let life be controlled by our "bottom line". When we do, we are, like Demetrius, putting other gods before Him.
“You must not have any other god but me. “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:3-6 NLT)
A Holy Spirit Move
The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.
(Acts of the Apostles 19:17-20 NLT)
We need a revival like this in our time. Let's pray for it. God is always willing to pour out His blessings on a people of repentance. As 2 Chronicles 7:14 says "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."(NLT). There is a desperate need for a purging in our land, even in the church. I Peter 4:17 and 18 says "For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” (NLT). Just like the seven sons of Sceva were religious and were sons of a Jewish priest, we have many today in churches, even Pastors, who think they have power over the devil just because they go to church or hold a position of authority therein. Frankly, I'm convinced that many, within "the church", are lost and don't even know it. They assume that just because they have a head knowledge of Jesus, and understand the gospel intellectually, that they are saved. This simply isn't the case. Salvation comes in a moment of genuine repentance, not going to seminary or joining a church. You can't join the Church. You must be born into it. Nicodemus was a religious ruler and yet lost. (See John 3:1-7). Saul of Tarsus was a religious rising star, but lost. (See Acts 9:1-31). In America, particularly, there seems to be a tremendous number of religious people who are in need of a Holy Spirit encounter in Jesus name!
God, please set us on fire with your presence! Forgive our sins, save the lost, rekindle Your fire in the hearts of your people, and purify us as vessels of honor to You! In Jesus name!!!
When the people of Ephesus saw what happened to the seven sons of Sceva, they were made solemnly fearful. The name of Jesus became revered (greatly respected and admired). The result was a city wide revival. I pray to see this in our time with only one difference, I pray for something like this all over the world. The church needs purging and purifying. We have a lot of junk in our trunk that needs to be brought to the burn pile. What is in your life that Satan has you oppressed with? If you don't truly know Jesus, then he, Satan, not only oppresses, but possesses you. Only Jesus name and power can release us from the chains of darkness that bind us. Set us free Lord Jesus!!! Set us Free!!!
What the church needs, in this hour, is a Holy Spirit move that will open our ears and hearts to the recognition of our sins. Once that happens, we will see a total transformation in our society.
I say, let's have a bonfire. James 5:16 says "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."(NLT)
Let's start confessing and let's watch what God will do!
Rev. Curtis Norris