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Acts 19

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20

SCRIPTURE: Acts 19

This chapter can be divided into three sections.  The first section has to do with 12 men who were disciples (learners) of Jesus but not Christians. The second section has to do with 7 hapless men who thought using the name of Jesus would give them incredible power.  The third section has to do with an angry mob, some of whom were mad because they were going to lose their livelihood and some of who were mad just to be mad.  All of three of these sections deserve a close look.  Sadly, the space of this page doesn’t permit a very close look.

The 12 men in the first section may actually be the result of the ministry of Apollos.  In Acts 18:24-26,  Apollos was a Jewish man who had obviously heard about Jesus and was doing his best to use the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Christ.  But he had incomplete knowledge of the Gospel as evidenced by the fact that he only knew about the baptism of John and not about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11).

The result of this was 12 men who knew about Jesus and were trying to learn more.  But knowing about Jesus is never sufficient.  Salvation means that you not only know about Him but you also know Him. 

Paul got to this point by asking about the Holy Spirit.  The reason this question was so important is the Holy Spirit is undeniable evidence of salvation. (Romans 8:9).  Their answer was most telling: they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. 

Paul told them the complete story of the Gospel.  They were rebaptized.  They received the Holy Spirit when Paul laid his hands on them.  (This is not normative.  Instead it was the way that God chose for the church in Ephesus to recognize the authority of Paul.)  And they spoke in tongues.  There are a couple of important things about the speaking in tongues here.  One, when we are saved we are given spiritual gifts that empower us to do what we could never have done before we were saved.  Speaking in tongues, regardless of whether that is a known language or unknown language, is a spiritual gift.  Two, from my best research, this is the last time that speaking in tongues appears in the Acts.  The use of that gift has had a fairly prominent role in the first 18 chapters of the book but, as far as I can tell, it not mentioned again.  I am not sure what that means.  It is just a curious thing to me.

From there we encounter what I think is a very funny story.  The seven sons of Sceva were Jewish exorcists.  They obviously had seen some of the incredibly miraculous things Paul did in the name of Jesus.  So, they invoked Jesus’ name in an attempted exorcism.  The demon was not amused.  So, he jumped on those guys, beat them up, tore their clothes off of them, and sent them running.  Knowing Jesus’ name is not the same as knowing Jesus.

And finally, we have the mob scene.  As the Spirit of God worked in the city of Ephesus many people were saved.  Those that were saved gave up their idolatry which is what should happen.  The silversmiths in Ephesus who made a good living creating objects for the worship of Artemus realized this was going to cost them their livelihood.  So the instigated a riot. 

Verse 32 provides an interesting note about the mob.  It says that some of the folks who were part of that didn’t have a clue what was going on or why they were mad about it.  But, by golly, they were mad.  Sounds a lot like the mob scenes in our country doesn’t it?

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Acts 18

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19

 SCRIPTURE: Acts 18

As in the previous chapter, Paul covers a lot of territory in this one.  One of the great truths of this chapter is the patterns of highs and lows that accompany ministry.  That is true regardless of whether you are a lay person or a staff member.  If you have been involved in ministry for any length of time you have experienced what can be dizzying heights followed by devastating lows.

When the chapter opens, Paul has found his way to Corinth.  Corinth was a major city of perhaps 200,000 people located on important trade and travel routes.  It was known for many things, most of them not very good.  It was a place of great idolatry and horrible immorality.  It was place in great need of the Gospel. 

In Corinth Paul met Aquila and Priscilla.  That turned out to be a great “high”.  As was his custom, Paul was speaking and reasoning in the synagogue about the fact that Jesus was the Christ.  He was opposed and reviled for that which would become a great “low”.  In fact in verse 6, Paul shook out his garment.  That was basically a Jewish way of saying, “You had your opportunity but now it is over”.  Paul also said, “Your blood be on your own heads”.  That was basically a Jewish way of saying because you did not heed this warning, you will be responsible for the deaths of the others.  You might say Paul was quite done with the whole thing.  That had to be a great low.

But then in verse 8, Crispus and his family were saved.  Many other Corinthians were saved and baptized.  And then in verse 9, God appeared in a vision to encourage Paul to keep on keeping on.  That had to be a great high.

The pattern continues beginning in verse 12 with Paul being brought for the Roman proconsul and innocent people being publicly beaten.  Obviously that was a low point.  From there Paul hit the road again going to Ephesus to Antioch  as well as to the regions of Galatia and Phrygia.  That trip was kind of a reunion tour.  Paul was retracing his steps, meeting up with old friends, and discipling new ones.  That had to be a good time of refreshing and rejuvenation for Paul.

There are multiple great lessons in this story.  Here’s one of them.  When the Lord is blessing, you should expect increased opposition as well as increased opportunities.  Normally we think that when things are going well that everybody will be happy but that is never the case.  People on the outside can be very jealous and envious and work to detract from the success.  But people on the inside of that can also do the very same thing.  There has been more than one time in my ministry that the Lord has been blessing in incredible ways and the opposition from within has been crushing.  The attack from the inside is always much more hurtful and harmful than the attack from the outside.  Always. 

But blessing also brings opportunities.  When things are going well, there are always additional opportunities that are made known.  There is something about a church that is doing well and prospering always getting more opportunities to have a great influence.  I think that is one of the ways God reminds us that He has forgotten us. 

So, in the midst of the blessing prepare for the opposition but anticipate the opportunities.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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