Friday 22 May, 2020

Acts 19:23-41

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. 32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

In this passage, we see that Demetrius was a very successful business man, a silversmith making shrines for his god Artemis and he is worried that Paul will change all of this. Demetrius was focused on making money and protecting his livelihood – “let’s protect the reputation of our god and our industry” (v27). It seems good and spiritual but it’s misguided. It reminds me of another verse: having a form of godliness but lacking power (2 Tim 3:5).

Paul is also a man who has a lot of success and is influential – he persuades many people throughout the whole region to turn to Christ. Yet, he lives very differently to Demetrius. He doesn’t worry about God being discredited or robbed of His majesty. He is not focused on protecting his own livelihood but making sure people hear the truth.

How can Paul live this way? Paul’s confidence comes from knowing who God is – unchanging in nature and ruler over all. This confidence and reliance on God enables him to live a life of influence and authority. And we see the impact of this.

This passage causes me to reflect on my own life – do I live like Demetrius, have elements of spirituality yet lacking confidence and power? Or do I live like Paul, resting solely on God’s unchanging nature and sovereignty?

Lord, God, help me to know You more, as You truly are, so that I too may be at peace and live with confidence in changing circumstances.

Written by Gab Martin

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Thursday 21 May, 2020

Acts 19:21-22

21 After all this had happened, Paul decided[a] to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

In this chapter we discover that Paul has been preaching and teaching in Ephesus for 2 years, and the good news of Jesus Christ has dramatically transformed many lives. In this context Paul decides to keep moving – to go to Jerusalem and then Rome. He has a plan and he sends two of team members ahead of him. 

Paul has such a sense of purpose and urgency about him, he is not flighty and has stayed in Ephesus for 2 years to train people in the way of Jesus, but he knows the season and when to move on to the next thing God has called him too. 

I want to be like Paul, focused on what God has called me to be and to do right now, but attentive to His leading and open to new seasons. Holy Spirit, please help me to see the opportunities to serve you in the here and now, and prepare me and lead me into the new seasons upcoming. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh 

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Amen Bethany! Especially in this season it’s important to see & be patient to hear what God has for the now

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Wednesday 20 May, 2020

Acts 19:11-20

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Power in the name of Jesus

The power of the name of Jesus isn’t something that believers jump up and down about. 

It’s part of the “new normal” of being a Christian. 

But it seems that some people like to try to take that power and make it into something else. Perhaps a power that is only for the benefit of the person who wields it. 

I must admit, I am guilty of this! While I do honour my creator and the saviour who died for me, I fall into the habit of using His gifts and His power for my own gain and rather than for His glory! 

Lord help me to always strive to fulfil your kingdom’s purpose rather than my own. 

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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Tuesday 19 May, 2020

Acts 19:8-10

8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Synagogue was a normal way of life for the Jewish people all over the world.  This is where they gathered to worship and learn.  Here Paul has travelled to Ephesus (western Turkey) to meet with the believers and others, to discuss and have fellowship.  Here is Paul challenging the Jewish people “How to enter God’s kingdom”.  However people did not want to listen, so he moves his “followers” to a hall owned by Tyrannus and teaches them for 2 years in the area.  What is amazing to me is that the scripture says:  EVERYONE LIVING IN THE PROVINCE OF ASIA, JEWS AND NON-JEWS HEARED THE PROPHETIC WORD OF THE LORD.

We know that Timothy, eventually becomes the Pastor of the church at Ephesus which is reputed to have had 60,000 people.  Timothy’s leadership has rested on the foundation of the teaching of Paul in that region and of Paul’s discipleship of Timothy.  However here is a man Tyannus, who provides a hall for the teaching of this region.  This scripture speaks to me of how we are ALL a piece in God’s story – HIStory.  We ALL have a place, we all have a mission, we all need to bring something to our church and local community to bring about a future and an effect that we can’t see on this side.

Lord Jesus, help each one of us to take a hold of what you want us to be and do in every season.  We thank you Lord that there is no retirement in the Kingdom of God, our lives just take a different course.  Show us and lead us how to make a difference with who we are and what we have.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

1 (reply)
  1. Paul Stiles says:

    Thanks Sue.
    We often don’t see how our participation and walking in HIStory plays out eternally.

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Monday 18 May, 2020

Acts 19:1-7

19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

I remember a distinct time in my life when I moved from being just a ‘disciple’ of Jesus to having a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit’s power in me.

In this passage of scripture we read today that Paul met some people at Ephesus who were disciples. They had faith and repentance but had not yet encountered the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The good news is that when these disciples heard that there was more to be experienced, they had open hearts to receive it. The result was a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit!

Going back to my own experience, although I had grown up in church, there was a time as a young adult when my eyes were opened to see that God was offering me more. A closer relationship with Him and a more powerful experience of the Holy Spirit was on offer, and I gratefully received it.

This reminds me, that there is always more of God to be known.  Whether you have been a follower of Jesus for days or decades, there is an infinite wealth of power and mystery to be uncovered as we seek to go deeper with Him.

My prayer for each one of us is to have a renewed excitement and passion to spend time with the One who’s mysteries we will be discovering for all eternity.

 Written by Shelley Witt

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Sunday 17 May, 2020

Acts 18:24-28

24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. 27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

We are called to make disciples. That’s the goal – the call – one job – that Jesus left us with.  To be disciples making disciple makers! And it can take a variety of forms and have many different stages.

I love this passage because Apollos was a mature Christian. He was teacher and preacher. But he still had holes in his understanding (verse 25). Enter Priscilla and Aquila! Also mature Christians – just a little further “down the road” with Jesus than Apollos was. There was an “Achaia” waiting for Apollos that first required the help of a “Priscilla and Aquila”. That’s discipleship!

Who is my Apollos – that I can help prepare for the next part of their journey? Who is my Priscilla and Aquila – that can speak into my life and prepare me for the task God is calling me to?

Lord please show me today – my “Apollos” and my “Priscilla and Aquila”- so I can grow as a disciple and be a disciple maker.    Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Saturday 16 May, 2020

Acts 18:18-23

18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch. 23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Paul had been in Corinth for a while, after God had encouraged him to stay. But now it was time for Paul to continue on his journey. He visits a lot of cities, going from Corinth to Cenchrea, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem and Antioch. He then goes onto Galatia and Phrygia. While it doesn’t say how much time this took, neither does it give us a lot of detail as to what each day looked like. 

In some strange way I find this encouraging. In my broken nit-picking way, I over-examine my everyday life hoping that I am pleasing God in every moment. But this passage encourages me to stand back a bit and take an overall, broad kind of look: am I doing what I believe God has called me to? Pure and simple. Gracious.

Holy Spirit help me to let go and trust the Father more. That who I am – His child – is enough and that I can relax and enjoy this life You offer me and live in the arena of Your Grace.

Written by Gab Martin

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Friday 15 May, 2020

Acts 18:12-17

12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” 14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.

It’s interesting to think about Gallio’s perspective on Paul’s activities. In one sense he saw it as it really was – a difference in ways of worshipping God. But in another sense, he saw if completely wrong – this was about very different understandings of God. 

I regularly hear people talking about all religions being the same. And if you don’t look closely, they can appear this way, to be sure. But the truth is, for Paul and these his equally committed Jewish opponents, Christianity and Judaism were chalk and cheese different. 

I am called to take care in how I present my hope in Jesus, but I am also reminded that not everyone will be pleased with what I have to say. Some will oppose me quite passionately. To the uncommitted or disinterested, talk of religion is same-same. To those deeply committed, it’s a much more tense and potentially angry affair. 

Lord, I like to keep the peace. But unfortunately, that won’t always be possible as I represent you. Give me boldness to proclaim you clearly, fearlessly in the face of opposition, but always with the aim and in the hope of seeing people discover you. 

Amen. 

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

1 (reply)
  1. Howard says:

    Amen Rob. I notice a common thread in the reflections over the past couple of weeks. Kind of: “Opposition is to be expected. Lord, help me to face it squarely and give me boldness in witnessing for you, come what may”.

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Thursday 14 May, 2020

Acts 18:5-11

5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized. 9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

Going next door is fairly common in communities all over the world.  Here Paul is not received well in the Synagogue, so he literally goes next door and plants a church in the house and the synagogue leader and family joins in!

Even in rejection God makes a way.  All too often we can carry the scars of rejection rather than use rejection as an opportunity that God will bring about in His redemptive wisdom.  A long time ago a thought popped into my head that over the years I have come to be certain was from God.  It was this “I ‘take’ offence.”  Without doubt people have been deliberately offensive to me – I have had people spit on me for the sake of the Gospel, punch and kick me for the sake of the Gospel, plus any number of lies and slander over the years – yes I have been rejected, but really people were rejecting Jesus not me – I am only a messenger.  I have learned rather than ‘taking’ this offence to heart to ask God to show me how He would redeem the situation – and often it was in the moment.  Immediately after being spat on, punched and kicked others at the evangelistic meeting (where we as Christians did not retaliate) rose up (not believers I might add) and quieted the crowd and after the message was preached many came to Jesus.  I would have missed the Lord at work if I had ‘taken’ the rejection, the offence to heart.  Here Paul could have done the same.

Father, help us to not ‘take’ offence, rather may we look to You for Your redemptive purposes, even when we feel rejected.  Help us to hear – both sides of the story – that You would prevail!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

3 replies
  1. Florence Farjandi says:

    Yes dear Lord Jesus Christ, now is the time for Muslim. Especially this time in Ramadan, please Jesus we praying for all them, and leaving your hands by your holy spirit, amen

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Tuesday 12 May, 2020

Acts 17:22-34

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b] 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

The bible tells us that God has placed an innate knowledge in the heart of every human being to know of His existence. The people here in Athens knew there is a God and wanted to worship Him, but didn’t really know who He is, so Paul took the opportunity to explain a bit about God. Some sneered, but some joined him and believed.

We can be fooled into thinking that the people of today mostly don’t believe there is a God. Sometimes it can seem like this, however the bible (an personal experience) tells us that this is not the case.  

It’s good to be reminded that eternity is set in the hearts of every human, and that creation daily pours forth speech about our God. People know in their hearts there is a God, but of course, many don’t really know who He is and what He is like.

Like Paul, we can look for opportunities to talk about who God is. Let’s be careful not to assume that people don’t want to know or hear about God. Sometimes it’s just a short sentence here and there in our everyday conversation with friends and colleagues that makes mention of God and reminds us all that He is exists and He can be known. 

My prayer is that this day, and every day I’ll have opportunities to talk about our wonderful God.

Written by Shelley Witt

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