Translate

Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Friday, 21 October 2016

Acts Day 235 - Just Like He Said


20:4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

Is this important? I believe it is. I believe God wants us to see and know that the team is building. Not only do we see a long list of names, but they are from all over. They are living proof that the gospel is spreading all over the world. They are living proof that Paul is not a one man show. He is building leaders. He is training evangelists and pastors and teachers. Men who will do as he has done and more.

As a Seventh-day Adventist I believe in spreading the Gospel. I believe the entire world needs to know how much God loves them and everything Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for them. I believe that because I believe the Bible. I believe what Jesus said. I believe when the good news goes to all the world as a witness Jesus will return. I believe the book of Revelation that repeatedly says the good news will be taken to every nation, every family, every language, and every people.

This past summer I was at the Alberta camp meeting. For those who don't know what that is, it's a week long retreat full of guest speakers, activities, and ministry opportunities all designed to recharge our faith. It's like a vacation spa retreat for the soul.

Image result for every nation kindred tongue people
I had the privilege of sharing some things with the young adults and as I was walking back to my campsite one evening a young adult stopped me to ask me a question. She had two friends with her. She was from Iran, one of her friends was from Albania, and the other from Bolivia. So there we were standing on the grass under the setting sun of the prairie sky. None of us were from Alberta but we had been brought together by our common faith in Jesus.

Every nation. Every family. Every language. Every people.

It's happening. The mission Paul was one almost 2000 years ago continues. The number of missionaries and the scope and vastness of the mission is beyond anything Paul could have imagined.

What's the lesson? God knows the end from the beginning and HiStory is unfolding just as He said it would. The only question is whether we are going to part of His Story or plotting against Him and His team of good news sharers.

I know where I am and I hope you're with us too.

Acts Day 234 -A Journey of Intense Emotions


20:1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. 2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece 3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.

It's easy to miss. I fully admit just skipping over or reading past sections of the Bible like this. They just deemed like tedious and unimportant details. Then I began to clue in to the fact that the Bible is extremely concise and wastes no space and began to look more closely at the "unnecessary detail" portions.

There are three words that jump out at me from the verses above: embraced, encouraged, and plotted.

Paul is a person. He is not a machine, a robot, or even some kind of super hero. He has feelings. He has friends. In every place he travels to he builds new relationships and new friendships. When he is about to leave Ephesus he calls the believers to himself. There is no time or space to name them all but to Paul they are not just believers. For him they are precious individuals. He has watched God working in their lives. He saw their eyes light up when they first understood the love of God for them demonstrated by the sending of Jesus. He saw them make the miraculous transition from being religionists serving God for gain to children of a loving Father and living in the joy of the Truth.

Now he is about to leave them and he gathers them together and embraces them. I am certain tears were shed. He would miss them. He didn't know for sure if he would ever see them again. We never do.

Leaving Ephesus he returned to Macedonia, a happy reunion that was short lived. He returned not to stay but to encourage. Again this shows the deeply human side of Paul. He didn't just preach and leave. He built relationships and took them on his heart wherever he went. He had to return even though he could not stay. He wanted to ensure they were ok. He wanted to share Jesus all over again.

From Macedonia he returned to Greece for another visit. In Ephesus he had embraced the disciples before leaving for Macedonia. There he'd spent some time encouraging those he had preached to in the past. Now in Greece he was doing the same until the Jews plotted against him.

Why did this third and very different word jump out at me? Because it is very much related. It wasn't just anyone who plotted against him. It was the Jews - his own people. Resistance and betrayal is always bad but when it comes from your own it is brutal.

Embraced - Encouraged - Plotted Against by his own

All of this is emotionally charged. Constantly having to say goodbye. Reuniting ever so briefly with loved ones to encourage them on in your absence and finally being harassed and betrayed by others who should be your supporters. It all adds up to an intensely emotionally draining roller coaster. How did he do it? How did he survive the ride?

He had One constant Companion. So do we. Life is ever changing. Nothing is stable. The good is never guaranteed to last and the bad and ugly are sure to raise their head from time to time. How do we survive it?

The first thing that keeps me in balance is a healthy perspective. Just the knowledge that life is and always will be a roller coaster is in itself empowering. It's hard for the enemy to catch you off guard when you are expecting him. Jesus said quite frankly "In this world you will have trouble BUT be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."

The Truth is not about roses and lollipops here. The truth is about recognizing we are in a war zone but that the outcome of the war is already determined and when the last skirmish is fought we are going Home.

The root word of encourage is courage. Paul went to Macedonia to increase their courage. It takes courage to see beyond the war zone. It takes courage to keep a healthy perspective when those we love are torn from us and others who should love us are stabbing us in the back.

So embrace those close to you. Encourage those you love but haven't been able to embrace for a while, and when those who should love you plot against you just remember we did the same to Jesus but He loved us anyway and the Story isn't over yet.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Acts Day 233 – Who is Thinking?


19:32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together...

35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

Image result for group think
Group think, the mob mentality is a strange phenomenon. History says we can get swept up in it pretty quickly and easily. Suddenly we find ourselves part of a mass of people all headed in the same direction and maybe we're not even sure why.

Take homosexuality for example. When I was a kid the masses all agreed it was wrong and anyone who didn't think so was a freak. Now the pendulum has swung and the majority think anyone who has an issue with it is a narrow minded bigot or a religious nut. However I'm quite certain most people "back in the day" could not have given a reasoned explanation for their position and I'm quite certain the same holds true today.

It seems every culture has a tipping point where something that was perceived as evil or wrong or taboo suddenly almost overnight becomes perfectly normal, acceptable, and common. Tatoos are another recent example in our culture.

All this phenomenon demonstrates is that too many of us have no mind of our own. We don't wear the clothes we like. We wear what current fashion dictates is nice. It's easy to spot a free thinker. They don't blend in. They aren't part of the uniform masses.

Did you note that the crowd once in the theater were screaming different things because they weren't even sure why they were rioting? They became this mass of people all moving in the same direction but when they reached their destination they weren't even certain why they had come. Finally when the city clerk addressed the crowd he pointed out to them that if they had to give a reason I'm a court of law for the public disturbance they had created they wouldn't have been able to.

The lesson? Where are you? Why are you there? What do you believe and why do you believe it? What is your compass for distinguishing between right and wrong? Are you your own person? Do you think independently from the crowd?

Consider this quote: "If everyone is thinking the same it's likely no one is thinking at all." - Benjamin Franklin

When it comes to thinking I know one thing for certain. God thought enough about you to send His Only Son to your rescue.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Acts Day 232 - A Voice of Reason


19:35 And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 36 Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

A singular voice of reason from among their own and the riot was over. The logic was sound and irrefutable. The temple was still in place and no one had made any attempt to destroy it. If anyone had any issues there was a court system and process in place for dealing with them. It's amazing to me how easily passion can overtake reason.

Image result for A voice of reasonWhen the city clerk spoke there is one thing he said that is worthy of some thought and application. He said everyone knows that Ephesus is the guardian of the Great goddess Diana. Doesn't that seem odd? If she is so great why does she need protection? Shouldn't she be guarding them?

Before we get too judgemental shouldn't we take a closer look at ourselves? Are we not in danger of the same thinking? I am not sure how many times I have heard the phrase "defend the church". We justify "correcting" people in order to "defend the church". Are we the guardians of the church? Is that a job God gave us? And if it is, what does it mean?

First of all what it does not mean is that God needs our protection. That makes us superior to Him which in the case of idolatry is true. Humans are superior to stone and silver images of mythical creatures. However in the case of Christianity we are not superior to God and He does not need our protection. In the Old Testament God had Israel build a temple, a model of the heavenly sanctuary. The innermost room called the Most Holy Place was representative of God's throne room and the one piece of furniture known as the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark of His Testimony represented His throne. It was to be regarded as sacred in the sense no one but the high priest was to enter that room and absolutely no one was to touch the ark.

Many years later during a war that Israel lost, the Philistine army captured the ark and took it home. It was symbolic to them not only of defeating Israel but a sign that their gods were superior to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To affirm this truth they placed the ark in their own temple in front of Dagon their god. The next morning Dagon was lying face first on the ground. The Philistines propped him back up. The next morning he was face down on the ground again and broken into pieces. The God of heaven, the only God in all the universe who created everything does not need our protection, we need His. We are not His guardians, He is ours.

"The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.

Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Who protects who?

Must we defend the church? Well what is the church? Is it not the people who believe in the Great Shepherd? And if He has called us as His under shepherds what are we defending on His behalf? Certainly not Him and certainly not buildings and systems.

Jesus stepped down from His heavenly throne. He set aside His Divinity and became one of us. When He was here He set the example of what it means to defend the church. Wherever those in positions of power exploited that power to oppress the weak He defended them. Whether it was the healthy oppressing the sick or the rich exploiting the poor or the religious condemning the sinners Jesus was there to protect, to uplift, to restore, and to call out the oppressors. He came to "set the captives free."

Do you want to defend the church? Awesome! Follow His example.

"Woman where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave this life of sin" - Jesus

Acts Day 231 - One Hero


19:30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.

Today I wanted to focus on these two verses in the midst of the riot. The whole city is in an uproar. The mob has seized some of the believers and are headed for the theater. Paul is aware but not there. He wants to go but first his own disciples prevent him and then we are told some of government officials who care about him send word for him to not come.

Not very heroic. This would not fly in a Hollywood production. The hero must make an appearance at the climax of the danger and save the day.

Why the insistence that Paul in essence save himself? Was God in this or was this just the fear driven men trying to preserve Paul's life and not even considering God’s will?

Well let be the first to admit we aren't told explicitly. However there are clues. If the crowd screamed for two hours so that Alexander couldn't speak, what makes us think they would have let Paul speak? If the crowd was in a frenzy because the teachings of Paul were a threat to their religion, culture, and civic pride, how much greater would the frenzy have become if he was there in person?

I want to consider some very definite instructions Jesus gave when He was still here. In Matthew 24 when He was describing the events that would transpire in the future He said a false  Messiah would come, a Jesus imposter. Then He very emphatically said when you hear news that "He" is in a certain place don't go in to see. When you hear "He" is out in a certain place do not go out to check it out.

Strong words. Unmistakable instructions. They fly in the face of our inquisitive nature and examining culture.

The one fact we can draw from these words is that there are some places we ought not go. I believe God did not want Paul in that theater. Here's the main reason why I believe that. Paul is not the hero of the Story. God wants us all to know that. We are not the heros. The pressure of fighting the great controversy between good and evil is not to rest on our shoulders. We are never to allow the privilege of serving Him to be confused with the notion that He needs us. God wants us. If He needed us then that makes for at least two major problems. The first is that God is not truly God and secondly He is then forced to use us to fight His battles. Neither are anywhere close to the truth.

Image result for Jesus exiting tombJesus came to this world without our help or input. He went to the cross without the support of even one human friend. He is the hero.

That day in Ephesus Paul was seen by the mob to be the source of this movement called "The Way". Yet without Paul's presence God found a way to settle things down because He is the Hero. And make no mistake, God is not an egomaniac who needs the attention. He just loves us too much to put pressures on us that we can't handle. There will be times when He does call us to step up and play a tough role that makes us seem like the hero but ultimately we must keep proper perspective. The Story is not about David the Goliath slayer, or Moses the Pharoah beater, or anyone else who did great things by God's power. When we get Home they will all bow in His presence with us because they will be under no delusion. He is the Hero. There is no other.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Acts Day 230 - Deaf to Certain Sounds


19:23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”

28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. 32 Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”

I apologize for the long reading but it is necessary in order to capture the full context and maintain the integrity of the story. Can you picture the scene? Have you been part of a public demonstration? Admittedly they aren't common in our culture. Mobs are even less common but it's important to understand their dynamics. It started with a false premise. Demetrius the silversmith was upset because business was drying up. However that's not what he presented. He made it about religion. He made it about local and national pride. He created the illusion that Christianity was a threat to all of it when really he was just trying to save his business. The first group he appealed to were the other artisans and craftsmen - those he knew would sympathize with him. Once he had them worked up into a frenzy the whole city got swept up like toppling dominoes.

Image result for theatre ephesusThey found whoever they could get their hands on that were associated with Paul and The Way (Christianity). Note that by the time they had assembled in the theatre most didn't even fully understand why they were there or what the goal was. Finally Alexander tried to speak in defense of The Way. When the crowd found out he was Jewish they immediately drowned his attempts to speak by shouting "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" This went on for TWO HOURS!!!

Can you even begin to picture it?

Here's the point that jumped out at me this morning. They refused to even consider allowing Alexander to speak simply because he was Jewish. For two hours he tried. For two hours they drowned his attempts.

We live in a very different era. No one can silence anyone's voice now. The internet has made it impossible. However there is a different kind of censorship. There is a different way to silence any voice. You just refuse to listen because he is Muslim or she is a woman or a liberal or a Christian or an atheist or black or...

I work with people every day. I know how real this phenomenon is. We too easily tune out because we judge the source before we ever consider the message.

Jesus was from Nazareth. Tune Him out. Jesus was an illegitimate child born in scandal. Tune Him out. Jesus doesn't keep the Sabbath as He should. Tune Him out. Jesus... just look at His friends... tune Him out. His best disciples are ignorant fishermen, tune Him out. He doesn't give the religious leaders the respect they deserve, tune Him out. He has no degrees, no formal education of any kind, tune Him out. Have you seen the sandals He wears?! Tune Him out already...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Acts Day 229 - Filter the Messages


19:23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”

28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions.

Every day we are bombarded with messages: advertisements, news stories, religious messages, political messages etc...

I encourage you strongly to filter them carefully. We are only taking one step further in the story of the uproar in Ephesus. I want you to see this. The riot was started by a silversmith who began to feel the economic pinch as idolatry became less popular. However notice how he spun the story. What began as an economic concern quickly turned into an issue of religion and national pride. He gathered those he knew would sympathize with his plight and used their frenzy to turn the while city into confusion.

Image result for confusing messages
Note that word: confusion. It is what happens when truth is mixed with lies. Always turn away from confusing messages. Truth is never confusing. It is simple and clear. If a stranger calls you or sends you an email with a "deal just for you!" you can be certain the deal is just for them but they make it sound so good. It's confusing. When a political candidate goes to one group and tells them what they want to hear and then goes to another group and says something very different it's confusing. When a politician or religious figure or even an insurance salesperson uses your fears, doubts, and vulnerabilities to convince you of their 'product' walk away. If we don't learn to discern the motives behind the many and confusing messages we are likely to find ourselves swept up in movements or even mobs that are up to no good. 

Be proactive not reactive. Know what you believe, what you stand for and against and know why. Filter the messages that come to you. Sleep on it if you are genuinely unsure. Trace a message to the root. Is that smooth talking silversmith really worried about your religious wellbeing or is it really his wallet he is protecting?

God's Word says: "Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour."

Lions only roar when hunting if their prey is safe and they are trying to induce panic to get them to run. Panic inducing messages are not from God.


Friday, 14 October 2016

Acts Day 228 – Of gods and silver


19:23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”

Image result for goddess diana ephesusThe "Great goddess Diana" was a mythical goddess combining the attributes of Ashtoreth and Artemis. She was the goddess of nature, especially the woodlands. She was the virgin matron of childbirth and mothers. She was claimed to be especially fond of deer and oak trees. When you say or hear "mother nature" referenced you are referring to Diana. Scattered through the Old Testament you will find references to idol worship under oak trees. Even the famous Psalm of David "As the deer panteth for water, so my soul longeth after Thee..." is a contrast between false worship and David's longing for the true and living God. It also contrasts the material nature of pagan worship with the relationship foundation of true worship. The deer longs for the water that "Diana (Ashtoreth provides" but David longs for God Himself.

Religion seeks a kingdom. Love seeks the King.

So into this well established and widely believed mythology steps Paul. He speaks of a living God who sent His Son to die for us. He spoke of a God who made the sacrifice rather than demanding sacrifices. He spoke of an entirely different relationship between God and humanity. His teaching combined with the undeniable miracles that thwarted and superceded the dark magic of Ephesus grabbed the attention and the hearts of many.

Then came trouble. Whenever you trace trouble you usually find $$$ at the root and this case was no exception. When people became followers of Jesus and realized idolatry was a man made scam they didn't need or want idols any more. This created an economic problem for the silversmiths and craftsmen who made the idols. The revolt was on and once again Paul and faith in Christ were public enemy number one.

The lesson for us? We live in a world where the value system is opposed to faith in Christ and the more closely we follow Him the more resistance we will face. It may cost us a job, friendships, family, etc... It may turn our entire world upside down. Myths come and go, jobs come and go, even people we care about come and go but Jesus remains. We'll explore the rest of this story tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Acts Day 227 - The Calm Before the Storm

19:21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.

We ended yesterday with a dramatic book burning as many who had been sorcerers etc... had become believers in Jesus. Gone was the dark magic. The account ended with Luke declaring that Word of God was prevailing mightily.

Image result for calm before the storm
Now we get two verses catching us up on where Paul has come from and where he plans to go. Seems odd to have a travel itinerary update. I believe it serves for at least two purposes. One is that it creates a brief pause between two highly charged events. We'll come back to that.

The second and perhaps main reason was to remind us again that Paul's life is Spirit filled and Spirit lead. We will remember that he went to Macedonia in response to a dream/vision. It was certainly no idea of his own. After some time there he determined to go to Jerusalem. An eighteen month or more stop in Ephesus on the way was not part of his plan. Starting a school to train more "good news dispensers" (evangelists) was not part of his plan. Being part of some bizarre miracles that lead to the conversion of a significant number of sorcerers was also not in his day planner.

Now Luke reminds us that Paul is I between Macedonia and his goal of reaching Jerusalem and eventually Rome. Not only is he "inbetween" but he is going to remain a while longer because it has been "purposed in the Spirit." A life surrendered to God may be a life with many plans and goals but those plans are always subject to the Spirit's leading. Again we don't use God's Spirit as a tool to accomplish our purposes. That's the essence of idolatry and paganism. I'm all false religions we manipulate "the gods" to accomplish or get what we want. In true religion we are the hands and feet of Jesus to accomplish His purposes in the lives of others.

Now back to the storm. Paul came to a dark city and claimed back significant 'territory' (hearts) for God. You can rest assured no territory is surrendered easily. The storm unleashes tomorrow.

Don't fear the storms. Expect them. Jesus is in the boat. All is well.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Acts Day 226 - Prevailing


19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”

16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

I was recently at an event where they spoke about the sex trade and selling of children in northern Cambodia who were then smuggled north to Thailand. Thailand is well known as both a host for sex trade industry and a hub for trafficking illegal "workers". It is estimated that there are nearly 40,000 children under the age of 16 in Thailand's many brothels etc... In short the sex trade has become what Thailand is known for. It's disgusting and I am thankful organizations are forming and working to find ways to rescue and prevent children from becoming pawns in this shameful, evil industry.

Image result for the word of the lord grew and prevailed
Ephesus was known for something else. It was a hub for black magic and the occult. When Paul showed up God used him to get the attention not only of the people being deceived by this "business" but He got the attention of those practicing magic and "divine arts". So much so that they publicly burned their books etc... which were of great value both in terms of cost and in terms of their worth in making them more money by casting spells, telling the future etc...

It would be similar to going into the red light districts of Thailand and having the owners and managers of the brothels under such conviction from God that they would set the children free and burn down their buildings.

Luke ends the account by saying "So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

You see it's a war. It is literally a war between light and darkness.

I well remember a few years ago in Nova Scotia when the news broke than a bishop who was overseeing/facilitating the healing of a diocese after a child abuse scandal by previous priests was busted coming back into Canada for his involvement in child pornography. Respected community leader in Canada but depraved slave of his own sexual demons as a world traveler. They actually pulled him out of the line at customs because his travels were a red flag. The countries he had been visiting were well known destinations in the illegal sex trafficking of children. His computers were searched and the rest is history.

Make no mistake. We live in a war zone. Either God is prevailing in our lives or the darkness is increasing. God used Paul to bring light to dark Ephesus. He is still in the light bringing business. He still desires to prevail even in dark Thailand and in the dark hearts of those who travel there to feed their own demons.

If you want freedom, He can set you free no matter what chains are binding you.