Bible Reading Day 197
Day 197: July 16 (Acts 19:1-20)
Apollos was trained in Ephesus, mentored by Priscilla and Aquila, and then sent to Achaia. Today’s reading starts with Apollos in Corinth (major city of Achaia). Paul comes to Ephesus and asks some disciples whether they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Hearing that they did not, Paul asks further to find out why: they were baptized into John’s baptism (repentance toward God) rather than in the name of Jesus (meaning God Saves) for salvation. There is a great deal of difference between repentance and salvation! Not surprisingly, once they had agreed to be baptized in the name of Jesus, Paul prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Now the transformation was complete and God is living in them.
Again Paul starts with the Jews – in the synagogue – and for three months he speaks boldly to them about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. In the end, the same opposition arises (religion and hard-heartedness are easy bedfellows). So Paul moves to a rented hall – the Hall of Tyrannus – and takes all the disciples with him. The synagogue offerings must have taken a hit!
This change led to remarkable results – over two years everyone who lived in Asia (that’s present-day Asia Minor) heard the good news! And during the same period Paul was the means by which God did extraordinary miracles. People would steal his sweat-rags and tent-maker’s aprons (remember Paul was earning his living as a tent-maker) and take them to sick people – who would be healed and delivered. This is a very powerful demonstration of God’s desire for HIs Kingdom to come!
Then some Jewish exorcists tried to learn from Paul’s techniques and got into trouble: they use the name of Jesus to attempt to set people free. But the evil spirit rejected their borrowing of two authoritative names (Jesus and Paul). The result: they are beaten and run away naked. This casts fear into the hearts of all the people because Ephesus was a very superstitious place and many people tried to have the best of both worlds by following Jesus and practicing magic. There was a powerful revival as the believers saw the danger of playing with occult power, and brought their books to the bonfire and their sins to confession!
There is no room for compromise in our lives – the stakes are too high. Paul’s authority came from his close personal relationship with Jesus, and those who copied, but tried to also incorporate magic (such as horoscopes, and other seemingly innocuous occult practices) into their lives, were in danger of being found out. The occult has no place in a relationship with Jesus.
Would you like to be so full of the Holy Spirit that even the sweat from your hard work could make a sick person whole? Let’s ask God for more of His presence in our lives – not to make us strange, but to make us dangerous to the powers of darkness!
Have a great day!