February 14 - Acts 19
IDOLATRY IS BIG BUSINESS - The Roman empire had a robust freedom of religion. One could worship any god they chose, any way they chose, provided of course that they honored Caesar as Lord as well. The fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached wasn't really a problem; in fact we read in chapter 17 that new religious ideas were being preached all the time. What is a problem is the disruption of business. - The seven sons of Sceva mentioned in v14 probably didn't have honorable intentions as they used Jesus' and Paul's name to cast out demons. They likely practiced sorcery & fortune telling for a fee, and Jesus was an easy way to make a buck for them (that is until they met their match in v16). - V19 indicates the value of the scrolls burned by the sorcerers turned Christians was about $5,000,000. (By the way, book burning is a reflection of these people's Roman culture. It is not a Christian idea. Please don't go to town and advocate burning books.) The riots in the Ephesian theatre had nothing to do with defending the majesty of a goddess, and everything to do with the major economic disruption 'The Way' was introducing. How do you push against the disruptions the Word of God makes in your life?
PAUL ALIGNED HIS LIFE: At first glance, reading in v21 that "Paul had decided to go to Jerusalem..." (NIV) makes it appear that Paul was calling all the shots in his ministry. Other translations do better here: "Paul had decided in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem..." In this case, do what Paul did: lay your plans before the Spirit and follow His leading.
FORESHADOWING: Paul concludes that sentence with "I must visit Rome also." Paul will go to Rome, but he won't go as a visitor, but as a prisoner. Being totally aligned with God's will as Paul was is no guarantee everything will be peachy.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God works extraordinary miracles (v11)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you make all of your decisions in the Spirit (v21)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: