West End Assembly of God
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Daily Devotional Guide
August 25-30, 2014
WEAG Devotions: “Taking THE STORY to the World”
MONDAY, August 25
Acts 18:23 – 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.
The story of the Third Missionary Journey begins here. Paul traveled through Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen the churches there. Then he moved on to Ephesus where he stayed for nearly three years, longer than anywhere else. He found a group of disciples and asked them an important question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (19:2). With open hearts these believers listened intently to Paul’s teaching; and the Holy Spirit came upon them as He had at Pentecost. “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came to them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” These twelve men opened the door to Ephesus for Paul. First he debated with the Jews in the synagogue, and later He taught in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (for two years) with tremendous results: “…so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (19:10). Extraordinary miracles confirmed his teaching. What a contrast to the difficult beginnings of first two missionary journeys. We can expect challenges whenever we launch out to do something new in God’s Kingdom; but if we will persevere in faith, God will give us fruit for our labors.
TUESDAY, August 26
Acts 18:26 – He (Apollos) 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.
Apollos came from Alexandria where nearly one million Jews lived. It was a city of scholars; and when he arrived in Ephesus he was very knowledgeable in teaching from the Old Testament scriptures about Jesus. However, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they discerned that something was missing from his message—most likely the truth of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the empowerment that the baptism in the Holy Spirit brings to believers. They invited Apollos to their home and invested into his life by “explaining to him the way of God more adequately.” The result was an even more effective young preacher empowered by the Spirit. We bring to God our very best, our talents and knowledge and ability, and we ask Him to use it for his glory; but unless the Holy Spirit empowers us for service, even our best efforts reap minimal fruit. May our prayer ever be, “God fill me with your Holy Spirit, divinely direct me every day, and anoint me with power from on high so that effective ministry will flow out of my life.”
WEDNESDAY, August 27
Acts 19:19 – 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 50,000 drachmas (“50 thousand silver coins”-MESSAGE).
In Ephesus, everyone believed that illness and disease (including mental illness) were due to evil spirits. So exorcism was a regular trade. If the exorcist knew a more powerful spirit name than the one who had taken up residence in the afflicted person, that name was used in making him depart. Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, had seven sons who tried to use the name of Jesus with disastrous results (vs. 14-16). News of this event spread quickly. People gained a holy respect for the name of Jesus and the faith of Christians. Those who had secretly engaged in sorcery and spells and incantations brought their books and burned them publicly. “The word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (vs. 20). Faith in Jesus is meant to be transformational, both inside the heart and outside in behaviors. When we take seriously the Word of the Lord, we will bring every unholy thing into His presence to be burned on the altar of consecration. Only then will we live free from superstition and bondage. What’s hiding in your closet?
THURSDAY, August 28
Acts 19:21-22 – After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem. The church in Jerusalem was poor, so Paul wanted to take up an offering from all the Gentile churches and deliver it to them (I Cor. 16; II Cor. 9: Romans 15:25,26). He wanted to show in the most practical way possible that the Church was one body of Christ, all linked together through faith in Jesus. He also wanted to teach the practical aspects of Christian charity. When they heard of the needs in the Jerusalem church, the Gentile churches would feel sympathy; but Paul wanted more than sympathy, he wanted action. And so he began his fundraising campaign, and he included his fellow missionaries and representatives from the various churches in the process. God wants us to be actively involved in mission, in multiple ways that include the giving of our offerings. He wants our hearts to be moved to the point that we open our wallets and give towards the needs of the church and missions. How faithful are you to give your tithes and offerings? You can be sure they will be managed well at WEAG and accomplish much for God’s Kingdom purposes.
FRIDAY, August 29
Acts 19:26 – 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.
Demetrius, the silversmith, was concerned because Paul’s teachings were affecting his income. When pilgrims came to Ephesus, they liked to take home souvenirs like the ones he made. Christianity was making such inroads into the culture in Ephesus that his trade was being threatened. The whole town was in an uproar until the “town clerk” quieted the crowd and dismissed the assembly. Although Paul was ready and anxious to address the vicious crowd (vs. 30-31), his friends begged him to steer clear of the theater. We have a spiritual enemy who wants us to keep our faith restricted to safe places where we won’t disturb the culture, but God’s work of redemption and holiness affects our lives on every level. We have to realize that and lean into God’s will, no matter what disruption it brings to cultural norms. Today, profits from sex trafficking and pornography pads the pocketbooks of men and women who are more concerned with their bank accounts than the lives of innocent children. Our gospel will disrupt evil and bring us into the crosshairs of controversy. How will you respond?
SATURDAY, August 30
Acts 20:24 – However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian leaders is charged with emotion. How he loved them! His final words reminded them of his fearless determination to teach them God’s will. He had lived independently, working with his own hands to supply his needs, and he had not coveted their silver or gold or clothing (vs. 33). He was willing to face whatever lay ahead of him; and the Spirit was warning him of impending hardships. Paul reminded these leaders of the incessant dangers of those in ministry leadership. They would need to watch over themselves as well as the flock of God, beware of false prophets who would distort the truth and lead the church astray from its biblical foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. Reading this entire passage, you feel the depth of Paul’s love for this church. William Barclay comments, “That feeling should be in every church; for when love dies in any church the work of Christ cannot do other than wither” (pg 152, The Acts of the Apostles). Let us be that kind of church—marked by deep love for one another.