We couldn't find what you are looking for. Try searching for something else.
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. - Acts (of the Apostles) 19:23 (NIV)
There is much truth to be sorted out here. You know, sometimes we find it hard to read the Bible because it describes events that happened long, long ago. However, if you pay attention, you realize history repeats itself over and over. And over again. The scenes played out in this week’s passage could be ripped from today’s headlines.
If you want to get sideways of someone fast, just tell them what they believe is false. If you want to get sideways of a whole community, tell business people that what they’re selling is supporting false belief systems. And if you want to start a riot, just tell people that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to eternal salvation. That about sums it up.
Whew! I’m pretty sure the practice of boycotting began back in biblical days.
Sound doctrine—truth—upset people then as much as it seems to upset people today. Our culture is telling us, “What’s true for you isn’t true for me.” But truth is truth, is it not? The Earth is either round or it isn’t. No one’s even arguing that one anymore. So truth can be truth for all people, yes?
Stick with Jesus long enough and your truth will rub someone the wrong way. Jesus knew we’d need help navigating this, so His Word says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV)
Our truth is, in fact, true for everyone. Wield it with love. Jesus will take care of the landing.
Who is someone you know who absolutely refuses to accept Jesus’ truth? Would you write down their name someplace you’ll see it and pray for them every day this week?
In addition, friends, as you start this week’s devotionals, I’d encourage you to read Acts 19:23-41. Yes, all 18 verses. It will add context and insight. We’ll deal with one concept this week: truth.Share Tweet
He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. - Acts (of the Apostles) 19:26 (NIV)
You’d think that’s self-explanatory, right? Not in Paul’s day. Not in ours. The answer, for the silversmiths in Ephesus: Stop this Paul! Not the first time Paul caused an economic upset in an area. Remember the guys in Acts 16? Their slave girl had a wicked spirit helping her predict the future. Paul released her from the spirit’s control. Beautiful, yes? Not for her owners who lost their money-maker’s “talent.” Paul and Silas landed in prison. No matter, though. They sang their way free and saved the jailer’s household on the way out the door. (See Acts 16:16-40)
Back to Acts 19. So powerful was Paul’s preaching that even sorcerers were coming to Christ—in droves! They started burning scrolls containing their spells and incantations. The estimated value of such scrolls? 50,000 drachmas. In today’s money, that’s about 5.5 million. Dollars. Ticked off might be an understatement of how some of these idolatrous businessmen felt. Paul must be stopped! Verse 20 says, “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”
Here’s where it becomes eerily familiar. America began to experience a bit of revival in the 1950s and ‘60s through the preaching and message of a young, North Carolina-born preacher named Billy Graham. It’s estimated that, in his famous crusades, over 215 million people were given the hope of salvation in Jesus by one simple message: God loves you! A generation on the cusp of political and moral upheaval were receiving Christ as Savior—in droves! They poured out of stadium seats to receive the gift of love being offered. Life-change, culture-change happening everywhere.
The almost simultaneous response of the American culture and political powers? Prayer was removed from schools in 1962. And so began the systematic unraveling of Christian influence throughout our communities, educational systems, courts, and governmental branches. In the span of about 50-ish years, the practice of anything resembling the Judeo-Christian belief system has been under assault across the public domain. Think that’s coincidental?
There has arisen a great disturbance about the Way, friends.
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. - Acts (of the Apostles) 19:27 (NIV)
My manicure place has a shrine in the shop. Yep, there’s a little backdrop with a base sitting on the floor, just below my favorite nail color, so I have to reach over Buddha to pick my shade. Sometimes oranges are stacked up. I guess Buddha needs Vitamin C. Sometimes there are shot glasses filled with some sort of liquid. Does Buddha have a happy hour? I don’t know. (My husband often reminds me that sarcasm is not one of the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible.)
Now before you go getting all upset that I’m doing business with such an idolatrous establishment, remember our mission is to… Go. (Matthew 28:19–20) Everywhere. Talking about Jesus wherever we land. So I do. Right in front of Buddha.
Once, I asked about the shrine. My gal stopped filing my nails and said, “We offer oranges to Buddha for success.” Confused, I asked, “Does Buddha ever eat any of those oranges?” Because, well, they looked a little ripe, if you know what I mean. She laughed, “No! I’m Catholic, so Buddha is just here for protection.” She believes something else, but she’s covering all her bases, so to speak.
So were the Ephesians in Paul’s day. The Jews were coming into a knowledge of Christ daily. Gentiles, too. Each came with religious baggage, so to speak. The children of Israel were bound by legalism, the absolutes of the Law. The pagans, on the other hand, were bound by zero absolutes. Nothing was certain. Everything was permissible.
Now, here’s where I could just cry with the beauty of the Truth: The message of Jesus reached and breached the legalism of the Jews and the liberalism of the Gentiles. Can you imagine what could happen if it was unleashed in our community? How will you unleash Jesus today, friend? Oh, dear. I’m a bawlin’ mess at that thought. I’ll go eat an orange now.
When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. - Acts (of the Apostles) 19:28-29 (NIV)
Warning: PG rating today.
According to Greek mythology, Artemis was the daughter of Zeus. Legend has it that she was born first, then turned and helped deliver her twin brother, Apollo. She fell from the sky to become the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, childbirth and… wait for it… virginity.
Does anyone other than me find it a bit weird that these Ephesian temples dedicated to Artemis were basically brothels? Dedicated to the goddess of… purity?
Friends, truth is truth. And truth doesn’t acquiesce to the culture’s views. This is one you can take to the bank. Cultic activity is always—not sometimes, not usually, but always—marked by sexual immorality. Either in its doctrine or its leaders.
In 1978, Jim Jones led over 900 members of The People’s Temple to their deaths giving them cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Reports of his sexual exploits included men, women, and minors. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, practiced polygamy, marrying more than 50 women, some as young as 14. David Koresh, of the Branch Davidians, told the women of his “church” that they had to have sex with him in order to go to Heaven.
Friends, just hear my heart here. If Jesus were to walk through the doors of today’s Church, would He be glorified by the way His people—you and me—are managing this area of life? I am heartbroken by the extent to which the Church—not the world, the Church—has worshiped at the temples of sex outside God’s design of one man, one woman, inside the covenant of marriage. All else is idolatry. Practiced in temples of our own making.
Listen, I mention none of this to shame anyone. Because here’s a truth I know: Jesus can redeem any and every sexual sin. If this is something you’re struggling with, please seek God’s truth and a trusted, Christ-centered friend or counselor. Don’t go another day with the burden of your body being used as an instrument of unrighteousness. There is always a way home to the heart of Jesus.
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. - Acts (of the Apostles) 19:40 (NIV)
I’ve seen a riot… or rather, its aftermath. December 31, 1989. A group of us from church traveled to Atlanta to see a Christian concert. We checked into the Marriott Marquis that afternoon. The Marquis, an Atlanta landmark, had an open-to-the-top design, rooms built in a circle around each floor. First floor or 30th, you could see to the mezzanine and lobby areas.
We left around 6pm, unaware that a huge New Year’s Eve party was about to take place. By the time we returned at 1am, it looked less like a party and more like a bomb had gone off. Broken pottery and plants strewn everywhere. Furniture overturned and broken. A couple of televisions were in shards on the mezzanine. People were passed out all over the place.
Police in riot gear halted all passage on escalators and elevators. We inched along the perimeters toward stairwells, not out in the open, to avoid being struck by falling bottles tossed by drunken revelers above. We walked up 19 flights of stairs, finally reaching our rooms around 5am. ''Nobody knows what started it. One minute it was fine and the next minute things were falling,'' said a police spokesman.1
Millions of dollars in damage. Several guests sent to the hospital, 50 arrested. Described as a melee, it made national news. They called it “Hotel Hell.”
Paul nearly caused a riot to happen. Why? Because he brought truth into a community where only lies and counterfeits were honored. Thank goodness that city clerk settled things down before it went all pear-shaped, right?
What about us? Is our Truth shaking up our culture, or is our culture shaking up our truth? I’m praying that a riot of truth is gonna break out, Church. One that will proclaim a single message: God loves you!
One sane voice in the midst of insanity can yield much benefit. Will you be that sane voice?
1 “Drunken Revel. A New Year’s Eve Party,” Orlando Sentinel, January 2, 1990.