Scripture reading for November 13th: Acts 19-20
The Apostle Paul had begun his third missionary journey to reach those in the province of Asia. (Acts 18:23) He ended up in Ephesus where he found a group of disciples gathered. These twelve men had been baptized into John’s baptism of repentance but had never heard about Jesus Christ. Paul gave them the Gospel of Jesus, told them about the Holy Spirit and then laid hands on them. The Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied! Thus the church at Ephesus was born. Paul’s ministry went on there for nearly three years. This event took place about 20 years after the first Pentecost!
Following this event, Paul spoke in the synagogue, as was his custom. He went to his own brothers, the Jews, first and sought to win them to Jesus. This caused a conflict so he left with the new disciples and went to another place in the city, the lecture hall of Tyrannus, and continued to preach and teach there for two years. His ministry was so effective that all the Jews and Greeks in the whole province of Asia heard the word of the Lord! (Acts 19:10)
The Lord has promised that signs will follow those who obediently preach the Gospel. (Mark 16:15-20) As Paul preached here in Asia, God did extraordinary miracles through him as a help in winning the lost and confirming that Jesus is the Christ. These miracles included supernatural healing and casting out evil spirits. (Acts 19:11-12) Even as handkerchiefs and aprons taken from Paul were sent, the sick were healed and delivered!
Paul’s preaching of Jesus and these extraordinary miracles caused some Jewish exorcists to try and imitate Paul’s methods. They tried to cast out a demon from a possessed man “in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.” The demon spoke to them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:13-15) The result was that these seven exorcists were severely beaten by the demon possessed man! The word of this happening and all the miracles brought a revival of holiness. Fear seized the populace and they confessed their evil deeds, sorcery, and witchcraft. They publicly burned their books and charms and the word of God spread and grew in power!
What lessons can we learn from this account of Paul’s preaching in a town with strongholds of witchcraft? God’s power is no match against the powers of the Devil! Jesus told us that in His Name, we would cast out devils! The warning is that we must know this Jesus personally. It can’t be a second hand thing or you will be in trouble, just like the seven who tried it. Demons recognize and know both Jesus and those who have Him as Lord! In His name, extraordinary miracles will follow the preaching of the Gospel and the ministry of those who obediently go! Be bold as you enter your mission field today!