Great is our God
Acts 19:28 “When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
When they heard how this new religion was damaging their personal lives, their community and their culture and when they saw how it was coming against their goddess, they were furious and started to praise and worship their god.
Today maybe a day when you are just so angry with the work of the enemy and what is being portrayed in our society that you are propelled to take a stand and from the rooftops shout, “This is our God! My God! Great is our God!”
The gospel challenges …
Acts 19:27 “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.”
The gospel challenges personal loss – “our trade will lose its good name” – some will not respond to the gospel because they do not want to bow the knee in surrender.
The gospel challenges community loss – “(our) temple will be discredited” – some will use what may be special in the heart of the community/family as the reason not to give it up for the gospel.
The gospel challenges cultural loss – “throughout the province of Asia” – some will use the argument of ‘everybody does it, this is who we are’ as the reason why the gospel should not be allowed to infiltrate the culture and change it.
The challenge of Demetrius.
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.”
Do you have a Demetrius?
- Doesn’t seem to stop in its accusation against you – “And … “ or some translations have “Moreover …” He always has more to say against you.
- Watches what you do and what you say– “You see and hear …”
- Is convinced you are wrong – “led astray …” Demetrius and his customers are on the straight and narrow apparently.
- Exaggerates all the time – “the whole province of Asia.” Hardly.
- Selfishly looks out for themselves – Demetrius points the finger regarding their business that customers were no longer needing to buy from.
Now look at that list again and realise that as you walk with God you will face one or even all 5 of these challenges.
Worship with no business.
Acts 19: 25 “He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business.”
Demetrius, the silversmith who made shrines of Artemis gathered all the tradesmen in the city together for he was clearly concerned by the effect of Pauls gospel on his business. That is what we will see.
But in this verse today we read about an interesting aspect of worship. It is this: worship can produce business and good business at that. They received a good income from making artefacts of Artemis for the people to use in their worship.
Of course this was false worship and we roll our eyes at it.
However, what about our true worship of God?
What is in it for us? Do we gain? Are we profiting? Have you ever heard it being said referring to a Sunday worship service, “I’m not getting anything out of this”?
The truth is wherever there is worship, business is not far behind. The business of profit and gain.
True worship is selfless for it comes out of the selfless death of Jesus.
May today be a day of worship with no business.
Acts 19:24 “A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there.”
Artemis, the Greek goddess, whom the Romans named Diana, had in the city of Ephesus a temple which was seen as one of the seven wonders of the world. But today you worship the One who created the world.
She was worshipped as the mother goddess, the Queen of the World, Saviour and Lord. But today you worship the God of all gods, King of kings and the Lord of lords.
She was the goddess who gave life to the whole earth. But you worship the one who is LIFE.
She is identified alongside witchcraft, having powers over evil spirits of darkness. But you worship the One who has disarmed the powers.
She reputedly had power in the heavens amongst the stars, her necklace carrying the symbols of the zodiac. But you worship the One who put the stars in their places.
You worship today an unrivalled God. Diana is a shadow of who you bow down to today. Demetrius had Diana, but you have God Almighty! Amen.
This is the time.
Acts 19:23 “About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.”
What time was it?
It was the time when people in the city were coming to faith because of the transformation of the seven sons of Sceva. It was a time of a move of God.
It was the time when Paul had just decided to move on to Jerusalem. It was a time for kingdom strategies.
It was the time when Paul had sent 2 of his helpers away on ministry service. It was a time of sending not just workers but ‘helpers’, Paul would miss them.
When it goes wrong it never does at the right time. It is either spoiling a positive time or it is a time where we can be the most weak.
Be alert. Stand your ground. The next 24 hours starts now and you may not know what it holds but it will have no consideration to what is happening now.
But be encouraged. You belong to the Way. It was a description of the Christ-followers. You belong to the Way and you are on the Way and you follow the Way. Whatever is on the Way the Way has filtered it and the Way will be glorified through it.
Where are the Timothy and Erastus people?
Acts 19: 22 “He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.”
Thank God for Timothy and Erastus. Let us pray for more of these people.
I know someone who recently made themselves so available to their boss that they said, “Send me anywhere, use me however you want to use me, I am here to serve.” It echoed in my own heart. This is the spirit within Timothy and Erastus.
I believe in callings and unique desires and the need to go to people on one’s heart. I understand how leaders want to go to the cities or the villages. I know the desires of heart.
I also know that today some leaders want security, homes, salaries, pensions.
But I wonder if we have lost something of the flexibility of ministry.
Some people have done the same thing in the same way in the same place for many years. Woe unto anyone who may suggest they move over and do something else! Where are the Timothy and Erastus people? Where are those who are here to help the whole and not the whole help them do ‘their ministry’?
The Church needs more helpers who are flexible, who will say, ‘whatever you want I will do, wherever you need me I will go.’
Will we be those helpers today?
Acts 19:21 “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.”
There are some things that people don’t know about you. Paul decided to go to Jerusalem and we do not know why, Luke doesn’t tell us, maybe he didn’t know at that time. It would only be in Paul’s letters that we find out that he was travelling to collect for the Christians who were in need. He travels through Macedonia and Achaia visiting where he had planted Churches to raise the funds. But we don’t know this and Luke doesn’t say perhaps because he also doesn’t know.
There are some things that you don’t know about your life. Paul had a strong desire to get to the capital, Rome. We know that by the end of Acts he has made it there. We know what would happen to him there. We know he would be held under house arrest. But he doesn’t know this. He just has a desire to get there not knowing what will happen to him when he arrives.
So today you may fall into one of these two categories:
- For whatever reason, you know people don’t know everything about you. They don’t know why you do what you do. They do not see what you are seeing. But you know and God knows and that is enough.
- You don’t know what your tomorrow holds. All you know is that you should do today what you have to do. You need to go where you go and you are trusting God for the future.
That is enough because in both categories, God knows. You know He knows. Others and you may not know but He knows.
At the end of the way … God
Acts 19:20 “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”
And that is what the word of the Lord should be doing. Spreading widely and growing in power.
Luke brings this scene to an end. We have seen Paul having to put up with the stubbornness of the Jews and then read of the seven sons of the priest being beaten up by a demon who hadn’t recognised their supposed power. The latter event shook the city. We come to a close before the scene changes and Luke reassures us once again as he does throughout Acts that the Lord is in control. His word is spreading and growing in power.
There is no word greater than the word of the Lord. There is no power greater than that of the Lord.
God allows ways and events to happen so that His glory is demonstrated. His power always outweighs other powers.
What is the way that you are on today? What is on that way? Does it contain your enemy? Is their sickness, disappointments, anxieties on that way? Are there shadows hanging over that way and you know you have to walk that way, there is no other route? Fear not. He is with you. More importantly at the end of this way is the spread of the gospel and its power. This is not triumphalism but my message is this, we serve a triumphant God who will have the last word.
Keys to a burning
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 fifty thousand drachmas.”
They burned their livelihoods. Career changes are sometimes still necessary for a change of life.
They burned their past so that they could not return. If it is too easy to go back to what you left then you haven’t left enough.
They burned them and everyone saw it, they went public. The more who know you are changing the more you will work hard to change.
They burned their futures, 1 drachma was worth 1 day’s wages, there were 50,000 drachmas. You can only let go of what is of most valuable if you have found Him who is of ultimate value, Jesus.
They burned them together. Moving forward, changing your life, is easier if you do it with others in order to be accountable.