All Due Respect

Opening Prayer

God, give me a right sense of fear in Your holy presence.

Read Acts 19:1–22

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 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. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

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.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

Reflect

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psa. 111:10).

The name of Jesus is used as a swear word in our society. Comedians get endless mileage from the foibles of the church. High-profile academics sneer at the very idea of a supernatural realm and even some church leaders mock the idea of Jesus’ physical resurrection. How foolish! The old simile—“like playing with fire”—is laughably inadequate in this context. God will not be mocked. And neither, it seems, will the devil (16).
Paul’s message, preached with persuasive words and endorsed by powerful miracles, was not received without opposition. Some refused to believe it and then did their best to undermine it (9). And some tried to mimic the techniques without embracing the heart of it (13).
We’ll encounter opposition of all kinds too when we share the Gospel. We know, though, that we worship a powerful, almighty, holy, fearsome God. One day his name will be held in honor by the whole world, and every knee will bow before him (Isa. 45:23).

Apply

Many people are turned off when we speak of Christ. How can you be a living example without words today of Christ’s love?

Closing prayer

Almighty Father, may Your power be more real to me than the cynicism and harsh words of those who don’t believe.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider