2544.) Ephesians 2

January 31, 2019
This column is all that remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. But at one time its beauty and grandeur were such that it was called one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Read about Paul's adventures concerning the Temple in Acts 19:23-41.

About Ephesus:  This column (topped by a stork’s nest) is all that remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. But at one time the beauty and grandeur of the temple were such that it was called one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Read about Paul’s adventures concerning the temple in Acts 19:23-41.

Ephesians 2   (NRSV)

From Death to Life

Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.

–David Guzik

You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.

We err if we think that dead in trespasses and sins says everything about man’s lost condition. The Bible uses many different pictures to describe the state of the unsaved man, saying he is:

– Blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)      
– A slave to sin  (Romans 6:17)    
– A lover of darkness  (John 3:19-20)    
– Sick  (Mark 2:17) 
– Lost  (Luke 15) 
– An alien, a stranger, a foreigner  (Ephesians 2:12, 2:19) 
– A child of wrath  (Ephesians 2:3) 
– Under the power of darkness  (Colossians 1:13) 

–David Guzik

3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

Ephesians2_6

4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit, by Paul Chilcote:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
–Ephesians 2:8

Gracious God,
All the blessings I have experienced in my life
are gifts from you.
I know I have done nothing to receive them.
And the greatest blessing of all, salvation, I receive from you
as a gift by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Help me to move beyond simply knowing about you
into a vital relationship with you based on trust,
into a life rooted in Jesus Christ
that brings peace and power,
as I rely on his death and resurrection in my daily living.

You offer me a present salvation,
a liberation from the guilt and fear and power of sin.
Birth within me a burning desire
to flee from all habitual and wilful sins.
Cleanse my heart and make me clean.

When I am tempted to think that faith is all I need,
remind me that the purpose of faith
is the restoration of true holiness in my heart and life.
Faith is always a means to love’s end.
May I never rest in my faith as if it were an end in itself;
rather help me to rely on your love as I seek to live faithfully.
May all the good that I am able
to accomplish in your strength
lead me away from pride or boasting
and always point to you as the source of all that is good.

I know that I am safe and held in your arms
whenever I put my entire trust in you.
Give me courage to proclaim this wonderful news
to all those around me who long to find their way home,
and when I proclaim faith in Christ, and others turn away,
may I ever rest in the victory of your love.  Amen.

10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

ephesians2_10

One in Christ

11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

 

14For he is our peace;

Psalm 147:14 (King James Version)

He maketh peace in thy borders.

in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

Gentiles and Jews are brought together into one body, the Church, where our unity in Jesus is far greater than our previous differences.  HERE  is a testimony of a former Jewish doctor who found this peace in Christ. (There is a whole collection of such testimonies, which are so enlightening and encouraging to hear! I recommend them!)

17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

Isaiah 28:16 (Contemporary English Version)

And so the LORD says,

“I’m laying a firm foundation

for the city of Zion.

It’s a valuable cornerstone

proven to be trustworthy;

no one who trusts it

will ever be disappointed.”

21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a tribute to the blood of Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/13/127013-004-50CA99F6.jpg
butterfly and cross.  http://beauty4ashes04.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-loving-reminder-seated-in-heavenly.html
saved by grace through faith.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/1-ephesians-2-saved-by-grace.jpg
two hands.  http://oneyearbibleimages.com/ephesians2_10.jpg
O the blood of Jesus.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c4/13/cf/c413cf241be734edd22b8c4f0e22dbea.jpg
peaceful scene in Kelso, Scotland.    http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/44923000/jpg/_44923961_church.jpg
cornerstone.     http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/yourplaceandmine/images/co-down/benedictines/cornerstone.jpg

2543.) Ephesians 1:15-23

January 30, 2019

About Ephesus:   The library, ancient Ephesus. A technological wonder at the time, with double walls to keep out the damp and moderate the extremes of temperature, it is also perhaps the most beautiful building at Ephesus, finely restored.  It had a capacity of 12,000 scrolls.

Ephesians 1:15-23   (NRSV)

Paul’s Prayer

Paul not only gave thanks for God’s work among the Ephesians, he also prayed that it would continue with greater strength and understanding. What would it do to our understanding of our daily life if we were to read this and pray this every morning?

15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Spurgeon:

In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power.

What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition?

When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ.

It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost.

This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life.

No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man.

If God omnipotently says, “Thou shalt,” man shall not say, “I will not.” Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner.

It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.” So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. “Because He lives we live also.” “For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.”

“Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

“And God placed all things under his feet . . .”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a great Wesley hymn — “Rejoice, the Lord is King!”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
library at Ephesus.   http://travel-junkies.com/2013/12/30/photo-of-the-week-library-of-celsus-at-ephesus/
I keep asking that . . .    https://newlifenarrabri.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/eph1-17.jpg
resurrection icon.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/resurrection_icon.jpg
Christ of St. John of the Cross, by Salvador Dali.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_of_Saint_John_of_the_Cross#/media/File:Christ_of_Saint_John_of_the_Cross.jpg

2542.) Ephesians 1:1-14

January 29, 2019
Ephesus (located on the west coast of present-day Turkey) was second only to Rome in size and importance in the first century. It is one of the seven churches in Asia cited in the Book of Revelation.

About Ephesus:   Ephesus (located on the west coast of present-day Turkey) was second only to Rome in size and importance in the first century–a commercial, political, and religious center. It is one of the seven churches in Asia cited in the Book of Revelation. Paul spent time in Ephesus during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1-20:1).

Ephesians 1:1-14   (NRSV)

Salutation

Karl Marx wrote about a new man and a new society, but he saw man and society both in almost purely economic terms and offered only economic answers. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul also saw the new man and a new society, but he saw it all accomplished by the work of Jesus.

And it is important to remember that Paul wrote this letter focusing on the great themes of God’s work in the church — from prison.

–David Guzik

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ, from the Father

1. flower

In ancient Greek (the language Paul originally wrote in), Ephesians 1:3-14 form one long sentence. As an opera has an overture, setting the tone for all the melodies that will follow, so this passage sets the tone for the rest of Ephesians.

–David Guzik

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

How do we bless God? The English Anglican priest and theologian C. F. D. Moule says we are to “praise with worshipping love.”

from Tozer on the Holy Spirit, ed. by Marilynne E. Foster:

Genuine holiness can be put into the place of testing without fear. Whenever there is a breakdown of holiness, that is proof there was never any real degree of holiness in the first place.

Personally, I truly have been affected in my heart by reading the testimonies and commentaries of humble people of God whom I consider to be among the great souls of Christian Church history. I have learned from them that the word and idea of holiness as originally used in the Hebrew did not have first of all the moral connotation. It did not mean that God first of all was pure, for that was taken for granted!

The original root of the word holy was of something beyond, something strange and mysterious and awe-inspiring. When we consider the holiness of God we talk about something heavenly, full of awe, mysterious, and fear-inspiring. Now, this is supreme when it relates to God, but it is also marked in men and women of God and deepens as we become more like God.

Holiness is not a condition wrought in us. It is simply the Holy One in us ruling, filling.

5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

We are God’s children! This high position in the family of God gives us something in Jesus that Adam never had. “When people ask us the speculative question why God went ahead with the creation when he knew that it would be followed by the fall, one answer we can tentatively give is that he destined us for a higher dignity than even creation would bestow on us.”

–John Stott

Spiritual Blessings in Christ, from the Son

1. fjord

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us.

Jesus does not redeem us by His sinless life or His moral example, but only by His death in our place – by His blood. “Observe, it is not redemption through his power, it is through his blood. It is not redemption through his love, it is through his blood.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will,

“In the New Testament sense a mystery is something which is hidden to the heathen but clear to the Christian.”

–William Barclay

according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

We see three aspects of God’s plan working together. It begins with His purpose, then the counsel of His will, and finally results in His work. God made His plan carefully according to an eternal purpose, taking counsel within the Godhead, and then He works with all wisdom.

“Our God is a God who not only wills; He works; and He works according to His will… The word counsel stands for deliberate planning and arranging, in which the ways and means of carrying out the will are considered and provided for.” (Morgan)

Spiritual Blessings in Christ, from the Spirit

red seal jpg

13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Welcome, Holy Spirit!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Andre Crouch’s classic “To God Be the Glory,” sung by the Oslo Gospel Choir.

How can I say thanks
For all the things you have done for me
Things so undeserved
Yet You gave to prove your love for me
And the voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am and ever hope to be
I owe it all to Thee

To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
And with His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done

Just let me live my life
And let it be pleasing Lord to Thee
And should I gain any praise
Let it go to Calvary

With His blood He has saved me
With His power He has raised me
To God be the glory
For the things He has done

To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
And with His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map.  http://www.jesuswalk.com/ephesians/images/ephesus_map.gif
flower.   http://www.creatorlutheran.net/sermons/the-growing-church
Holiness.    http://www.fggam.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/holiness.jpg
fjord.  https://thegracecommunity.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/ephesians1_7.jpg
seal.   https://i3.wp.com/img.heartlight.org/cards/g/ephesians1_14.jpg

2541.) Acts 21:1-14

January 28, 2019

Acts 21:1-14   (NLT)

Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem

The narrative is speeding up and there is an atmosphere of approaching storm as Paul comes nearer Jerusalem. Two things stand out here.

(i) There is the sheer determination of Paul to go on no matter what lay ahead. Nothing could have been more definite than the warning of the disciples at Tyre and of Agabus at Caesarea, but nothing could deter Paul from the course that he had chosen. 

(ii) There is the wonderful fact that wherever Paul went he found a Christian community waiting to welcome him. One of the great privileges of belonging to the Church is the fact that no matter where a man goes, he is sure to find a community of like-minded people into which he may enter. The man who is in the family of the Church has friends all over the world.

–William Barclay

1 After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders,

One commentator has said a better rendering is “after tearing ourselves away from them.” This was not an easy farewell! Paul had invested himself deeply in these leaders, and they loved him dearly.

we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. 2 There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. 3 We sighted the island of Cyprus, passed it on our left, and landed at the harbor of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo.

4 We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week.

We have not heard, in the chapters we have read, about the beginning of the church in Tyre. This reminds us that Acts gives only a partial account of all the “acts of the apostles” and of the Holy Spirit during this time!

These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. 5 When we returned to the ship at the end of the week, the entire congregation, including women and children, left the city and came down to the shore with us. There we knelt, prayed, 6 and said our farewells. Then we went aboard, and they returned home.

7 The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day.

It must have been wonderful for Paul and his companions to find Christians in virtually every city they stopped in. These bonds of fellowship become all the more precious when one is traveling and a stranger in a city.

8 The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.

10 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. 11 He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

13 But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.”

In the Iliad, Homer tells of Achilles being warned by the prophetess that if he goes out to a certain battle, he will be killed. “Nevertheless,” answers the Greek hero, “I am for going on.”

No matter what lay ahead, Paul was for going on.

14 When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Paul’s insistence on going to Jerusalem despite the dangers predicted by the Holy Spirit was not a result of rebellion, but an obedient response to the command of the Holy Spirit in his heart. He was bound in the spirit to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21 and 20:22).

The warnings from the Holy Spirit were intended to prepare Paul, not to stop him.
—David Guzik

Ready to Suffer 

Ready to suffer grief or pain,
Ready to stand the test;
Ready to stay at home and send
Others if He sees best.

Ready to go, ready to bear,
Ready to watch and pray;
Ready to stand aside and give
Till He shall clear the way. 

Ready to speak, ready to think,
Ready with heart and mind;
Ready to stand where He sees fit,
Ready His will to find. 

Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill;
Ready for service lowly or great,
Ready to do His will.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991) with his inimitable voice and “My Jesus, As Thou Wilt.”

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Danger ahead.   http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/ainacts/ainact11.htm
Acts of the Apostles.  https://umcmonroe.org/acts-of-the-apostles-bible-study/
Achilles in an ancient Greek pottery painting.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achilles#/media/File:Achilles_fighting_against_Memnon_Leiden_Rijksmuseum_voor_Oudheden.jpg

2540.) Acts 20:13-38

January 25, 2019

Acts 20:13-38 (NLT)

Paul Meets the Ephesian Elders

13 Paul went by land to Assos, where he had arranged for us to join him, while we traveled by ship. 14 He joined us there, and we sailed together to Mitylene. 15 The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus.

16 Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost. 17 But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him.

Now Paul will talk with his church leaders, not so much as an evangelist, but as a pastor:

18 When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now 19 I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. 20 I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. 21 I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment.  You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God.  But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.

Paul says he counted his life dear only in order that he might fulfill the ministry he had received.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Robin Mark and “Be Thou My Vision.”

_________________________

25 “And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. 26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, 27 for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.

28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.

Enemies of the gospel — from outside the church, and from inside the church. Pastors must carefully guard themselves and the people God has entrusted to them!

Do we pray zealously for our pastors to be able to feed and protect their flocks with God’s grace and strength?

32 “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.

33 “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. 34 You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. 35 And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

from Wishful Thinking,
by Frederick Buechner

AVARICE

Avarice, greed, concupiscence, and so forth are all based on the mathematical truism that the more you get, the more you have. The remark of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive is based on the human truth that the more you give away in love, the more you are. It is not just for the sake of other people that Jesus tells us to give rather than get, but for our own sakes too.

36 When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. 37 They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. 38 They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.

See how they loved him!

John 13:34-35 (English Standard Version)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The harbor of Miletus in modern Turkey began its decline in the Middle Ages when silt from the River Meander began filling it up.

“We sensed Paul’s presence more strongly than anywhere else in that desolate stretch of marshland, once Miletus’ busy harbour . . . Perhaps it was the virtual absence of ruins and of tourists, perhaps the very desolation and remoteness of the place, but as you read the speech to the elders about how they would see his face no more, and how he commended them to God and the word of his grace, I felt like joining them in weeping . . . So shall I always think of him there, on that moving occasion, so resolute, so eloquent, so faithful a servant of Christ.”

–from Seeing Through the Eye:  Malcolm Muggeridge on Faith

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
saying good bye to Paul.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKzAWke16p4
catch the vision!    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/catch-the-vision.jpg
in greed we trust.    http://www.truegreed.com/includes/in_greed_we_trust.jpg
love one another.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/Love%20one%20another/persian_rose9/9-14-01_love-one-another.jpg
former harbor of Miletus.    http://holylandphotos.org/browse.asp?s=1,3,7,23,115&img=TWCSML17

2539.) Acts 20:1-12

January 24, 2019

Paul’s work continues. The Church of St. John on Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, dates to the 13th century.

Acts 20:1-12 (NLT)

Paul Goes to Macedonia and Greece

1 When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. 2 While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece, 3 where he stayed for three months. He was preparing to sail back to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews against his life, so he decided to return through Macedonia.

4 Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 5 They went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 After the Passover ended, we boarded a ship at Philippi in Macedonia and five days later joined them in Troas, where we stayed a week.

As Paul visited and encouraged churches he had established, he was also collecting money from them as a gift to the mother church in Jerusalem. The men who accompanied him as he headed back to Jerusalem were likely representatives of the various churches, coming to bring their greetings personally along with the money.

Paul’s Final Visit to Troas

7 On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper.

Something new here! Believers are meeting on the first day of the week — on Sunday — for the Word and bread and wine.

Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. 8 The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. 9 As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy.

Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. 10 Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” 11 Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. 12 Meanwhile, the young man was taken home unhurt, and everyone was greatly relieved.

from Peculiar Treasures,
by Frederich Buechner

“SERMONETTES MAKE CHRISTIANETTES,” the saying goes, so Saint Paul kept talking till midnight to make sure they all got the word. Then he thought of a few things he’d left out and went on a while longer. He was so caught up in his own eloquence that he didn’t hear the bumblebee sounds that were emerging from a young man with his eyes more or less closed and his mouth more or less open who sat slumped over in the third-story window. It was only a woman’s scream that alerted him to the fact that the boy had fallen asleep, and out, more or less simultaneously. When Paul asked his name, they told him it was Eutychus.

Everybody thought Eutychus was dead, but Paul said he’d see about that. Then he went back upstairs where, after a snack, he ran over his major points once more just to make sure. When he finally left on the early bus, they found Eutychus sitting up in bed asking for two over light and a toasted English.

This miraculous recovery, plus the fact that by then the saint was already well on his way to the next county, made them decide to throw a double celebration. Presumably somebody had the sense to suggest that this time they use the ground floor.

“To preach for more than an hour, a man should be an angel himself or have angels for hearers.”
–George Whitefield

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Music:

HERE  is a song about “Brother Eutychus” — told with a sense of humor!

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Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Church of St. John.    https://journals.worldnomads.com/chris_and_dusk/photo/29113/788141/Macedonia/St-John-Kaneo-church-Lake-Ohrid
Sunday.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/sunday1.jpg
Eutychus.   https://precepts.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/eutychus02.jpg
preaching.    http://www.christisthelight.com/Joy/priest_preaching_behind_podium_hg_clr.gif

2538.) Acts 19:23-41

January 23, 2019

This single column and parts of the foundation are all that now remain of the Temple of Artemis (Diana) in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Archaeologists have been digging in Ephesus on and off since 1863.

Acts 19:23-41 (NLT)

The Riot in Ephesus

This is a reproduction of the Temple of Artemis (Diana) from Ephesus (present day Turkey). The original was beyond beautiful, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, measuring 425 ft long, 220 ft wide, and 60 ft high. It was supported by 127 pillars, each 60 feet high, and was decorated with great sculptures. It was lost to history until it was discovered in 1869, and its main altar was unearthed in 1965. 

It was described by Antipater of Sidon, who compiled the list of the Seven Wonders:

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, “Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.”

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Acts19 Artemis

When the goddess Artemis was represented in stone and metals, she bore upon her head a mural headdress, representing a fortified city wall; from it, drapery hung upon each side of her face to her shoulders. The upper part of her body was completely covered with rows of breasts to signify that she was the mother of all life. The lower arms were extended.  In later times her Greek followers represented her with stags or lions standing at her sides. The most renowned of her statues stood on the platform before the entrance to her temple in Ephesus, shown above. As the statues indicate, she impersonated the reproductive powers of men and of animals and of all other life.

–E. J. Banks

23 About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. 24 It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. 25 He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows:

“Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. 26 But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! 27 Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!”

28 At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30 Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.

The mob gathered here, at the Great Theater of Ephesus, which, when completed, seated some 24,000 people.  If you ever sit there, you will hear its excellent acoustics!  It was severely damaged by an earthquake in A.D. 262.

32 Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. 34 But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

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Music:

Imagine the racket! The chanting could no doubt be heard all over the city.  HERE  is a song to answer them:  Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God.” Truly!

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35 At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. 36 Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess.

38 “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. 39 And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. 40 I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” 41 Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.

“This chapter teaches us all a permanent lesson: that when disciples have a true revival, society gets a revolution. When the Spirit moves mightily upon children of God we may look for other mighty movements among unbelievers, and need not be surprised if the devil himself comes down, having great wrath, as though he knew that his time were short.”

–Arthur Tappan Pierson

It has often happened in the history of Christianity that when God moves among His people and they become very serious about their Christianity, that it affects the livelihood of those who trade in vice or immorality. For example, in the early years of the Salvation Army, they were so effective that pimps and bar owners in southern England organized a “Skeleton Army” to oppose them with threats and violence – and even a few Salvation Army workers were murdered.

–David Guzik

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Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Temple of Artemis (ruins).   http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Ephesus_Temple_of_Artemis_ruins2_tb_n010500.jpg
Artemis.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/2de70-diana2.jpeg
Temple of Artemis (reproduction).    https://www.ancient.eu/image/180/model-of-the-temple-of-artemis/
Great Theater of Ephesus.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Ephesus_theater_from_west,_tbn010501.jpg
taking God seriously.   https://quotesthoughtsrandom.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/taking-god-seriously.jpg