I don’t lecture this week, but wanted to add my notes.
In this week’s lesson we get to see and learn a lot about power. In some ways the salvation that we receive when we believe and receive the holy spirit in our lives to begin living an eternal life is a lot like a power tool. Think about it. People can build amazing things with power tools. We can build homes, furniture, bridges, buildings. We can shape rock and literally move mountains. But there are two really important things that have to go with it. One is training. If you don’t know how to use a power tool it doesn’t do much good. The word of God is similar. We’ll see this week that just knowing the name of Jesus doesn’t get the job done, you need to actually know Jesus through his word. The second is that, to work right, the power tool needs to be plugged in. We need to stay connected to God and to other believers and we see not only Paul encouraging and spending time with other believers, but we see those believers spending time with Paul when he is in need. We can stay connected today by reading the bible, connecting in our church and through BSF. Let’s get into the word.
1st Division: Acts 18:23-28
In this first section we get to meet Apollos. Apollos was blessed in many ways by God. Not only did he have knowledge of, what we call today, the old testament, but he had fervor – energy – for speaking God’s word. He had been baptized in the cleansing water of John’s baptism, to wash away sin. But he hadn’t been exposed to the entire teaching about Jesus after the resurrection. God set his path so he met Priscilla and Aquila. These teachers took him in and provided him with additional training. They expanded his knowledge and helped the spirit touch his heart. Not only that, but they helped him further his ministry and mission work by sending letters ahead to friends in Corinth.
People were given power throughout the old testament. One thing we saw that was interesting, particularly with Moses is the way he would get charged up from time in the tabernacle – he even had a glow to him – but over time that charge faded and he had to keep going back. You see, when God first created us (Adam and Eve that is) we were completely connected to Him. They walked and talked together everyday, living fully in the presence of God. But then they decided to pull the plug on the relationship by breaking the one rule He gave them. But, with the good news of Jesus Christ, the circuit has been completed again. When we accept the gift of salvation we don’t just get charged up, but God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us – connected forever to the source of all the power in the universe.
Who do you need to help get connected to the power of Christ? Who is afraid, hurting or sad, that you can be a witness to?
How are you going to use the power flowing through you?
2nd Division: Acts 19
In this next section we see the role that people play in relaying the power of God through teaching and healing.
First we see Paul planting a new church in Ephesus. Let’s look at the way he did it. First. He went to where people were going who were hungy for the word of God – he went to the synagogue. He did that for 3 months, touching many people, but he ran into so many barriers in the form of opposition from the jews that he moved out. But he didn’t form a new church to meet every Sunday. Let’s look at what he did. He moved into a school. He set up every afternoon to welcome and dialogue with people who wanted to learn. Not once a week, not him up front in a one way speech/sermon. It was a round table dialogue of learning. Notice what it says – he stayed for 2 years until all Asia heard the word – talk about being thorough!
Then we hear this story about the seven sons of Sciva. They obviously did not participate in these daily training sessions. They knew the name of Jesus. They knew the power of that name – but they did not actually know Jesus. They didn’t have a relationship with Him. They weren’t plugged in. Now, we learn that demons may be unfriendly but they aren’t stupid. The demon possessed man knew Jesus and Paul – but didn’t know them. He jumped them and beat them until they changed from the sons of sciva into the sons in skivies!
From this people got the message and turned more and more to the ways of the Lord. Things get rolling so much that the business people who make and sell idols start getting nervous and upset. They have inventory to move and turn into an angry mob. A city clerk steps in an calms things down and we see from this interaction that the city is pretty set on keeping one foot in the world of idols. It is going to be a challenging area for the church – as areas of commerce and wealth often are.
Through this all we see how powerful God is compared to everything else and how he moves. But as importantly, we see that God is in complete control of His power. With less than a whisper, He could cause everyone to know Him. But, that isn’t faith. He doesn’t want to convince us – He wants us to believe, to trust and have faith. To want to know more about Him and to want to connect to His power.
Besides BSF – how are you learning more about God? Who do you need to spend time talking with daily? Do you talk with God daily – that might be a great place to start?
3rd Division – Acts 20 – 21:15
Paul wraps up this missionary trip with teaching and conviction. You know, conviction is an interesting word – literally, it means “with proof”. Paul is so connected to the power of God that this is no longer any question. He doesn’t just believe it – he knows the good news as fact.
Paul joins believers in Troas and teaches late into the night – so late that one of the believers falls to sleep and falls out of a third story window and dies. That’s right – if you ever feel like I’m boring you to death – I’m doing just as good as Paul! But talk about being connected to the power of God – Paul rushes out and hugs the boy and he is brought back to life.
But Paul is also convicted to his calling. There is no question this is going to be a tough road and Paul has no expectation of returning – but he is being called to Jerusalem. Despite tearful good byes. Despite prophesies of being bound and killed. Paul is determined to do God’s will – period.
Why is Paul not afraid of going to Jerusalem? Of being bound and probably killed? Because he knows that death is not the end. He is living an eternal life right now – connected to the Holy Spirit. Death only means shedding the constraints of this world to continue what he is doing – living for God.
What are you afraid of? Is God bigger that it?