Acts 19:7 When this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, everyone was awestruck; and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. 18 Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices. 19 A number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
God’s power was at work in Ephesus in such a way that things would never be the same again. All of the people were awestruck over what was happening. The miracles of God were far greater than anything that they had experienced before. Their magicians were nothing in comparison to the work of God among them. As a result, the name of Jesus was being praised throughout the community.
Because of God’s work among the people many began to confess the name of Jesus and to turn away from questionable practices in their lives. Their trust was no longer in the magicians who practiced black magic, but in the Messiah who brought about transformation. To show the world that they truly were awestruck and that their center of faith had shifted they brought out the books that revealed their old faith and burned them. The drachma represented one day’s wages — therefore the value of the books burned was 135 years of wages. (NBC) The awestruck people were giving up everything to follow Jesus Christ.
I’m afraid that sometimes we think we have to do something in our own power and ability for others around us to be awestruck. If you’re engaged in ministry, you may certainly feel this way. The sermon has to be good, or the program planned for the weekend has to be awe inspiring, the worship band phenomenal!
We also tend to believe that we need to be the voice of conscience that turns people away from their past indiscretions. Very often the church has set herself up as the moral compass for those around. While this isn’t bad, it can, however, forget to leave space for the working of God’s Holy Spirit. In Ephesus the Spirit was so powerfully at work that people were awestruck and began repenting. When we put God in a box, then we don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit to work.
We serve the same God today that was at work in the city of Ephesus. I believe that we need to spend time in God’s holy presence and allow the Spirit to flow out of our lives and ministry in such a way that people will, once again, be awestruck. It’s when the Spirit is at work that we see an exponential effect. The spontaneous book burning and its value was quite overwhelming. This was a very visible result of the power of God at work in the world.
The books of sorcery represented what these people trusted. As their lives were transformed they shifted their trust to God. Our society may not be trusting in sorcery but there is plenty of hope and trust in the material, political and social. We need another mighty movement of God’s Holy Spirit that will bring about a radical transformation and return our trust to God alone. My prayer is for people to once again be awestruck by the power of God’s Holy Spirit at work in our world and lives.
LORD, please pour out your Spirit and may we be awestruck by who you are. Amen.
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