The Power of the Word of the Lord
Acts 19:11 ¶ God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,
Acts 19:12 so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.
Acts 19:13 Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”
Acts 19:14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.
Acts 19:15 But the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
Acts 19:16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.
Acts 19:17 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.
Acts 19:18 Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices.
Acts 19:19 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.
Acts 19:20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Paul often spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit that was being experienced in the lives of the new believers. It was the power that was able to raise Christ from the dead; that resurrection power that was able to transform lives and make all things new. Throughout the book of Acts we are privileged to catch a glimpse of what those early Christians were experiencing. Of course there were those who wanted to exploit what was happening and use it to their own benefit. What they failed to understand was that the power of God had to do with a relationship, one in which God and man were united through the blood of Jesus Christ. Outside of this healing relationship the power of God could not be used or abused. That is why the evil spirit responded, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" Then they began to understand that the power of God was greater than anything they had ever experienced and all earthy powers came under the authority of God. The result was that the news about Jesus spread and the power of God transformed lives throughout the city where Paul was preaching. Paul didn't prevail, but the word of the Lord prevailed!
How often do I live my life spiritually weak? When I read about the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the ministry of the Apostle Paul I am simply amazed. However, it seems that Paul had a simple faith and trust in the power of God to do the work. I'm afraid that I can get caught up in the fact that I think that the work is up to me, but scriptures like today's are a strong reminder that the work of God is not up to me -- it's up to me being plugged into him! The only reason the evil spirit recognized Paul was because Paul had an intimate personal relationship with Jesus. Therefore he knew them both!
The only way I can be a faithful servant of the Lord is to be completely and totally plugged into him on a daily basis. The final verse of today's scripture reminds us that it was the word of the Lord that grew mightily and prevailed -- not the word of Paul! Paul was constantly pointing people to Jesus and through his relationship with Christ was simply revealing the power of God. The power of God was so great that the evil powers of the city spontaneously submitted to Jesus' authority.
There is great joy and freedom in these scriptures for we must learn to relax in the power and movement of God's Holy Spirit. The greatest responsibility of our Christian life is to get to know Christ! Nothing else should distract us -- and this is very difficult for those who are engaged in the work and ministry of the Lord. Somehow we believe that being busy for God is a good thing, and all the while we can miss out on what God really has in store for us. He wants us to slow down, relax in him and allow his power to be revealed through the word of the Lord.
Lord, I'm sorry for the times that I try to do things on my own. Please, help me to connect to you each and every single day in my walk with you and may your power be revealed to the world around us so that you will be glorified! Amen.