God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 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. ~ Acts 19:11-12
We see in this passage what happens when the word of God is preached boldly and honestly according to the will of the Holy Spirit. We also see what can happen when one abuses the name of Jesus.
Paul spends two years in Ephesus, preaching first in the synagogue as was his custom. As opposition to the Gospel message grew in the synagogue, Paul began preaching in the public gathering place – the
lecture hall of Tyrannus – where both Jews and Greeks heard The Word. As the passage above states, God did extraordinary things through Paul. Through Paul’s preaching, God’s Word spread throughout the province leading many to confess their sins, “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (verse 20).
We’re also told about seven sons of a Jewish chief priest who apparently wanted a piece of the action. They went around trying to drive out demons:
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 Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. [One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 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. ~ Acts 19:14-16
Given the end result of this encounter, it appears that these men were not acting in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Why were they doing this? What was their motivation? We are not told; but their actions clearly were not aligned with God’s plan. Their serving of the proverbial “humble pie” by this demon-possessed man was likely never forgotten.
In this passage we see a stark contrast between a sincere ministry led by the Holy Spirit and an apparent effort to practice ministry under less than honorable pretext. Ministry that serves God has its focus on the Gospel. Such a ministry focuses on the Object of our worship, not on the messenger.
It’s not about me; it’s about Him. Now, let’s go out and live it.
Ponder this: Are my motives for action aligned with God’s plan? Is my message to the world about Him?
My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I surrender fully my life and my ministry to You. Give me a servant’s heart and tune me in to your Holy Spirit; that all that I do and every word I write or speak in Your name is fully aligned with Your good and perfect will. Keep me humble and keep me focused, I pray, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, AMEN.