Note from JesusDear Beloved,

Your world is filled with many influences that vie for the control of your heart and the practice of your faith. In the multi-cultural and pluralistic world that is open to all religions, be careful of the devil’s lies about freedom and openness. Some people don’t like the exclusive claim of the authentic Christian faith, and they work to silence My message and My disciples. The efforts of these people have never succeeded in stamping out My message and never will. My own words, along with the claims of My early disciples, didn’t sit well with some people in Paul’s day and they don’t sit well with some people in your day:Jesus:I am the path, the truth, and the energy of life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.(John 14:6)

Peter (filled with the Spirit):There is no one else [other than Jesus] who can rescue us, and there is no other name under heaven given to any human by whom we may be rescued.(Acts 4:12)These exclusive claims met with strong resistance as Paul shared My message with the multi-cultural people of Ephesus. However, I want you to notice in the verses below that it was when Paul’s preaching against idols began to have an economic impact that people were incited to become a riotous mob. Underneath much of the criticism that comes to My people and My message can be found two issues:The economic impact of My message on those who want to operate based upon greed and exploitation of others.The personal impact and loss of the freedom of choice related to morality — some people don’t want anyone telling them what is right and wrong.Paul and his mission team faced the first issue in Philippi with the freeing of the woman who had an “occult spirit” (Acts 16:16-24). The men who were profiting from her fortune-telling were furious that her liberation from demonic power meant they could no longer make money by exploiting her condition. Later Paul met both issues simultaneously — spiritual conflict and economic conflict — in the city of Ephesus. The clear-headed and legal approach the town clerk used in this volatile situation defused the emerging riot in Ephesus.

Paul was blessed by the rule of law in both Philippi and Ephesus. Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, and this citizenship entitled them to certain legal rights. Paul was not afraid — in Philippi or wherever he found himself — to insist on these legal rights (Acts 16:35-40; Acts 22:25-30; Acts 25:1-12). You cannot and must not submit to the coercion of political or religious authorities who oppose your efforts for Me. (I will share more on this principle when I guide you through the books of 1 Peter and Revelation.) When you have legal recourse to protect yourself and your rights, please know that you can and should avail yourself of these rights and privileges (Romans 13:1-7).

Part of what made conditions “the right time” (Galatians 4:1-4 NLT) for My coming and for the launch of My message was the influence of Rome — the Romans had a system of laws, commerce routes, and the acceptance of one language as the language of commerce. As long as they could, My early disciples made use of all three of these conditions to help spread My message.Verses to LiveThe town clerk in the events described below in Ephesus was not My disciple, but he was a good and decent man who was concerned for order in his city. I have used, and will continue to use, such good people to help My disciples in every era. Don’t be afraid to make friends of such people, just as Paul did in his ministry (Acts 19:31).Eventually Paul felt he should move on again [from Ephesus]. The Holy Spirit confirmed that he should first travel through Macedonia and Achaia and then return to Jerusalem.

Paul:I must eventually see Rome.So he sent Timothy and Erastus, two of his helpers, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed a while longer in Asia. It was during this time that a major incident occurred involving the Way.

An idol maker named Demetrius had a profitable business, for himself and for others, making silver shrines for Artemis (also known as Diana by the Romans), one of the deities worshiped in Ephesus.

Picture this: Demetrius calls a meeting of all the artisans who are similarly employed in idol making. Everyone in the idol industry comes together.

Demetrius:Men, we are all colleagues in this fine line of work. We’re making a good living doing what we’re doing. But we’d better wake up, or we’re all going to go broke.

You’ve heard about this fellow Paul. Here in Ephesus, he’s already convinced a large number of people to give up using idols. He tells them that our products are worthless. He’s been doing this same kind of thing almost everywhere in Asia. It’s bad enough that he is slandering our fine and honorable profession, but do you see where this will lead? If his lies catch on, the temple of Artemis itself will be called a fraud. The great goddess of our region, the majestic deity who is revered here in Asia and around the world, will be disgraced.The crowd goes wild with rage. They start chanting.

Crowd:Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!Soon the whole city is filled with confusion, and a mob forms. They find Paul’s Macedonian travel companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and drag them to the theater. Paul wants to go confront the crowd and protect his friends, but the disciples hold him back. Even some provincial officials of Asia who are friendly to Paul send him an urgent message, warning him to stay away from the theater.

Enraged voices are shouting on top of each other, some saying one thing, some saying something else. The crowd is completely out of control. Most of the people don’t even know what caused the commotion in the first place. Some of the Jewish people push a man named Alexander to the front of the crowd, hoping he can calm the disturbance. He raises his hands to silence the crowd and gets a few sentences out; but then the crowd realizes he’s a Jew, and once again they start chanting.

Crowd:Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!For two solid hours they keep the chant going.

Finally the town clerk manages to calm the crowd.

Town Clerk:My fellow citizens of Ephesus, everyone in the world knows that our great city is the caretaker of the temple of Artemis! Everyone knows that we are the home of the great statue that fell from heaven! Our status as the economic center of the idolmaking industry is not in danger, so please, calm down. Don’t do anything rash. The men whom you have seized aren’t temple robbers, nor have they blasphemed our great goddess. If Demetrius and the artisans who share his important trade have a legal complaint, don’t bring it here to the theater; take it to the courts — they’re open today. If you need to charge someone with a crime or launch an inquiry, take the matter to the regional judges. We need to do this according to regulations, or we’ll all be charged with rioting. This kind of behavior can’t be justified.So he succeeds in dispersing the crowd.

As soon as the uproar ended, Paul gathered the disciples together, encouraged them once more, said farewell, and left on foot.
(Acts 19:21-41; Acts 20:1)Response in PrayerFather, I know that You are at work in the affairs of the world in ways that I do not and cannot recognize. I believe You are at work in the movement of nations and the rise and fall of leaders. Today, as I look at the persecution and martyrdom of some of Your precious people in Africa and the Middle East and parts of Asia, I unashamedly ask for Your intervention. Help us and Your people in other countries know how best to influence our leaders to take appropriate action. As I look at the loss of some of our religious freedoms in the practice of our faith in the West, I pray that you give Your people wisdom, character, respect, and courage. Help us know how to navigate the cultural opposition we face and help us do this wisely and considerately. May our actions protect Your people, protect our rights to the practice of our faith in Jesus, and also influence others to follow Jesus by the way we conduct ourselves. I ask this prayer in His name. Amen.’A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware. © 1998-2022, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus’ is part of the Heartlight Network.All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Source: Passion for Praise