Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com
Acts 19:1-22 (NIV)
Paul in Ephesus
19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 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. 13 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 the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 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. 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way, the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. 21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
What experiences have you had with religious counterfeits or hoaxes?
Lord, You are the creator of all things. Your Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and guides my life. A few years back I bought a book that looked spiritual. I was very excited to read it with the intent to get closer to You. But instead the theology included worshiping nature and believing that human beings have divine spiritual power within. As I began to read the words Your Spirit rose up to warn me that the spiritual words that lured me in were anything but. It attracts people who are yearning for a spiritual connection to fill the void in their soul but reject You as the source of peace, contentment and fulfillment. Some of the practices sound holistic and healthy such as yoga or meditation to reduce stress. But no matter how uplifting and innocent some New Age practices appear, Christians need discernment in these areas. Help me to be on guard to protect my heart and soul from deceitful spirits that lead me away from You. Fill my soul with the completeness, contentment and fulfillment of Your Spirit. Help me to dig deep into Your Word so that I stand on a solid foundation and have the tools to evaluate if messages align to Your Word or not. Open my eyes to Your truth. Protect my heart from selfishness and pride. Help me to submit to Your power and glory and worship only You. You are God, and I am not. Amen