Tuesday, May 5

Tuesday

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.   - Acts 20:17-19


You have probably heard it said that as soon as you think that you’ve attained humility, you’ve lost it.  I mean it would sound a bit strange to hear someone bragging about how humble they have become.  However, Paul here mentions his own humility.  In fact, Jesus described Himself as gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29).  Moses described himself as the most humble man on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3)! So apparently, you can know when you are humble without being proud of it. What does it mean to be humble? 
In a nutshell, biblical humility is a conscious awareness of your utter dependence on Jesus Christ. We see it in Paul when he explains, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider any- thing as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). 
We see it when he says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:4). 
He confronts the pride of the Corinthians when he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). 
A humble person is continually aware that all that he is stems from God’s grace. His confidence is not in himself, but in the Lord, so that he is quick to give the glory to God in every situation. 
Not long ago, I received a promotional e-mail from a well known the growth conference.  The e-mail included a link to a brief video clip of a group of pastors of large churches discussing their similarities and differences as leaders.  Theses pastors all agreed that although they were all different and pastoring in different contexts, they shared critical factor that all successful leaders have in common—self-confidence!  Having concluded that self-confidence is an essential quality for successful leaders, they proceeded to develop a tool that would help pastors develop confidence in themselves (I’m not making this up!). 

Now I am not opposed to people growing in their personal confidence, but in the context of warning us about the deceitfulness of the heart, the Bible strongly warns against self-confidence.
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
Jeremiah 17:5-9

 This the essence of biblical humility!

Jeff Frazier



Jeff

Monday, May 4

Monday

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.    - Acts 20:17-21

Our text records Paul’s last encounter with the Ephesian elders. He wanted to get to Jerusalem by the Day of Pentecost, so he did not stop in Ephesus, which would have delayed him too long. So he sent and had the Ephesian elders come to him while his ship was in port at Miletus, about 20 miles south as the crow flies, but longer on the road. 
The elders were probably the pastors of the numerous house churches that met all over Ephesus. Probably many of them were the original twelve men that he met with in the school of Tyrannus (19:1-10) The title “elder” describes the maturity required for the office. In 20:28, Paul calls these same men “overseers” (bishops), which focuses on their main task, to super- intend matters in the church. 
This is our only example in Acts of a sermon addressed to Christians, or more specifically, to church leaders. Apparently, some of Paul’s critics had been at work in Ephesus, trying to undermine him as a man of God and leader. This comes through in his repeatedly saying, “you yourselves know” (20:18, 34), and his reminding them of his character and way of life when he had been with them. He is clearly defending himself and at the same time showing us some qualities of godly church leadership. 
Paul’s servant attitude flavors this entire message, but he mentions specifically that he was “serving the Lord” (20:19). The word “serving” is the verb related to the noun “bond-servant” or slave. Paul often referred to himself as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:1 - Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.

Galatians 1:10 - Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Titus 1:1 - Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.


This was the way Paul viewed himself, and the way that every Christian should view himself.  I think it all too common for Christians today to slip into thinking that God exists to serve them and to meet their needs.  How many of us think about our relationship to God in terms of what He is doing for us?  How often do we unconsciously evaluate our faith based on answers to prayer and blessings in our lives?  We do not belong to ourselves; we are slaves of Jesus Christ. We should do all that we do to please Him!

Jeff Frazier

Friday, May 1st

To listen to the audio version, click here.

Friday, May 1

Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Back in the mid 1980‘s my brother and I co-led a short term mission team to Bolivia. We had a team of 12 former college basketball players, along with several wives and children - a total group of about 20 people. We spent 6 weeks traveling the length and breadth of Bolivia to play exhibition basketball games and share the gospel with those who came to watch.
Most of our travel was by bus; old school buses that looked like they had been driven for 20 years then left on the bottom of a lake for 10 years then put back into service.

We had to make several very long drives through the mountains on narrow dirt and gravel roads without guardrails overlooking steep valleys. We could often see small white crosses at the bottom that marked where other travelers had driven off the road!

We were on just such a mountain road, chugging our way up a steep and narrow passage when our Bolivian driver suddenly began yelling. “Mira, mira!” which means “Look, look!” When we looked up he was holding the gear shifter up in the air like a sword. It had come completely out of the floor, out of the gearbox, and the bus was still rumbling up the mountain.

We had a problem!

My brother and I were sitting in the front because we were the leaders but we had no idea what to do except prepare for certain death.

Then a 19 year old kid named Curtis, who was on our team and had grown up on the mission field in South America, came running up to the front of the bus and said, “You guys mind if I help?”

We said, “Uhhhhh...sure.” What else were we going to say? Seriously.

Curtis then grabbed the shifter and shoved it back down into the gear box until it ground into place. Then he held it there until the driver found tiny village where he could pull off the road and stop.

We were relieved, and alive, but now we were stuck.

The driver and Curtis were talking in Spanish while my brother and I tried to look calm and in control. Then Curtis turned to us and said, “We’re going into the village.” We said, “What for?” He said, “To find a welder to fix the gear box.”

“A welder?” we said as if that was the dumbest thing we’d ever heard. I mean, we were in a tiny mountain village in the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere surrounded by chickens and llamas, and you’re going to find a welder?

A couple minutes later Curtis came back and said, “We found a welder, but it’s his day off.”

We said, “Day off? He lives in Bolivia - how can he take a day off? Tell him we’ll pay double! Just get him out here.”

A few minutes after that Curtis came back with a Bolivian man wearing a welding helmet and carrying an acetylene torch. He fixed our bus in about 10 minutes.

We started this week talking about adventure. An adventure is an unusual or exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. I pointed out that the Book of Acts could really be called “The Adventure of the Gospel.”

I think the Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about both the gospel and adventure. He knew that the gospel adventure begins with the love of Christ:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge...



He knew the adventure of following Jesus is powered by the Holy Spirit...

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.


And he knew that the gospel adventure takes us to places we would never imagine in our wildest dreams!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Some people think the life of a Christian sounds boring. Some think that all Christians do is go to church and sit around reading their Bible all day. While those certainly aren’t bad things to do, following Jesus is about a whole lot more than that!

Following Jesus is the great adventure of reaching the world with the gospel! It’s a thrilling journey of faith, love, hope and courage that includes joys, sorrows, dangers and triumphs.

I think this is what Jesus meant when he said,


I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

I’m pretty sure the Apostle Paul would agree!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Thursday, April 30th

To listen to the audio version, click here.

Thursday, April 30

Acts 19:21-41

Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship." When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, "Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion." And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

I’ve never been in a real riot, but I have led an overnight retreat for Junior High students, which is pretty much the same thing. I once planned just such an overnight event and expected around 25-30 students to attend. I was both surprised and terrified when 103 kids showed up! We all survived the night, which was probably at least a low-level miracle!

In this story the Holy Spirit takes Paul on an adventure that includes a real and very dangerous riot.

We are told that due to Paul’s preaching in Ephesus people have begun to turn away from the worship of pagan idols and to put their faith in Jesus. One of the results is that people are no longer buying silver images of the goddess Artemis. Therefore those who make and sell those silver images are losing income and they don’t like it one bit.

A guy named Demetrius says, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship." When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel.

The people are enraged for two reasons. First, because the gospel claims that there is only one God, who came in the person of Jesus Christ as the final sacrifice for the sins of the world and that, therefore, Artemis is not to be worshipped as a “goddess.” More importantly, the gospel is not only changing what people believe, but is also changing the economic system of the city.

While this seems like a very unusual story, it’s really not all that different from what we see throughout history and even in our world today. Think about whole industries built on what could be called sin and idolatry.

The most obvious examples might be the slave trade of previous centuries; or the sex-trafficking industry today. The gospel confronts any industry built on the degradation of human beings who are created in the image of God and, as a result, the gospel confronts the ultimate idol of our world, which is money.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said,

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
 

Jesus taught that there is room for only one God in the human heart. When Paul preached the gospel in Ephesus he preached that Jesus was the God who became flesh and then died and rose again that our sins may be forgiven. He preached not only that there is no other God besides Jesus, but that faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation.

In other words, when Jesus comes into our hearts by faith, all other gods must be dismissed. And this is why the Ephesians rioted and threatened to kill Paul and his companions. No one likes to have his or her idols challenged!

Are there any idols in your heart that Jesus would like to confront or remove?

Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, April 29th

To listen to the audio version, click here.

Wednesday, April 29

Acts 19:11-20


And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims." Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

While visiting the Middle East last fall I was blessed to meet several people who had spent most of their lives in Islam but had eventually become followers of Jesus. In each case their stories were dramatic and some involved either dreams or miraculous healing.

One woman told us of a time in her life when she developed a tumor on her neck. She was told by doctors that she needed surgery and was very frightened. She said she had prayed and prayed to Allah and nothing ever happened so she called the only Christian that she knew and asked for help. Her friend told her to pray to Jesus. She had no idea how to do that so that night before she went to bed she just said out loud, “Jesus, please help me!” That very night she had a dream in which Jesus appeared to her and touched her neck with his hand. When she woke up the next day the tumor was gone and when she went to her doctors they said she no longer needed surgery.

I’m sure that, like me, you have read or heard similar stories and that, also like me, you sometimes wonder if such things really happen. You may also find yourself asking that if such miracles do happen, why do they happen and is there some way to make them happen in your own life or in the lives of people you know and love?

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

What I notice here is that Paul was not the one doing the extraordinary miracles. Luke tells us that it was God who was doing the miracles and that he was doing them “by the hands of Paul.” We know it is purely the will and power of God because it sounds like Paul isn’t even aware of some of the things that are happening! Even the handkerchiefs and aprons that he uses while making tents become carriers of the power of God.

The point here is that God does what he does when and how he wants to do it. His power is not for rent or sale and cannot be conjured up for our own purposes.

The next few verses make that very clear!

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims." Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.


This is one of the stranger stories in the Book of Acts. What’s going on here?

Most of us have had a run-in with electricity. You accidentally touch a live wire while replacing a light bulb or  fixing an outlet and the shock you experience teaches you not to mess with electricity.

So it is with the power and holiness of God.

The seven sons of Sceva saw what was happening with Paul and they wanted to try their hand at miracles. But they do so without understanding or honoring the God whose power they were trying to invoke. It did not go well for them!

But why does God sometimes choose to do miracles? Read again what Luke writes:

And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled... So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

This is consistent with what we see throughout the New Testament. When dramatic miracles happen the miracle itself is never the point! The purpose of miracles is that the name of Jesus is extolled and that the word of the Lord continues to increase.

Do miracles still happen? I believe that they do. Are we to pray for healing and for God to help us and those that we love? Yes, indeed, we are to pray. But we are also to remember that God cannot be manipulated or coerced; we are to remember that while God can and does do the miraculous, his greater purpose remains making the name of Jesus known and increasing the impact of his word.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Tuesday, April 28th

To listen to the audio version, click here.

Tuesday, April 28

Acts 19:1-10


And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Several years ago a woman called me after church on a Sunday asking for an appointment. We set up a time to meet the very next day. She came into my office and sat down and almost immediately I saw tears glistening in her eyes.

She said, “I’ve been coming to your church for three weeks, and every time I walk into the sanctuary this happens. I start crying but I’m not sad. What’s happening to me?”

I asked her a couple of questions about her church and religious background then said, “I don’t want this to sound weird or scary to you, but I think what you are feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you into a relationship with Jesus.”

Here eyes opened wide and she said, “That’s it! That’s what I want!” So we prayed together and her relationship with Jesus started that day.

Luke begins the chapter with Paul meeting some people who needed to know they could have a relationship with Jesus.

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

So Paul moves into a new city and starts looking around for a place to start sharing the gospel. He finds “some disciples” who, we find out later, are disciples of John the Baptist. This means they are committed to repentance and righteousness, but that they know nothing about Jesus and the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

These disciples of John might be considered the ancient equivalent of people who are “religious,” who may have gone to church much of their lives, but who have not understood what it is to receive Christ as Savior and Lord.

I have heard it said, and often repeated, that Christianity, properly understood, is not a religion but rather a relationship. I also like to compare religion to a beautiful car that sits in a driveway or garage but has no gas. The car is nice to look at but it has no power to take me anywhere. The Holy Spirit is the gas in the tank of the car; the Holy Spirit transforms religion into relationship; and the Holy Spirit comes into our lives through faith in Jesus.

Some time later when Paul wrote a letter to the young church in Ephesus, he was sure to remind them of the power of the Holy Spirit!

Ephesians 1:13-14


And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.


Paul is teaching them, and us, that we begin a relationship with Jesus when we believe the message of the gospel; and that our relationship with him is sealed by the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in our hearts at the moment we believe.


Is there gas in your tank? Have you surrendered your heart in faith to Jesus and asked him to fill you with the presence and power of his Holy Spirit?


Have you moved from religion to relationship?

Pastor Brian Coffey

Monday, April 27th

To listen the audio version, click here.

Monday, April 27

Acts 19:1-10


And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Moving to a new town or city is always something of an adventure.

Six months after we were married Lorene and I, along with my brother Joe and his young family, moved to Santa Cruz, Bolivia for a short term mission experience. Even though we only lived there for half a year, it was definitely an adventure!

It was an adventure trying to communicate in a new language; we learned that shouting in English doesn’t help a Spanish speaking person understand what you are trying to say. It was an adventure learning a new culture; we never did fully understand when it was acceptable to be two hours late for an event and when it wasn’t. It was even an adventure to figure out where and how to do everyday things like buy groceries or get gas for our car. Sometimes it would take half-a-day just to get milk, gas and eggs; and when we were able to get all those items in one morning it was cause for singing and dancing!

Then there was driving. Santa Cruz had traffic lights but almost none of them worked. Even if, by miraculous chance, a traffic light was functioning, it was completely ignored. The rules of the road were unwritten but very well understood. For example: when coming to an intersection you always honked your horn as did any other vehicle approaching the same intersection. The vehicle that honked first had the right of way - UNLESS one vehicle was bigger than the other. In that case the BIGGER vehicle always had the right of way. Cars had turn signals but, again, no one used them. Instead, drivers just stuck their hands out the window and waved furiously. That meant you were going to do something and everyone should look out!

Luke begins chapter 19 by telling us Paul strikes out on a new adventure, the city of Ephesus.

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus.

Ephesus was one of the most famous cities of the ancient world. It was a major port city located on the western coast of what we call Turkey, and at it’s peak about 400,000 people lived there. The city was affluent and cosmopolitan and due to this reputation, as well as its size, location and fine architecture, the Romans called Ephesus the “Crown Jewel of Asia Minor.”

The people of Ephesus were proud of its great library, one of the largest in the world at that time. The city was also known for it’s huge theatre, large enough to hold 25,000 people at one event. This theatre will become very significant a little later in the chapter.

Ephesus, like many of the cities Paul visited, was also a heavily pagan city. It was the home of the great Temple of Artemis, who was believed to be the mother-goddess of fertility. Artemis (called “Diana” in Latin) was often depicted as a grotesque, multi-breasted woman, and her image at Ephesus was believed to have been created by the gods and fallen from the sky.

The Temple of Artemis was once considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, complete with more than 120 massive columns, covering an area 400 feet by 200 feet and capable of holding up to 50,000 people (think of Soldier Field in Chicago).


So when Paul decided to go to Ephesus he was moving into a pagan metropolis with little money, no contacts and no idea what adventures lay waiting for him. He certainly had no guarantee that anyone would listen to his message, or that he would find any measure of success there.


The word adventure can be defined as “an unusual or exciting, typically hazardous, experience of activity.” An adventure often involves the exploration of unknown territory.


I think the Book of Acts, or, “The Acts of the Apostles” which is the proper translation of the title, could be appropriately re-named, “The Adventure of the Gospel,” or, “The Adventure of the Church,” or even, “The Great Adventure of Following Jesus.” After all, the title is not “The Ideas of the Apostles,” but rather, “The Acts of the Apostles.” It’s the story of what people like Paul and Barnabas and Silas and Timothy did to take the gospel to the world; and what they did was go on a great adventure.


Would you describe your life as an adventure? Does Jesus take you into unknown territory from time to time? Do you have moments of debilitating fear followed by times of exhilarating joy? If so, welcome to the gospel adventure! If not, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the way to Ephesus!

Pastor Brian Coffey