There is a saying with some truth to it that if you want to know about a matter – ‘follow the money’. This means if you look at the funding sources of a matter then you get a picture of who is pushing what (aka agenda) and who has financial gain or interest or conflict of interest in the matter. This is not a new concept, but rather, an old one. It is even present in Biblical times. The incident with Demetrius in Acts 19 is the perfect example.
Demetrius is a silversmith idol maker and has a good business going making a lot of money in Ephesus. He is afraid that the message that Paul is sharing that there is only one true God and that Jesus Christ is His son will plummet his sales in idols of Diana. Ephesus was known for its worship of the goddess Diana and the god Zeus. So he incited his fellow idol makers towards anger and malice towards Paul and the disciples in Ephesus. This snowballed into a riot where half the people didn’t even know what the issue was and just joined in rioting just because. (Sound familiar?) The authorities of the city knew that Paul and the disciples had done nothing wrong and had not stirred up this great rioting mob by anything they had done so they refused to bring them to court to try them. Ultimately Paul and the disciples decided to leave town and go somewhere else where they could share the gospel.
All of this is due to Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths being concerned that they would lose their livelihoods making shrines that they made a great profit from selling to the people. They were not interested in hearing or considering the truth – they were only concerned with the almighty dollar as we might say today. It is sad that the truth of the gospel couldn’t be openly shared in Ephesus because of a handful of greedy men. Does this happen today? In our time? You bet. The names and the livelihoods may be different but the situation still rears its ugly head. So …if you want to know about a matter ‘follow the money’ and you will find out a lot. More importantly follow Jesus and gain discernment about situations that arise. One will never go wrong when truly following Jesus.
-Pastor Merry Peterson
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Samuel 19-20 and Acts 19
It is interesting how some people basically stay in one place all their lives and others seem to travel about quite frequently. No one can accuse the apostle Paul of being a homebody! In Acts 18 we notice that Paul travels quite extensively staying in one place for a little while, and then traveling to another place. Sometimes the places he traveled to received the gospel message with readiness and welcomed him, and at other times he received more hostile treatment. Everywhere he went he shared the gospel message. About the first thing he would do each place he went was to go to the synagogue and teach there about Jesus being the promised Messiah and way to salvation.
Among his travels he met Priscilla and Aquila and they were strengthened in the faith. So much so that later when Paul travelled on to a new location without them they were able to teach another man named Apollos more clearly about the gospel. It seems whether near to home or far away these early Christians were ready and willing to share the message with whoever would listen and believe. They were truly ready to give an answer in season for the hope they held within them.
We should be ready and willing just as they were to give an answer for the hope that we hold within us. Whether God gives us the opportunity to travel from place to place, or whether He asks us to be the light within our own community. Our willingness should always be present, just as it was with the early Christians, to share the hope we have in Christ.
-Pastor Merry Peterson
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here –2 Samuel 17-18 and Acts 18
There are so many things that I find interesting in Acts 16. Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia asking for him to come share the gospel with him. When they get to Macedonia to the region of Philippi they meet a woman who comes to belief along with her whole household. But what unfolds next is really fascinating. Paul and Silas get into a situation and end up being severely beaten and thrown into the inner holding rooms of the prison. But what I want us to notice is their reaction – they aren’t crying, they aren’t in there feeling sorry for themselves or busy being angry or muttering threats – they are Praying and Singing Hymns to God! What a contrary reaction to what everyone would expect!
If we were in that situation, sore, and bleeding, in a dark, inner, dingy room with criminals around us would we be that confident and flat out bold? We would more likely be in there feeling sorry for ourselves, scared out of our wits, and wanting desperately to call our lawyer or mom or anybody that could help us get out of there! But Paul & Silas’ response was God focused. By praying and singing hymns to God they were communicating with the one who has all power and authority to change and alter any and every situation. Who needs a lawyer when you have God on your side? God used the situation to open the hearts of the Philippian jailer and his household to hear and accept the gospel message. Paul and Silas were also released to go free from the prison where they were being held. When Paul and Silas exhibited the right response to their unfair situation God turned their situation around for His glory.
If we were to be bold and confident in the Lord and say within ourselves as the Psalmist did in Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” And keep an attitude of worship, praise, and open communication with God in our trials; maybe we would stand in the same place of victory as Paul and Silas did. One of the biggest challenges that we face in our Christian walk is keeping the right attitudes when things don’t go our way or get difficult for us. I hope we are inspired by the actions of Paul and Silas and remember to communicate with the author of life and outcomes when we face our next difficult situation.
-Pastor Merry Peterson
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Samuel 13-14 and Acts 16