The Study of Ephesians – Week One

Bible Study – Ephesians

Anne Graham Lotz’ 3-question study (link below)

Week 1: Read Acts 19:1-20:1

Day One’s reading: Acts 19:1-10

We are introduced here to a situation where Paul was in Ephesus for more than two years preaching in the synagogue and the hall of Tyrannus. Paul’s time in the synagogue was cut short to only three months because a group of Jews began to cause a disturbance. They had ‘hardened their hearts’ to the message Paul was sharing. So, Paul wisely decided to leave the synagogue and teach elsewhere.

What can we learn from this?

  1. We need to be mindful of the atmosphere and energy around us. When the message is being resisted, we can say our goodbyes and let it rest in God’s hands. We need to move on.
  2. We can always find another location, another opportunity, another audience. We don’t have to stay and fight. In fact, we shouldn’t fight at all. We should be like Christ and be humble, meek, gentle and patient. No need for disturbing the peace.

Day Two’s reading: Acts 19:11-16

vv. 11-13 – “God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, 12 so that even facecloths or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. Now some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists also attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!”

The first thing to note here is that God, Himself, was performing the miracles. Paul was simply one of the vehicles by which the miracles were performed. Secondly, even fabric was used to heal and exorcise. Finally, God did NOT give authority to these Jewish exorcists to be his messengers. This is something to keep note of. If a person is NOT on God’s team, then they will have no power. They are impotent.

In the above passage, it is good to note that what came after was that the evil spirit talked back to these Jewish exorcists and told them point blank, “Jesus and Paul I know, but, who are you?” And straightway the man with the spirit in him attacked these exorcists and chased them from the area in humiliating fashion. They left ‘naked and afraid.’

Day Three’s reading: Acts 19:17-22

vv. 17-20 – “When this became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, they became afraid, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high esteem. 18 And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, 19 while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So, they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 In this way the word of the Lord flourished and prevailed.”

Through all of the events thus far, the name of Jesus became famous and the result was that practicing magicians not only gave up their practice, they also burned an enormously valuable collection of books, AND, they proclaimed publicly that they had quit their practicing of magic. This was no small thing. People were turning from their wicked ways and turning to the Lord Jesus.

Day Four’s reading: Acts 19:23-31

23-27 – “23 About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way. 24 For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. 25 When he had assembled them, as well as the workers engaged in this type of business, he said: “Men, you know that our prosperity is derived from this business. 26 You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods. 27 Not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin—the very one all of Asia and the world worship.”

Here, we find that money has come into play. This Demetrius fellow noticed that business was beginning to shift because of Paul’s ministry and he gathered his fellow craftsmen to make a stand against Paul.

Paul was preaching the truth and people were converting in large enough numbers that business for the idol makers was in decline and they were feeling the pinch. So they created a mob scene to disturb the peace and blame Paul, the converts and the Jews.

Day Five’s reading: Acts 19:32-20:1

32 Some were shouting one thing and some another, because the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some Jews in the crowd gave instructions to Alexander after they pushed him to the front. Motioning with his hand, Alexander wanted to make his defense to the people. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

The crowd was confused. In this state they are either easily led or indignantly ignorant and unreasonable. With Alexander, the Jew, they were unreasonable. They found him to be one of the problems. And with this, they spent two hours – two hours – being unreasonable and unreachable.

Only after their energy was all but worked out of them, did the city clerk come in and calm them down.

We should expect that some people will be greatly distressed when we preach the Good News of the Gospel out in public. We must be prepared to keep the peace. To do whatever is necessary to extend the hand of peace to these lost souls. For they are acting out of fear and confusion. They do not know what they are doing. Had they known; they would not have crucified the Lord. Sound familiar?


 

To sum this week up, we need to be mindful of the audience we are speaking to. What are their motivations? What perspective do they come to the conversation with? Are they fearful of losing something? Are they holding tightly onto a lie? Can they be reached?

We need to not become instruments of chaos, but instead, God requires us to be peacemakers. If we have the mind of Christ, then this comes easy, yes? Maybe for some. But, for me, it is still a learning and growing thing. I am not yet a mature Christian. I still fight with the flesh on a daily basis. But my goal is to be like Christ. As long as I continue to look to the cross and to the future, I will stay on path and slowly make my way down the road.

Next week we look to the book of Ephesians, Chapter One, which promises to be a full-bodied hug.

Until then,

Peace be with you.

Eric

The link to Anne Graham Lotz’ study is here:

3-question Bible Study on the book of Ephesians

Prayer – Our lifeline to God

Prayer is an important aspect of our Christian life. If Jesus prayed continuously like He did, then we should put a lot of weight to the practice of prayer. Why would Jesus spend so much time in prayer and even go so far as to teach us how to pray if it were not critically important? The Old Testament has many examples of prayers going up to God. Prayer is the thread that unites the soul of man with God. Spirit to Spirit.

Proverbs 15:8 tells us that the Lord ‘delights’ in our prayer. That is a nice thing to hear, isn’t it? How can we please the Lord? By being continually in prayer with Him. He likes that. He likes us coming to Him with our needs. He wants to be involved. He wants to work with us, that’s why He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in us. He wants to be connected with us in all our activities. That’s why He walked with the Israelites in a cloud of smoke during the day and a beam of fire by night. He wanted to be close to them.

In the Old Testament only the priests and prophets prayed for the people. In the Old Testament the priests had to wash and purify themselves before entering the temple to offer up sacrifices and prayer.  In the New Testament that all changed. The new covenant brought forth a new possibility. Now, through Jesus, we can all access the Almighty God through prayer for we are all cleansed and purified through the blood of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. Colossians 4:2 says it this way: “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (emphasis added)

Therefore, prayer is something we should take seriously. We are to engage in it constantly, at least daily. Something to go into with a sober mind, a dedicated heart and a committed spirit. The dictionary describes earnest as: “resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction”. And diligent is described this way: “keeping careful watch” We are therefore told to be sincere and convicted and careful in our prayers. We are not to just haphazardly run into prayer and just blow off any old conversation. We are to be thoughtful, perhaps even goal-oriented, taking things one step at a time with the intention of showing our love to God, our appreciation of His deity and omniscience, and being thankful for all He has done and is doing in our lives and the lives of others.

Jesus Himself spent a lot of time in prayer. His example was not lost on the disciples. The only thing that they ever asked Him to teach them was how to pray. (Luke 11:1) Jesus prayed before performing miracles, before ministering and in the garden at Gethsemane. Praying was important to Him. It was His connection to God Almighty.  He didn’t make it a point to pray in front of everybody to be seen of men. He wanted to be in private, intimate conversation with God. The Pharisees prayed in public to be seen by everyone, to appear holy. God says they have their reward. (Matthew 6:5-8) So, let’s be like Christ and find a secret place to pray. A place without interruption, free from the cares of the world where we can focus ALL of our attention on God.

Proverbs 15:29 tells us “He hears the prayer of the righteous.” That is a promise we can take to the bank. And it comforts us to know that when we come to Him in prayer, He hears us. We might get an answer to our prayer right away, and, the answer may be “no”, but we know he hears us.  1John 5:14 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” That’s a little disclaimer, “if we ask according to His will”, He hears us. That means that we have to be aligned with God’s will. What does that mean? Well, it means first of all, that we need to be in the Word, we need to be reading scripture so that we know what it says. We need to know the stories, the people, the places. We need to know these things because they are central to Who God Is. And if we know them, then we will know what God’s will is. That may cause some of you to ask, “What is God’s will?” And though that is a subject for an entirely new discussion, we can get a hint of it in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In the Bible there are approximately 600 recorded prayers and 450 recorded answers to prayer. That alone should alert us to the fact that prayer is important, in fact the Bible says in Isaiah “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” (Isaiah 56:7) The Hebrew word for house here is bᾰ-yit which means ‘dwelling house, palace, temple’. And our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, of God and therefore our own bodies are the temples of prayer. Don’t you think that we should keep those temples holy? Keep them plugged in to the source? He is the vine, we are the branches. We can do nothing without Him. (John 15:5) It makes sense that we should stay connected to Him. Prayer is that connection.

Matthew 21:22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Perhaps we don’t receive answers to our prayers because we don’t fully believe. We need to check our hearts and see if we truly believe that we will receive what we pray for. We need to be on our guard, vigilant – on the lookout for doubt creeping in. If we don’t fully believe, God won’t give us what we ask for.

Further, we don’t receive because we have wrong motives. James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We need to be sure to ask according to God’s will not ours.

It can sound complicated now with all of the rules associated with it, but it is really simple. Be connected to him. To accomplish that we read scripture so we understand what God’s will is and then work to align ourselves with that will.  

Again, prayer is serious business and it is necessary business. If we are to draw closer to God, we must do it on our knees.

For more info on Prayer you can always Google it, or, you can go to BibleGateway.com and enter “prayer” or “pray” in the search box and all sorts of scripture verse will come up and you can read through it all and note the verse that speaks to you the most.

You can do the same with God’s will.

Oh, you can also look in the back of your Bible and check the concordance for the words “pray”, “prayer”, and the phrase “God’s will”. Not all concordances and built the same so you might get few hits or a lot. If you get only a few, then also use the available cross-references in the verses to find more references.

You might want to invest in a good study bible.

Here are a few verses on Prayer and a few on God’s will to get you started.

Prayer: Matthew 6:6-13; Romans 8:26-28; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 56:7; 1 Peter 4:7; 1John 5:14; Luke 19:46; Mark 11:17; Luke 18:1-8; Ephesians 6:18; Romans 12:12; 1 Chronicles 5:20; Matthew 21:22

God’s Will: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; 1 Peter 4:1-3; 1 John 2:16-18; Mark 3:35; John 9:31; Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 4:17-19; Hebrews 10:1-39

In the coming weeks I will do a post on God’s will in hopes that it may help shed light on the subject.

Until then, May God richly bless you and keep you.

If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment and tell me what helped you most or what did not help you. That information will help me to build better posts in the future.