This morning I went to the store, and everybody smiled at me and said hello. Wow, I had no idea what a difference a few simple hello’s and smiles can make in your morning. The friendliness fills you up with good feelings, and I couldn’t help but be in a good mood.
I grew up Catholic, so the sacraments were always a celebration, including Baptism. When my kids are born, my husband and I were attending Protestant services, and we had our kids baptized as babies with celebrations after the church Baptisms. I always saw Baptism as a way to make sure a child grows up Christian. I was fearful to not have my kids baptized. I was reading Acts, when Paul explains how Baptism fills you with the Holy Spirit. “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” The Holy Spirit is available to fill us with feelings of peace, joy and contentment. When we pray to God, we can pray that the Holy Sprit fills us up. The Holy Spirit feels even better than the good feelings from friendliness at an unexpected time.
Paul in Ephesus
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 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.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
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.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
–Acts 19:1-7 (NIV)
I am so fascinated by Paul (also called Saul). When I first heard about Saul, he was “breathing murderous threats” against the disciples. Now, Paul is working God’s wonders, baptizing people and speaking “boldly” for God. Paul is “arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God”, despite being criticized and treated cruelly.
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 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. 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.
–Acts 19:8-10 (NIV)
God is so good that he took Paul from wanting to murder the disciples, to using Paul as a vessel to work extraordinary miracles through Paul. God worked through Paul so much 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.” If God did all of that through Paul, what can he do with us, if we give ourselves completely God?
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 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.
–Acts 19:11-12 (NIV)
Paul left such an impression on the people through the miracles and speaking about the kingdom of God, that others wanted to imitate him. Others tried to drive out evil spirits like Paul did, saying “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” This didn’t go very well. The imitators “ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” The name of the Lord Jesus became known and feared. “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. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” People turned from sorcery and burned their scrolls publicly. God worked through Paul. God can use the most unlikely person to make astonishing changes.
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.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 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.
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. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 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. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
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.” He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
–Acts 19:13-22 (NIV)
I am fascinated that the Lord picks the unlikely people to do his work. If you think you are not worthy, you are wrong. God wants each of us to turn to him, and he will use you to do his good work. If you need a fill-up of peace, love and joy, pray that the Holy Spirit will fill you up today and show you what work God has planned for you.