Wonderful and amazing testimonies have been coming from Rwanda, where Christian leaders are rising up in faith to bring people to a real faith in Jesus, as Saviour and Lord of their lives. What convinces the people to follow Jesus with all their heart and soul? It’s when they see that those leaders are totally confident that Jesus is more powerful than the forces of evil. Then the people are able to get rid of objects which they trusted would bring them supernatural healing and pray to Jesus instead.
This is how it was in Ephesus more than two thousand years ago when the Apostle Paul preached there for three years, establishing new churches and turning many from pagan ways to Christian faith. People dared to burn and destroy valuable books which they had used for invoking supernatural powers.
In Acts Chapter 19 we are told that the sons of the Jewish High Priest tried to imitate the ministry of Paul, but were overcome by evil, because they didn’t have true faith and trust in Jesus. They were stripped naked and physically attacked. This was the wake up call the new believers in Ephesus needed. They realised that they couldn’t compromise anymore with the occult and supernatural power. We learn that ‘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’ (Acts 19:20).
As they confessed what they had done in the past they renounced their actions and destroyed the books they had used. ‘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’ (Acts 19: 19).
The Kingdom of God advanced in Ephesus by means of faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins and the mighty healing power of the Holy Spirit. ‘So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily’ (Acts 19:20). God was using Paul amongst many others. When his life had been transformed, by meeting with the risen Lord Jesus, he discovered that he was going to be a chosen instrument to carry the Gospel successfully to Jews and Gentiles, as well as suffering greatly for that Gospel. He didn’t do it all alone. He had a team of helpers with him and together they started changing their world.
Experiences of people in Rwanda show us that the book of Acts is not irrelevant to our lives today, but vitally important for encouraging us to press on in the Kingdom of God and be free from anything holding us to the kingdom of darkness.
Prayer: Father God, may we have our eyes open to see how we can be totally equipped to advance Your kingdom and push back any darkness that surrounds us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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