Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lord of All Or Not At All

Lord of All or Not at All

“Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.” – Acts 19:19

“God, you can have my worship in church, but you can’t have my worship while I’m at work.  It’s not appropriate.”

“God, I’ll worship you and go to church, but my kids are going to find you on their own terms.  I can’t handle them in church, and they don’t want to go.  They don’t know how to act there.”

“God, I’ll serve you and do your work, but I can’t serve you in tithes.  I need it more than I need you.”

Sometimes our actions speak louder than our words, and what they say we don’t often hear.  But they become our testimony to those around us. 

The power of God in our lives can be attributed to how highly we exalt Him.  Either we give Him the throne over our entire life, or we sanction Him to be a part of only portions of our lives.  In doing so, we allow Him to be Lord of All, or not at all.  We can’t keep parts of our life sanctioned to our own dominion, and still allow Him to be Lord of All.  That is self-idolatry.  He want all of us – and all our life.  He is jealous for us (Deuteronomy 4:24).

In Acts 19 we read two stories of people responding to God.  Paul had been ministering in Ephesus for quite some time and had become well known for the miracles that he performed and the God he worshiped.  Many believers were being born into the family of God.  Paul’s ministry had grown so strong that they would bring him handkerchiefs and once they had been placed on him, they would take them to the sick that could not come to Paul, and they would be healed.  It wasn’t that there was any power expelled from Paul and onto the handkerchiefs, but they so believed in the power of the God of Paul that, just as the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, their faith had made them whole.

Seeing the ministry of Paul, there were a group of Jews who travelled from town to town performing miracles through magic and incantations.  These were no different than those that practice Wicca or Voodoo today.  They used amulets and potions and tried to prove that they had the same powers as Paul.  On this occasion, after seeing Paul cast out demons using the name of Jesus, they reasoned that Jesus’ name was an incantation.  They decided to try it themselves.

Finding a man possessed with a demon, they entered his house and in Acts 19:13 they spoke to the demon within him saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  But this time instead of going quietly, the demon answered back!  He said in Acts 19:15 “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”  They had no authority over evil spirits because they did not belong to God and did not possess the Holy Spirit.  The man with the evil spirit then jumped up, overpowered them, beat them and stripped them of their clothes.  They left his house naked and wounded!  Because of this event, many became believers in the God of Paul, even those that practiced magic. 

Was He Lord of All to them?  That can be seen in how they respond to the evil that had been their occupation.  They burned their books of incantations, which we’re told were worth fifty thousand pieces of silver.  In this one act showed they had allowed God to become Lord of All in their lives.  They gave up their livelihood and their reputations as magicians. They could have chosen to sell the books and lived in luxury.  But instead, they sought to stop the evil that was within the books, and burned them.  They followed God with all they had to offer.

As the chapter continues, we read of another set of men, the silversmiths and craftsmen of idols.  Ephesus was the central location for worship of Diana, the Greek goddess of hunting, fertility, and prosperity.  Here they had found what they reported to be “an image that had fallen from Heaven”, most likely a meteorite that resembled that of a woman having a waist and many breasts.  They had encased it in a box and set a temple around it, and the temple of Diana brought many visitors to Ephesus to worship her.  The visitors would buy smaller versions of Diana and the temple, called household gods, from the silversmith and craftsman, who made a rich living providing these idols.

Demetrius, a silversmith, gathered them all together and professed to them that Paul was turning many to “a God not made with hands”, and because of this their livelihood was in danger.  Together with Demetrius, they banded together in riot shouting “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” and rushed the theater where Paul’s fellow disciples Gaius and Aristarchus were teaching.  The riotous noise was so great that even when they tried to speak the crowd just shouted even louder, for two solid hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”  The riot had to be stopped by the leader at the theater, and the assembly dismissed.

Demetrius knew the gospel of Paul, yet he didn’t believe.  Believing would have cost him his livelihood, and he had sanctioned that off to himself.  We can argue that it was because he did not believe that he didn’t exalt God.  But how much can any of us profess to believe in God if we don’t believe that He can be exalted over all of our life?  How much to we really believe that He is God Almighty if we refuse to give our all to Him?

What you believe is not in what you say, but in what you do.  Your actions speak of what is in your heart.  Have you sanctioned portions of your life for yourself, and not allowed God to be exalted there?  How’s that working out for you?  Let Him be Lord of All.

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