Acts: Day 30

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey


Today's Text: Acts 19:1-41, Luke 3:16, Ephesians 6:12

Text: Acts 19:1-41, Luke 3:16, Ephesians 6:12

I’ve been spending a lot of time in New York City lately, and I love it. People there are beautiful and stylish, moving at a pace that seems faster than humanly possible. You get the feeling that everyone is on an important mission, chasing their dream and making it happen. The energy is intoxicating.

But there’s also a sense that it’s all hanging in a very tight balance. Life in the commercial center of the world is expensive, fast, and hard. The margins are slim between living and not being able to make rent. That energy is fraught with anxiety, loneliness, and an underlying fear that it all could slip away.

This is the world Paul stepped into when he arrived in Ephesus.

Located in the far western corner of modern-day Turkey, Ephesus was the epicenter of the Mediterranean. The city’s theater had capacity for 25,000 people and the temple of the goddess Artemis towered over the city, nearly four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens. This was a place to see and be seen. A place to live your dreams. And Paul wasn’t just passing through; he moved in.

Unlike his peers in the city, Paul had no economic agenda. Genuine and unassuming, he was a person people wanted to be around because he wasn’t there to leverage every relationship into a better job or status. He just wanted the Ephesians to know the Truth. It was only a matter of time before someone realized they were staring at a serious economic opportunity.

Sceva’s sons name-dropped with the best of them, hoping to ride Paul’s and Jesus’ momentum to fame and fortune. They were enamored with the miracles, but not with the One who made them possible.

In the oddest way, I love the evil spirits’ response to their half-hearted healing (Acts 19:14-15). Even demons believe in God and shudder (James 2:19), but speaking His name is powerless unless you truly know Him.

After this violent encounter, a wellspring of believers realized their own mistake with the prosperity gospel. Convicted and impassioned to make a change, they made a public display of their repentance, setting aflame 50 thousand drachmas—the equivalent of 136 years’ worth of work. A huge portion of Ephesus’ GDP.

Clearly, that shift in values didn’t sit well with everyone in the city. As more Ephesians fell in love with Jesus, the silversmith, Demetrius feared for his livelihood, the future of the temple, and the future of his city. Perhaps he was driven by more than money, or maybe he wasn’t. Regardless, Demetrius chose to riot rather than repent.

Haven’t we all?

Has God ever messed with your economy?

It isn’t easy to let go of our jobs, our money, or our city. Those things feel like life. But God loves us too much to let money be our god, to let fame lure us away from Truth, or let us live a life of name-dropping, rather than heart-knowing.

Is it possible that Jesus was calling Demetrius to abandon his meaningless silver souvenirs, into a more creative life? Did fear kidnap his chance to be the artist God created him to be?

One thing is certain. Jesus promises us a full, abundant life—greater than anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). His whisper is honest and true. There’s more, beloved. There’s more.

It waits for you on the other side of the fire.


Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

  • I will be praying for you Dara! God’s plan is so much better than ours!!

  • Kelly Edwards

    Great message today!!

  • Loved this. I’m a couple days behind, but this hits home. I walked away from a miserable well-paying glamorous job in January because my frame of work (entertainment journalism) no longer sat right with my spirit. I’m making a career change. I currently work with children making 70% less than I did. It’s tough because I’ve never been in this type of financial situation while working. I’m learning from my job and learning other life lessons. But this refining, fire part of the journey hurts. I pray God gives me strength and understanding during this time.

  • This devotional spoke to my heart in such powerful ways today. Tears upon tears realizing that God is still doing the same thing to us (me) today, calling us out of our comfort and affluence to have our hearts examined and refined in the fire. He has an even greater and more elaborate calling on our lives than we can imagine. In our flesh and comfort we tend to settle for a small bite of glory when God’s plans include a righteous feast for our lives. The getting there is painful, nobody enjoys excessive heat and having their comforts ripped from them, but the glorious riches of God’s kingdom are more satisfying than anything we could ever long for in our own strength. THANK YOU for this reminder of God’s plans… I’m in the fire refining stage now and I needed this encouragement.

  • So many strange things in this passage today that I don’t remember reading before! In v 12 people were using handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul had touched to heal others. Then the evil spirit that some Jews were trying to drive out addresses them directly and says he knows Jesus, and he knows Paul but he doesn’t know them. Then he strips them naked and beats them up… geez. Then the sorcerers who become believers publicly burn their books worth a boatload of money. I know I’ve read Acts all the way through many times… but I have no recollection of these weird passages. Love when the scriptures surprise me.

  • Elizabeth

    What a powerful message Clarie! Thank you for allowing God to show the truth through you today.

  • Paul’s teaching was turning away people from idol worship. Paul was saying that god’s made with hands are no gods at all.
    This didn’t set well with Demetrius the idol maker at all. This would affect his business

    Money was a big deal then and it is also a big deal now!

    What is my idol? Do I sometimes put money or what I want to do before God? Do I use my money wisely? God help me to listen to you today and obey.

  • Caroline

    It waits for you on the other side of the fire. Whew. What a powerful word! I love this too, “They were enamored with the miracles, but not with the One who made them possible.”

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the blessing or the miracles or the forgiveness and not HIM — the give of ALL of it!

  • I feel like today’s devotion, particularly the last half, was written directly to me. As I’m about to uproot my life and move across the country to go to ministry school it’s been so hard to let go of everything. However, I know there is something so much better waiting. Thank you for this.

    • JAD

      You are awesomely brave, Ashley! Remember that He goes before you always and cares about you deeply. Praying that you see only the beauty of His plan for you and feel only the hopeful excitement of whatever abundant good He has next for you! Be strong and courageous in the Lord knowing you are also being an encouragement to us to do the same!

    • She Reads Truth

      Ashley, I’m so glad you joined us today! Praying for you during your upcoming transition.


  • Thanking and praising God for this study, which seems to meet me right where I am at in my life right now – and I am sure is doing the exact same for so many of you. He is so sweet and good to us to use the gifts and words of others and a mixture of His Word to blanket us with His blessed assurance in each of our specific and varied circumstances.

    I have a hard time with allowing truth to sink in most days – it seems once you’ve started the habit of fixating on negative things that bring about fear, anxiety, and concern that you can struggle mightily with reversing those thought patterns and instead focus on everything good and perfect and lovely in the Lord. It is of course in that place of mental fixation on evil that these fears sideline us – and oh, how my biggest fear is sidelining my own self and never seeing the blessing He has for me, passing right on by the very best God has for my life.

    I pray our pureness of heart in not wanting to miss all that He has for our lives can somehow “prevent” our missing His blessing altogether accidentally, that He will still bless us with His overflowing cup of goodness and perfect answers, even when we struggle with our sins and faulty thinking because of our sincere intentions. I know that it is silly to think that way, almost child-like, and can easily become a works-based train of thought, but I have often wondered about this delicate balance between our choices and His overarching plans. I pray this morning for clarity to infiltrate my mind that He is so good and knows us each so personally and so well that He will always ultimately lead us in His exceedingly abundant paths regardless of how we flail and fail – because we are His children, and we are beloved yes, but before any of that, because it is simply the Good and Merciful Father that He is.

    • Brandi

      Touched my ❤️. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sue

      I pray with you for clarity in my heart and yours. Thank you for sharing.

  • I am really appreciating this SRT study and the insight shared by those offering their thoughts. It has been a blessing to me and an encouragement to dwell on God’s word. I desire a heart that always knows, always seeks the truth.

    • She Reads Truth

      Janet, it’s such a joy to read through Acts with you! Thanks for joining us, friend.


  • Keri Underwood

    This is such a powerful study today. I love when it said “even the demons believe in God and shudder, but speaking His name is powerless unless you truly know Him.” I think people forget this sometimes. I see so many times people who aren’t Christians or maybe who profess to be Christians call out to God or “thank God”. It gives me chills to think that all these people who call out to Him in a moment of need but don’t serve Him with their lives are calling out with no power. “…powerless unless you truly know Him.” Such heavy words.

  • This really hit home today. In a few weeks I am walking away from a REALLY good paying job that I’ve had for 16+ years to go work with my husband. This decision has been a tough one. When it comes to work, I don’t like change. We lose quite a bit of income but he needs my help and it frees me up to finally listen to God’s calling on my life, so I’m thankful for that, just scared. So I’m very thankful for the devotion today. If you read this, please say a prayer for me and my family. Thanks!

    • Ellie

      Prayed for you especially for courage as I felt God lead.

    • JAD

      Praying for you and this time of transition for your family, Sonja. I understand your fears and feel strengthened by your determination and focus of purpose to do God’s will. He will undoubtedly bless your step in faith!

  • Until recently my son has always been an extremely cautious child. Climbing at parks would always have him shouting to me, “Is this safe?” … after his sisters, not something I was used to being asked. Now, there is a particular museum here that we love. In it is a terrific area for children, with a large, man-made “tree” that takes up the entire room. They can climb in and out of it, there are slides and hidden creatures, and if they climb up a dark and labyrinth like area they will get to the top, where they’ll find a fort and a kind view of the entire space … it’s quite nice. My son loved it but would only go into certain areas. He was fearful of the darker and higher spaces. His sister would soon leave him in exchange for the fort and the kiddos he’d meet there would follow suit, leaving him alone on the small slides and climbs. This would always disappoint him and I would encourage, as would the other kids, him to climb the darker levels, telling him of the great things at the top but in his fear he would remain grounded. This would happen every time we went, until one day. This day began as normal, I would tell him of the unseen things and he would dismiss them. He would watch children come in and play, and go and he would find himself sitting beside me … benched. I sat and spoke with him about trusting me, reminding him that I would never lead him into a place I felt unsafe or inappropriate and promising him that he’d be ok. Explaining that once he passed through the dark tunnels, there would be light and he would truly enjoy what he saw. Something in him, on that day clicked and he agreed to go. He slowly climbed the massive structure, while I stood at the top calling down to him the whole way. When he would stop and fear, I would propel encouraging words and thoughts his direction and he would begin again. Finally, he arrived at the top and as he spotted me on the other side, I saw such relief and joy on his face. He threw his arms around my neck shouting, “I did it. I did it” and was immediately amazed by the new, bright space and the sweet view. We played up there for quite awhile and now, whenever we go back, it is a favorite place for him.

    I think this much like our relationship with Christ. We unintentionally bench ourselves when faced with dark seasons because of fear and lack of trust in Christ. He sits quietly with us and encourages us in His love over us, reminding us that He would never ask too much of us and that life will be better if we go His way. Our loving Savior waits. He waits for us to take the first step, He waits for us to reach out our hand, He waits for us to say, “Ok Lord. Today is the day, I trust you.” He won’t disappoint us and if we trust Him, if we let go of the fears that hold us back, He will bring us to amazing spaces in our lives and the view will be far better than we could ever have imagined!!! ~ B

    • Lauren

      Thank you for sharing this, B! This spoke to my heart!

    • Nancy

      Thanks for sharing this beautiful picture of fear vs trust–a lifelong journey of faith!

      • JAD

        This was such a beautiful analogy that hit me square in the gut and heart as I struggle with this very thing in recent days. Thank you for sharing, B. And congratulations to what is sure to be the first of many victories in Christ for your precious son!

    • Leah

      Beautiful! Thanks for sharing

    • Sherri

      B, you blessed my day with this beautiful story!

    • Ellie

      I agree. TY for the beautiful analogy. I feel God strengthen me more every day as I spend time with Him.

    • Judy

      Thank you!

    • Michele

      Oh this made me tear up! Thank you for sharing this story with us. Very powerful analogy. <3

    • Alexis Newlin

      Thank you so much for this B! I’ve been in such a dark season it seems full of testing and trial. This really spoke to my heart and also encouraged me. BTW, is the museum in your story City Museum? They have giant trees, caves and slides…I love that place!

      • ~ B ~

        I’m so sorry you’ve had troubling seasons lately. I will be prayerful over you Alexis. If you’re thinking of City Museum in St. Louis it isn’t. It’s Cincinnati Musuem terminal. BUT I love City Musuem. Last time my son was there, he stayed out in the skateboard ramp room and the ball pits, that was pretty much it. He’d have nothing to do with the other portions. :)

    • Cathy

      That is an awesome analogy B!! Txs!!

    • Sarah Jenik

      Wow this is a beautiful story and analogy- thank you for sharing!

  • churchmouse

    Grateful for the Scriptures this morning and for your insightful devotional, Claire. Jesus is more than enough but we can’t manipulate the relationship. It requires, indeed, a heart-knowing of the Truth.

    • ~ B ~

      Is it such human nature to try to manipulate things … this is such a good point. We really need to do some heart diving and see our motives in relationship and actions.

  • Elisabeth

    Thank you, Claire, for your devotional. It certainly put some things into perspective for me! I loved all of the devotionals included in this plan, but I miss the questions that were part of the Proverbs plan. Will they come back in other reading plans? It really helped me to reflect on the text and find my own answers – I think it would be great to first deal with the questions and then read a devotional! Just an idea :)

    • Julia

      I like that idea too :)

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Elisabeth! So glad to hear you loved the questions—we do, too! We’ll absolutely keep your feedback in mind in the future.


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