Day 30

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan

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

BY Guest Writer

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.

Post Comments (40)

40 thoughts on "Paul’s Third Missionary Journey"

  1. Katie says:

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

  2. Kelly Edwards says:

    Great message today!!

  3. Dara says:

    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.

    1. Sue says:

      Trust in the Lord, for he will provide for you.

  4. Correy says:

    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.

  5. LauraJ says:

    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.

  6. Elizabeth says:

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

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Thanks for joining us today, Elizabeth! Grateful for you!


  7. Susan says:

    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.

  8. Caroline says:

    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!

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