Luke describes prayer clothes, demon possessions, Jewish exorcists, Seven Sons of Sceva, Ephesian Kung-Fu, beaten streakers, and book burnings. This is a wild story in Acts 19. Despite all of the strange things that make up this story, there is one part of the account that we are not surprised to see Luke include: "In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power" (Acts 19:20). What is it about the work in the areas where Paul traveled that brought about positive result so consistently? I’m going to suggest three things that seem to be true about Paul’s work that we can use to cause the word of the Lord to spread quickly and grow in power.
The dynamics of the area were considered when an approach was determined. Paul would not have tried to put on a brush arbor meeting in New York City. If an area was particularly philosophical, Paul was a philosopher. If the area was superstitious like Ephesus, showing power over the established superstitions would be a great way to go. So maybe, maybe the extraordinary miracles of Paul were needed in this extraordinary city of Ephesus.
Our primary push has been to reach people for Jesus who live around Yukon, Mustang, El Reno, and Piedmont. There are things that are peculiar about these areas that we need to consider when we think about serving. We provide opportunities for our college kids here, but we don’t have a campus ministry. The way we help the poor of our area is not going to look like an inner-city ministry. If we have high divorce rates, high teen pregnancy rates, drug/alcohol abuse problems, lots of kids at home by themselves in the afternoons, a high widow/widower population, a high single parent population, a high blended-family population, and a significant number of teens, then those things will help us decide what we do to be a blessing to our communities. We need to place high priority on those things.
Paul brought with him certain abilities and strengths. He also brought with him other people with certain abilities and strengths. He also used the local people to whom God had given certain abilities and strengths. We need to consider what talent God has put in the local body here as we move to reach our communities. To mention one, we have a great number of excellent teachers in this church. We ought to have the best Bible School available, and we should consider the other ways that we can utilize this extraordinary blessing of the Spirit.
One other thing that was true about Paul and the people with whom he worked that was important in their successful outreach was the determination they had not to let trouble get them off their path. They kept their eyes on the goal, hurdled their obstacles with help from Heaven, and moved forward. Let’s do that, too.
That’s Life at Work!