Acts 20:17-38

17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001

by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Prayer Focus for Moldova – October 27, 2013

The influence of the Orthodox Church makes evangelical work difficult. Preaching and planting churches in traditionally Orthodox villages is especially opposed, frequently with violence. Bureaucratic antipathy to any non-Orthodox work means that building and registering churches is a difficult process; houses are usually converted to make new evangelical buildings. Yet there is also life in the Orthodox Church, especially through Agape, a ministry of The Lord’s Army. Pray that the Holy Spirit would deepen the spiritual life of many from the Orthodox faith.



Acts 19:1-41

19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

The Sons of Sceva

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 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. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 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. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

A Riot at Ephesus

21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

23 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”

28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. 30 But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31 And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?36 Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

Prayer Focus for Mexico – Sunday, October 20, 2013

Challenges for Prayer

For 300 years the Catholic Church dominated Mexico. Recent times have seen it stripped of much of its privilege and power, while retaining a high degree of cultural influence. Catholicism in Mexico is very diverse in expression, from liberation theologians to charismatics to conservatives to syncretistic “popular Catholicism”. There is encouraging growth in Christ-centred renewal within the Catholic Church, but frequently the figureheads of such movements leave to start their own independent megachurches. The Alpha course is having a positive impact within Catholicism. Most Mexicans are culturally Catholic but not practicing; only 10% are regular churchgoers. Many others blend elements of Amerindian spiritism, including gods and goddesses, into folk Catholicism. Pray for renewal to spread and deepen by the Holy Spirit’s power, and for the polluting influences of ancient gods and the spirit-world to be broken among those with Christo-pagan beliefs and practices.

Evangelicals have grown, even amid some opposition in certain areas. Growth is in both international denominations and in vigorous newer indigenous movements. Pray that the momentum might be maintained. The highest concentrations of evangelicals are in large cities, in northern states bordering the USA and in southern states where there is a higher proportion of Amerindian peoples. Returnees from the USA are influential in bringing evangelical Christianity back with them. Many Mexicans seek a spirituality beyond what they see as empty religious traditions; both evangelicals and charismatic Catholics benefit from this searching. Pray for this growth to be sustained in both numbers and spiritual depth.



Guided into the Kingdom of God – Acts 18:24-28

African female doctor pointing at x-rays on computer screenThis past Sunday, Luke guided us through the history of Apollos in Acts 18:24-28. Apollos, though he was a competent and eloquent man, knew he needed directions and was willing to take them when offered. John the Baptist, Aquila, Priscilla and most importantly the Holy Spirit (John 16:12) acted as Apollos’ guides as he sought to go further along on the “way of God” (Acts 18:25; cf. Deuteronomy 30:16; 32:4). Apollos eventually ended up becoming a guide to others in Corinth, others who like him had “through grace believed.”

Unfortunately, where Apollos succeeded, the Corinthians failed. They began to focus on their great teacher Apollos and not on the Kingdom of God into which he was pointing them. Although it was not Apollos’ intention for them, the Corinthians treated their guide like a poster, not a pointer. They started dividing over who their favorite Christian pop-star was: Apollos or Paul or Peter or Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1). They were unable to progress further into the Kingdom of Christ because they were not following the directions of their guides. Instead they were only moving further into the kingdom of this world, where the cult of personality holds sway.

The normal way that God guides his people is through providing Spirit-led guides for us. Just like Apollos, we must trustingly submit to the authority of others in order to proceed further into God’s kingdom.

Questions for Conversation

–       When you are seeking to know God’s will, how do you expect to come to know what his will is?

–       Do you believe that God expects us to look to others for his guidance?

–       How do you decide who’s the right person to ask for wisdom? What gives them the authority to guide you well?

–       Have you fallen into the trap of treating guides like posters rather than pointers?

–       How do you see the necessity of Spirit-guided teachers in 1 John 4:6?

Prayer Focus for Mayotte, Africa – October 13, 2013

Mayotte, Africa: There is some very small responsiveness to the good news, generally expressed as curiosity more than receptivity. Students and youth, impacted by French/Western social influences, demonstrate the greatest openness. Children who have demonstrated responsiveness to the gospel have been known to be punished for such interest or even taken to live elsewhere in the islands. Illegal immigrants from the Comoran island of Anjouan are also surprisingly responsive. Pray for a harvest among these groups. For more info visit



Acts 18:1-17

1After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews  made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001

by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Prayer Focus for Mauritius, Africa – October 6, 2013

Most older churches face slow decline and are nominal in faith. Roman Catholics are seeing Hindu beliefs and practices make their way into churches in some places. But the charismatic movement is making a big impact on Catholics, with many coming to personal faith in Christ. Many of those impacted formed their own independent groups. The Roman Catholic Church is experiencing a move back to Bible reading, and now runs several active ministries on the island. Pray for a greater spread of this spiritual vitality among traditional churches in Mauritius.