Choose This Day...

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

When Scott made the decision last fall to enter the ministry, this came at a real economic cost to our family, a pay cut of about 50%. Several changes in our lifestyle have been required as a result. We have downsized our house, one of our cars and even our ability to send our four children to college. It may surprise you to find out that this decision was met with criticism, both from those within as well as those without the church. The focus of that criticism was that Scott's decision was illogical when he had greater income earning potential and foolish when he could provide a higher level of lifestyle for his family. However, Scott's decision was under girded by the fact that long ago he decided that the primary goal of his life would be to please God, whether or not this always pleased the people around him.

This morning I am reading from Acts 19:21-41. This section centers around an uprising against Paul and his companions in Ephesus. The city of Ephesus worshipped many false gods. Chief among them was Artemis whose temple is considered one of the "seven wonders of the ancient world". Just as the economy of Orlando, Florida is derived primarily from sources associated with Walt Disney World, Artemis' temple was a major component of the economy of ancient Ephesus.

In particular, the metalworkers whose entire livelihood was dependent upon selling statues of Artemis, had a high degree of motivation to keep the worship of Artemis intact. They were, if you will, the souvenir shops of their day. It is this group of individuals that participate in a mob-like attack on Paul. I am struck by what a contrast this is to the group of people yesterday who were willing to sacrifice valuable sorcery materials in order to be right with God. There are two applications that Jesus whispers into my heart this morning.
  • Choose Relationship Over Reason - The "saved sorcerers" burned their scrolls worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (Verse 19). No person using only logic would deem this a smart move on their part. Why not just sell them to another sorcerer who wanted nothing to do with Jesus? Certainly the metalworkers would have made that argument. However, these new believers were so dedicated to Christ, that they wanted nothing to potentially harm or damage their relationship with Him. They chose relationship over reason.
  • Choose Piety Over Possessions - In Luke 12:15, Jesus warned, "Watch out! Be on guard for all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." This is a lesson the metalworkers would be well-served to learn. They were apparently more concerned with the short-term impact to their pocketbooks than the long-term impact to their souls of worshipping an idol. By contrast, the "saved sorcerers" made it their aim to please God whatever the financial cost. They chose piety over possessions.

Paul was greatly disturbed by the actions of these metalworkers, particularly a Jew named Alexander. Paul would later mention Alexander in his writings as 1) the kind of person Satan uses (1 Timothy 1:20) and 2) the kind of person a minister has to be particularly careful to be on guard against (2 Timothy 2:14-15).

If I evaluate my life honestly, I can see places where I'm more of a metalworker than a "saved sorcerer". For example, I have chosen the temporary pleasure of possessing a new outfit over the long-term satisfaction of staying within the confines of the household budget we've set. I have also talked myself out of doing something I clearly knew God was asking me to do, because it seemed illogical to me. Sweet Jesus, thank you for teaching me today how to choose You over reason and possessions. As with everyday, You are all I really need.

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