Choose Your Tools Carefully

After my husband became a Christian, he had the privilege of later leading both his brother and mother to Jesus. I've never asked them but I've always suspected it was watching Scott's life transform before their eyes that made them in part at least realize their own need of Christ. I know there has been no greater joy in my life than having ring-side seats to the miracle of Scott's changed life.

Today I am reading Acts 19:1-20. Paul has journeyed to Ephesus. Paul first teaches in the synagogue for three months and then in another venue for two years. Paul taught so extensively there that every person who lived in that province heard about Jesus (Verse 10). Paul's reputation was increased by the miraculous signs that God did through Paul. Even cloth that touched Paul could be given to the sick and they would be healed (Verses 11-12).

In Ephesus there was a group of people who attempted to use the name of Jesus like a tool. They attempted to drive out evil spirits by invoking Jesus' name, even though apparently they themselves did not believe. One day as they were attempting to do this the evil spirit answered them and said, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man possessed by this spirit overpowered them and beat them until they were naked and bleeding. (Verses 13-16)

This incident provokes a significant response, even among the believers in Ephesus. Some who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls, worth collectively well over $500,000, and burned them. The result is that "the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power" (Verse 20). The entire region heard about Jesus because of Paul's faithfulness but it was the evidence of the changed lives of everyday residents that caused many to believe.

There is two blaring lessons for me this morning.
  1. Jesus is not a tool (Verses 13-16) - God makes it clear that His name is not a tool to be wielded for any purpose. I used to live a life where I didn't really even think about God for days on end let alone read the Bible or pray. However, whenever something went wrong in my life I suddenly wanted to sprint back to God and invoke His power and blessing over the situation I was facing. Ashamedly, I was using Jesus' name as a tool. I foolishly thought Jesus was a convenience that I could pick up and use whenever I needed and shelve whenever I didn't.
  2. My testimony is a powerful tool - It is so easy to make myself believe that since I'm not Billy Graham or Beth Moore, that my testimony is ineffective. This is a lie. The truth found in this passage, is that many people respond when they see an ordinary person whom God has transformed extraordinarily. There is great power in giving God the credit for the work of change He's done in a person's life. My story is not a tool to shelve.

Jesus today may I truly be aware of the tools I hold in my life toolbox. Today I willingly use the tool you've given me of the story of an ordinary girl. I will share my story. You will, by Your power and grace, make it an effective tool.

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