Archive | May, 2020

Ephesus, part 4 ‘I know’

25 May

Ephesus, part 4, from Acts 19 with a focus on verse 15

“One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” NIV

When Tim Keller speaks about ‘knowing God,’ this passage calls to my heart. In Tim’s analogy, one can know about honey, can read about it, can have another person share on how it tastes, but without experiencing it yourself, you can never ever know honey. One can know about honey by without tasting, bout one can’t know honey.

And the evil spirit that speaks here in Acts 19 knows, truly knows, Jesus. The Jewish exorcists don’t.

‘And certain of the wandering exorcist Jews, took upon [them] to name over those having the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, `We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul doth preach;’

14 and there were certain — seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest — who are doing this thing;

15 and the evil spirit, answering, said, `Jesus I know, and Paul I am acquainted with; and ye — who are ye?’

16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaping upon them, and having overcome them, prevailed against them, so that naked and wounded they did flee out of that house,

17 and this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who are dwelling at Ephesus, and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified, many also of those who did believe were coming, confessing and declaring their acts,

19 and many of those who had practised the curious arts, having brought the books together, were burning [them] before all; and they reckoned together the prices of them, and found [it] five myriads of silverlings;

20 so powerfully was the word of God increasing and prevailing.’

“five myriads of silverlings;” translates into 137 years. This is what the Ephesian people burn: the life they burn.

we can know about honey; about love; about a new job we are just beginning, but to know to really know God we have to experience Him as honey; as love; as He himself.

We can and we must know him. Know, and love. Love and know.

children, hand picked; hand grown

22 May

Ephesus, part 3, ‘power’

22 May

Ephesus, part 3 from Acts 19, ‘power’

Idol worship was always an essential part of life in Ephesus. Face with the word, the truth, and the Spirits power, there is a change…

‘God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.[c] 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.‘

The word grows; in power, in life, in real, permanent change. Power in the blood; the word and Jesus’ name.

“Jesus, son of the living Hod, have mercy on me, your dinner.”

Ephesus, part 2…Acts 19; Revelation 2; 3-5; 1John 5: 18-21

21 May

Ephesus, part 2…Acts 19; Revelation 2; 3-5; 1John 5: 18-21

Paul loved cities; he especially loved Ephesus. And even more than the city, he deeply felt and loved the people of Ephesus. He walked through the interiors of the countrysides to get into Ephesus; he spent two continuous years teaching there; and this city was Paul’s last stop before his travel to Jerusalem, ( Acts 21 ) where he was to be arrested and sent onto Rome. By all this …

Was Ephesus Paul’s first love?

I do not know the answer Paul would have. But the Ephesians were loved and after hearing Paul, they loved others through their words and actions. We see this in Revelation 2.

And yet, as John tells us in his revelation writings, we also see them …

‘3Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name. 4But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. 5Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.…’

How, can anyone truly leave a ‘first love.’

Songs, books, films, pens are all made honouring that first love. All messages from these media are the same, ‘no one ever leaves, ever forgets, a ‘first love.’.

For better ( and mostly worst ) this love, this memory, stays with us. We can never leave it. But-

Ephesus did. And look at how Paul loved and loved them..,

Paul in Ephesus

Acts 19 ‘While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul…”

Paul journeyed to them and sat with them; he ate with them and argued with them. He laid holy hands and miracles on, with them. He loved.

Yes, in the greatest miracle: Paul loved them; his Christ inspired love then taught all of Ephesus how to love. And they did for awhile but then forgot.

from Revelation 2

‘3Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name. 4But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. 5Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.…’

Berean Study Bible

How did this forgetting begin? How was such a love ‘abandoned’? John in his letter we call 1 John, written to the Ephesians offers a clue in its last few, and especially it last verse,

1 John 5

18 ‘We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.’

John worries about the Ephesians. He sees them possibly turning to din and, then, seemingly out of the blue, to idols.

Only another loves, a seemingly deep deep love, can replace a first love, a ‘one and only.’ Only another can replace a ‘one’.

John’s solution: memory.this is our solution.

we just must feel and remember to love again – and again …a first the One and Only, Jesus.

Dearest, love

Ephesus… part 1

20 May

‘Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus’ .(24) Acts 18

Ephesus …

the apostle Paul loved the city of Ephesus… he loved it so that he promised to return to there, if the return journey was ‘God’s will’

Where are you journeying to this morn, Thursday, Friday …? All journeys are returns. A return to a past moment, a place, a person. A love

Come, go then, consider ….returning to your love, a first love

an Ephesus….

‘Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.

23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.’

Apollos’ past is also a future; his own and Paul’s; Ephesus’ and Priscilla and Aquila’s.

His life, Jesus.

Jesus, his Messiah, …Ephesus

Footnotes:

Acts 18:25 Or with fervor in the Spirit

crying tears, years, Psalms 63 & 46

17 May

Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

‘You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.’

Tears are my only waters, my tears are streams that channel into my desert heart

‘I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live
and in your name I will lift…’

…I lift my heart’s hands, both left and right, to. With, for your name

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

‘up my hands, I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods,
with singing lips, my mouth will praise you’.

From my lips I sing my heart, my heart, to you

and from Psalm 46 is a

…a song. ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.’

Our Lord, my God is within my heart, His city, and my tears stream from my heart, to Him.

tears are my prayers; deserts are watered, hearts soften, patch throats quenched

loved

my’- from psalms 44 and 63

15 May

How do the Psalms differ?

each psalm song is a prayer of beauty, a voice of caressing, spoken love by a singer who could not utter their heart in words or music before- and then, as sons of Korah, or David, – songs, psalms

“Psalm 44[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.[b]

1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;

our ancestors have told uswhat you did in their days,

in days long ago.

2 With your hand you drove out the nations

and planted our ancestors;

you crushed the peoples

    and made our ancestors flourish.

3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,

nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm,

and the light of your face, for you loved them.

4 You are my King and my God,

who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.”

Footnotes tell stories. Footnote ‘c’ speaks this story, [c] Psalm 44:4 Septuagint, Aquila and Syriac; Hebrew King, O God; / command

Here, God ‘commands’/decrees victories. The God/King is addressed with the pronoun ‘you’. The sons of Korah sing to, sing at, God in this text. Verse one has the words, ‘we/our/is/their’ in its opening.

These pronouns are personal, yet not intimate. They reflect a community singing, expressing, at a distance.

As verse 4 sings, “You are my King and my God, who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.”

God is a king who issues decrees, who produces victories fro the tribal kingdom of Jacob. A community sings about a community’s blessings.

In contrast, the Psalms of David are intensely personal. David sings close to God, his God. His ‘my’….

Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you,

my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live

5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods, with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 I cling to you;…

There are 17 ‘I’ and ‘mes’ in these first seven and a half verses. David is intensely ‘in’; earnestly next to his, ‘my’- his God. In the shadow of his Lord’s wings, protected as a baby sparrow from heat and danger, David composes an intimate love song.

He ‘clings’ to God. His my.

How do Psalms differ? Pronouns give an answer: the Psalms differ my the singer’s hearts, their distance of hearts.

David’s God is next to him and is a personal one; Korah’s sons have a God at an arm’s length- Korah sons, whose father rebelled against Moses and God and was swallowed up in an earthen sinkhole, understandably have, keep, a distance from their God. David grabs, holds, clings to Him with and for love.

Yet, the Lord is both singers’ object, their love. They just speak, express their love songs in different ways. And all prayers end as with does Psalm 44,

26 “Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.”

His love is unfailing no matter how we sing. We are all His sons, all His daughters. All His song.

He loves us.

Footnotes:

• Psalm 44:1 In Hebrew texts 44:1-26 is numbered 44:2-27.

• Psalm 44:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term

• Psalm 44:4 Septuagint, Aquila and Syriac; Hebrew King, O God; / command

• Psalm 44:8 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.

Acts 18, ‘just as Paul was about to speak,…’ 14)

14 May

sometimes we don’t need to speak

Dear readers, sometimes we have no need to speak. Why?

– because He will not be silent; He speaks.

Our Lord speaks. He voices through images and nature; by dreams, and silences; with and into my feelings and thoughts. In sufferings and whirlwinds.

…as well as the hearts of strangers, as Gallio

“…many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.”

Here, note Paul, as happens rarely, does not speak,

“14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them,”

Paul listens.

14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.”

listen today as our Lord speaks through others, thru another, and, to and through you.

weave, from Acts 18

13 May

we move into Acts 18; here, in Corinth, Saul is, becomes, fully Paul.

He enters Priscilla’s and Aquila’s household and joins them in their work: making tents.

At a dear friend’s passing, I used this scripture to describe her life. She, Paul, was a tent maker. A physician nurse in a New York hospital. A healer, a weaver of wounds.

Tents in Paul’s day were internally exquisitely decorated. Ordinary on the outside, they were a household of great threads and tapestry as you entered.

Beauty.

Yet, Paul, fully formed in Corinth, on his inside of heart and his mind; his spirit and his weaving hands, decides it is time to ‘devote himself exclusively to preaching.’ (5) He decides to focus on the word as his refashioning tool. And so, as he preaches, acts and writes, he invites us into his tent. Transparent, beautiful he shared his tent.

Paul’s weaving of physical tents ⛺️ metamorphoses to his own spirit, his own being and soul in Corinth.

Like My, our, dear friend Pat Ciminera, both made, make, beautiful tents of others and themselves. He asks us to enter into this tent, truly made by Jesus’ pierced hands. Jesus’ tent of wounds, healing and beauty.

Weave with the word today. Weave with Jesus, Paul and Pat today. Enter their tents.

“18 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.”

weave today.

weave.

nyc, lulu 13 May

12 May