Do you know that you are in a spiritual battle? Satan, God's enemy, doesn't want you to follow God. At times the battle is fierce. But God is always in control. Sometimes God will put a shield around you so that nothing can hurt you. He did this for Paul after he first accepted Jesus as his Savior (i.e. when Paul's new friends lowered him in a basket to escape from Damascus). Sometimes God will fight the actual battle through you. Paul's confrontation with Elymas are an example of this (see Acts 13). And other times God will simply tell you to hold your position, stand steady and watch Him fight for you. In this week's Bible lesson, God fought for Paul through an unlikely source.
After spending time in Antioch, Paul sets out on his third missionary journey. This time, he heads for the fourth larges city in the Roman Empire - Ephesus. First he spends three months talking to his people, the Jews. When they reject Jesus, Paul rents space in the school of Tyrannus. For two years, Paul teaches anyone who is interested about Jesus. In this time, he also healed many who were sick or were possessed by an evil spirit. He didn't even have to physically be present to heal them. Many were healed only by touching Paul's headband, handkerchief or even work apron.
Seven Jewish brothers decided to try to mimic Paul. "Let's use Paul's name and His God to cast out evil spirits." they decided. So one day, a man controlled by an evil spirit came to them. "By the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches about, we command you evil spirit to come out!" they said.
The evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know. Paul I know, but who are you?" Then the man who was controlled by the evil spirit beat the seven brothers up. They were wounded. They barely escaped. And when they did, they left all their clothing behind!
Satan is always stronger than you and me. These seven Jewish brothers were trying to battle Satan by their own power. They lost. But in Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, "All power in heaven and earth are given to Me." Jesus is more powerful than Satan is. Paul was only able to cast out evil spirits and heal people through Jesus' power.
When the people of Ephesus heard what happened to these seven brothers, they feared the name of Jesus. Many who had followed Satan, turned to Jesus. When they did, they realized that they need to destroy anything that Satan could use to turn them away from following Jesus. So they had a huge bonfire. In the fire they threw their books about witchcraft, and special charms. Jesus had broken Satan's grip on many lives. He showed that He is more powerful than Satan is.
But Satan was not going to give up without a fight. He was going to use a man named Demetrius. The temple of Artemas was in Ephesus. Many people all over the Roman Empire would come to Ephesus just to worship at this temple. Demetrius was a silversmith who made a lot of money making replicas of the temple of the false goddess Artemas. He realized that when someone put their trust in Jesus, they stopped worshiping idols like Artemas. If people no longer worshiped Artemas and purchase his silver idols, then he was going to not make any money. So he gathered a large group of his buddies. They decided to stop Paul. They grabbed two of his friends and rushed them to the area. Many people followed them. There was confusion in the area. Some were yelling one thing. Others were yelling something else. Some people didn't even know why they were there. Finally, one phrase was heard over the rest. "Great is Artemas of the Ephesus." Over and over again the mob yelled these words for TWO hours!
Paul wanted to go speak to the mob. But friends convinced him to not go. They were sure the mob would tear Paul to pieces. Paul was finally convinced to let God battle for him.
After two hours, a town clerk, who didn't believe in Jesus, stood up and told the crowd that Paul and his friends have done nothing wrong. If Demetrius and his friends have an issue against Paul, then they should go to the courts about it. Everyone else in the area are disturbing the peace. If they don't go home peacefully, then he would have to arrest them. The mob listened and went home.
God used this unbelieving town clerk to defend Paul. Once again Satan was defeated!
Here are some pictures of Week 4!
Many of the students earned 10 Bible Bucks for turning in a picture of last week's lesson. I loved seeing their drawing of Paul and Silas in jail.
This week, the kids made travel logs.
Wet 'n Wild was the theme of the games this week. We played the sponge relay.
Some groups had to pick up 25 marbles with their toes and transfer them into a bucket. The Campbelltown kids were really good at this. They told me it is because this game they play EVERY year at Field Day.
Leaky Pipe was a huge success. The kids quickly discovered that putting one in charge and then listening to that person really made this activity a piece of cake.
Over-Under-Over relay was a lot of fun!
The kids did a fantastic job listening to the Bible lesson.