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As Christians, it's important that we are able to identify with Jesus. We need to know who we are—based upon our relationship with Christ, and based upon our belief in the Word of God. That is how we build godly confidence in order to make a spiritual impact and become a true Pacesetter in this life.

Ephesian Interlude
Let's take a journey to Ephesus and see a tremendous illustration of the importance of knowing who we are in Christ. But first, a little historical background….

Ephesus was an important commercial and cultural center in the ancient world. It had been colonized originally by the Greeks, and then was ruled by the Persians, the Macedonians, and finally by Paul's time—the Romans.

The population during the ministry of Paul was around 300,000 citizens and slaves. The Ephesians were as religious as they were industrious, and focused mainly on the goddess Diana, whose great temple, with 127 columns reaching a height of 197 feet, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Apart from the recognized religions of the day which were practiced within Ephesus, a large number of occult groups thrived within the city. Fortune tellers, diviners, magicians and other occult opportunists preyed upon the people.

The silver-smiths were making a killing selling little images of the goddess Diana. It is little wonder that the letter from Paul to the Ephesian church deals largely with spiritual warfare—the city was rampant with demonic activity!

When Paul arrived in Ephesus during his second missionary journey, the Lord worked marvelous miracles through him. These people needed convincing!

Another holy man with a Pacesetter's teaching just wasn't going to cut it without some sort of powerful demonstration. Paul was just one of hundreds of religious fanatics unless he could pull off something convincing and extraordinary.

That's just what God did!
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus who Paul preaches."

Also, there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.

Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
(Acts 19:11-20)
God's Power Unleashed
Paul plainly knew his God. He knew that there was nothing in and of himself which would work any miracle or heal even the smallest wound. But he also realized that God desired to demonstrate His authority within a city beset by demonic strongholds.

At times throughout the Bible, God uses His power in order to declare to the world His existence and supremacy, thus serving notice on creation that the Creator is, in fact, alive and well.

When God brought judgment upon Egypt it was not only to force Pharaoh into letting the Israelites go free, but also to humble the Egyptian deities represented by the particular plagues.

Demonic manifestations are not a thing of the past, either. Missionaries report that the Third World countries are swarming with demonic activity. There are several reasons for this, but primarily it is because the people in these cultures are open to the demonic.

A voodoo witch doctor might be right at home in downtown Haiti, but he would look a little out of place in downtown Seattle, Washington. (Of course there are certain parts of this country where he might look right at home!)

The point is that demonic powers are resident everywhere, but they are particularly noticeable in underdeveloped regions because the people living there are more open to such activity.

Don't take too much comfort in this. Just because America is not given to such manifestations because of our cosmopolitan, rational outlook does not mean that demonic strongholds are not trying to bring us down.

Just a brief look at a daily newspaper, or a cruise through television channels late at night will prove that there is something devilish afoot in our country. Mom and apple pie have been replaced by psychic hotlines and cyber porn.

Unless someone is willing to set the pace for this generation, America has little prospects for the future.

Are you willing? Are you willing to become a Pacesetter? Just like with Paul, you'll do the work and God will get the honor and glory, and that's just the way it should be.

Source: Pacesetters: Setting the Standard by Benny Perez
Excerpt permission granted by WinePress Publishing

Author Biography

Benny Perez
Web site: Benny Perez Ministries
 
Pastor Benny Perez has an incredible passion for Jesus and it is in that passion that he has been called one of the leading voices to this generation. His ministry has been marked by unique ways of ministering, and God has used him as a means to bring revival and genuine transformation in the hearts and lives of countless thousands. Pastor Benny could be defined in part as being real, relevant and very responsive to the needs of people.
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