Walk alone

Walk alone
Acts 20:13 “We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot.”
Paul decides to walk alone. He made arrangements … to be alone.
Luke had written in his first book, the gospel, how Jesus ‘often’ made sure he was alone (5:16).
Paul needed time to think and pray perhaps or to be away from the voices of people for many reasons. Whatever the reason, he arranged that he would walk on his own.
Where do you go to be alone?
Maybe for you being alone is easier than for others because you live alone. But it is quite amazing how we manage to fill our lives with noise and with the help of social media it can be that we find ourselves never truly alone.
But Paul walking alone is also a picture of his journey of life and all of our journeys. Yes we take people with us and we should but our walk is one of faith and we walk it alone. The resolve to keep going and to live unselfishly comes from the mining of our own hearts each day. Thankful for the encouragement that is shown towards us and yet our paths are unique to us and one day we will stand before our Saviour alone and He will reward us for the journey we took.

― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”
Friends, your long walk has not ended and today you walk on foot alone and you do it because you love God and you love others and you want to make a difference.
In order for you to continue there are times when being with people is not helpful to the cause. So come away, be alone, gather your thoughts, plot your cause and listen to Him who never leaves you.

The Church service

The Church service
Acts 20:12 “The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”
The congregation is dismissed and Paul also leaves. In some kind of procession Eutychus is paraded home alive. Onlookers would have wondered what the fuss was about, after all Eutychus had gone to the church service alive in the first place, so coming home alive was to be expected!
The church people were greatly comforted and encouraged. Paul had poured himself into them teaching them many things, telling them stories of what God had done and they had witnessed an amazing miracle with Eutychus.
The power of a church service can cause an effect upon people for years.
Think for a moment of that one church service that gave you the inspiration and influence and tracing back you can say it was those few hours that changed your life forever.
Church services can take us to the footstool of the throne of God. They can open our hearts to the intimacy of worship and the joy of praise.
Church services can take us on a journey into the Bible with such revelation that we experience the still small voice speaking into our minds and hearts. A new understanding, a refreshing challenge and a desire to read more leaves us strengthened within our circumstances.
Church services are unpredictable. My close friend received his home-call in a church service, just the way he wanted it. Others receive their miracles. Still others receive life in all its fullness.
The people went home with all this in their hearts only because they had been. The church service is waiting for you. Will you go?

Normal service resumes

Acts 20:11 “Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left.”

Normal service resumes.
Paul had talked till midnight then leaves the building to pray for Eutychus and see him rise from death. Then he returns to continue talking till early morning.
But not before he ‘breaks bread’, the phrase for what we perhaps know as communion was laid out already in verse 7. Now he leads the partaking of it.
Paul got their attention back through the remembrance of the broken body of Jesus. He brought them back to the cross. He needed to say so much more to them but they needed to look again at the crux of the faith.
When it all goes wrong go to the cross.
When you may want to seek blame or look for justice, go to the cross.
When you want to continue but need to recalibrate your position, go to the cross.
The cross centralises our world and then launches us back into mission.
The cross makes sense of our confusion.
The cross enables us to continue.
Normal service resumes.

Sometimes it is right to close the church service down.

Sometimes it is right to close the church service down.

Acts 20: 10 “Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms round him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’”

Sometimes we need to know when to stop preaching and when to stop having church services and get out of our buildings and go down to where the need is.

With an approach very similar to Elisha bringing back to life the Shunammite woman’s son, Paul throws himself onto the dead young man. I’m not too sure what to make of that except what I do know is that young people need fathers who will pour everything within them, all of their life, their energy, their God DNA, wisdom and power into the young generation. They need the fathers embrace.

Young people may have fallen out of the church and we need to realise that they are not going to come back in on their own accord. Churches today have lost a generation because they waited for the prodigals to return and they are still waiting. Prayer meetings and preaching and church services will not attract them back. They are deadened to those things. They fell asleep and fell out. They need an awakening.

Let us come out from our comfort zones of blessing and throw ourselves on to and in to young people’s lives. We all know of a young person who used to be in church but who fell asleep whilst the church was being blessed. Let us care enough to go to them. May God grant us the opportunity to shout, ‘They are alive again!’

 

Falling out of the Church

Falling out of the Church

Acts 20:9 “Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third storey and was picked up dead.”

No one noticed, if they did it was too late.

A young man seated in a window falling asleep, drifting away from the message and the church.

You see he was still there in body. The others around him were not concerned whether he was still engaged, whether he was still enjoying church, he was there and that was the most important thing.

The next moment everyone is looking round asking where is the young man? Where are the youth in the Church? Why has this Church not got any young people anymore? Sadly you may know of churches in your nation and neighbourhood that simply have no young people. Where have they gone? They were there one moment but gone the next. Actually the truth is even when they were there they were drifting. At some point when the Church were not paying attention they left the Church. They ended up spiritually dead.

Thankfully many leaders are addressing this problem and there is a revitalisation of youth work taking place here in the UK. But many have left the Church, they dropped off listening to God, they still have faith but they are dead to the Church. What will we do? Does anyone care?

Take a risk assessment

Risk assessment

Acts 20: 6 “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.”

Luke is trying to give the context for why a young man whilst listening to Paul’s preaching fell asleep.

There were many lamps. This meant that it was light enough as the darkness came but also these lamps were producing the heat and the comfort that would spell disaster for this young man.

What may look positive at first glance may in the developing of a circumstance prove deadly.

No one would have thought Paul would have continued preaching for so long when they brought and set out the lamps.

No one would have thought that given the length of the message that people may fall asleep under the atmosphere of the heat and the comfort from the lamps.

But these lamps contributed to the accident.

What in your life may look positive but could be dangerous in a different circumstance?

The truth is difficult to know. Often as in this case it is hindsight that tells us and it is always too late.

But we can do more risk assessments on what we do. Take a risk assessment on the places where you go and the people you spend time with and how you use your money. Take a risk assessment on what you spend time thinking about, what you watch and who you listen to. Take a risk assessment on what you eat and drink and the exercise that you take.

Perhaps the risk assessment may point out the dangers of having what looks like such positive elements in your life. Maybe you can avoid the dangers.

 

 

Make the most of it.

Make the most of it.

Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

You may have wondered how long the preacher actually preached for in your last church service. Well this preacher talked until midnight!

Paul did this because the next day he was going to leave them, this was his opportunity and he intended to take the whole of it.

Paul was making most of his opportunity. That is the point.

Today is your day of opportunity. You will not have it again. So make the most of it, whatever it is that you do.

Taking a longer journey

Taking a longer journey

Acts 20: 6 “But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.”

The magnificent seven had already gone ahead and Paul remained behind, as did Luke.

From Philippi they sailed for 5 days. Today you can get to the other side of the world in less than a day. To travel five days is a cruise!

But it gave time for Luke to be with Paul and to listen and understand him.

Maybe like me, you just have to take longer journeys. My mind works in this way: if I can get there quicker then I can get more done or I could get done and then go and do something else in the same time it would take in going slower. My journeys are too short. My GPS tells me the time it will take to get there and I try and beat the GPS time! People who know me know that in recent years I have begun to walk faster. It doesn’t matter where I am, I have found if I walk faster then all is well. When in an airport I find the challenge thrilling as the crowds all are walking as fast as they can to get to their gates.

I think by having shorter journeys I will not miss other potential things to do. But what am I missing by not taking longer journeys?

Maybe you are not like me!

Today I am about to get in my car for a journey that will take 3 hours 39 minutes. I have decided not to try and beat that time. Now that will be success! I might even stop along the way. This is radical! But I have decided also that I will try and learn something new in that 3 hours 39 minutes. I will try and appreciate and I will be open to anything that I might have missed.

It is time to get back involved

It is time to get back involved

Acts 20:5 “These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas.”

It is just one small word in a short verse but it means so much. ‘us’

Paul and Silas had left Luke behind in Philippi at the end of Acts 16, now here we see Luke is very much back in the narrative. This is his account of the work of the Holy Spirit and His mission. This is the Acts of the Apostles, the Acts of the Holy Spirit, Luke’s personal story of being part of what God was doing. Paul had decided to call by Philippi and that’s when Luke re-joined the team. It was an opportunity and Luke took it. After what was probably nearly 7 years, Luke is back.

It is one thing to write an account, it is another thing to write about you in that account.

You can tell people about mission but being on mission is more compelling.

What had Luke been doing for those years? How was he feeling not being part of Paul’s mission? We cannot answer but what we do know is that he was ready and Paul welcomed him.

You may not be where you want to be, but are you ready?

Your circumstances may have needed you to come aside for several years, but have you kept your enthusiasm, are you ready?

Unlike Luke you may even have been abandoned, side-lined, rejected and you may even have done those things to yourself, but are you ready today?

Your leader is in port, He is here and He is still calling you to get involved. He still wants you in mission. He wants you in the thick of the action. There are still more stories to be told in your life. Will you say yes? Are you ready? Will you be able to look back and say ‘I was there’, will you write about ‘them’ or ‘us’?

 

 

The cajonist

The cajonist

Acts 20:4 “He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”

The magnificent seven accompanied Paul as he heads back to Jerusalem. Five of them we may recognise but nothing much is known about Sopater and Secundus. Of course many have interesting ideas. But maybe it is not the other things that they are known for except this one important trait that we read today, they accompanied Paul.

Last night I attended a youth camp meeting and the drummer caught my eye a lot within worship. He wasn’t playing the drums but a cajon, a box that he sat on and leant forward and hitting the front of the box made a great sound. I have seen them before, my son plays one. He sat there accompanying everyone else. He never got the melody, never got the attention, people were not following him, he was following them. But without him the sound would have been less than it was. Without him the song may have lost its way. The band was better for the cajonist. Of course, he had to be good and he was, not everyone can accompany well. I suppose some can lag behind because they are sulking. Some can speed up because they don’t agree. Some can hit the cajon so loudly that they no longer accompany but they take over. Some can hardly hit it at all and in their timidity they may as well not bothered turning up.

Are you accompanying someone today? If you are then make sure you do it well. A good cajonist will say ‘life is not all about the cajon, but without the cajon life is duller.’ That’s what it is to accompany someone.