It doesn’t have to be a day every day, some days you can avoid them.
Acts 20:3 “… where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia.”
At the last minute…
He was just about to get on board the ship to sail for Syria, probably to visit his sending Church at Antioch …
It was the longer journey by sea but one he was ready for …
The he heard of a plot to attack him on the ship or when he landed in Syria…
At the last minute he changed his plans.
It’s okay to change your plans.
You don’t have to carry through with things. Especially if you are going to walk straight into an enemy plan. Why walk into the enemies trap when you know they are trying to attack you.
One of the wisdoms of leadership is knowing when it is right to go and listen to the complaint and the criticism and to take it on the chin and when to say NO I will not walk into that arena, I will not give the people the satisfaction of attack.
You are the steward of your life under God. I am not an advocate of voluntary martyrdom. I like to live. I like to avoid bad days.
7 lessons for those who encourage
Acts 20:2 He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece”
Paul continues now to encourage. It is a season of many words of encouragement.
What would you do if you had many words of encouragement?
I know I am only doing what I am doing today because of many words of encouragement.
Here is what I have learnt from being encouraged and being an encourager with a bible verse to consider:
- Encouragement will take someone to a place they thought they could never enter and get them to do something they thought they would never do. (Deuteronomy 1:38; 3:28)
- Encouragement uses the right words because it has listened to the cry. (Psalm 10:17)
- The result of encouragement is strength. (Acts 15:32)
- Encouragement doesn’t come naturally, it is a gift to be sought. (Romans 12:6,8)
- Encouragement also needs endurance for there to be a future. (Romans 15:4)
- Being an encourager is not easy, it takes effort. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 Msg)
- Encouragement is needed to get people to be where they should be. (Hebrews 10:25)
We will use many words today. Let us use them for encouragement.
A leader must encourage
Acts 20: 1 “When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia.”
They had been seized and faced the accusations and were caught up in a violent near riot as the citizens were being tempted to think that they had defied their precious goddess. Paul had wanted to be with them but was held back by the wise disciples and his friends. So now they are together again. Paul does what all leaders must do, he encourages them. The word is paraklesis, it has a range of meanings from exhortation to comforting and consoling.
Paul must have done a good job because after he had done he left.
Leaders have to keep moving but there are times when it is just essential for them to stop moving for a moment in order to take part in paraklesis.
You are dismissed!
Acts 19:41 “After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.”
The city clerk sends everyone back to their homes. The riot has been stopped. Demetrius and the Jews have lost their case. God had stepped in again and preserved the work of the gospel. The assembly had gathered and now they are dismissed. The assembly is the actual word ‘ekklesia’, the same word that is used for “church.” It was a non-religious term used to describe a gathering or association of people.
It was a political term and it simply meant an assembly of citizens who were the ultimate power in the constitutional governments of the Greek cities whether that be monarchy or democracy.
But the Christians began to use it as Christ did, for His body, his called out chosen people. None more so than Paul, Ephesians 1:22 “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
It got them into trouble, but just like when they started using the phrase ‘Jesus is Lord’ because the phrase was stolen from ‘Caesar is Lord’.
Who has the true authority over the cities and towns in your country? It’s the church.
In the same scenario as the city clerk dismissing the ekklesia, the Spirit of God dismisses the Church from its buildings and gatherings to take the gospel to the whole world.
What is the reason?
Acts 19:40 “As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.”
What is the reason?
What is the reason for your work today?
What is the reason for your conversations?
What is the reason for being careful what you eat and taking the exercise that you need?
What is the reason for studying?
What is the reason for your devotional life?
What is the reason for going to the Church that you are part of?
What is the reason for the day off?
What is the reason for being with your friends, your family, meeting new people?
What is the reason for the laughter and the tears?
What is the reason for the event?
What is the reason for that habit and that behavioural response and reaction?
What is the reason for this riot?
There was no reason for the riot.
If there is no reason then stop doing it.
Is there anything else?
Acts 19:39 “If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.”
Is there anything else?
The city clerk has challenged Demetrius who had brought Pauls gospel team into the city arena. Demetrius hadn’t planned for this. But he had got it all wrong. He had overstepped the mark.
The city clerk wasn’t asking for more accusation. I am sure Demetrius would have gladly provided. He was simply saying if you have anything else then you must go through the proper channels.
Some people carry grievances in their heart and instead of dealing with them in a right and just way, they use social media to air those hurts. If it matters that much and you know you will not settle then bring it to the proper place. If it is about a person then you can start there face to face not facebook. If it is a Church matter, start with the elders.
But if possible maybe the best thing would be to let go of whatever you still have in your heart against someone.
Don’t take prisoners and don’t carry burdens too heavy for you.
Is there anything else? No.
Do you know how to do things in the right way?
Acts 19: 38 “If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges.”
The city clerk was saying that Demetrius and his men should not have done what they had. Dragging this whole situation into a city-wide event was wrong, there were proper channels and procedures for their grievance, it wasn’t here.
There is a time and a place for everything.
Demetrius scored an own goal by doing things the wrong way round.
How many times have we seen people with a convincing argument but the way they go about it means no one listens to their argument but focuses on the poor presentation or on the fact that they have not followed protocol. Breaking customs amount to a greater sin than the sin being presented sometimes.
The family of God have protocols. We have policies. We have places to go to. For example: “If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). Our policies are grace and love. Be careful of those who catch the sinner but try and deal with them outside of the protocols set for us.
Will you learn to ask the question?
Acts 19:37 “You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.”
How easy it would have been for the city clerk to have exaggerated or presumed that Paul and his team had done greater damage than they had. He kept his head, he worked through the accusation and saw that actually Paul had not done much wrong at all. He hadn’t robbed from their temple and he hadn’t blasphemed Artemis. So what were the charges that Demetrius was bringing? It didn’t add up.
It takes wisdom to think through the arguments and not to presume when you have nothing to gain from it. The city clerk didn’t need to defend Paul.
The next time that someone brings a case against someone else. Then just pause long enough to ask yourself ‘well what did they not do?’ Maybe the case isn’t strong enough. Maybe it is just an opinion and some hurt feelings. Be aware of what is being presented to you and learn to ask questions of everything.
Will you calm down?
Acts 19:36 “Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash”.
The mayor-type figure of the city rises in the middle of what is a near riot and calms the crowd down by pointing out that Artemis is a great goddess who is the guardian of the city and who is basically in control so there is nothing to be alarmed about under the threat of some new teaching.
If he could do that then surely …
Today, whatever is going on in your life, calm down, don’t do anything rash. The Almighty God who has come down from heaven is in control of your situation. He is not alarmed nor is He in a crisis. He is able.
Are you using your authority?
Acts 19:35 “The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?”
Do you know your authority?
The city clerk was some form of mayor of the city. He had respect. He was appointed to stir the city and silence the city. This was his position. He had the authority. He stepped into that authority at a time when his city was almost out of hand.
Many use their authority to hurt, to cause trouble, to poison.
But will you use the authority God has given you in the sphere He has appointed you in.
Will you silence people when they need silencing? But see how Jesus used his authority:
Over disease (Mat 9.35)
To teach (Mk 1.22)(Lk 4.32)
To forgive (Mk 2.10)(Lk 5.20)
Over the demonic (Mat 17.18)(Lk 9.42)
Over storms (Mk 4.39)
To step up when needed (Jn 2.13-18)
What about your authority? Are you using it today?