Sometimes life seems like its one step forward and two steps back. I know for me I have those times where things really moving forward, only to wake up the next day to find everything is backwards again! That is natural, as frustrating as that may be. But we are not alone! The apostle Paul had arrived in Ephesus in Acts 19. Paul starts doing what he always does, preaching in the synagogues, in the streets and among the gentiles. Things were going so well for Paul that in verse 11 it says, “And God was doing extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them…” ESV. Can you imagine that kind of success in your life? Your marriage, work, school or whatever is going so well that it is spilling over onto other people and the mere touch of something that has touched you is making others better. That is a tremendous step forward.
Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years ministering and teaching. He made some great steps forward in that city. He was able to be used by God to build a strong church there and some dear friends as we find out in the beginning of Chapter 20. Yet even Paul had a step forward and a step backward. God was using Paul some much that it began to impact profit for the silversmiths. A man name Demetris, a maker of idols to the Greek God Artemis, became upset when people were believing in God and not buying idols. Understand it was not others believing in God that got him worked up it was the loss of profit. Demetris rallied up his fellow workers and began a riot. The bible says that the city of Ephesus “was filled with confusion.” Sounds a lot like a capital city I know….. Ephesus was utter chaos. We can see in scripture that Paul’s faith was very strong, even unto death. Yet if you think about it, he must have been praying to God something like, “everything was going so well”, “You were doing so many great things”. Paul ultimately had to leave. Paul took two steps back and he had to leave Ephesus. He gathered the church encouraged them and said farewell.
So, what do we learn from Paul? First, do God’s will no matter what! Paul was unconcerned about what others thought of him. He was unconcerned about popular opinion and he was unconcerned with what the city thought was right and wrong. Paul was about God’s will and that is all that mattered to him! His attitude was simply, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 That is what our attitude, as Christians, should be! Second, JUST KEEP GOING! Don’t stop doing what God wants you to do! Yes, there will be success and yes there will be setbacks, jut keep going! Be faithful. God does not ask you to do anything amazing He simply wants you to be faithful. When we are faithful, God does his work and lives get changed. The amazing things are done by God….. Just be faithful no matter what directions your steps may be!