Disrupted and Productive

  1. Message: So much is going on in Acts 8. After Stephen was stoned to death it seemed to launch a wave of persecution throughout the church and Saul was known for leading much of it by going house to house throwing believers into prison. Chapter 8 says that “all except the apostles were scattered”. At first, I took this to mean that the apostles kept preaching and everyone else got scared and hid, but as I read on, I saw that this was not the case at all.  The rest of the church was scattered to other lands and away from where most of the persecution was happening, but they carried the gospel with them and continued preaching everywhere they went. This is where we find that Phillip was called by the holy Spirit to approach an important Ethiopian official who was reading the scriptures of Isaiah about the sufferings of Jesus. He interpreted the scriptures for him, and the man asked to be baptized. I realized that if the believers had all stayed together in Jerusalem they would have continued building their own faith together as a church, but since the rest of the Jews in the area were not receptive to the gospel, not much more could be done there. The persecution forced Christians out to other areas where people were open and willing to respond to the gospel. The scattered believers, like Phillip were listening to the Holy Spirit and the gospel was being spread to other lands.
  2. Command: Don’t pray for restored security, pray for God to show me the opportunities created during an upheaval of my security.
  3. Promise: Whenever there is hardship there is also opportunity.
  4. Warning: Self-focus on problems, and desiring to stay in my comfort zone of security will keep me from seeing opportunities.
  5. Application: As I read this, I was thinking about how much we value our comfort zones. In America we have no idea what real persecution even looks like, but we know what it’s like to have our comfort zone messed with. Often times when we experience something that threatens our sense of security, whether it be a job or financial disruption, or an illness, we begin focusing on praying for restoration of whatever we feel was unfairly taken from us. What if instead, we accepted that even though security is comfortable, it is not necessarily in our best interest. We feel safe when we have all of our ducks in a row and are not in a place of unsure, but we thrive when we are forced to seek God for what’s next. Don’t get me wrong. I’m writing from a place right now of having two secure incomes and health during a world pandemic crisis and nobody is threatening to stone me to death or throw me in jail for believing in Jesus. I have more security right now than many have, but I’m marveled by the scattered believers who responded to their threat of security by leaving their homes and sharing the gospel in other lands. This challenges me so much to get out of my tiny little bubble of personal hardships and open my eyes for opportunities around me to share the gospel with someone who is ready to hear it.

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