Opposition Moved the Message

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. – (Acts 8:1) At first glance, these words seem devastating to a growing and thriving body of believers. However, in just a few verses more, the story continues with: Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. – (Acts 8:4)

 

Though persecution had forced the believers to flee from their homes, with them, went their faith. Rather than squash what was thriving, the message of Christ began to be spread throughout Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

“Sometimes we have to become uncomfortable before we’ll move. We may not want to experience it, but discomfort may be the best thing for us because God may be working through our hurts. When you are tempted to complain about uncomfortable or painful circumstances, stop and ask if God might be preparing you for a special task.” – (NIV footnotes for Acts 8:4)

 

When pressure or pain,

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make way on my path;

they may have purpose,

that isn’t God’s wrath.

Often He uses,

discomfort to grow;

prepare and strengthen,

ready us to go.

At times it’s the call,

that we truly need;

to step out in faith,

and obey His lead.

When things are painful,

may we slow and ask;

are You preparing,

for a special task?

Let our hearts rely,

on the Lord’s power;

may we overcome,

through our Strong Tower.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You don’t simply allow us to be uncomfortable for the sake of discomfort, but rather You utilize every challenge for ultimate good. Thank You for the example of the early church – what remarkable faith they had to go and share Christ, even in the face of tremendous persecution. Forgive us Father, for complaining when things are uncomfortable or painful, and help us to ask You how You might be using our circumstances to prepare us for something down the road. Teach us to trust You more, so that our initial response is to run to You. Lead us to love others with the love that You have so abundantly poured out upon each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be exalted Lord God, as we move despite discomfort, and teach us to trust where You are leading. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

And the Lord said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

The Desert Road

As I continue in my study of Acts, I so appreciate the sensitivity of Philip to the Lord’s leading.  He was told to “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” – (Acts 8:26) Despite Philip’s successful ministry in Samaria, he was quick to obey what was asked of him, without even asking why.  He simply got up and went.

Philip’s obedience led to an extraordinary encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch. (an important official in charge of the queen of Ethiopia’s treasury) This man had traveled to Jerusalem to worship, yet had not yet heard the great news of Jesus.  While Philip was walking on his way, he came upon the man as he was reading Isaiah, seated in his chariot, on the side of the road.  Again, Philip followed the Father’s prompting, and went to the man, as he had been told, and ultimately explained how the passage the Ethiopian was reading was speaking of Jesus.  Philip was able to tell him of all that Jesus had done, and all the good new that was available to him.  The eunuch responded right away, and wanted to be baptized.  Right after his baptism, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away.  The eunuch went on his way rejoicing, and was now equipped to share his experience with others.

In my own experience, I know this to be true.  As a teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching Social Studies, U.S. History, Art,  and Language Arts.  I had been stuck in a cycle of teach Mathematics for several years, and was burned out.  Finally, I had returned to Language Arts and U.S. History, and was thrilled.  At year’s end, my principal asked me if I would be willing to teach Reading Intervention the following year.  My first question was, “How am I qualified to teach that?”  His reply encouraged me to go ahead and wander into the desert, despite my inexperience with teaching struggling readers.  (As did the still small voice in my spirit) One step of willing obedience, has led to a position that I would not trade for anything.  I am now in my third year as the Reading Intervention teacher, and I LOVE teaching struggling readers.  I get to see the “a-ha’s” and the successes, regularly.  I get to know and love kids, that typically are difficult to know and love, in the tradition classroom setting.

Often, what we are called to do, does not make sense.  Calls can seem to be a demotion of sorts, or a send-off into the desert.  However, each time the call is answered and obeyed, the result is nothing short of remarkable.  At times, it takes a great deal of walking before we seem to hear the next step, yet the obedient walking is somehow always a preparation for the next leg of the journey.  May we be sensitive to His voice, and quick to make the choice to do as we are asked.

Ready to go,The Desert Road

leaving all behind;

willing to trust,

know we’re on His mind.

Steps to obey,

by faith we shall walk;

let momentum,

be our faith-filled talk.

See not the sand,

but trust in Him more;

He paves the path,

and leads us to shore.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much, that You call us to partner with You on this journey.  Thank You that You use us and work in us and through us, when we are willing to answer Your call.  Thank You that You are faithful, always.  Forgive us for questioning Your call, or for fearing that we are not qualified.  Thank You that none of us are ever qualified on our own, but rather You in us, is what qualifies us to be obedient and do as You ask.  May we be tender to trust You more, and may many come to hear Your call, as we live and love as You call us to.  May lives be changed and hearts be moved.  All glory and honor to You, Lord.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11