Keep On

Some days life takes a hard turn for the unexpected. We ache, we long for something different, we want to hide.

But God is all about redemption. Where we see darkness, He is painting the background from which He will erupt glory.

For years we longed for a second child. While our coworkers, neighbors, friends all conceived and birthed beautiful babies, our doctors had no answers. We prayed that God would grant contentment if One and not Two was His plan. And like so many stories, we became pregnant as soon as we let go. Fast forward a few years, and we find our deepest friendships among parents of Tween’s friends. Had our child come sooner, we might have missed the opportunity to know and grow with this community.

Also some years ago, we had jobs we loved despite challenges. Those we served turned a blind eye to the issues and held us to impossible standards; with politics at their worst, we left. Slicking off the ugly-ooze that covered us head-to-heart-to-toe, God used the next two years to restore us to health, to beauty, to life and love and ministry. With Joseph we can say that what others intended for evil God intended for good. Yes, the pain was real, but Yes, the redemption has been more beautiful in contrast.

God doesn’t promise an easy life. He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us, regardless of the yuck we have to slog through.

It didn’t take long for the early Church to experience persecution. Arrests, imprisonment, beatings, and – horror! – the first martyr: Stephen. The Church scattered, all but the apostles who remained in Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria just as God promised they would. Hardship became the vehicle through which the good news of Jesus spread, Evil the beast on which God’s message traveled to the ends of the earth.

What went through Philip’s mind? He and Stephen had only just been elected as the Church’s first deacons; now Stephen was dead and Philip was on the run for his life. Yet he held true to the gospel, proclaiming the Messiah and standing against evil. Where there had been fear, Philip brought joy. He listened to and obeyed God’s leading, allowing God to use him. The darkness didn’t beat him down. Instead, God turned Philip into a light for His glory.

Connect
When, in hindsight, have you experienced a hardship turned into an opportunity? Explain.

Study
Read Acts 8:1-5, 26-39. 
Compare Acts 8:1 to Acts 1:8. How did God use persecution to spread the gospel (vv. 1-5)?
How would this story have changed had Philip not been attentive to the Spirit (vv. 26-29)?
What stands out about the Ethiopian’s response (vv. 31-39)?

Live
Which is easier for you: inviting someone to church or telling them about Jesus? Explain.
Can you think of a time when you experienced the Holy Spirit’s prompting or a divine appointment God directed you to?
What might it look like for you to become more ‘missional’?
What is Jesus saying to you through this passage and how will you respond?

Pray
Pray for the Spirit to prepare divine appointments for you to share the good news about Jesus.

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