13 April 2015
Reading: Acts 11; Psalm 86
19 Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. 20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21 NLT)
The martyrdom of Stephen was a tragedy. The persecution that exploded in Jerusalem after his death was a terrible thing. But God is able to bring good out of evil and the believers who fled Jerusalem told the Good News about Jesus everywhere they went. Some of the Greek-speaking Jews were a little less prejudiced than most and told their story to Gentiles as well. The result was like Peter’s experience at Cornelius’ house multiplied many times over, as large numbers of Gentiles turned to the Lord!
The Antioch church was born and flourished as a community of Gentile Christ-followers. The Antioch church was a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic church that pioneered team-led, Spirit-directed leadership. The Antioch church became the first missionary-sending church. Barnabas, then Saul, had come to help the church grow strong, and before long they were sent on their way to tell the rest of the world about Jesus.
God can use hard things, even bad things, to get his people to do what they wouldn’t do otherwise. When hard experiences come my way, I must continue to think, speak, and act in faith, and trust God to make something good – even a breakthrough – from the experience.
If you need a Breakthrough, write me at email@example.com and I’ll send you two helpful articles on the process of dealing with difficult seasons of change and transition. Grace to you!
Father, Please help me to be faithful even in tough times. May I find opportunities for growth in the obstacles I face. May I find creative ways to move forward when the way seems difficult and the path impassable. Help me to live my faith from the inside out, and let every challenge become a breakthrough. Amen.