3.10.19 - The Church Disperses to Places God Is at Work (Daniel Clark)
SCRIPTURE: Acts 8:4-9:31; Isaiah 53
As the church in Jerusalem is persecuted and dispersed, new opportunities for ministry arise in the neighboring regions of Judea and Samaria. These chapters focus especially on the missionary work of Philip and then culminate in the conversion of Saul, who had widely persecuted the church in Jerusalem and presided over the stoning of Stephen. The theme in the 3 stories collected here is one of misreading: Simon the Sorcerer misreads the purposes of the power of the Holy Spirit; an Ethiopian eunuch needs help reading an Old Testament prophecy about the coming of Jesus; and Saul is confronted by Jesus himself after misreading the actions of the early church. As we study each of these episodes, we can be reminded of the importance of maintaining humility in our own lives, as well as the responsibilities we have towards each other as “co-readers” of God’s story in Scripture, and in our own lives.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you suddenly realized God had been working in you in ways that you were unable to see before?
As the Christians of Jerusalem disperse into the surrounding regions, they seem to make sharing their new faith a priority, even in places and in relationships where they don’t plan to stay for very long. Are you ever guilty of avoiding deeper relationships if you think your time with a person or community is limited? How can you be “all in,” no matter where you are or how long you might be there? What would that look like in your own context?
Have you ever felt like the Ethiopian eunuch in Chapter 8: like you are holding the right answer to a question, but you just can’t understand it? How did you move past that? Who (if anyone) helped you?
What about times when you have felt like Philip? If it’s true that God is “telling a story others need to explain,” how do we know where or in whom God is working? How do we help others understand “the story”?
Saul’s conversion is an incredible moment when God makes himself unmissable to a person who isn’t even looking for him. Does your own story echo Saul’s story? Do you ever hope or pray for someone else to have a “Road to Damascus” moment? How can you find support for that prayer, and share in similar prayers for others?