Sunday, April 20, 2008

thrown from the nest

"...On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria.... So those who were scattered went on their way proclaiming the message of good news. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to them.... So there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:1,4,5,8 CSB)

Sometimes God's plan requires his people to be pushed from their homes, neighbors, friends and jobs into unfamiliar territory--even uncomfortable territory. The first Christians were Jews, and as Acts details for us later in the story, they were not initially interested in sharing the good news with the non-Jewish world. So, how did God bring the good news to the Samaritans and many other communities? He allowed one of the most prominent Christians to be murdered, and he allowed persecution that caused the new believers to flee for their lives. And through that, he brought great joy to people everywhere.


Father, how amazing it is to realize that your ways are not my ways; your ways are greater than my ways. I cannot even fathom your providence that is so great you planned out redemption from the beginning of time and made it happen exactly according to every promise. No plan of yours can be thwarted and you frustrate the plans of those who fight against you. You used Paul's murderous rage to spread your good news and then you grabbed hold of Paul, changed his heart, saved him from his sin, and used him to spread your good news. You changed him so much that toward the end of his life, after immense suffering, he was able to say he could rejoice in living for your glory and proclaiming your name among the Gentiles, or he could just as readily rejoice in his own death because of his faith that death is no more than a gate on his path to eternal joy with you.

Father, I thank you for the witness of those who have lived before me and did so with a Spirit-filled love for your glory. Give me such a passion for your glory that I, too, could celebrate in living to proclaim your name or dying to be with you.

And father, I ask that you would bless your people throughout the world. Give us strength and courage, wisdom and faith, to live for you.

Bless Marsha and heal her arm. Show your mercy and care.
Bless the family of Ernie at this time after the death of his mother. Comfort those in the family who know you and love you; change the hearts of those who do not yet know you.
Bless Rhonda and meet her needs as only you can.
Be with Frank's parents and care for their health.
Work in Frank's heart and show him that he is lost without you; you are his only hope and salvation.
Bless all those affected by the tornado in Tennessee. Work through your people in that community to show your love and compassion.
Bless Myrna as she struggles to get her new home completed.

Father, give me the wisdom and spiritual maturity to lead my family to glorify you. Work in my heart to give me a true passion for you. I pray that you would bless my marriage; bring Jennifer and I closer together and help us, through our marriage, demonstrate to the world the mystery of Christ and his church. Bless Charlotte and help us be godly parents; help us raise her to know you and love you.

I ask all these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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