April 18 I Wednesday
2 Samuel 3-5
“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
God will bless any movement, any church inasmuch as it operates on His terms for His objectives and by His means. The moment the church tries to live on its own terms for their own objectives, the Spirit of God is grieved and withdraws from active involvement.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, His last words and mandate to His disciples were, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In Acts 2, the disciples received power and they became bold, courageous witnesses in Jerusalem. In chapters 3 & 4, they were witnesses in Jerusalem. In chapters 5, 6 & 7, they were still witnesses in Jerusalem. Their wheels were spinning but going nowhere beyond Jerusalem.
This was not just weeks, but months and possibly years gone by, and the disciples have remained in Jerusalem. With everything safe and comfortable, no one is venturing into Judea or the more treacherous area of Samaria, so what does God do? He disturbs their comfort and the Jerusalem church is faced with severe opposition, which began with the martyrdom of Stephen. But here are the consequences: Acts 8:1 tells us, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria,” the very places they had been told to go. The Jerusalem church became a persecution driven church—driven to obedience.
Then who from Jerusalem took the Gospel into Judea and Samaria? “All except the apostles.” Evangelism is not the professional task of a few, but is the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world. Though we live in a different era, we can look back on the history of the church in Jerusalem and see to what extent we are looking into a mirror. The purity, fullness and experience of the Gospel in our own lives are related to whether or not we are on mission for Christ. The moment the church in Jerusalem began to mix their self-interests with Christ’s agenda, there was a decline in power, outreach and growth.
Sometimes God will take us out of our comfort zones into new avenues of service, which may involve risk. If corporately we want to be part of a movement of God, it will be to the measure of which individually we bring our lives in line with the purposes of Jesus Christ. And when we do, there is nothing more exciting than seeing what God will do both in our lives and through His church!
Prayer: Dear Father, may I never settle into routine. Be my courage and strength to go into all the “Judeas” and “Samarias” of my life and turn me into a bold and brave witness for You. Thank You, Lord.