“And we know that all things work together for go to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was in Jerusalem…..and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria….” Acts 8:1

“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”  Acts 8:4

Romans 8:28 is a very powerful and comforting statement.  It states the omnipotent aspect of Our Heavenly Father.  To be comforting, it is often used when a person or people are going through difficult times or facing a particularly challenging trial.  Sadly though, it can lose some of its impact and feel like just some “feel good” platitude without connecting it to a real example.  Thankfully there are many examples in the bible and I want to discuss just one.

So put yourself in the place of a new believer in Jerusalem just after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  You’ve come to believe in Jesus Christ and have been baptized.  You happen to be following the apostles and watch one miracle healing after another.  You hear that some of the apostles are arrested but they are miraculously freed from prison and have boldly gone back to the temple to preach the Name of Jesus.  Your spirit has been so enlightened that you look for any in need and you sell your things and watch joyously as the poor and widows are made whole.  You can’t stop praising Almighty God and can’t wait to see what the next day is going to bring.  There is no other place you’d rather be.  In fact, although it has been said that the gospel needs to be preached to all lands, you can’t imagine being anywhere else but right there in Jerusalem; right there with the apostles.

But the elders and temple leadership keep trying to squash the message.  They keep trying to arrest and sometimes beat those who are preaching Jesus Name.  All the sudden, one of the leaders, one of the newly elected is arrested for blasphemy.  His name is Stephen and he gives an angelic, powerful and spirit filled defense of the gospel.  This time though, he doesn’t escape.  No, Stephen is stoned to death by a crowd whipped into a frenzy by the Jewish leadership.  All the sudden the enemy is emboldened.  One of their leaders; Saul, is going house to house arresting anyone who confesses Jesus is the Christ, the Savior Son of God.  What is one to do?  You flee!  You are forced from the wonderful side of the apostles.  Your world is turned upside down.  Why is this happening?  Why to me? Why now?

Again, you can imagine that those who were scattered were feeling pretty frightened, maybe lost.  But noticed what happened.  I’m sure people were asking them about why they had come?  What was the matter?  Who was after them and why?  How did those who were scattered respond?  They preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  They spread the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God and forgiveness through the life, death and resurrection of God’s Only Son, Jesus.  Remember the great commission?  Remember about making disciples and the Gospel being preached to the ends of the earth?  Scripture tells us, that during the initial persecution and scattering of believers in Jerusalem, the apostles stayed in the city.  Someone had to spread the word.  Later the apostles traveled as well.

So a couple of things for us; dear brothers and sisters.  First, being persecuted, being threatened with arrest, being scattered away from home was no easy thing.  Some perhaps many may have been praising God in these circumstances, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t experiencing real, significant hardship.  They very well might not have felt like disciples.  They were just believers talking to other potential believers; they were nothing special.  Being caught up in the stress of the moment, they may not have seen the “good” in the circumstance they were going through.  Second, it is easy for us to see that this was part of God’s Plan.  The Gospel needed to be spread.  The eleven remaining apostles were not going to be sufficient to preach the Word to all who needed to hear it.  Finally though, whether they understood or not; they believed.  They believed in the message of Jesus Christ and they were chosen by God the Father Almighty to carry that message.  They needed a reason to leave the sanctuary of Jerusalem, the comfort of daily fellowship with the apostles.  They needed to be scattered.  God accomplished that.

So for You and I; we believe.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior who lived, died and was raised on the third day.  We are also called.  There is His Plan and we have a part in its completion.  So because we believe and we are called; good will come.  It can be very hard to see but good will come.  It is His Promise.  He has shown over and over again how He keeps every promise.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have seen fit to call upon us who believe to help implement Your Plan.  We also acknowledge that carrying out that calling may involve difficulty.  So we call upon You to pour out Your Spirit upon us that we will feel Your Peace, Comfort and Strength knowing that good will always be the outcome of Your calling.

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