Holy Ferocity – Acts 20:20-21, 27

“I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching it to you in public and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God” (Acts 20:20-21, 27, HCSB).

These declarations are from the Apostle Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus (vs. 17-38).

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See the Glory – Exodus 33:19

“He said, ‘I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion'” (Exodus 33:19, HCSB).

God spoke these words to Moses in response to his request that God show Himself–His glory–to Moses. Moses made this request because he was concerned that Israel’s standing with God was in question.

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Trouble Along the Way – Acts 14:6

“And there they kept evangelizing” (Acts 14:6, HCSB).

This is one of those days when I get to the end of the day and find myself really weary. Some would say “weary from well-doing,” though I question how much “well” I’m really “doing.”

I’ll spare you the details of all my troubles because as hard as I think I have it, my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 and 14, who were undertaking the task God had assigned them.

In Acts 13:2 God sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey: “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.'”

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Escaping Your Comfort Zone – Acts 8:4-8

“So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the message of good news. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds paid attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the signs he was performing. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city”  (Acts 8:4-8, HCSB).

Because of the persecution of the church in Jerusalem, the believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

Among those who were scattered was Philip, who went to a city in Samaria. Philip proclaimed to the people in that city that Jesus was the Messiah and performed many miracles among them and many people believed his message and were baptized.

The church in Jerusalem had become a megachurch and was adding new members faster than they could count. It seemed that just when things were going great and church growth was exploding, a great wave of persecution targeting these Jewish Christians caused them to scatter throughout the region.

What seemed to be a great success story had now become a tome of tragedy!

But, had this extensive persecution never been perpetrated against the Jerusalem Christians, who knows when they would have got around to fulfilling Jesus’s great commission to “be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (vs. 1:8).

God sends each of us on a mission for Him. But sometimes where God is sending us and what He wants us to do when we get there is, perhaps, beyond the boundaries of our respective comfort zones.

God’s plans and will for us may be located outside the box…of our own plans and wills.

Sometimes it becomes necessary for God to nudge, push, or even shove us out of our comfort zones through bad circumstances. Then, our discomfort helps us escape from our own zone of comfort!

In driving us from our comfort zone, it may be that God is sending us to do something quite different than what we planned to do, or even thought we were capable of doing.

That was certainly the case with Philip. Philip was appointed to help administer the daily food distribution in the church in Jerusalem. But in Samaria Philip was conducting a full-blown preaching-healing-deliverance ministry!

God advanced Philip from a behind-the-scenes administrative role to front-line ministry!

So, what is God sending you to do?

Accept His call, even if it requires you to escape from the comfort zone of your everyday existence.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you'” (John 20:21, HCSB).

Successful Service – 2 Chronicles 31:21

“And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.”

During his reign over Judah, King Hezekiah cleansed the temple, restored temple worship, and organized the priests.

In other words, he made serving God his personal and professional responsibility and he was successful at it.

Hezekiah’s formula for success in serving God was simple:

  1. Align your service to God with His commands;
  2. Seek God’s will in everything you do for Him; and
  3. Make serving God your main priority.

You can be successful for God if you will follow this simple formula for serving Him.

God’s China Cabinets – 2 Timothy 2:20-21

“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Many homes have a china cabinet that holds the “good” dishes and flatware. These dishes and eating utensils have been set apart and specially cleaned and shined so that they are ready to be used at meals prepared for holidays and special occasions. In the kitchen there are drawers and cabinets with assortments of plates, cups, pots, pans, and cooking utensils that are used for the regular preparation and serving of meals. The challenge Paul presents to Timothy is that of how he will be used of God. Timothy and all of us will be used of God, but will it be as vessels for honorable use or vessels for dishonorable use? We get to make that choice! If we choose honorable use, then we must cleanse or purify ourselves by laying hold of the provision of grace and redemption that has been given to us by God and flee evil and pursue godliness (vs. 22). Choose to be a vessel of honorable use just like those good dishes in the china cabinet, specially cleaned (holy) and ready for any special occasion (every good work)!