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).

Finding God’s Will – Part 2: Why God Reveals His Will – Psalm 25:6-11

<< Part 1: Looking For God’s Will

“Remember, Lord, Your compassion and Your faithful love, for they have existed from antiquity. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my acts of rebellion; in keeping with Your faithful love, remember me because of Your goodness, Lord. The Lord is good and upright; therefore He shows sinners the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. Because of Your name, Yahweh, forgive my sin, for it is great” (Psalm 25:6-11, HCSB).

The explanations the psalmist provides in Psalm 25 about how God reveals Himself and His will to us are so perceptive and penetrating that it merits another post to explain the reasons why God reveals His will.

Fortunately, Psalm 25 provides explanations for both How and Why!

In Part 1 we noted that how we look for God’s will is to turn to God, trust Him, and wait for Him.

And, we concluded that God reveals specific details of His character and His will to people who are desperately looking for Him. In other words, when we depend on God, then He will show us His way for us to follow.

But you might be left wondering why God would want to bother with providing a personal revelation of Himself to you and me?

Why go to all that trouble?

The psalmist provides a powerful theological explanation for God revealing Himself and His will to His people in these verses: God is good!

The psalmist contrasts the faithful love of God and His goodness with the depravity of human beings and their need for restoration.

The juxtaposition of remember/not remember/remember demonstrates that God’s consciousness (remembrance) of His own everlasting love and mercy is the reason He acts beneficently toward His people.

Therefore, people’s sins are forgiven (not remembered). And only then can God act on behalf of His people (remember) who have humbled themselves and depend on Him.

In fact, it is God’s reputation (His name) that is at stake in the forgiveness of people’s sins.

God’s reputation–His essential nature or character–is closely connected with His actions toward His people.

Because people are sinful and God is good, He must impute His goodness by forgiving our sins!  

It’s as if God is compelled by the force of His own nature to reveal Himself and His will to His people!  

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

Finding God’s Will – Part 1: Looking for God’s Will – Psalm 25:14

“The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them” (Psalm 25:14, HCSB).

Ostensibly, what most of us want to do most is God’s will!

While we have good intentions, we don’t really know how to go about doing God’s will–or at least put into practice the patience, perseverance, and obedience required to do it!

But for those really, really looking for God’s will, Psalm 25 provides some practical guidance and apt advice!

While the psalmist doesn’t furnish us with a formula or step-by-step methodology, he does identify a strategic approach to looking for God’s will based on reverence, adoration, and veneration for God.

The psalmist begins by advising us to turn to God, trust in God, and wait on God. When we turn to, trust in, and wait on God, then God will forgive our sins and teach us truth because of His faithful love for us (vs.4-7).

And God will reveal His will to us and definitely direct our lives when we realize our dependence on Him and seek His will penitently and humbly: “He shows sinners the way” (vs. 8) and “He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (vs. 9).

God’s way, His secret counsel, His will, is revealed to people who trust in Him and are faithful and obedient to Him.

Looking for God’s will is an act of worship by people who depend on God!

While God reveals Himself and His general will to us through His Word, the Bible, God makes it personal for us by revealing specific details of His will and attributes of His character that are appropriate to our need and situation.

So, if I were to pack into just one sentence what the psalmist is telling us about looking for God’s will, it would be this: God reveals His will to people who are desperate to know it!

My pastor says that unfortunately, the approach we more often use in looking for God’s will is: “I’m going to do this, this, and this and, by the way, God, will you bless it?”

But the psalmist reminds us that looking for God’s will is so critical that we must be willing to wait on God to reveal it to us.

And when God’s will is finally revealed to us, then God protects us with the assurance of doing the right thing and helps us remain in His will: “May integrity and what is right watch over me, for I wait for You” (vs. 21).