This is the 3rd post in a series on what to do when we don’t receive direction through the scriptures, God’s character, and prayer.
Life sometimes breaks in and alters our path, doesn’t it? I look back at my life and see so many twists and turns that caught me off guard. At this point I can see how God used them, but when I was on the front side of the circumstances, I usually felt very lost as to what God was saying.
Even the leaders of the early church experienced life situations which altered their paths. Perhaps they even dealt with similar feelings of confusion about what was ahead.
We read in Acts about an early conflict in the church in our previous post. There we met Philip, one of the seven men full of the Spirit and wisdom chosen by the church. When persecution came to the believers in Jerusalem, his life changed:
“Now on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
“Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word. Philip went down to the main city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them. The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the miraculous signs he was performing. For unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, were coming out of many who were possessed, and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. So there was a great joy in that city,” (Acts 8:1; 4-8 NET).
Philip was forced out of Jerusalem because of persecution, not because God told him to leave.
Philip recognized his relocation as God’s extension of the gospel. Evangelism was his calling, his kingdom work; after all, he was later known as Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8). Because his ministry was to share the gospel, he did so as he went. He didn’t have to pray specifically every time he encountered people. He must have asked God for encounters and accepted the situation as the answer—it was what his hand found to do. (See principle 1).
Principle #3: pay attention to your circumstances.
When situations come into our lives, we need be in conversation with God about them, asking him what he wants to show us, remembering that God’s greatest plans for us, his overarching will, concern his kingdom work in us and through us in the church and the world.
God wants us to be godly people who walk with him. He is more concerned with our being than our doing. That means that sometimes he sends us circumstances designed to turn our attention to what he is saying about us more than anything else. Often they remind us of our dependence on him or refocus us to the Spirit. Other times they change where we do our ministries, as they did in this case with Philip. God pushed Philip out of his comfort zone when persecution arose. He used it to send him and other Christians beyond Jerusalem to reach other people. God had a plan for the world, and circumstances directed his people.
Our circumstances may redirect us in either our being or our doing. We have to be alert to the Spirit’s work.
Next up Principle 4 tomorrow.