S (Scripture): Acts 11:19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. 20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.
O (Observation): Stephen was stoned to death for witnessing to the people regarding Jesus as God’s Son. The Jews that stoned him stood their ground on their understanding of who God is and believed calling Jesus “Lord” was blasphemy.
As a result of this terrible act of hatred, Jesus’ believers were scattered. Well, only God could turn tragedy into triumph. Having been scattered after Stephen’s death, Stephen’s cohorts continued to share God’s Good News of hope and salvation for ALL people into the towns of Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. The result: more believers!
And the key is in v. 21:
Acts11:21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.
God was at work in the midst of the witness of Jesus’ followers.
A (Application): How often do we believe that “we” bring God’s presence into the room?
When I go to visit someone at the hospital, I must realize that God was there before me, is there with me, and remains with the person when I leave.
When I preach, I’m not starting from nothing: God’s presence is there already.
When I talk to a stranger about my faith, I need not worry, for God will prepare the words for me to say (though it’s a good idea to practice some words in the meantime : )
We have the distinct privilege and advantage knowing that – like Stephen’s cohorts – that the Lord is doing the work through us. We use our energy and senses to carry the Gospel, but God’s power is what changes hearts and minds.
So, we prepare…we show up…we do the work we are called to do…and the Lord’s power moves from there.
P (Prayer): Lord, Work your power through us, in us, even in spite of us. Amen.