Former American President Theodore Roosevelt once said,
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failures, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”
Stepping out of our comfort zones may scare the bejeebers out of us, but without it, we may never know the taste of true life–the life that God intended for all of us. And sometimes, we need a little push.
Please join me today as we explore one way that God pushed his people out of their comfort zones.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Kings 8:1-66. This and the next chapter may represent the pinnacle of Israel’s history as the gathered community of Israel celebrates the dedication of the temple. King Solomon offers prayers to God on behalf of the people as they worship with great extravagance.
When David brought the ark to Jerusalem, lives were lost because they failed to follow the directives God gave Moses for transporting it. This time, however, Solomon and the people must have followed God’s guidelines correctly.
I do find it interesting that an inventory of the contents of the ark was taken. The last recorded time anyone opened it, God struck the interlopers dead. Upon this inventory, it was discovered only Moses’ tablets containing the Ten Commandments were inside. The jar of manna and Aaron’s budded rod had disappeared.
As Solomon prays, he acknowledges that although the ark was the “official” dwelling place of God, the whole earth still could not contain his presence. He also appeals to the mercy and forgiveness of God.
Most importantly, through Solomon’s prayer we see a window into God’s missionary heart. In verses 41-43, he prays for the foreigner who comes to Israel because of God’s great name. Solomon asks God to answer their prayers “so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.” Finally, he blesses the gathered community, asking God to help them remain faithful “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other” (verse 60).
Acts 7:51-8:13. As Stephen’s life comes to a violent end, we read that a young man named Saul was present, giving his approval to the man’s death. In a few chapters, he will become the dominant figure in the book of Acts.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Tertullian, the ancient church father once wrote, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” Stephen’s martyrdom literally scattered seeds throughout Judea and Samaria. “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). Rather than keep silent, we read that “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).
Believe it or not, Stephen’s death was one of the best things to ever happen to the church of Jesus Christ because it propelled the church outside of Jerusalem. Without it, Christianity may have been confined to a very localized area.
Through Solomon’s prayer and Stephen’s martyrdom, we see a window into God’s missionary heart. He never wanted his followers to keep silent nor did he ever intend his people to keep their faith to themselves.
Have you ever considered that God may allow pain and frustration into your life so you will move out of your comfort zones and share your faith with others? God loves you, but he loves your relatives, coworkers, and neighbors every bit as much as you. Your spiritual DNA is composed of salt and light.
In the same way, an inwardly grown church, community, or small group fails to reflect the true heart of God.
And why wouldn’t we want to share? It’s good news that brings salvation to the whole world!
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Describe a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone. What happened?
- Describe your comfort zone. How might God be trying to thrust you out of it?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.