Thursday, September 1, 2011

God Works Even In Adversity

Acts 19:8-10

I just saw the movie The Help this week and it was incredible - so incredible that I am going to have to read the book (which I've been wanting to do anyway).  I think that everyone should see this movie because it is challenging to watch.  This movie explored the relationship between high society women and their maids in Jackson, Mississippi just as the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum.  However, the movie doesn't just focus on the discrimination between Caucasian and African American women, it also focuses on the the discrimination of high society in general.  One theme that stuck out at me in this movie was the idea that adversity often made the characters stronger in the end.  As I am preparing to study the book of Ephesians, I am looking at some background of the church in Ephesus.  Today, I am looking at how adversity effected the starting church in Ephesus.  Please turn to Acts 19:8-10.

We can see by reading that scripture that Paul met a lot of opposition in the synagogue and moved to the lecture hall of Tyrannus.   As I briefly looked at the ancient city of Ephesus, I noticed that there was a rebuilt facade of a very large library that tourists can visit.  It is thought that this library held thousands of scrolls and Ephesus was an education hub in the region.  It isn't known where the lecture hall of Tyrannus was located; however, it is thought that since Ephesus was an educated city that this was a place for philosophers to lecture and have discussions.  The end result for the church in Ephesus was that they began to reach out to a broader audience because they were able to meet in a public place.  Ephesus was a port city which means that there were visitors from all over the region doing business.  I think that many of these visitors probably took the opportunity to listen to the lectures and ended up hearing the Good News from Paul.

Just because Paul met opposition and had to leave the synagogue sounds bad, God used it to spread the gospel to many more people throughout the region and even other parts of the world.  Paul didn't give up when he faced opposition, instead he just moved to another spot.  Remember, it is so much easier for us to see the God-timing and God-placement in this story because we have a different perspective.  Paul didn't have the perspective of hind-sight during this time and just had to trust God would use him no matter where he spoke.

We will face adversity and it may even come at a time when we know that we are following God's direction.  Just because adversity comes doesn't mean that it comes with defeat.  Imagine where the church would be today if the apostles and early church gave up when they faced opposition.  Imagine where our country would be if the Civil Rights Movement quit after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  When we face adversity, that is when it is time to pray and ask God how He is going to work within it.  God is more powerful than any opposing force we face.

Are you working withing adversity today?  Stand firm and know that God is working in you and in your situation.

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