HE TURNS IT FOR GOOD: TURNING CRISIS INTO OPPORTUNITY
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, May 3, 2020.
I've been amazed at the resilience of Cornerstone folks. Everyone I've talked to has such a positive attitude. People are helping each other and being so generous. A couple in our small group delivered COVID Care packages to everyone in our small group.
The members of our church staff have also been outstanding - they have an optimistic, flexible, "can do" spirit. They've put in so many extra hours to keep church ministries operating and to provide beautiful worship celebrations every week.
And I've seen this same spirit in our neighbors. We meet them on our walks and people are hanging in there and making the best of a bad situation. It's been cool to watch.
Sooo ... because I believe that we're ready to hear some teaching like this, I'm going to talk on How to Turn Crisis into Opportunity. If you follow this plan in your life this week, you'll see God work in and through you in a powerful way.
Turn to Acts 8 and I'll show you how to turn a crisis into an opportunity.
HOW TO TURN CRISIS INTO OPPORTUNITY
BE PREPARED FOR ADVERSITY - Acts 8:1
(Acts 8:1) On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
Verse 3 tells us that Saul crashed the house churches in Jerusalem and hauled Christians away. To execute them.
We're going to face hardships in this life: maybe persecution, and certainly disease, disaster, and disappointments. Hardship is normal:
(James 1:2) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds ...
James says, whenever, not if. So be prepared for hardship and don't let it defeat you. Those first Christians lost their jobs, their homes, their friends, and their church. But they pressed on and prevailed - for one reason: they expected it. Why? Jesus taught his disciples and his disciples taught them:
(John 15:20) Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
So, when hardships hit, don't freak out in shock and surprise and don't quit or get angry with God. Instead, get ready for God to open doors of opportunity to grow in your faith to advance his mission in the world.
SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES TO SHARE JESUS - Acts 8:4.-5
(Acts 8:4-5) Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.
Our model is the zeal and devotion of those first followers of Jesus. They turned their setbacks into setups for sharing Jesus.
They preached the word wherever they went. That word preached is literally "shared good news." That tells us that we don't have to give sermons and formal speeches. It's sharing the word any way we can with anyone who's open.
The word is the message about Jesus: Jesus is God in the flesh who came into the world to bring us home to God through his death and resurrection. It's a simple, focused message with Jesus at the center.
Something incredible has happened to many churches in the last month or so. They have adapted to online ministry and shared Jesus with more people than ever before. They have seized the opportunity to share Jesus.
I'm so happy that the Cornerstone has also seized this opportunity. We've turned our homes into studios. We've shared the church's Facebook Live posts with friends and families. I believe that you and I have shared Jesus with more people than ever before. Let's keep sharing.
This week, pray and ask God to open more doors of opportunity. And ask for the grace to seize those opportunities.
EXPECT GOD TO TURN EVERYTHING FOR GOOD - Acts 8:14
(Acts 8:14) When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.
Jesus predicted that the word would spread from Jerusalem to Samaria and Judea and then to the whole earth (Acts 1:8; Matthew 24:14). At first glance, it looked like that vision had been killed by persecution, but God used it as a wind to carry the seeds of salvation to the world.
The apostles left Jerusalem and got into the action:
(Acts 8:25) After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
Then, a royal official from Africa believed the good news:
(Acts 8:35-36) Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture (Isaiah 53) and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?
Then, the word spread like wildfire:
(Acts 11:19-21) Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
What others intended for evil, God turned for good. That's a principle to live by. Setbacks in the church are never final. God is so committed to sharing Jesus with the world that he will find a way to get it done in spite of our hardships or mistakes or weakness.
COVID is not good. It's evil. It might even be satanic. But what is coming out of this crisis is something really good: more people hearing about Jesus than ever in the history of the world. He turned the situation for good. We shouldn't be surprised that God is able to do that.
I'm not thrilled about COVID-19. My heart breaks for all the people who are suffering in all kinds of ways. It's a global disaster that has affected the people we love. However, it is also a global opportunity to tell the world about Jesus. And I am thrilled about that.
In the last month, people from every nation on earth have tuned in to Christian church services to hear the good news about Jesus. Last weekend, on the online platform we use, churches reported 20,000 commitments to Jesus as Savior.
God turned it for good. And we should always expect that.
This week, pray and ask the Lord, "Please open doors of opportunity to share the good news about Jesus with someone." Expect him to do it.