Sunday—Best Frenemies

Series: Advancing
Message: Best Frenemies
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long 
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jessyka Albert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin today in prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Acts 8:1-25 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: We often begin reading this passage at verse 4, but I wanted to start with verse 1 since it sets the scene for the scattering of the Gospel. The Bible tells us that Saul approved of the execution of Stephen. Only the apostles stayed in Jerusalem—and somehow most of them managed to escape arrest. Saul searched house by house, dragging people out of their homes and taking them away. You can imagine the horror of this genocidal action that ripped families apart. What did the early believers do? Did they deny their faith in order to remain in their homes? Clearly many did not; as the text demonstrates, they left their homes. This mass exodus was not organized under one leader like Moses. Instead, it was community-driven with everyone scattering in different directions. Finally, we are told that Philip also had to leave town. I wonder how hard that decision was for him. I wonder if he wanted to stay in Jerusalem. This is the same Phillip who later went to Gaza, lived on the coast near Caesarea and had four daughters with prophetic gifts (Acts 21:8). This is the same Philip who was chosen alongside Stephen to serve the church as a deacon. What do you think it would have been like for Phillip and Stephen that evening, after being chosen as one of just seven deacons? It is as if Stephen and Philip were among those in the first graduating class of the apostles. Or perhaps this metaphor works better: They were part of a group of friends who lined up for hours to get the very first iPhone. It was a moment in history for them. They were bound together by this shared experience. No matter what happened. 

I have brothers like that in my life with whom I have shared many unforgettable moments. I hope everyone has had friends to share incredible experiences. The loss of that special companionship over shared memories is what often makes the tragic act of divorce so difficult. It makes the loss of a life partner particularly heavy. It makes the death of a fellow witness for Jesus extra tragic. Philip had lost Stephen. One of the original seven was gone. Gone all too soon. This loss could have paralyzed him. It could have kept him in a state of depression forever. It could have made him want to quit his work and caused him to cast all blame on Jesus. But instead, Luke records that Phillip went down to Samaria and preached about Jesus and “there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).

Recalibrate: What major setback have you experienced that Jesus gave you the strength to overcome?

Respond: Pray for the sight to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Research: What great art was created about Philip and why?

Recharge: Wonder/Adventure/Purpose

Bumps and bruises are a constant in the life of a toddler. They show that this little wonder is on the move. As terrifying as this can be for parents, how we respond to their pain builds the framework of who they are.

Have you ever read We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen? The family go on an adventure, and there is stuff they go through to reach their destination and then again to come home. If you are going through tough stuff today, remember that God is with you. Get moving forward.

Who are your closest friends? The people you share everything with: secrets, hopes, fears, dreams, what you ate for lunch today? The people who will pray for you and with you? The people who bring you closer to Jesus? When Stephen was killed, his friendship was lost for many people who loved him. How would you move forward through such a loss? How did Philip cope?

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