Growing together as a family.
The first chapter of Acts gives the account of Christ’s ascension. This passage also details our orders as we await His return. In verse thirteen, we see the eleven names of the most powerful men in the Bible. They had just witnessed the ascension of the Lord. They had gathered in the upper room. It was here they tarried, waiting for the promise of God—the power of the Holy Spirit.
THESE MEN WERE IN CHARGE
These eleven men were named in Scripture. God uses men to lead His people. As men, we should determine to be leaders in our church. We should be the first to say “Amen” and the first to serve and give. God left the disciples with the Great Commission. He had a job for them to do.
THESE MEN HAD BEEN CHANGED
- They were saved men. Often it seems we get the idea that Christianity is effeminate. Tell that to Jesus or these disciples. The opposite is true! They were tough fishermen and tradesmen.
- They were faithful men. These men stuck it out during persecution. They were faithful to Jesus and His Word.
- They were united men. Acts 1:14 tells us they were of one accord. Their focus was on one goal—to win the world. There is no place for selfishness in God’s work.
- They were praying men. We need men who can get ahold of God. We need God’s power.
- They were Spirit-filled men. These men saw 3,000 people saved at Pentecost.
- They were separated men. In this passage, they were set apart from the world in the upper room. They were holy men chosen by God.
THESE MEN WERE CHALLENGED
These “upper room” men were mission-minded men. They knew no boundaries. We need pioneers like this today. They were motivated to win the world to Christ. Acts 17:6 says they turned the world upside down. What a testimony!
These men are our examples today. Their lives had been changed by the Saviour. They had been given a commission, and they were determined to serve the Lord with their lives. D.L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.” God uses men. May we determine to be used by Him in a great way!
26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went:and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away:and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water:and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still:and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more:and he went on his way rejoicing.
40 But Philip was found at Azotus:and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
After salvation, God calls us to the daunting task of the Great Commission. Many Christians have been very active in this task at some point of their spiritual life, but many stop because of a lack of results.
For us to fully appreciate the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, we must go back and grab some background material from chapter eight. In the beginning verses of chapter eight, we see that a guy named Saul was involved in the persecution of the church at Jerusalem, specifically he was “consenting” to the death of Stephen. Because of this persecution, many Christians began to scatter to other areas. Like good Christians, upon their arrival in other cities, they began to preach Jesus. Philip was one of those who left Jerusalem and began to see a great revival in Samaria locate to the north of Jerusalem. In fact, God was doing such great work in Samaria that the apostles sent Peter and John to Samaria to help according to verse fourteen.
All of this leads us to verse twenty-six and the five characteristics of a Spirit-filled witness:
A Spirit-filled witness follows God’s leading. (vs. 26)
When we consider the great work that God was doing in Samaria through Peter, it makes this trip to the middle of the desert even more astounding. Philip could have said, “God look what is happening here in Samaria, why do I need to go to the middle of the desert?” Sometimes God will lead us in ways that we may never understand. Our job is not to lead God, rather it is follow God’s leading. When the Holy Spirit prompts you to share the Gospel to someone, do not ignore His voice. God may lead you outside your comfort zone or to a place that does not make sense, but He is doing it for your good and His glory.
A Spirit-filled witness cares about the one. (vs. 27-29)
God calls Philip away from an audience that is growing in Samaria to one man in the middle of the desert. In our human minds, this does not make sense. Why leave a city that has begun to listen to God’s Word to go to the desert for one person? What if Philip would have gotten discouraged when he saw one guy? What if he would have gotten frustrated with God or thought about how his soul winning numbers were going to go down?
We do not reach others to gain some holy notch in our belt. We do not reach others to be able to report numbers. We reach others to simply bring them into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ and to see them escape the fire of Hell. Several years ago, someone coined the phrase, “Each one; reach one.” You may not have a job that allows you to stand and speak and see thousands saved, but you can reach a neighbor or co-worker. Reach the one that only you can reach.
A Spirit-filled witness feels a sense of urgency. (vs. 29-30)
After the Holy Spirit showed Philip the one that he had been sent there to reach, Philip wasted no time in verse thirty. When was the last time that “the one” you have been placed in a position to reach forced you into a sense of urgency? When was the last time you felt compelled to share the Gospel with someone because life is short and Jesus is coming soon? We do not have time to waste filling our lives with the temporal. Ask God who “the one” is for you, and run with the Gospel to them.
A Spirit-filled witness prepares for witnessing. (vs. 32-35)
There are some verses in the Bible that absolutely send chills down my back thinking about how great the Gospel is to every creature; verse thirty-five is one of those verses! The Ethiopian had some questions like most who come to faith in Christ. Philip took him from his questions and the Bible says, “he preached unto him Jesus.”
Our culture is asking spiritual questions. Sadly, most Christians today don’t know the answers to the questions and the curiosity of the culture. According to I Peter 3:15, we are to be ready to give an answer.
I Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
The closer we get to the return of Christ, the deeper we must dig into God’s Word to answer questions about our faith. Sooner or later, someone will stump us and we may not be able to run to our top five favorite verses, but we are still commanded to reach people. Begin to prepare for those you are called to reach so that we may take them from their questions to a meeting with Jesus!
A Spirit-filled witness continues to preach the Gospel. (vs. 39)
Following the incredible salvation experience of the Ethiopian eunuch and his willing baptism immediately following, Philip leaves. Philip reached his “one” plus some if we included those in Samaria, but we do not find him in retirement following these salvations. Philip continued in other cities reaching more people.
If we could add a little bit to the phrase,”Each one; reach one,” I think it would have to be something like “Each one; reach one, and another, and another, and another, and another until God calls you home.” Obviously we lose the conciseness of the phrase, but we should have that philosophy. May we never feel that the job is complete because we saw our “one” come Christ. May we feel compelled to go and find another and another and another. Where are the Christians who are praying for God to bring them new people to reach?
I would challenge you to take the time to read Acts 8 and study the distances Philip traveled to see this Ethiopian accept Jesus. It is a miraculous story in that context, but it would have never happened had Philip not been responsive to the leading of God. Today, are you a clear picture of Jesus Christ to the world as a result of your obedience to the Holy Spirit? The world is watching to see how you respond to what God is asking you to do. If you try to have it your way and God’s way, the world sees, but when we are empty and clean of ourselves and the things of this world, we are a clean and clear picture of God’s work in our lives.
Women are known to be prayer warriors. Sometimes this perception is not always true though. As the New Year begins, I would like to challenge each of you to become a real prayer warrior. Not just for yourself and your family, but consider the needs of others.
Praying for others can sometimes make your needs seem so small and insignificant. Just this past Sunday one of our senior adults ask me to pray that they would find their hearing-aid they had lost. The cost of the hearing aid was $3,200. I was so burdened for this devoted saint of God. I began praying that very evening and several times the next morning. About 10:15 am on Monday morning, my phone rang and it was a blessing to hear that the costly hearing-aid had been found. I realize I was not the only person praying, but God did answer an urgent prayer request because of the prayers of God’s people. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Someday, you will be on the other side of those prayers. The Bible promises us in II Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The day is coming when you will suffer problems and tribulation, and you will need the prayers of others. It is my prayer you will be found faithful in the coming year to pray for others and their needs.
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