Challenging teens and young adults.
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.
1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain:
and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it;
and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.
After salvation, God calls us to a life of growth and spiritual maturity. Our spiritual growth always leads us to greater involvement in the mission or work of God, but let’s be honest, the work of God can get very tiring and frustrating at times. How many Christians serve God out of duty and not out of a desire to express their love for God? Thankfully, the Lord did not leave us without assistance in our spiritual growth and our spiritual work. One of the main tools the Lord uses to accomplish His work is the Spirit of God in our lives.
In our passage, Zerubbabel has a conversation with an angel who shares with him three truths about a Spirit-filled work.
A Spirit-filled work is personal.
In verse number six, we see that the angel tells Zerubbabel that this is the word of the Lord for him personally. Because God had given Zerubbabel a specific mission and work, God had a specific word for him as well.
Isn’t is comforting to know that God not only has a specific work for you, but He has specific word for you as well? It is easy to get frustrated when we are in a difficult situation, but God knows our struggle. When we open His Word, He has something special for us to encourage us in our work.
People go crazy over getting to spend time with a celebrity. We take pictures, have them autograph an article of clothing, and we tell everyone we see about who we met. It is exciting to see someone famous! Think about how exciting it would be, if in a mass of people, a famous figure pointed you out and said “I want to get to know you better cause I have a position I want you to fill.” Wow, we would let everyone know about the time we got to spend with this celebrity.
You have someone much more important than any celebrity who has a job for you. The Creator of the universe has a specific spot for you! Not only does He have a work for you to accomplish, He wants to spend time talking with and helping you do that job in a way that pleases Him. I don’t know about you, but knowing that God has a job for me drives me every day. Today, you may not have a celebrity who wants to spend time with, but you have a God who wants to so spend time soaking up your time with an Almighty God.
A Spirit-filled work is independent.
Have you ever tried to help something along that is designed to operate independently? If you have, you know that there is normally a good chance for it not to turn out too good for you or the object you are assisting to help. Many times, we may get hurt or the object will end up not working properly.
This is the great paradox of the work of God. Yes, God has something just for you, but He does not need you to accomplish it. The personal word of the Lord to Zerubbabel was, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit. If anything great is going to happen in the work of God, it will not be because of our might or our power; it will be because of the Spirit of God accomplished the work through us.
May we never become so arrogant that we think the work of God is accomplished because of our talents and our work. In fact, it is the opposite. The work of God is accomplished in spite of us which is humbling and frees us of any pressure to see that it succeeds.
A Spirit-filled work is powerful.
In a society that is driven by numbers, reports, and results, the work of God can easily turn into a business if we are not careful. Whatever God has called you to do, results are guaranteed when done in the Spirit and independent of us.
Following the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, the angel gives examples of works that Zerubbabel can accomplish through the power of a Spirit-filled work. The works mentioned in verses seven through nine are God-sized results.
We see another example of the power of a Spirit-filled work in the first two chapters of Acts.
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Right before Jesus ascends back to Heaven, the disciples are still confused about the kingdom. You can almost hear the sigh of relief from the Apostles in verse six as they ask Jesus if He could set up His kingdom now that He has risen from the dead. Jesus tells them not to worry about the kingdom in verse seven and leaves them with a challenge in verse eight about the power of the Spirit in relation to the work of God. Do you think it was an accident that Jesus Christ’s last charge to His followers included the power of the Spirit and the mission of all Christians? What if the disciples had chosen to go and do the work that they had been left in charge of in their own power?
Praise the Lord, according to Acts 2:1-4, they waited until they were filled with the Spirit.
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Because they waited on the Spirit’s filling, they were able to see God-sized results and miracles on the day of Pentecost.
God has a work for us to accomplish. When it seems like you can’t go on in that work, find encouragement in God’s Word because there’s something in there just for you. In this work God has called us to, let’s leave it up to God to do the work. When God is in charge, it is much more rewarding and productive for us. Our world is in need of some God-sized results, but those only come when we leave the work up to the Spirit of God, and we operate as Spirit-filled Christians. Today, allow the work of God to be accomplished through your life by being completely empty of self and completely filled by the Spirit of God.
Genesis 20 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a...
Genesis 18 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself...
Genesis 16 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children...
Genesis 13 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had...