2018-06-17 – Acts 8.26-40 – Extraordinary Obedience

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

2018-06-17 – Acts 8.26-40 – Extraordinary Obedience

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. God bless you all.
Happy Father’s Day – (DQ gift cards) It is a wonderful blessing to be a father, and I am blessed to have a couple fathers in my life. My Biological Dad, James Grady Higdon RIP, and my Father-in-Law Ron Gray whom we are going to eat lunch with today. It is great to recognize and reflect on our fathers. Especially our wonderful Father God in heaven. How blessed are we this morning.

As we are going through the book of Acts, last week we read about Simon the great magician and his interaction with Philip and the Apostles. Simon wanted the power of the Holy Spirit and he was wanting to pay money to acquire it. But he quickly found out that it just doesn’t work that way. God requires a humble heart, and Simon wasn’t willing to give his to the Lord. On the other hand Philip was carrying out the Great Commission. He was presenting the Gospel and making new disciples of the Samarian people. God was using Philp in wondrous ways, and we are going to see again today how God continued to use him in changing the world. God can do amazing things through people that are willing to trust in Him.

So now with that background..
Please turn in your Life Book Bibles to Acts 8:26, pg 127 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with prayer.   [Prayer]

[Introduce Map]
Last week we left Philip in Samaria, and we are going to see in our text that Philip goes to the road that leads toward Gaza, just south of Jerusalem. Just to give you a perspective that is about 60 miles or probably a three day journey by foot.    Verse 26 says:
26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went.

This first grouping of verses here set the pattern for the rest. Philip who was in the middle of what could be considered a great revival for the area around Samaria, now was instructed by an angel of the Lord to just drop everything he was doing and go. The angel didn’t even give Philip any specific location, just someplace between Jerusalem and Gaza. Again it is about a 60 mile journey, and the Angel didn’t tell him even why he was going, just that he was to go. So Philip did. He got up and went. When I was in the military, we were supposed to be prepared to ship out on a moment’s notice, but in reality, it never was immediate. Even the Rapid Deployment units had to allow for the fact that people have lives, and families and are out doing things. They generally get a 24 hour notice, because it takes time to get your lives in order. Even though you have your rucksack bag packed, it still takes time to get things together. What would you do if an Angel of the Lord told you to get up and go? Would you, could you obey?

Philip is a faithful servant of the Lord. He is connected and dedicated to God’s work, and he is ready to be used by God in any capacity. Remember Philip was one of the first missionaries that left Jerusalem as a result of Saul’s persecution. Although he had great work to do in Samaria, people were coming to the Lord, it was important work, but God had a special assignment for Philip that day, and Philip got up and went. This reminds me of Abraham in the Old Testament, who even before Israel was Israel, God told him in Genesis 12, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” And Abraham did just that. Great men of God listen to the Holy Spirit’s calling on their lives. I should be more like Abraham, I should be more like Philip.

So let’s see what happens next as verse 27 continues, Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 

So Philip leaves the city, leaves the revival, leaves the new Samaritan believers, and is now standing alone in the midst of a desert, waiting for the purpose of God to unfold. Although Philip didn’t know why, just as many times we don’t know, he trusted that God always has a reason. God always has a purpose and a plan.
As Christ followers, a big part of our joy is the journey. Our purpose is to figure out God’s purpose and plan is for our lives. Philip had Extraordinary Obedience to God’s plan and purpose. He was out there in the center of the desert, when he came upon this Ethiopian statesman – a eunuch driving by in his chariot. Many times, as I am in my chariot, maybe at a gas station or downtown Kewanee, I frequently find opportunities to engage with other people. I am sure some might find it a bit strange, but most folks are happy to talk. I always try to represent Jesus to those that I meet. You never know how God might be using you for His purposes. I can’t tell you how many times I have had the privilege of praying for people while pumping gas. Like Philip, you never know what difference you might make in somebody’s life. Please consider that as you are in your own chariot. We should look for opportunities to be Christ’s ambassador. Always be ready, as it might even be a God ordained opportunity.

29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

Wow, Now Philip knows what the Lord intended by directing him to this desolate place, where there is this one lone chariot and a man from Ethiopia. Maybe you have had that same revelation, where after going through something in your life, you then can look back and see how God used that for His purpose or your benefit. Here, I believe, Philip understood that the Lord was having mercy on a man whose nationality and sexual impotence might have made him think the God of Israel would never care about him. And now God is showing him that he was important, valuable, and loved. And not only that, Philip might have also realized that the Lord was orchestrating an opportunity to evangelize the country of Ethiopia. We can’t know for sure, but a Greek cleric named Irenaeus wrote in the second century that this Ethiopian became a great missionary among his people.

A couple of other key points from these verses, just as Philip again heard and obeyed the Spirit, we should also strive to hear and obey the Spirit. Also notice how Philip ran up to the chariot, we should be so responsive in doing God’s will. Like God used Philip, God wants to use you and I as well. We need to be prepared, and we need to be sensitive to God’s leading.

32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” [PAUSE]

Can you imagine a better setup than this for Philip the great evangelist? This Ethiopian eunuch was already reading from the Isaiah scroll that was written about 800 years earlier about the coming Messiah. When this kind of thing happens I call them affirmations, as it affirms that God is with me, God is setting up great works for His glory and purpose through me. It isn’t too often that we get these types of experiences, but when it is this obvious, it is wonderful to realize. God wants you to realize that as we are working for Him, He is working with you. You are not alone. If you want to truly feel God working in your life, then start working for Him. You will never be disappointed.

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this? About himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 

So starting with the Old Testament, Isaiah 53 & 56, Philip told him that “the Lord has laid upon (Jesus) the iniquities of us all” and that we are now set right with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Philip saw with his own eyes how Jesus became the answer to what Isaiah prophesized 800 years earlier. What happened that day was such a blessing, both for the eunuch and for Philip.

Many of times I struggle with how to properly introduce Jesus to the folks I meet. Seldom have I experienced such an amazing setup. I realize that nobody comes to God unless God first prepares their hearts. And as we witness to peopl, we want to assess where they are in their understanding and beliefs. We want to be sensitive and audit their situation so we might present the Good News Gospel in a way that they might be prepared to receive it. This eunuch received the Gospel that day, the next verses here make that plain and clear:

36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

It is obvious Philip told the Eunuch that just as Jesus was baptized, He instructs all believers to be baptized as well. So right then and there, with no pomp or circumstance, the eunuch was baptized by Philip. They loved and obeyed Jesus, the Lamb of God, their Savior, Messiah and Lord. What wonderful and Extraordinary Obedience they demonstrated that day. And God again provided, right in the middle of a desert, a body of water just perfect for them.

He was a eunuch; an emasculated man. He had no hope of posterity or family.  He did however have influence in Ethiopia, charge of all of her treasure. We would probably call him the Secretary of the Treasury. Somehow he learned about Jehovah; he had embraced the true God and had gone to Jerusalem to call upon His name. We might suppose he was bringing the Isaiah scrolls back to Ethiopia, but at the same time he was seeking wisdom and understanding. He had given his heart to the Lord, but there was still a searching in his soul. God answered his yearnings that day. God may have even given him those yearnings in the first place. No doubt his life was changed as a result.

Question: Like the Ethiopian eunuch, do you ever read the Bible and say to yourself, what in the world am I reading? Please know when that happens, God doesn’t want you to be confused. God’s word is wonderfully written. If you ever find yourself in that predicament, please give me a call, or call upon one of the elder members here in this church to deliberate with. It is a joy to wrestle with God’s word, the Bible itself says we should ask God for wisdom. And like the eunuch, God will reveal himself to you as you are prepared to receive Him.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

The Bible also says in the very first Psalm that a person who meditates on God’s Word will be blessed. The wisdom of the Bible will help guide a person to avoid the wrong path, the wrong friends and influences. Meditating, memorizing, studying and thinking about scripture brings the promise of being like a tree planted by a river. The person will have the life-giving nourishment that God provides through His Word.  Our last verses today, starting at 39 says:

39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Interesting to note that Philip didn’t walk to Azotus, it says the Holy Spirit “snatched” him away. The eunuch I am sure was surprised, and it further excited him, solidifying his understanding and belief that this was not a chance encounter. God performed a miracle using Philip that day. The eunuch was rejoicing while Philip kept evangelizing.

This His-Story lesson today is a great example of Extraordinary Obedience, as is the title of this message. And being that this is Father’s day, I want to challenge all men in this church today that we all should be more like Philip. Be willing to carry out God’s will as He makes it known to us. And in doing so, your life, as well as your family’s life, will be fuller and more blessed than you could ever imagine. Like Philip and the eunuch, get to know God’s Word. Set the example, and let your children see you studying God’s word. Like it says in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

On this Father’s day, our wonderful Father God wants you to know that He loves you so. He wants only the best for all His children. Just like He did for the Ethiopian Eunuch, He is watching over you right now, and He desires for you to draw close to Him. He never forces Himself upon anyone, but He offers a blessed life to those that will call upon His son Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior.

Will you please stand with me now.    Let Us Pray: Heavenly Father..