Philip - That Is The Question...

Acts 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?

In Matthew 28, Jesus commissions the believer with earth's ultimate purpose:  evangelism and discipleship.  Churches today recognize these final words under the label "The Great Commission."  Yet we are hard pressed to discover an individual, much less a church that is actively pursuing the evangelism and discipleship of their community.  We focus greatly on building our buildings,  maintaining our small groups, cultivating "relationships," and doing our good deed humanitarian events that we have forgotten why we are still here.  If salvation's purpose was solely religious relationships,  don't you think we would have been raptured after salvation?

Friend, I don't have a deep insight to present you with this evening.  All I can do is draw your attention to the Scripture and let it speak for itself.  How will people come to the knowledge of the Savior unless someone guides them?  Do we honestly believe that leaving that tract on the table completes our spiritual duty for the day?  If we recognized the horrors of hell and the joys of heaven, with how many more people would we share the gospel? If the church honestly believed the soon return of the Lord that is so often preached,  what individuals would we take time to conversate with, rather than avoid eye contact as we pass by?  Is it a Sunday faith or a life saturating faith?

By evaluating ourself by questions such as these, we can accurately asses our spiritual depth.  The world is sending a wake up call to Christians as she pleadingly inquires "How can I, except someone should guide me?"  The question stands,  and the answer lies in your hands, neighbor.  The Lord is returning soon.  Souls perish each moment and slip into eternity.   Our lives are as a vapor which appears for a little time and vanishes away.  What are you doing with your vapor?  Are you making it count?  Will your life have an eternal impact or simply rely on earthly investments?  Stop praying for opportunities to witness, and start taking the ones already in your path.

Philip - The Power of Perception

30And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

Even while running ragged through this desert, alongside a racing chariot, Philip chose to be perceptive.  If you have ever watched the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon you know that taking your eye off your direction for even one second results in running smack dab into a tree.  While moving in any capacity whether by foot or vehicle, the goal is to look ahead and beware of any obstacles in our path.  Turning away for a moment can be deadly.  Have you ever driven behind someone who was texting and driving?  Did you notice how often their vehicle swerved and over-corrected?  Somehow Philip was able to safely manage Textus Receptus style texting and running!  

Philip took initiative to recognize not only that the man was reading the Word, but specifically what passage he was in.  What kind of focus must that have taken?  To see the words of a scroll, not the text of a finely printed book, while keeping pace with the vehicle beside! Then, after assessing the situation and noticing the details, Philip pries into mind of this man. Maybe he had a confused look, or a posture of bewilderment, so Philip asks,  "Do you understand what you are reading?"  

Suddenly this maniac running next to his chariot became an individual of value.  This crazed athlete just might have information pertaining to his ignorance.  By simply being asked a relevant question, he can now invite the preacher into his chariot with good reason.  He has let down his guard for Philip to speak into his life.

I get it....the world is so fast paced!  As I walk through the mall, nearly every individual has their face buried in a phone, at times texting those within their direct proximity.  Instead of living life for enjoyment, we look for, even create opportunities to socially broadcast our lives.  We don't live....we tweet.  Just when you think you have got someone's attention and have engaged them in conversation, the turn of their head reveals a bluetooth headset to your embarrassment.  If we aren't tweeting, we're face booking. If we aren't texting, we're talking on the phone.  If we aren't on the phone our face is plugged into a television monitor or computer system. 

Even with the obstacle of technology in the faces of neighbors and ourselves,  nothing can replace the value of genuine, physical interaction.  Take time this week to notice.  Watch for body language and signs of emotion.  Mentally capture the details of an individual that will create a launching-pad for conversation.  By the simple ask of a question, you have extended a personal "friend request" that can then be accepted or ignored.  Due to the rarity of this interaction in our culture, I think you be pleasantly surprised at the response you receive. Your perception has power.  Your concern has clout.  Put the phone down, and be willfully ready for the opportunities God will place right before your ears and ears.  

Philip - A Racing Requirement

Acts 8:29 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. 

Over the next few days we are going to dissect these three verses individually, but for the sake of context we listed them all today.  By way of review, Philip was preaching a football stadium sized revival. Amidst this fantastic move of God, Philip is ordered into a desert place.  Philip obeyed immediately with no record of question.  A rich and powerful man is in route from Jerusalem where he has been searching out "worship."  We now find ourselves in verse 29 of Acts cxhapter 8.

A cloud of dust fills the air as a racing chariot carrying this dignitary drives on.  Context suggests that Philip is now standing still and the chariot enters his view.  The Spirit says "Go near and join yourself to this chariot."  If I were in Philip's shoes, I would be looking for MY chariot to appear right about now.  My lesser faith would say, "'ve got to be kidding.....that chariot is being pulled by some pretty fast horses!!  How in the world???"  Seriously,  imagine standing alongside the interstate as a corvette enters your peripheral.  You are instructed to go "join" yourself to this car.  Does that put this in context for you?

Philip, however takes off running.  For some reason I had always pictured him sprinting and jumping onto the chariot in superman fashion and leading this guy to Jesus; As I began to read, I saw something very different.  It is not until verse 31 that the Ethiopian man invites him on board the vehicle.  Philip is literally racing while reaching this man.  The Holy Spirit adrenaline pumping through his very soul equipped him for the task at hand: Matching pace with a moving chariot, and with breath enough to speak, engaging this man.

Social networking, technological evolution, efficient vehicles, and demanding schedules keep our world moving at 100 mph each moment of the day.  With laptops, tablets, and cell phones in hand, taking a moment to genuinely relax from the trends and tragedy of today is far from the normal.   This fast-paced chariot culture, pulled by the horses of economy makes reaching even our next door neighbor seem impossible, but if a Spirit directed individual can match pace with a horse-drawn chariot, surly that same Spirit can perfectly align my steps in opportunity to evangelize.

Will we watch as opportunity after opportunity race by, or will we take off running claiming His promises and provision? Evangelism does not always equal the football stadium revival, and will not always seek us out within the comfort zone of our church-house walls.  Opportunity does exist.  It is only a matter of chasing after it.

Philp - "Driven to Worship"

Acts 8:27 …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 Esaius the prophet (Isaiah 53)

One of the greatest pieces of evidence pointing to a creator is the internal drive of every man to worship something.  From the jungles of Africa to the rice fields of China, each and every culture is driven by a worship and draw to a power greater than humanity.  Even the individual who claims there is no God is driven to worship a science, seeking understanding of something greater.  The Bible says in Romans 1, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

No doubt you have encountered an individual questioning the grace of God saying, “how could a just and merciful God allow a human life in Africa, never having heard the gospel to go to hell?”  Romans submits that all are without excuse because his power is displayed in and through his creation.  I believe that native as he intently hunts a wild boar could look across the jungle and say in his own tongue “somebody had to have made this.”  I believe an omnipotent and omniscient God could have already equipped and burdened a missionary for that very soul who is surrendering to an internal prompting. 

In this passage we find a man from a pagan land returning from Jerusalem.  This man had all the power and money one could dream of.  As a dignitary under Queen Candace he had control of the entirety of the country’s wealth.  With everything going for him, he still knew deep within he needed to worship.  Nothing in his homeland could satisfy, but something was happening in Jerusalem.  If he was to ever discover genuine worship of a real God,  he must needs go to Jerusalem.  Like our world today,  he went to “church” and left with a Bible, but no instruction or discipleship on how to read it. 

Each soul is compelled by its creator to seek out worship.  Each Sunday the churches of America are blessed with traffic flow through the doors of the church-house. People are seeking something to fill the void so apparent in their lives.  In our technological age, there is free access to the Word of God on every smart phone and computer.  The Bible continues to be the best seller of all time.  The information is there. The internal draw is there!  What more does it take?  Tune in tomorrow as we continue in the life of Philip. 

Philip (Part 1) - Delighting in Your Dessert

   Acts 8:26And 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.27And he arose and went:

In this passage we find the man of God participating in a massive revival.  Lives are being changed, the church is growing, and God is doing miraculous things here.  From our perspective, it would seem that Philip is in the perfect place to be used by God, and any move whatsoever would be a mistake!  Yet we find the angel of the Lord speaking to Philip calling him into the dessert.

I have been privileged to fellowship with some amazing men of God, walking faithfully in the gifts of the Spirit.  A common trend I have observed, is after a time of great triumph, comes a time of great testing.  We see this in scripture in the life of men like Elijah and Paul.  Philip is no different as he is called from a multitude filled with revival to an abandoned dessert.  

I cannot know the thoughts of the preacher, but I place myself in his shoes and imagine a bit of questioning as I journey toward this dessert place.  Despite anything that may have been going on in his mind,  Philip arose and went.  Obedience can only be counted as such when it takes place immediately.  

Friend,  you may find yourself now located in a dry and thirsty land.  You have come from a place of victory and fail to rationalize this new locale.  Stand firm, and follow faithfully, because as we will see in the life of Philip, God has a plan that surpasses our understanding.  When the Spirit moves, make sure you move with Him. This dessert is not a permanent place, just an opportunity for God to provide.  His steps will not lead where his grace cannot keep.  Doing his will always leads to a delight.