Down The Desert Road
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The Word of God tells us in Acts 8:1-25 that facing a great persecution, the believers in Jerusalem were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. Everywhere they went, the believers preached the Word. One of the believers, Philip, went to Samaria preaching the Gospel everywhere and performed many miracles, casting out evil spirits and healing the sick. Acts 8:8 (NKJV) tells us, “And there was great joy in that city.” We read in Acts 8:12 (NLT), “…now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized.”
Because Philip never forsook God’s call to preach the Gospel even after having to flee from the familiar ground of Jerusalem, he was able to bring the Kingdom of God into the land of Samaria. Because of his commitment to evangelize and disciple wherever he went, God used Philip greatly to lead many people to believe in Jesus Christ. Remember, Philip was one of the believers in the church and not an apostle. In the context of today, Philip is a Christian who holds no official title of Pastor, Leader, Elder or whatsoever. Just like many of us. God has not called only a select group of Christians to make disciples of all nations. God has called every single Christian to evangelize and disciple. When you and I rise up to obey God’s call like Philip, we are going to bring forth great joy in our city and beyond!
Now, it looks to me Philip was at the peak of his ministry. I imagine him walking down the streets of Samaria, looking at the many people who once was lost but now were found in Jesus, and thanking God for all the works God has done through him.
Before he could bask any longer in this victory, we learn in Acts 8:26-30 (NKJV/NLT) –
26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.
27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,
28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the chariot.”
30 So Philip ran to him…
Philip was instructed by the Lord to go to a very desolate place. I am guessing Philip did not feel like going there, especially after having built a successful ministry in Samaria. However, we read that “so he arose and went” when he heard the Voice of the Lord. No hint of hesitation and resistance. And along the road, Philip met with an Ethiopian eunuch who held great authority in the palace. At this point, Philip heard from the Holy Spirit to go near to the eunuch’s carriage. “So Philip ran to him”, Acts 8:30 tells us. Once again, not only was there no hint of hesitation and resistance, Philip exhibited immediate and earnest obedience to God by running to catch up with the eunuch.
Philip did not demand from God the full picture before he heeded God’s Voice to go down the desert road. He did not bargain with God that there was no one to preach the Gospel to in that desolate place nor question God what He wanted him to do there. Then, Philip came upon the Ethiopian eunuch there. When the Holy Spirit told Philip to approach the eunuch, he did not rationalize about how it would be inappropriate for him to get near to the high-ranking official’s chariot nor did he stop to wonder what he was supposed to say when he saw the eunuch. He heard the voice of the Holy Spirit and so, he ran to the eunuch. And we read from Acts 8:30-40 that the conversation Philip had with the eunuch opened the way for Philip to share the Gospel of Jesus with him, lead him to receive Jesus and baptize him!
You see, when we obey God, get up and go in the direction God has called, the Holy Spirit leads us, directs and empowers us along the way so that we have the right words to say and the required abilities for that situation.
Many times, it is our doubt and rationalizing at the point of hearing God’s Word that deter us from taking the step and thereby missing out on the precious and powerful leading of the Holy Spirit that would have come if we had obeyed God in faith immediately. Let us model after the faith and obedience of Philip.
Join me in this prayer.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that there was great rejoicing in heaven when I repented and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I know, O Lord, it is Your desire that every person comes to hear of Your Good News and puts his faith in You. Forgive me for those times when I gave excuses and justification for not sharing the Gospel. I repent, and commit to heed Your call and obey Your Word to preach the Word and win people for Christ. Holy Spirit, lead me and empower me to be an effective worker reaping the field white for harvest. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”