Friday, August 16, 2013

Praying for divine appointments

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both 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 suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

I love this passage from Acts. Love too Philip's passion for the gospel! He has really taken to heart and is living out Jesus' command to GO and make disciples of all nations. Philip is prepared to 'Go' where ever the Holy Spirit will send him. But look just where he has been sent!
“Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
He has been sent to the desert road. You might have excused Philip if he had said:
"Surely that's not right... what's the point of going to the desert road Lord?" After all the desert road leads to the desert place! The desert place is fruitless, it is desolate, it is hot and it's no place for an evangelist!

But God knows that just around the corner is a God seeker, someone trying to make sense out of life, someone in need of salvation. And anyway that is not Philip's attitude. Philip obeys the Lord's instruction but how!
Then Philip ran up to the chariot
Did you get that? He RAN! You see Philip knows God is on the case. I believe that Philip prayed that morning for divine appointments, prayed for opportunity to share the good news of Jesus (a dangerous prayer - a prayer that Jesus will always answer!) and Philip knows that this is his answer to prayer, so Philip is excited, he is hungry, he is up for it - so he runs!
Paul says: 'make the most of every opportunity' and here is Philip making the most of every opportunity! Paul also says 'I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes' and here is Philip showing that he is no ashamed of the gospel, recognising its power to save.  ' my food' says Jesus ' is to do the will of him who sent me' and here is Philip doing the will of Jesus who sent him.

All this leaves us with challenging questions:
Are we prepared to pray daily for divine appointments, opportunity to share the good news of Jesus?
Are we prepared to make the most of every opportunity when it comes along?
Are we prepared to show that we are not ashamed of the gospel?

I was at Elim Festival a couple of weeks ago, where we were asked if over the years ours sense of salvation has been self devalued somewhat. 'If not' said Mark Greenwood, 'why then have we stopped talking to our friends about Jesus?'