Saturday, March 9, 2013

Not a Boring Ride

Every other month I drive to Alexandria, Louisiana, for an intelligence meeting with law enforcement. I have to tell you I-49 from Shreveport to Alexandria is rather mundane. As a matter of fact it is easy to zone out, and then I look around and realize I’m in Mansfield. What happened to Natchitoches? I’d like to say I’m teleported or something, but I’m not. I just become unaware of my surroundings. Sometimes I really dread the drive.

Have you recently read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian? I love this story. It’s found in Acts 8:26-40. You should make time to read it and meditate on it. Read it in different translations while you are at it and put yourself in their shoes. Let me set the background for you. Stephen has just been stoned, and Saul is on a rampage. Christians start scattering like roaches when the light comes on...pretty colorfull description, huh? What Saul and Satan meant to use to harm the Christian movement actually spread the Word of God like wildfire. When persecution hits and the believers divide, God is actually multiplying. Philip had just been in Samaria where they were hungry for the Word of God. People were being healed. Demons were being caste out. People were becoming Christians, and the Holy Spirit had made his presence known. Talk about a mountaintop experience! Then an angel tells Philip to go to the desert road.

REALLY? The desert? Do you know what it’s like out there? It’s dry. It’s dusty. Plus, I’m in a great place on this mountain. That’s the way a lot of Christians would probably respond today. Instead of expecting God to show up in an awesome way on the desert road, we would complain about the conditions in which we were going to have to serve. Sometimes I really hate that about myself. But let’s see what Philip does.

As soon as the angel tells Philip to go, he does. There’s no delay. There’s no picking up a few groceries or packing a bag. He just goes. How honest. How trusting. How pure is that?

On the way Philip sees an Ethiopian eunuch who according to verse 27 is an important official in charge of all the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship. After doing some googling, it appears this eunuch traveled over 1000 miles one way to worship. Some of us have a hard time and look for excuses not to go to the church less than 10 miles away using our cars! This eunuch traveled for days just to worship in Jerusalem. He was obviously hungry for the Word. Have you ever hungered after the Word like that? Have you ever just wanted to be in God’s presence or in the Bible that you were willing to do whatever was necessary to have that time? The eunuch was sitting in his chariot when the Spirit told Philip to go to his chariot and stand near it. What did Philip do? Did he nonchalantly walk over? Did he sachet? Did he swagger to the chariot? Nope. He ran. Has the Spirit ever laid something on your heart? How did you respond? Did you run to do as he instructed? I so love this about Philip…childlike faith. He didn’t know what was going to happen, but if the Spirit was leading him, Philip knew that something was going to happen.

So put yourself in the eunuch’s place. He’s sitting on the side of the road, chillin’, trying to read and understand the book of Isaiah, when this goofy guy who had been walking down the road makes a bead line towards him running at a full sprint. I’m surprised Philip wasn’t accosted by the eunuch’s men, but maybe they were all to stunned by his behavior to react or maybe just maybe God had already prepared them.

Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The willingness of Philip to start a conversation with a stranger opened the door for him to share the most amazing story in the world. Philip told the eunuch about Jesus using the verses the eunuch was struggling with. The eunuch becomes a Christian and while the eunuch and Philip are traveling together they come upon a body of water. First of all, I like the fact that Philip walked with the eunuch. New believers need someone who will walk with them, teach them, encourage them, and mentor them.

Philip baptized the eunuch. The eunuch came out of the water, and the Spirit came down and took Philip away. So, let’s say you are being baptized, you come up excited, and then the guy who was baptizing you is gone. That would FREAK ME OUT! SERIOUSLY! The Bible says the Spirit suddenly took Philip away and the eunuch did not see him again according to verse 39. The eunuch went on his way rejoicing. Maybe after hearing Philip talk about everything he had seen in Jerusalem and Samaria, maybe the eunuch just thought this was normal. Verse 40 says, “Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about. Okay, so Philip is standing in water and then in a totally different town…Another example of teleporting (hahaha). But seriously, I am so curious about what Philip experienced and what he saw and felt and heard while the Spirit was taking him to a new location. Am I the only one who wonders about this kind of stuff? The Bible says he began travelling again and preaching the gospel. He wasn’t telling about his experience. He was telling about Jesus and what Jesus had done and what Jesus could do for them. Talk about focus! He obviously didn’t have ADHD…obviously.

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