This week, we’re continuing our message series based on NBC’s TV series, “AD.”
It’s no secret today, and perhaps quite an understatement, that we live very busy lives. Our days start early and end late packed with back-to-back activities. There is just so much to get done and it seems, not much time to work with. We get easily irritable and frustrated when the unexpected occurs. Whether it be someone’s card not working in front of you at the line at the grocery store, an accident on your way to your next meeting, or something that breaks when you are depending on it, these all can be very frustrating irritations.
We absolutely hate interruptions. We especially hate when “important tasks” are delayed by some ordinary task that needs done. Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, vehicle maintenance, who has time for these things?
This morning, we’re not gathering to condemn busyness. Although, there is wisdom in being a bit more discerning and being a better steward of what we spend our time doing. After all, God rested on the seventh day as an example for us to also take this Sabbath Day and we also know that He gives rest to those He loves. It’s up to us to obey Him or to obey our calendar.
This morning, however, we take a look at the life of a very busy man named Philip. Philip was one of the twelve disciples and when persecution broke out, He went to Samaria and a very powerful ministry began. Philip was doing the hard work of a church planter starting a new church from nothing. More than this, Philip was leading a ground breaking move of God in Samaria where God was healing centuries old wounds between the Jerusalem Jews and the Samaritans. We saw a little hint of how bad things were between the Samaritans and those who worshiped God in Jerusalem by taking a look in John chapter 4 at the discussion between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well or Luke chapter 10 at the parable of the Good Samaritan. God’s power was being displayed by this powerful reconciliation under the ministry of Philip. We find Philip’s account here:
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Philip was so busy that Peter and John came down to Samaria to help him for a while and they received the Holy Spirit as they prayed over the new believers. Peter and John then went back to Jerusalem sharing the gospel message in many Samaritan towns along their way. In the midst of these busy times as Philip was preaching, teaching, healing, and building a church from nothing, God asks Philip to take a walk out in the desert.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Philip was very busy with very important things. You would think that God would understand the great need for Philip to remain in Samaria to lead, train, and equip these new believers and then to slowly transition someone to lead in his place before moving Philip elsewhere, right? After all isn’t that the biblical pattern for leadership such as Moses and Joshua?
How could this possibly be an angel of the Lord? Perhaps it was just a temptation of the enemy to abandon Samaria and cause even further division. Perhaps it was just a distraction to pull Philip away from a powerful move of God.
No, this was God’s will and it took an angel to get the message across to Philip. The simple call not to preach, not to perform signs and miracles, not to teach, not to evangelize, not to meet with someone. God simply called Philip to take a walk.
What we all too often fail to see in our lives is that often the ordinary is God’s path to the extraordinary! Over and over again throughout the scriptures, God called men and women of faith to do the very simple and ordinary. As they were faithful to do these things, God lead them into greater things. Take David’s example. David was anointed as king over Israel and then was sent out to tend the sheep so that his brothers could do “more important” things. It was in those fields, however, where the Lord trained David to be able to slay the enemy that thousands of trained soldiers could not.
God values availability over ability!
Obedience to the Lord is they key to unlock the resources of Heaven. Not simply doing what God asks us to, but doing it with the right heart and attitude. Philip didn’t doubt or argue with the Lord’s angel. He didn’t need to know where this desert road would lead him. He didn’t need to know what would happen along the way. He didn’t need to know how far to travel on it or what to take with him. Philip didn’t need any details, he needed to simply obey a simple word from the Lord. Philip simply obeyed.
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 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.”
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?” 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.
Philip obeyed God and did the ordinary in the midst of his busyness and God did the extraordinary as a result.
How can we be like Philip and have God do the extraordinary through our ordinary lives?
1. Be Attentive
We have to train ourselves to hear God’s voice and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Philip being attentive is what enabled His ministry to be so powerful and how he heard the call to take a walk. The most important thing that we can ever be doing is what God is calling us to in that moment (repeat). Whether that be praying for the sick or simply taking a walk, what God calls us to do is our #1 priority. Cooperating with God in obedience is a certain way to live a blessed life.
2. Be Available
From cover to cover of scripture, we find that God values availability over ability. God can work through us to do anything, nothing is too hard for Him! What we are unable to do on our own, He will enable us to accomplish. However, we must be available to cooperate with Him!
The Lord will lead us one step at a time. Philip needed to simply make himself available to God and take the next step that God directed him to take. First, it was to take a walk through the desert, then to go to a chariot. He then looked for a way to connect with with the eunuch by asking questions. Because Philip obeyed the Lord, he was at the right place at the right time and the extraordinary happened during an ordinary commute through the desert.
Sometimes, simply being available to someone opens doors for us to connect with them and allows God to work the miraculous in their lives through ours.
3. Be Humble
We must never believe that we are too busy with “important things” to do a mundane task for the Lord! When we serve others with humility, we get to be a part of God’s most important and valuable work. When we serve others with humility, we do what Jesus did.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
When you see a need that you are able to meet, don’t think too highly of yourself and don’t look down on others. Humble yourself and do what you can with what you have as the Lord leads. In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus said that in the end, whatever we did for the least of these, we did for Him and rich will be our reward!
As we leave here, we’re reminded to be attentive, be available, and be humble. As we are obedient to do as the Lord leads, He is sure to bless us and work the miraculous in and through our lives showing the world just how awesome and glorious Jesus is!