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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

Where the Wind Blows by Pastor Paul Becker

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (Jn 3:8)

In the passage under consideration, Philip is very much in tune with God's leading in his decision-making. Let’s take an inventory of the evidence:

  • In v. 26, Philip receives instruction from an angel of the Lord to change his direction of travel. He promptly follows this lead.

  • In vs. 29-30, Philip sees an Ethiopian court official riding in a chariot and reading from a scroll containing the book of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit prompts him to approach the Ethiopian and engage in conversation.

How does this part of the story instruct us to follow Jesus? As followers of Jesus, we should posture ourselves to expect and follow God’s leading on our conscience, even if that leading directs us away from our plans and desires. When we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we learn that we are led to divine appointments.  The Spirit reveals his purposes as we follow. In other words, we should not expect the Lord to offer us full knowledge about his purposes before we follow his lead. Perhaps one of the reasons why congregations fail to demonstrate power in ministry is that they want all apprehensions, fears, and anxieties to be allayed before doing what they know they are being led to do.

This passage offers an example of engaging someone in a gospel conversation.  When Philp drew near, the Ethiopian was reading Isaiah 53 aloud. So, how did Philip start a gospel conversation? Philip asked the Ethiopian if he knew what the passage meant. The chapter is about the “Suffering Servant.” The Holy Spirit used Philip to share the gospel message that Jesus is the servant of God who suffered death for sinners. The Ethiopian asked Philip to baptize him.

How does this part of the story instruct us to follow Jesus?  We learn four things.  First, when we are led to a person who wants to know more about God, it is good to ask questions that promote conversation. Prideful questions put people on defense. Questions, offered from a posture of humility, lead to effective openings to share the hope of Christ. Second, choosing to read and learn about scripture is essential to being ready to share the hope of Christ. We won't be prepared to share the gospel if we aren’t reading the Bible and are closed off from bible study. Third, the gospel is good news for all kinds of people. Fourth, and most important, when the gospel is shared, two people are transformed: the person sharing the gospel and the one who joyfully accepts it!

What about the science-fiction-like ending of the story? In vs. 39-40, Philip is swiftly transported to Azotus. How did this happen? The only answer is by the power of God. That said, there are two observations to be made. First, when the Spirit accomplishes his mission through us, there will be work to do elsewhere. This applies to individuals and churches. Second, we tend to dwell too long in the shadow of glorious ministry rather than praying to the Lord, “Where will you send us next, Lord?”

In summary, Acts 8:26-40 teaches us about obedience, divine appointments, understanding Scripture, sharing the gospel with all kinds of people, and the power of transformation. Let our faith be marked by openness, courage, and a willingness to follow God's lead, just as Philip did on that desert road!

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