“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” – Acts 8:26-31
In the book of Acts, the disciples of Jesus were being completely transformed. Just as Jesus had promised before his ascension, the Holy Spirit had been poured out on his people. As the disciples received this power, they ceased doubting, denying, or questioning the work of God and started preaching boldly before the people and the authorities. The church was growing, as more people came to believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
As the Holy Spirit was poured out on his people, the expanding group of disciples was called to go out and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. This call was not typically from the comfort of their living rooms. Instead, it was a call to go where the Spirit led them, even when it was uncomfortable and even dangerous. This call was so compelling that every one of Jesus’ disciples except John was killed for his faith. There was no renouncing or turning back. They each embraced their death, believing that Jesus Christ was worth their very lives.
In our reading for today, Phillip models what it means to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, not unto his death, but into the desert. An angel directed Philip to go into a desert place, to walk a road unknown to him. There was no explanation as to why, there was just the command to go. Phillip went and saw an Ethiopian court official on his way from Jerusalem. The Spirit then told Phillip to go to the chariot. Notice Phillip’s response to the Spirit’s leading: “So Phillip ran”. Phillip didn’t question, he went with haste. He ran to the chariot.
Phillip’s obedience to the Spirit resulted in the conversion of this court official and even baptism right there in the desert. God had provided Phillip to explain the Scriptures to the official, to tell him about Jesus Christ and how he was the fulfillment of these Scriptures, and then to baptize him into faith in Jesus Christ. Through Phillip, the church grew again that day!
The Holy Spirit still guides the children of God today. He longs for us to have the obedience of Phillip. Far too often, we question, doubt, or resist the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and we wonder why God’s kingdom is not expanding in the world today. Life in the Spirit is not safe or predictable, but it is so very good. It is where we experience the power of the Lord in our calling to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Reflect & Respond:
How is the Lord calling you to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. Gather your small-group to go through The Spirit Filled Life, a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
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