Good Good God: God’s Guidance

Good Good God: God’s Guidance 

Opening Statement:
There have been many times in my life where I have sought out God’s plan for my life.  In several of those cases, God guided me down a path that I would have chosen for myself.  Have you ever asked God for a clear sign, a clear destination?  I have.  To many times instead of getting clarity, I am greeted by more confusion.  I have sat down with countless people who earnestly prayed for God’s will or direction and seemingly God did not answer.  Let’s be honest, God’s guidance over and through our lives can seem very confusing.  

Is God’s Guidance Clear or Confusing?

Background:
Today we will examine the story of Philip and his witness to the Ethiopian eunuch.  We first hear Philip’s name mentioned in Acts 6.  Philip was elected as a deacon to the church in Jerusalem.  

Scripture tells us that Philip was “spirit filled”.  

We also know that he was well liked by the congregation.  

We also know that Philip was talented in the area of conflict resolution.  It was Philip and 6 other men who led the church to find peace.  

We also know that Philip had a heart for people in dire circumstances.  In Acts 6, we discover that Philip led the way in making sure that widows and orphans had enough food to eat.  

Philip also loved local pastors, apostles and preachers.  Philip stepped forward in the church to help the pastors and leaders so that they could devote themselves to prayer and teaching.  

Let’s take a moment and read today from Acts 8:26-40.  In this piece of Scripture, we will discover that God gave Philip some odd, even confusing guidance.  I believe that we can learn from Philip’s example and how he embraced God’s leading in his life.  

Acts 8:26-40 ESV
26 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. 27 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 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

3 Lessons To Learn From Philip

I. God Can Lead Us To Strange Places vs. 26
Acts 8:26 ESV
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. 27 And he rose and went.

Illustration:
It was just a few weeks ago that I heard the name Luke Aikins.  Luke Aikins recently plummeted from an airplane at 25,000 feet without any kind of parachute, landing neatly in a square 100 feet x 100 feet net set up to catch him. He landed at terminal velocity or 120 mph. Utterly crazy and even stupid, right? The guy has a wife and a four-year-old son. He risked all of it to set a world record.  



Do you ever feel that God asks us to do the same thing.  He says to jump out in the darkness and have faith that he will hold you.  He tells us that we need not worry about the fall because He will catch us.  

Friends, that is exactly what happens to Philip.  In verse 26, God calls Philip to jump out of a perfectly good ministry into the great unknown.  

Point:
Philip was excited.  His new ministry was just getting off the ground in Jerusalem.  He was in a prominent leadership position in the church.  The apostles counted on him to get things done and make things happen.  Philip loved living in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was what many would call “ground zero” for the Christian faith.  It is where Jesus was crucified and resurrected.  It was in this city that the Christian faith would start and spread her wings.  

Philip was a part of something bigger than himself.  Because of his leadership and tender care, the church was growing. It was not growing just a little, Scripture tells us that thousands of people were being added daily to their number.  A mighty sweeping revival was taking place and Philip was a part of this tremendous spiritual movement.  

Just as things were really starting to blow and go, Philip got a call.  It was not just any call, it was a call from God Himself.  Acts 8 tells us that an angel of the Lord came to Philip and told him to pack his bags and start walking.  No doubt God had to send a pretty impressive representative because I really doubt that Philip would have left for any other reason.  It would have to be an angel to get him moving from his current situation.  

Remember, Philip felt called to serve in the church.  He felt connected to the people and the pastors.  He was channeling his talents and gifts and seeing widespread growth.  Now the Lord is saying “leave”.

This must have been difficult news to hear for Philip.  God is calling Philip to leave everything he knows.  He is calling Philip to leave his mentors, his friends and his church.  

Oh, God is not just calling Philip to anywhere.  He is calling him to move Gaza.  Gaza was a bit over 60 miles away from Jerusalem.  It would not be an easy road.  The road that Philip would travel would be a slow tedious journey.  The Scripture even tells us that it will be a hot road.  It will be a desert road.  

Point:
Have you ever felt that you were right where YOU wanted to be but God had different plans?  Perhaps you were happy in your job right before you lost it and wondered why God allowed that to happen.  Perhaps you were healthy and strong and enjoying life just before you were diagnosed with cancer.  You wondered what God was up to.  

Why did God call you away from what was clearly good and call you to the desert passage?

Point:
Friend, I think that I have discovered the answer to the desert road callings of life.  I believe that I know why God calls us out of the good places we are in to embrace the hard hot roads of life.  

The answer is “growth”.  As good as things had been going for Philip, Philip’s life was to routine.  It was to comfy.  Sure, he was happy and satisfied in what he was doing, but satisfaction with our lives is not what God has called us to do or be.  God has called us to growth.  

Friends, it is no the desert roads of life where we see the most personal and spiritual growth.  It is on the desert road where we must fully depend on the strong hand of the invisible God to sustain us.  it is on the desert road where we have the best opportunity to reconnect with God.  

One of the most curious characters in all of the Bible is John The Baptist.  John not only traveled desert roads, he lived in the desert.  Luke 1:80 tells the reader that while John lived in the dry wasteland that he grew strong in the spirit.  It was the desert that actually amplified John growth and connection to God.  

Look at just about every character in the Bible.  Each one had a desert road experience.  That desert road changed who that person was and the trajectory of their life.  In the desert we must dig deeper to find water.  

Philip was not just called to walk the desert road, he was called to dig deeper in his faith.  

Perhaps you are walking the desert road today.  Perhaps you do not understand why God has allowed you to lose your job, face challenges in your marriage or parenting, or look at cancer or disease in the face.  Friend, you are walking that desert road to grow you.  You are walking that desert road because God wants you to dig deep in your faith so that you can find the living water.  

Brothers and sisters on the desert road, remember that you are not alone.  Jesus had his desert experience and it was that experience that prepared him for a ministry that changed the world.  God is using your desert road to prepare you, to shape you for future ministry service.  

The Nation of Israel spent 40 years in the desert

Joseph traveled the desert road in Genesis 37

Moses wondered in the desert for 40 years

Elijah retreated to the desert after confronting Ahab in I Kings 17

David was hunted in the desert by King Saul in I Samuel 24 through 27

Job walked the long hurtful road of personal struggles

John The Baptist made his home in the desert in Luke 3

Jesus spent 40 days in the desert in Matthew 4:1-11

Paul spent time in the desert in Galatians 1 and 4

Point:
When it comes to desert road experiences, most of us shun the idea.  We don’t want to go to hard places. Especially when we are happy in what we are doing.  However if God has called you to a desert road or a strange place, do not resist.  God will use that desert road, that strange place as a megaphone to hear his voice.  

Many people say that they cannot hear God’s voice.  The truth of the matter is that we rarely have the willingness of Philip.  Philip new that God’s voice was on the desert road.  Notice that Philip did not fight with the angel, he accepted the call.  Brothers and sisters, if you say no to the desert road, then you are saying know to potentially hearing God’s voice with clarity and you are saying no to personal and spiritual growth.  

Deuteronomy 2:7 ESV
"For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing."'

3 Lessons To Learn From Philip

I. God Can Lead Us To Strange Places vs. 26
II. God Can Introduce Us To Strange Faces vs. 27-29
Acts 8:27-29
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 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

Illustration:
Many years ago in China great numbers of Chinese people were being seized, bonded in slavery, and delivered to the mines of South Africa. They were forced to descend into the black depths of the earth where gold was mined. They worked long, sunless days deep in the caverns, with no hope---and it was never long before death from suffocation, infected lungs, or perhaps the occasional avalanche delivered the Chinese slave from his life of agony. 

Lough Fook, a wealthy man, and a follower of Jesus Christ, took the pains of his brothers to heart. He placed himself on the human slave market and became a coolie slave for a term of five years. He was loaded aboard a ship with the other slaves, and made the sad voyage to South Africa. There Fook toiled in the mines for years, talking constantly about Jesus as he worked. 



Every day, one or two more believers swelled the ranks of Christian believers in that darkened pit. The light of Christ shined brightly, and there was hope again. The day arrived when Lough Fook's own human light was finally snuffed out, but he left behind nearly two hundred who had begun as slaves of the darkness, and now were willing slaves of Christ. 

Like Jesus Himself Lough Fook had humbled himself and taken the form of a slave. He had become obedient even unto death. God's love shining through Lough Fook made it possible. Fook believed that the Gospel was for everyone and everyone deserved to hear the message of salvation. 

Point:
So there was Philip, feeling lonely on that desert road.  Chances are he was thinking about home and what lay in store for him.  As he walked he approached carriage.  This not just any carriage, it was the carriage of the Ethiopian treasurer and servant to the Ethiopian queen Candace.  Philip, again being led by the Spirit, went to the Ethiopian and began a discussion about matters of faith and salvation. We will cover what was said in just a moment.  

Two times in Scripture, Luke makes it known that this man was an Ethiopian serving the Ethiopian queen.  Why?  Why was this important to mention not once but twice.  The reason he mentioned it twice was to remind the reader that this man was not Jewish.  He was a Gentile. During Luke’s day, many of the newly converted Jewish Christians believe that the message of salvation through Jesus Christ was a localized invitation.  Meaning that only Jews could receive salvation.  Through Philip, God shatters that notion.  

Philip, being a Jewish man, would have had to battle with his former notions of race and religion.  Even as a Jew, Philip would have taught from childhood that his ancestors were God’s people.  God loved them, protected them and provided solely for them.  Jews would have had a very inflated view of themselves and their spiritual heritage.  You see this notion of ethnic superiority play out in the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  

John 4:7-9 ESV
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 

In this moment on the desert road, God would open the eyes of Philip to the idea that the Gospel was meant for more than himself and his people.  The Gospel was open to all people.  All races.  People from all places.  

Point:
We also discover that this man was traveling home from Jerusalem where he had been worshipping. Chances are this man had embraced the tenants of Judaism.  So, he was a Gentile Jew.  This was not necessarily abnormal.  However, this man, because he was a Gentle, was not permitted to have access to the entire temple.  Nor was able to participate in all the Jewish rituals.  He may have been Jewish, but his race prevented him from enjoying all the aspects of the teaching, sacrificing and worship.  

Imagine how frustrating that must have been for him.  He could hear Scripture being read but there was no way for him to receive explanation or interpretation of what was being taught.  

Yet again, Philip has his eyes opened to the fact that Jesus was for everyone, but that this man would have complete access to Jesus.  There were no bars on the doors.  There were no locks to keep this man out. 

In traveling the desert road, Philip grew in his understanding that this message of the Gospel was meant for all people.  

Question:
Can you think of any group that you believe doesn’t deserve the Gospel?
Can you think of any race that doesn’t deserve the Gospel?

Friend, the Gospels are clear, the message of Christ does not belong to us.  The Gospel is not a burden to bear but a gift to share.  

Mark 16:15 ESV
And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 

3 Lessons To Learn From Philip

I. God Can Lead Us To Strange Places vs. 26
II. God Can Introduce Us To Strange Faces vs. 27-29
III. God Guides Us To Share His Graces vs. 34-35 
Acts 8:34-35 ESV
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 

Illustration: Hector Ramirez
Few people go to the grocery store with the intention or expectations of interacting with strangers. Hector Ramirez, a junior communications major at Troy University, goes out into the community to pray for strangers and share the love of Jesus.

“I take a simple trip to the store, but I’m not just so focused on getting my groceries when there are people walking by who don’t know who Jesus is,” Ramirez said. “They don’t know that He loves them and that He died for them and for every person.”



Ramirez, who his a member of The Vine Church in Troy, began going to Walmart to speak to strangers he came across and ask if they needed prayer. He said the Holy Spirit leads him to the ones he needs to speak to.

“It takes boldness and it takes courage to get out here and pray for people,” he said. “God never told us to be comfortable. Some people say they aren’t called to do that. So, you’re saying that you aren’t called to tell people that Jesus loves them?”

While he began his journey alone, others have noticed the impact and have begun to pray with him. Ramirez now has a group of about eight people who actively go into places such as Walmart, Piggly Wiggly and the jail to pray with strangers and tell them about Jesus. Ramirez said that in just two outings, eight people received salvation and gave their lives to Christ.

Point:
So, a conversation starts with Philip and the Ethiopian.  Philip discovers that this man is very curious about the Gospel.  You can hear the desertion in the Ethiopian’s voice as he wants to know more and more about Jesus and salvation.  

Friends, I will remind you that people are more willing to hear the message of the Gospel than we are to tell them about it.  There is a hunger out there.  People are starving to fill their souls with something that will never dry up.  However, we are to educated beyond our obedience.  Meaning, we know that we are supposed to tell them about Jesus, we have been trained for doing just that, but we refuse to do it.  

Friends, Philip was educated, prepared and he partnered up.  He led that man to salvation right then and there.  There is no better time to share Christ with someone than the present time.  

So, Philip left Jerusalem thinking that he was headed to Gaza.  The reality was that God had this Ethiopian on his heart from the very beginning.  Is it not awesome to think that God cares not just about the nation, but also about the individual.  He knows our names, our situation, our needs and He graciously sent people like Philip into our lives to share with us the good news of the Gospel.  That’s amazing.

So, why did God guide Philip along the desert road?  Why did God allow for Philip to meet this Ethiopian? He sent Philip down the desert road to grow him personally and spiritually.  It was on the desert road where Philip shared the deepest connection to God.  God also put him there because God is always about the expansion of His Kingdom.  

Friends, if you truly have a relationship with God, He will seek to grow you.  He can growth you pain, suffering, and yes…good times.  However, your growth should be for God’s glory and to build God’s Kingdom.  

Philip didn’t wait, are you?  Are holding back?  

Perhaps you are not growing or going because you have never heard the Gospel message. Perhaps you are confused as well as to what the Gospel really is and how it can impact your life.  Let me share with you the Gospel today.  

1. You are a sinner. 
Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fallen short…

2. Your sin separates you from God
Isaiah 59: 2
Your sins have separated you from God…

3. You cannot pay for your sin with good works
Isaiah 64:6
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

4. You need a Savior
John 14:6 
I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father unless he comes first through me.

5. Jesus is that Savior
John 3:16 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.  

6. You must call out to him to be saved
Romans 10:13
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

8. Once you have accepted Christ, you must make the decision to grow in your walk and obedience
Colossians 2:6-7
Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 


Remember, Follow God’s Guidance to Showing, Growing and Going!

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