April 18, 2014–What He promises, He delivers

Day 39: Acts 27:1 – 44

Ron and Nancy MillsIt is God’s desire that we would be so confident (trusting) in what He says to us that we would not fear speaking it out for others to hear. Consequently we would soon discover that the word of the Lord is not only true, but it brings credibility to the one who consistently declares it.

Today we read about the infamous shipwreck that Paul had the awesome privilege of being a part of! In Acts 27:10, Paul warns the crew that ship, cargo, and lives will be lost if they proceed on their journey.  However, the sea faring men trusted their own judgment rather than Paul’s, so off they sailed. Shortly after, they become engulfed in a Northeaster, a gale that blows viciously against them for two weeks in which they are powerless to manoeuver their ship.

Paul then comes to bring the good news that although they will still lose the ship and its cargo, God will mercifully save all the lives for Paul’s sake. This message had been delivered to Paul in the night by an angel, who confirmed God’s previous word to Paul (Acts 23:11) that he was to witness for the Lord in Rome. A little clarification was added that Paul would stand before the Emperor himself. Paul’s declaration is wonderful in Acts 27:25: “Cheer up! I am sure that God will do exactly as He promised.” Ultimately, that is what happened!

My friend, this is the pivotal issue for our lives. Will God do what He has said He will do? This issue needs to be settled in our own hearts if we are to be effective in expanding the Kingdom of God! The question is not: “Is God trustworthy?” The question is “Do we believe God is trustworthy?”

All our research will report that God is faithful! His word is true. Rom 3:4 says that though every man could be proved a liar, God is still true, and His word will stand up in the time of judgment.

2 Corinthians 2:19, 20 tells us that in Christ, God’s promises to us are not “yes, or no!” but they are “yes and amen!” His promises to you are sure. They are not just for someone else, they are for you. The things He has declared in His word are for us to apprehend, to possess by faith. His personal promises to you individually are just as sure. He stands by what He says. If He said it, you can, and should, believe it!

Numbers 23:19: God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

1 Samuel 15:29: And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

I can remember times when the Lord spoke to Nancy and myself about situations and gave us a promise. It didn’t look possible, or even make sense from our perspective. But we discovered that as we trusted what God had said and made our decisions based on that, instead of what made sense to us, then it worked out just the way He said it would.

This applies to every kind of situation in life you may face, not just “spiritual” things.

The crucial factor upon which everything hinges is within our power. We must choose to believe God. Can you do this?

April 15, 2014–No one can refute your testimony

Day 36: Acts 24:1-27

Ron and Nancy MillsI want to state from the outset of this article that our limitless God can and does intervene in our lives in such a way, that regardless of the barriers or opposition that may confront us, we will still be able to move forward into those things He has prepared for us.

As we read Acts 24, we see Paul being confronted and accused of all manner of evil in front of a governor who was historically noted for his cruelty. Governor Felix was a covetous and wicked oppressor. He hired and protected assassins who “eliminated” those who spoke against his governing policies.

It was also public knowledge that the Jewish religious leaders hated Felix. It was to this governor that the high priest and elders came with the following salutation: “Honourable Felix, you have brought our people a long period of peace, and because of your concern our nation is much better off.  All of us are always grateful for what you have done.”

I don’t think it surprising that after hearing the salutation, Felix did not give much credence to the Jews’ accusations or testimony against Paul. Flattery may be nice to hear, unless you know for certain it IS flattery and spoken insincerely simply to acquire an advantage, as in this case.

We have read about so much opposition against Paul. He has been persecuted, injured, oppressed, falsely accused, prevented in his efforts, and yet Paul remains steadfast in his goal of preaching Christ crucified for the redemption of mankind, both Jew and Gentile. This is Paul’s only crime. Sharing the message of love and good news is the only thing Paul is guilty of. Oh yes, he also brought healing to many people!

Yet the religious leaders fear him because the message of the cross has proven to be powerful. It sets prisoners free and brings wholeness to the broken. Religious dogma is a lot of argument, but has no power to change lives.

Paul’s strength came from his relationship to the Jesus who met him on the road to Damascus. Not once do we see Paul waver in his commitment. I believe his former identity as a persecutor of Christians caused him to understand that no one is beyond the saving grace of the cross. Paul identified with and understood those who came against him. Paul’s background qualified him for his mission.

Paul never tired of the message. He spoke often of his Damascus Road experience. It was his story. He had lived it, and no one could take it from him. Listeners had to choose to either believe or not. If they watched Paul’s life, they knew his story was true.  That is why the religious leaders hated him. They could not refute his story or his life, but neither could they bring themselves to acknowledge that their ways were wrong, that they had rejected and killed the Messiah!

If only they had understood that Christ’s words from the cross could include them! “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

My friend, your testimony is the most powerful thing you have. The story of God reaching you, however He did that, is true. Because you know He reached you, you can also be sure He will reach others through you. Your story is the testimony of a miracle.

And your testimony, like Paul’s, carries the power to bring others to Christ. It’s not about a religious argument. It’s not about doctrine. It’s about the power of forgiveness, and its ability to change a person from the inside out.

I encourage you to let your story be told.

April 12, 2014–God Works in Mysterious Ways

Day 33: Acts 21:27 – 22:21

Ron and Nancy MillsIn this passage, Paul, that often persecuted apostle, finds himself in the middle of trouble once again. The crowd is riled up against him, and once again, the accusations against him are unfounded. The accuser of the brethren, Satan, is not called the father of lies for nothing. He has no qualms about bringing false accusations, misrepresentations, imaginary possibilities, or trumped up circumstances to hinder kingdom advancement. Is it fair? No, but then again, who would expect a liar and a cheat to play fair?

I am amazed when I see believers who are doing good work become so discouraged when something happens to them that is “unfair.” Are we not exhorted in Galatians 6:9: “Be not weary in well doing, for in due season (or at the right time), you shall reap if you faint not.”

We have often heard that we should not put God in a box. Obviously, we couldn’t if we wanted to, but the reference is intended to convey the message that it is impossible to fully define God with respect to how He may choose to do something in a given circumstance. God is not prone to repeat His methodologies.

For example, who would have guessed that Jericho would be taken the way it was? We could look at miracle after miracle in the Old and New Testaments, and give numerous examples of God doing something MUCH different than we would have expected. He delights in being innovative, creative, and unpredictable with respect to how He may act. It is a demonstration of His limitless abilities, and a lesson to show us that He always has a unique solution to our problems.

Our role in this relationship is not to figure out how God may work, but to simply trust that He will.

Philippians 4:19: “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.” We are often unaware of what exactly our needs may be at the moment, but God always knows what we have need of. Not only does He know, but He has made provision for us. This beautiful provision requires us to continually lean on Him as our source, and in faith to live the life He asks of us.

When we examine today’s reading by itself, we may not perceive how this is going to work out well for Paul. But wait! And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) “ALL THINGS”. 

We discover in later chapters that God is using these circumstances to set Paul up for another journey of great importance. Paul is to be an ambassador for God elsewhere, and this passage is when God is using the “things” of Paul’s life to bring about a greater purpose. What do we find Paul doing in the midst of his trials? Complaining? No, he is simply giving his testimony. We could do that too, couldn’t we?

Paul said this in Ephesians 3:13-21:  Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

Let me leave you with this quote (author unknown):

“If we let Him, God will turn

a mess into a message;

a test into a testimony;

a trial into a triumph; and

a victim into a victor.”

April 09, 2014–Knowing The Truth

Day 30: Acts 19:23–20:6

Ron and Nancy MillsOur reading today starts out talking about “no small stir.” We discover that the “stir” referred to was caused because of the love of money. Regardless of what was said, the love of money was the root cause! Listen to what Scripture teaches about this.

People who want to be rich bring temptations to themselves. They are caught in a trap. They begin to want many foolish things that will hurt them. These things ruin and destroy people. The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have turned away from what we believe because they want to get more and more money. But they have caused themselves a lot of pain and sorrow. But you belong to God. So you should stay away from all those things. Always try to do what is right, to be devoted to God, and to have faith, love, patience, and gentleness. (1Timothy 6:9:-11)

I want to be clear here. There is nothing evil about having money. The problem comes when the desire for money perverts our judgment from doing right, to doing whatever is necessary to acquire financial gain.

We examine the stir and discover that a silversmith is offended because former idolaters are turning to Christ, and destroying their idols. This is putting a crimp in his prosperous trade. His solution is to rile up his fellow “craftsmen” who would also suffer financial loss if people turned from idolatry. They then transferred their dismay at financial loss into a “righteous indignation” that the Goddess Diana and her temple would suffer loss of popularity. Now this is possibly a cause that they can rally support for, and get rid of those religious fanatics who were causing a downturn in their business in the first place.

It is not uncommon for the enemy to use subtle means to attempt to bring discredit to those who would promote the gospel. It is also not uncommon for people to fall for these deceptions.

We read on to discover that the resulting riot brought widespread confusion into the city of Ephesus. Please note 1 Corinthians 14:33:  “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” Whenever we see confusion, we should recognize that Satan or his agents are at work to bring discredit to an authentic work of the Spirit of God.

This confusion, and riot in Ephesus was settled only when the city clerk began to calmly address the issues of the day. He pointed out the realities, the truth. Accusations levied against the disciples of Christ were untrue. No law of Ephesus had been violated. He brought the focus back to the disgruntled craftsmen who had experienced a downturn in business. Let them, if they have a just matter, bring it through the proper channels, and address it there. Meanwhile, we are in danger of being held to account for our own actions this day. Then he dismissed the assembly.

How lovely if we all could address false accusation and injustice in such a simple manner! My friends, it is incumbent upon each of us to view the “causes” brought to our attention, the requests and demands for action, and to examine the legitimacy of the matter.  Fortunately we have an advocate. He is Holy Spirit, known as the Spirit of Truth, and He has promised to guide us in all truth and to teach us all things. Jesus said in John 16:13 that “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” In John 14:26 we are told He will teach us all things.

We need to know truth. My prayer is that we would not respond to “causes”, but we would respond to truth. As we learn the truth, it has the power to set us free from the bondage of deception.

April 06, 2014–Finding Opportunities

Day 27: Acts 17:16-34

Ron and Nancy MillsIn verse 16, we find Paul being stirred in his spirit due to the idolatry he witnesses in Athens. One characteristic of a true disciple of Christ is that they are concerned about the world they live in. It is not acceptable to be satisfied with the status quo! The world around us is desperately lost – whether they know it or not. It is our responsibility to help, if we possibly can.

This is the spot Paul is in as he views the city life around him. The next verse begins with: “Therefore.” This tells us that as a result of his concerns Paul positioned himself in strategic locations to begin “discussions” with those who may be interested, in order to address those concerns.

Paul did not shake his head and walk away! His concern activated a response to see if he could make a difference. Ultimately, people came by who became curious as to what Paul had to share and a great window of opportunity was opened to him to reach many in the city. Not everyone who heard Paul agreed with him, or accepted his message – BUT SOME DID!

Now all this happened while Paul was “waiting” for Timothy and Silas to arrive in Athens!

I have often heard people say that they are waiting for opportunity to show up that enables them to make a difference. I’m reminded of the Thomas Jefferson quote: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Opportunities do come upon us unexpectedly at times. But more often than not they are made or opened up when we are looking for them. This is how Paul’s opportunity arose! To him, Athens looked like a city completely taken over by idolatry, and Paul noticed a statue having an inscription “To the unknown God”. Paul took it upon himself to give this unknown god an identity, and discovered hungry people ready to meet a Saviour.

Not everyone we speak to will accept our message, but some will. We cannot presume that our labour is in vain. We must not believe that the sharing of the gospel is a waste of time. The gospel is powerful and Holy Spirit is always near to help us.

I remember one time having spoken to a particular person about my faith, and he just wasn’t interested. He wasn’t rude, but he was clear that my message was unwelcome. At a much later date, I learned he was in the hospital, and the next day while driving down the road, the Lord spoke very clearly to me to visit him, and to do it that very day! Nancy was with me, and it was our anniversary. We had made plans for the day, and while it was possible to rearrange things, it was a little inconvenient. I spoke to Nancy right away (in the car) and told her what I believed the Lord was saying, and that tomorrow was not an option–it would be too late.  That is what I believed I had heard from the Lord.

Nancy graciously advised me to do as I felt led. I visited the gentleman in the hospital, and he welcomed me. We spoke of the Lord and the plan of salvation, and he accepted Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour. I was overjoyed at the turnaround in his position. The next afternoon I learned that he had passed away at 6:00 am, just a few hours after discovering the joy of sins forgiven.

My friend’s change in health presented a new and different opportunity.

Opportunities are all around us. Ask Holy Spirit to help you see and take advantage of the ones that are around you.

April 03, 2014–Being Led by the Spirit

Day 24: Acts 16:1-18   

Ron and Nancy MillsAs we go through our readings day by day, we discover that the primary factor in determining the “acts” of the believers during this time period was the direction provided by the Lord.

Sometimes direction came through angelic communication, visions, “a voice”, miraculous interventions, sometimes because a considered action “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”. The phrases “led by the Spirit”, or “the Spirit said” were common among the early believers. Numerous references indicate that it was normal for them to rely on divine input in the making of decisions of where to go, and who to speak to in their daily lives.

In today’s reading we see the phrases “forbidden of the Holy Ghost” and “the Spirit suffered them not”, with respect to Paul, Silas, and Timothy being restrained from ministering in particular places they had planned to go. A couple verses later, a vision came that indicated the team should go to Macedonia. Apparently divine direction can be either positive (to do something), or negative (to not do something).

Here is an important verse with regards to receiving divine guidance from Colossians 3:15 (Amplified Version):

Let the peace (soul harmony) which comes from Christ, rule (act as an umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live].

The “Peace of God” is a central element that God uses to provide direction for us. As the verse indicates, when we are in that peaceful state, and a question arises in our hearts as to whether to follow a particular course of action or not, observing how the question affects our “peaceful state” is a valuable guide for us. If our peace is disrupted, agitated, or uneasy, then we need to step back from the decision to re-examine, or abandon the decision altogether. If our peace remains while considering the question, then we can safely proceed. Note, it is only as we walk in the peace of God that it can (and should) function as a reliable guide for us.

When we read passages that say “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us,” it is a reference to this internal sense or feeling of peace that operates to guide us. When we read, “the Holy Spirit suffered them not”, again it is a reference to an internal sense of  “this decision just doesn’t sit right on the inside”. This is Holy Spirit interacting with us to provide us with a clear sense of direction in which we can know that God is in the decision we are making.

Luke 4:1 says that “Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”  How was He led? I would suggest that as the thought of going into the wilderness came to him, it “seemed” (peace of God) to be the right thing to do.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.(Romans 8:14)

In my own life, I have found this method of receiving divine direction to be of most use, and I have used this since I was a very young man. I have heard God speak in numerous ways, but even though He may speak different ways, it is still the peace of God that resides internally that confirms that the decision is safe to proceed with. The peace of God not only confirms a decision, but will release the timing of a decision as well.

My friend, it is imperative that Colossians 3:15 be active in our Christian walk.

March 31, 2014–“Fear not, for I am with you”

Day 21: Acts 14:1-28

Ron and Nancy MillsIn our reading today we see Paul and Barnabas, faithful Christian workers who have “sold out” for the cause of Christ. As I go through the account, I find myself becoming almost tired at even reading everything they did. It’s quite amazing! Here is a brief summary of their trip: Iconium–Jewish synagogue: evangelism to both Jews and Greek, converting many, signs and wonders in evidence, also persecution; Lystra–preaching, miraculous healing of crippled man, Paul stoned and left for dead, Paul rose up and returned into city Derbe–preaching, then returned to Lystra, and Iconium Also travelled to and preached in Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia, before returning to Antioch from which they had begun their journey. Included in their teaching was that the disciples would have to endure tribulation to enter into the Kingdom. This message they not only taught, but lived. How amazing to read that after being left for dead, Paul “rose up” and entered back into the city, indicating he did not fear persecution, nor would it deter him from his purpose. Paul was focused on the mission of reaching people with the gospel. Perhaps the words of Jesus in John 15:20 carried them: “Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” We do well to remember that there is great purpose in our Christian goal to reach others. They will often not appreciate or value what it is we have to offer. There was once a time when it could have been we ourselves with those same opinions. It only takes one revelation to change a person’s mindset, values, or lifestyle. It was the martyrdom of Stephen (of which Saul was guilty) that led up to an encounter with the Christ, that changed Saul into Paul. Paul understood why persecution takes place. It is because the persecutors do not understand! Scripture declares that it is knowing the TRUTH that has the power to set us (and others) free. We must declare the truth. I remember counseling a young man who was being very badly treated, simply because Christians did not understand the signs and wonders that God was doing in his life. Untrue statements were made about who he was, what he believed, and what he represented. All of this from people that had never met or talked with him, even once.  He was distressed! “They don’t even know me”, he complained. I took him to Matthew 5 that tells us when we are reviled, persecuted, or lied about, that we are “blessed”!  I admit it doesn’t feel like a blessing, but that’s what the Word of God declares about it. It goes on to say that there is a reward laid up for us in glory as a result of this mistreatment.  In other words, those “persecutors”, are gaining for you a greater weight of glory than you could NOT have earned for yourself. You will enjoy for eternity what they have gotten for you that you could not have gotten on your own. You could, if you felt so inclined, offer to thank them for this great blessing they have achieved for your continuing benefit…but they likely would not understand :-) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18) My friends, do not think it strange, these fiery trials that come against you.  (I Peter 4:12) We do what we do because of who we are. We can do no less. The world is looking for something that is real. How can we not deliver to them the truth of the good news? It is up to Holy Spirit to reveal that truth once we have spoken it. And He does that in the most amazing ways. The LORD is on my side, and I am not afraid of what others can do to me. (Psalm 118:6) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

March 28, 2014–Ask of Him

Day 18: Acts 12:1-25

Ron and Nancy MillsIn our reading for today we see persecution, angelic visitation, divine intervention, miracles, and the role of intercessory prayer in the church. Let’s take a look at how this plays out.

We start in verse one with King Herod exercising his legal authority to persecute the church. He has James the brother of John executed and seizes Peter with the same intent.  But in Acts 12:5 we see something of significance come on the scene… “but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” In between the time of Peter’s arrest and Herod’s intent to bring Peter out to “the people”, the church has undertaken to praying for him.

In the next verse we see angelic intervention bringing Peter deliverance from captivity in a miraculous way! I’m not going to spend any time describing the events or the results. You can read that for yourself.

I rather prefer to examine an important question.

I suggest that Holy Spirit put it in the hearts of the believers to seek God’s intervention on behalf of Peter in this time of crisis. The important question to ask is this, “What if the church had NOT prayed?” Would God have intervened if the church had NOT been in prayer about this very thing? I believe that verse 5 is included in the scriptures for a particular reason. That reason is to show that God acts in response to the prayers of the saints.

James 4:2 says this: “You have not, because you ask not.”

Matthew 7:7 says: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.”

There is Scriptural evidence of this expectation from God: if we want Him to be involved in our lives in some way, we must express that desire. We must send Him an invitation, a request, that acknowledges that we need Him, and that we desire His intervention.

I could relay numerous instances in my own life or in the life of my family and others, where we were in a position that required nothing less than the hand of God to intervene in order for things to work out in a way that was good. We have faced devastating circumstances, health issues, financial challenges, employment concerns, relationship issues, future direction and opportunities, and so many other things. When we have “made prayer unto God” concerning these, we have discovered Him to be One that is interested, and He has consistently made His provision available to me, my family, my church, my friends, and my ministry. I say “my” in this not because of pride, but because it is my testimony of His faithfulness.

I have discovered that “my God shall supply ALL my needs according to His riches in glory” (Phil. 4:19). I have learned that He cares about each of us, and that His ear is listening, and He patiently waits for us to invite Him to be a part of our lives. He is truly generous towards us in not withholding one good thing from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)

I share all this to come to the next part. In learning of His faithfulness towards us and our concerns, we come upon the opportunity to learn of His heart not only for us, but for others. As we begin to understand His response to prayer, we discover that there are times when He may call upon us, to “ask of Him”. We may discover His concerns, and begin to partner with Him to bring about His intervention in things He may want to do.

Remember this: God can do anything, but He tends to limit Himself to ONLY doing those things that we invite Him to do.  We have not, because we ask not. How sad it is that so many things COULD have been different in our lives, or the lives of those we are in connection with, if we had simply made a request of God!

I invite you to make this a pattern in your life, as did the saints in Acts 12: “Ask of Him.”

March 25, 2014–Your Labour is Not in Vain

Day 15: Acts 10: 1-23

Ron and Nancy MillsOur reading today is again packed full of divine communication from God to His children. The communication comes through angels, Holy Spirit, and visions, and it provides clear and accurate information and directions for those to whom it is sent. We should not doubt that our Lord is not only able, but is more than willing to communicate with us to enable us to do the work He has called us to do. Let us consider the example in today’s reading.

We are introduced to Cornelius, a Captain of one hundred soldiers in the Roman army. The Scriptures record the following characteristics about Cornelius;

1)       Godly, reverent;

2)       Generous toward the poor (giving much alms);

3)       Prayed consistently.

We learn that an angel comes to visit Cornelius to tell him that these characteristics have resulted in a memorial coming before God. God then gives instructions through the angel to Cornelius–instructions intended to ultimately reward Cornelius because of the lifestyle he has chosen to develop.

Isn’t it lovely to know that our spiritual labour is not lost before God, but acts as a memorial on our behalf to bring us reward and recompense?

The instructions given to Cornelius are very specific ones–including names and addresses of people Cornelius does not currently know. Cornelius, of course, immediately sets out to fulfill what was asked of him.

In the meantime, God has some work to do to change the mindset and discriminatory thought patterns that exist in Simon Peter’s mind. We read of a vision–repeated three times–in which a sheet is lowered from heaven, Simon is commanded to rise, kill, and eat food that would be considered unclean according to Jewish religious law.

Peter, in the vision, responds as he believes he should, refusing to defile himself with unclean food. In return he receives a rebuke from the Lord advising him not to call unclean or common that which God has cleansed. After the third time, the sheet is taken back up into the heavens and who should arrive at that time at the door, but the trio from Cornelius! Holy Spirit advises Peter that three men have come looking for him, they have been sent from God, and Peter is to go with them.

We discover that Peter has “got the message” of the vision, and decides to accompany these Gentiles back to their home to fulfill his mandate from the Lord to bring great reward to Cornelius and his household.

I take comfort in the knowledge that God is able to change minds that I could never hope to reach. I take comfort in knowing that while God is working on me, He is probably also working on others, to achieve His goals. I begin to understand that God never requires me to be responsible for the end result of what He has started. He does, however, require me to be responsible for what He asks me to do. This was true of both Cornelius and Peter.

Lessons to live by:

1)       Live in such a way as to be noticed by God (Cornelius’ life is not difficult to duplicate).

2)       Be open to Godly revelation that contradicts current mindsets you may possess.

3)       Understand that God’s provision will often require effort and obedience on your part to possess.

Although Scripture paints Cornelius as a pretty good guy (in God’s eyes), and God wanted to reward him, he still had to do what God asked–demonstrating obedience and trust–in order to receive his reward. It took both Cornelius’ and Peter’s obedience to bring about the plan that God had in mind.

March 22, 2014–Just another Spirit-led day…

Day 12: Acts 8:26-40

Ron and Nancy MillsFor today’s fascinating passage, I will mention important lesson points throughout the discussion.

We start with an angel giving Phillip directions: “Go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” We aren’t told if Phillip saw the angel in a dream, vision, or in person. We should note, however, it is unlikely that Phillip would have gone where he was instructed on his own.

Phillip was an evangelist, and generally frequented the more populous locations in town. The location given by the angel was remote, leading into the desert. Once Phillip arrives, he sees an Ethiopian, and the Spirit says to Phillip, “Go and join this chariot.”

We have already been witness to two communications from the Lord to Phillip, each given in a different manner, but both very specific. Phillip did not debate the merit of his instructions.

Point 1. When the Lord speaks – Quick obedience saves time and energy.

Do you remember the parable of the lost sheep?

Point 2. God is as interested in the individual as He is the crowd.

The Ethiopian was reading Scripture, and Phillip quickly asked him if he understood what he was reading. Phillip knew he had been led there for a reason and he was looking for his window of opportunity.

Point 3. Be observant for the opportunities God will bring your way.

After hearing the message of Christ (and the cross), they came to water, and the Ethiopian inquired if Phillip was aware of any impediment that would prevent him from being baptized. Since there was none, the baptism took place.

Point 4. Spiritual hunger will quickly lead to spiritual progression. (Matthew 5:6)

Now the story takes quite an unexpected turn!  In verse 39 it says, “when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more…”

I wonder what that looked like! Did the Ethiopian see Phillip as he was carried away, or did Phillip suddenly disappear from sight?  All we can tell for certain is that it was a “sign” from heaven that gave credibility to everything that Phillip had just shared with the Ethiopian.

The necessary assignment for Phillip was apparently complete and so this grand finale I would think would have a huge impact on the newly baptized believer.

Point 5. God delights in signs and wonders.

How does this end for our Ethiopian friend? It says he “went on his way rejoicing.” His spiritual need and hunger had been filled, his questions answered, and he had a personal encounter with a resurrected Jesus.  There’s something about discovering truth that sets one free. This one man just a little earlier had many questions, but God has miraculously intervened and brought him the answers he needed.

And Phillip? Oh, he is about 30 miles down the road at a place called Azotus. (I’ve always wondered if he was wet when he arrived there!) But we find him preaching the gospel to all the towns on his way to Caesarea.  Just another day in the life of …

Let me finish with some background information. This episode fulfilled Psalm 68:31, a prophetic word that indicated Ethiopia would stretch her hands out to God. Bible scholars agree this incident introduced the gospel to Ethiopia and Africa. Phillip may have thought he ministered to only one man; but in reality that encounter impacted a nation and a continent. May I suggest we look once more at Point #1 and keep that in mind the next time God asks us to do something we don’t understand.