The Road Less Traveled…Directed By God-May 18, 2014
The word angel literally means messenger, and so Philip is told to “God south to the road (the one in the desert) the one that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
How do we respond to what the Lord is asking us to do? Many would respond saying, “we would act or do what God wanted us to do if he would tell us His plan. Did you catch that? People would respond if they knew God’s plan. Knowing God plan is different from responding to His voice, His command, His Word, and His will. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear the God through the clutter of our world and the busyness of our lives. Although we may want to know the plans of God but God doesn’t not have to discuss those plans with us. Scripture says, “for I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you.” It is faith to move on the Word of God even before (if ever) we know the purpose of God for that action. The true purpose may not be understood at this time or in our lifetime.
Many Christians do not act for fear that they may fail. Frances Chan once said, “our greatest fear should not be failing, but rather succeeding at the things that don’t really matter.” Are we keeping the main thing the main thing? Often times we think that God has called us to be successful but that is not always true. God first calls us to be faithful not successful. Faithfulness will challenge our views of success, because too often we assume we know the plans of God.
God is calling us to do a particular task, mission, or ministry and that may only be for a season or a particular number of years or a generation. God called us to the “this!” Does our infinitely creative God stop calling us to “be” and to “do?” We as a church exist to worship, to honor, to glory, to celebrate, to humble ourselves, to give us our ways for the one who is the way, the truth, and the life. In doing so we forfeit our right to say things like “well we’ve never done it like that before,” or “that’s just who we are.” No we “are” who God called us to “be.” God can certainly call us to abandon one task for a new task without having to reveal His plans our purposes to us.
Back to Philip, he is told to go south to a road in the desert. He is not told why or for what purpose, and amazingly he just gets up and goes. Philip doesn’t argue, question, or lag behind he just gets up and gets after doing the will of God by responding to the Word of God. He got up and went and God would greatly us Philip’s obedience for His glory.
Philip meets an important official, the treasurer for the Queen of Ethiopia. He was the chief financial person for Ethiopia. After saying these things about who he is, the most important thing we learn is where he is coming from. He is coming from worshiping in Jerusalem. It is in worship that we acknowledge God and prepare our hearts to hear His voice and respond to His will.
Philip heard a direct word from God and responded; the Eunuch was reading the word of God from the prophet and was trying to understand it. His heart was opened to respond he just needed someone to reveal the Word in the word. When the truth of God was revealed the Eunuch responded. When our hearts are opened we can better hear the word of God and respond to it in faith.
Then the Spirit of God tells Philip to “go to that chariot and stand near it.” Again Philip could have tried to ask why, and then try to evaluate either the importance or motive of God. Philip could have had a more basic fear…the Spirit just asked him to go walk beside a motorcade. This is a high-ranking money official of a foreign government, and God wants Philip to go up to this group. Philip doesn’t just go, he runs up on it, and when he gets there he hears a man reading from Isaiah. Philip takes the opportunity to ask the man if he understands what he is reading. Do we understand what we are reading when we read the Bible? The quick answer might be yes, but the thoughtful answer may reveal more. Do we read to understand and be changed or do we read to finish? When we read to finish we are not reading to learn, to be edified, to discover the heart of God, or to seek His will but as an “end” in and of itself. Reading to finish as if it is a competition or worse an obligation gives the task more significance than the life change that could happen because of reading thoughtfully.
The Eunuch doesn’t understand what he is reading but is willing to learn. He reads a prophecy of Jesus and asks. “Please tell me is the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” Philip begins where the man was at in both his place and understanding and told him the good news about Jesus. When we respond to God in faithfulness and keep our eyes open to see where people are and meet them there with the good news of Jesus then God’s will is being done “on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a divine appointment.
The Eunuch responds to the good news of the message of Jesus Christ. It is interesting that the very Prophet he was reading from was the one who was faithful to preach the message of God for over forty years and was not successful in his lifetime. God’s plan was bigger than Isaiah’s lifetime. His plan is also bigger and more perfect than your or mine. God doesn’t call us to understand, but to be faithful. Jesus didn’t call us for a consultation, he calls us to come and follow him.
The Eunuch’s response was immediate. Stop the chariots, I want this Jesus, I want to be baptized. Amazing things happen in our lives and others when we follow Jesus. To follow Jesus means we may have to give up our plans and assumptions about who He is and what He wants us to do, to respond to His calling upon our life and church today.