Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotional #27
Obedience to the Spirit – Who Knows Where It Could Lead?
David Breen – General Manager of Training, Discovery Community Care
Acts Chapter 8
Imagine if you were suddenly transported from where you are sitting or standing to the Capital city, say Canberra, or London, and there you found yourself in a room with lots of officials and nearby is the treasurer of the current elected government. You walk over to him and he is reading his smart phone and it is Isaiah 53 – and he is reading it out loud! You ask him if he understands it and he says no, but invites you to explain it to him. You do and you lead him to put his faith in Jesus and he asks to be baptised in the pool in the back garden, NOW!
That is a little bit like what happened to Philip in our reading today in Acts chapter 8. He is directed by the Holy Spirit to find a certain road going to Gaza and when he does he happens to find a man riding in a chariot reading the Old Testament (Isaiah 53: 7). In the end he baptises the man in a water hole in the desert because the man believes in Jesus as the Son of God. This man was in charge of all the Queen of Ethiopia’s wealth (he was no crash test dummy) so knew a thing or two but he did not understand the Old Testament prophet’s writings about Jesus, the Lamb of God.
The Holy Spirit was active in many ways in this man’s conversion and it is important to grasp what occurred and how it relates to us today. The Holy Spirit knows those who are seeking God and He sees those around us who have awareness and the fear of God. The Ethiopian had been to Jerusalem to worship God and was reading the Old Testament, even though he did not understand it – he wanted to know God, even though he was a wealthy and intelligent man. This is significant for several reasons: firstly, he had wealth and worldly goods but was seeking spiritual truth, believed and become a disciple of Jesus. Secondly, he was a leader in his nation and God knew it, and that he would have significant influence on Ethiopia and its future. In an article by Jon Abbink, A Bibliography on Christianity in Ethiopia, 2003, he writes ‘Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, although it was never the faith of all Ethiopians, has long been the dominant faith of highland Ethiopia partly due to its close links with the imperial rulers. [The Ethiopian Orthodox church] preceded the formation and development of Christianity in the West [by] several hundreds of years..’
We just never know what God may do through our obedience to the Holy Spirit when he speaks to us and tells us to do something. All Philip was told by God was, ‘Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza’ (verse 26). Little did he know he would end up talking to the treasurer of Ethiopia, that he would believe in Jesus, be baptised and take the Good News of Jesus to the nation of Ethiopia – but he did obey the Holy Spirit and look what happened!
You may not be an evangelist (I am not that’s for sure) but you can obey the Holy Spirit and do what he asks you to do. What you can do is ask the Holy Spirit about whom to invite to do Alpha. He knows those who are seeking the truth and who are open to spiritual things. The Holy Spirit is the one who knows all things about all people’s hearts and minds; he knows how to open the Word of God to others and how to cause people’s hearts to believe in the Good News. Imagine the joy of responding to the words of the Holy Spirit (even if it is a little quiet whisper in your spirit) and asking someone you did not expect to ask to come to Alpha. It may just lead to them believing in Jesus and having a significant influence on who knows what…. They may not be the treasurer of the nation, and you may not be transported to Canberra, but you may see them give their lives to Jesus. Wouldn’t that be something to rejoice about?