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Witnessing Where God Leads You

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Theme:  We are to be prepared to be witnesses.

A man was assigned a middle seat on an airplane.  Tired and wanting to sleep, he was irritated when the young girl next to him with Down syndrome asked, “Mister, do you brush your teeth?”

“Yes,” he replied. 

“That’s good.  People who don’t, lose their teeth.”

A little later she asked, “Mister, do you smoke?”

“No,” he answered.

 “That’s good.  People who do, die.”

After a long silence, she turned to him again, “Mister, do you love Jesus?”

 “Yes, I do,” he responded.

 “That’s good,” she added.  “People who do, go to heaven.”

Though deeply touched, he settled back, hoping there would be no more questions. 

Just then the girl said, “Mister, ask the man next to you if he brushes his teeth.”

Well, you can guess what followed.  When she came to the question about Jesus, the second man became thoughtful.  “I’m afraid I don’t understand,” he said.  For the next hour the two men talked about eternal issues.

God has a habit of providing unusual ways for us to share who he is with others. 

That was certainly the case in Acts 8 when Philip pointed a total stranger to Christ. 

I.      The Prepared Messenger (26)

·        Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”

·        The biggest qualification for someone to be an influence for Christ is a willingness to step out even when they don’t understand. 

·        More than anything he was prepared in attitude

o       Angel—“go”

o       Philip did not say, “Why”  or “Who?”  All he knew was “Go”

·        Philip had to leave wherever he was probably before the eunuch ever left Jerusalem.

·        Not positive where he was: Samaritan village?  Jerusalem?  Caesarea?

o       When he got there, the angel told him more

A young man had just left his Wednesday evening Bible study. Sitting in his car he prayed, "Lord, we studied tonight about your speaking to Samuel. Do you still speak to people today? If you'll speak to me, I'll try to obey." On the way home, he passed a corner grocery store when he heard a loud voice in his head saying, "Buy a gallon of milk!" He slammed on his brakes, pulled over, and asked, "Is that you, Lord?" "Buy a gallon of milk," the voice in his head repeated. "This is crazy," he thought. "But, if it's the Lord, I told him I would obey. Besides, I can always use the milk."

He bought the milk and started home when he heard the voice again: "Turn down this street and stop." He did so reluctantly, all the while asking himself, "Am I going crazy?" Again, the voice prompted him, "Take the milk to that house."  

The small row house was dark; it was late and the occupants appeared to be asleep. Sheepishly, the young man knocked on the door.

Then, he saw a door opening from a lighted room down the hall. A man opened the front door and starred at him. Trembling, the young man said, "I don't know why, but I felt like I should bring you some milk." The man grabbed the milk and ran back down the hall shouting in Spanish. A young woman carrying a baby came to the door with tears streaming down her face.

She explained in broken English, "We had no money to buy milk for our baby, so I prayed and asked God to send an angel with some milk. Are you an angel?"

The young man explained his strange urge to bring milk to their house. Then, before he left, he gave them all the money in his wallet. He left praising God and thanking him that God does still speak today if we will only listen for his voice!

 

II.  The Primed Prospect (27)

·        So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,

·        Candace (kanʹduh-see) –a title rather than a woman’s name

·        Eunuch-Possibly emasculated, but not necessarily so.  This descriptions is also used for high government officials who were not castrated.  (Deut 23:1-castrated males were excluded from worshipping at the temple).

·        Eunuchs began as guards of females of kings court, but often reached high position (because they had proven their trustworthiness?) -he was treasurer of the land.

·        In the Greco-Roman world, rhe term “Ethiopian was often applied to black people wherever they came from.  He was from a far off, exotic land & an object of wonder & admiration among Jews & Romans.  

·        He was a powerful man who had much power & authority as the queens minister…except the power to understand he Word of God.

·        He was probably a proselyte but could have been a Jew.  There was a group of Jews living in Ethiopia.  Common for Jews in other lands to reach high positions.

·        Situation similar to OUR witnessing: God provides the prospect--but he leaves the witnessing to us.

·        Sometimes we are uncomfortable witnessing with people of great means or high station.  It is as if the message doesn’t apply to them or they will not listen to us if we share the gospel.

·        He might have been thought of as an unlikely candidate for conversion.

·        Eunuch

o       He had the prophetic writings

o       He recognized his own ignorance

·        Philip

o       Knew the historic fulfillment of the writing

o       Was indwelt buy the Spirit of knowledge

As one commentary points out, “Jesus sees every man, no matter where he is: in the dark places of his sin and shame, in his home and work and play, in his seeking to know the truth. Jesus sees everything about a man, but there is one person in particular whom he sees. He sees the man who is seeking Him.”

 

III.    The Prophetic Writings (28-34)

·        and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”

·        γινώσκεις ἀναγινώσκεις Ginōskeis ha anaginōskeis? –do you know what you are knowing again?

·        Scrolls were VERY rare in individuals hands.

·        Perfect passage—the suffering Messiah. 

·        Isa. 53:7-8

             

IV.      The Preached Word (35)

·        Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Not the news…

·        about the institution of the church.

·        about his human potential.

·        about political theory.

·        of the activities of the local church

But the good news about Jesus.

·        Usually your testimony of how you came to faith and what God has done for you is sufficient.

If you don’t know the Word, what are you doing to know it?

V.    The Providential Water (36-38)

  • As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [Some late manuscripts: Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

·        Desert-an uninhabited place, not nec. a place without water.

·        Many gospel presentations don’t include baptism. 

·        In western addition this gloss is added. Appears in KJV.

·        Explain addition of v. 37

 

VI.        The Pleased Convert (39-40)

·        When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Irenaeus (died 202A.D.) said that the eunuch became an apostle to the Ethiopians, but how he knows that he does not tell us.   Eusebius of Caesarea, one of the earliest church historians made the same claim.

Disciples make disciples

I think the answer is that the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch teaches us one of the ways God uses to evangelize the world. I say "one of the ways God uses" because  it is clear from the book of Acts that a lot of evangelism was done without an angel of

     the Lord having to tell the Christians to do it (e.g. 8:4). It's what one does if one loves Jesus and loves people. You tell the good news. Jesus already gave us a command to be about it in the Great Commission. So you don't have to have an angel of the Lord to tell you to do it any more than you need an angel of the Lord to tell you not to do it.

But on the other hand, we may be more in danger of making the other mistake, namely of thinking that we can do all God wants done by simply evangelizing according to our own planning. So God includes in his inspired word stories and teachings that equip us

     for another kind of good work -- not just wise and prayerful planning on the basis of circumstances we can see, but also listening responsively to the Spirit when he may want to tell us to do something that we might never think of doing through our own    planning -- like, "Go down to a desert road that leads to Gaza and wait for further instructions." Philip could not have computed form Scripture and circumstances that that's where the Spirit was moving next.

You can never speak to the wrong person about Christ.

There is a moving scene in the movie Dr. Zhivago where the Comrade General is talking with Tanya about a traumatic experience in her childhood. He asks her, “How did you come to be lost?” She replies, “Well, I was just lost.” But he persists and asks again, “No, how did you come to be lost?” Tanya doesn’t want to say, but finally gives another cursory explanation: “I was just lost. My father and I were running through the city and it was on fire. The revolution had come and we were trying to escape and I was lost.” The Comrade General kept pressing: “How did you come to be lost?” She still didn’t want to say, but finally blurted out: “We were running through the city and my father let go of my hand and I was lost.” Then she added plaintively, “He let go.” This is what she didn’t want to say.

The Comrade General said, “This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, Tanya. Komarovski was not your real father. Zhivago is your real father and I can promise you, Tanya, that if this man had been there, your real father, he would never have let go of your hand.”

Witnessing is just telling people what their real Father is like. The message that we have to give to the world is that they are lost only because the false gods they were trusting in let them go and let them down because they were not their real Father. Their real Father would never let go of their hand.

I think that Jesus was saying that there are many people who are like Tanya in Dr. Zhivago. They got lost, not because of something that was their fault, but they became helpless and harassed when the world let go of them. They are wandering and simply need to be found.

How is the Gospel spread? 

What you win them WITH is what you win them TO.

Norman Cates shared the humorous story of a guy who prayed this prayer every morning: "Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is." One day he found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him. The bus was nearly empty but this guy sat next to our praying friend. The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop so he could exit the bus. But before he could get very nervous about the man next to him, the big guy burst into tears and began to weep. He then cried out with a loud voice, "I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won’t somebody tell me how to be saved?" He turned to the Christian and pleaded, "Can you show me how to be saved?" The believer immediately bowed his head and prayed, "Lord, is this a sign?"


INTRO

Jesus camp little girl

We are called to be evangelists:

§         Matt 4:36-fishers of men

§         Matt 28:19-20 –great Commission

§         John 4:35-white fields

Change of outline (how I prepare sermons)

Unfriendly culture

We Need to be…

1.     Alert

·        To the call of God-believe that God opens & shuts doors

·        To the needs of people

o       Treasurer of Candace –high official

Ü     Eunuch-maybe emasculated/ maybe not

Ü     May have been:

1.      Proselyte

2.      God fearer

3.      Jew

Ü     We hesitate to speak to wealthy/ powerful people

 

2.     Responsive

It is not enough to KNOW…we must respond.

·        To the call of God

o       Philip had to leave wherever he was probably before the eunuch ever left Jerusalem.

o       God only gave him insight into one step of the way

o       (Maybe to keep Philip from arguing back?)

·        To the needs of people

o       He began WHERE HE WAS and THEN moved to the gospel

o       γινώσκεις ἀναγινώσκεις Ginōskeis ha anaginōskeis? –do you know what you are knowing again?

o       Maybe an answer to a question or a word

o       Maybe an action of care

 

3.     Prepared

Philip –one of the 7 (full of spirit & wisdom-Acts 6:3)

  • to give an answer
  • to share what God has done in/to/for us
  • Water-recognize that God is involved in prep as well (that there was water is not surprising, but the timing is)

CONCLUSION

Airplane-

·        flying back from New Jersey-chaplain for Holland America

·        Oh my God, you’re one of THOSE

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