Summary: A disciple makes himself available to God. He listens to His bidding. A disciple is ready to share Christ.
Acts 6:5 tells us among the seven men elected to “wait on tables” were Stephen and Philip. Both left indelible marks in the history of the first church.
Stephen lived a short life, but his sermon and martyrdom impacted Saul’s life, and led to an all-out persecution, which scattered the believers beyond Jerusalem.
• 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
• God turned something seemingly bad into a thing that can accomplish His will.
And so Philip fled to Samaria and preached the Gospel there, with signs and wonders.
• Many of the oppressed and sick were healed and there was great joy in the city.
He was then led by God onto the desert road to meet an Ethiopian eunuch, a seeker of God who does not know Jesus. Philip led him to Christ.
• 8:27 says this eunuch is an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was a very high-ranking official.
• Tradition tells us this man went back to Ethiopia and established a church. The first missionaries to Ethiopia found a thriving church founded by this treasurer.
Finally, 8:40 says Philip went to Caesarea (sas ce ria).
• On his 3rd missionary journey, Paul mentioned Philip in Acts 21:8-9 “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.”
• That was 20 years later. Philip has been faithfully preaching Christ. Luke the author called him the evangelist.
Stephen and Philip set us great examples of what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
(1) A Disciple Makes Himself AVAILABLE to God
They were willing to serve. It all started with a need in Acts 6 – the daily distribution of food for the widows.
• They did not enter into the widows’ ministry because it was a good career move that would push them into the spotlight.
• They did it because it was a work needed to be done. No promise of any reward.
They made themselves AVAILABLE and God used them GREATLY, beyond just the giving out of food.
• When we do it for Christ, nothing is insignificant. Even the offering of two very small copper coins is a great thing to Jesus (cf. Mark 12:42)
• Therefore there is no insignificant ministry in the Kingdom of God.
There are also NO insignificant people in the Body of Christ, only those who refuse to let God use them.
• Both Stephen and Philip made lasting contribution to the growth to the Church, because they made themselves available.
Bobby Michaels was a Christian singer and composer. He was at a Bible conference one day when he noticed a young intern attending to them. His job was to get the coffee, clean up the tables, and generally stay out of everyone’s way.
At the end of the conference, another participant asked Bobby how his current album project was coming together. He replied that he needed one more song to finish the album, and his friend pointed to the intern and said, “That kid, the one cleaning up the table, he is writing some interesting stuff. Why don’t you talk to him?”
And so Bobby did and the young man shared with him the words that eventually became his final song for his album. The song was, “My Redeemer is Faithful and True”. The young intern was Steven Curtis Chapman, who has also become a successful Christian singer and song-writer.
Imagine if Chapman had felt that the intern job was too low for him, and he wasn’t there serving. He would have missed God’s ordained moment. Being in that room, getting the coffee and cleaning up the tables, put him in position for what would become a major breakthrough for his musical career and ministry.
He was available – and in God’s perfect timing – that availability led to a great career and a wonderful ministry.
• Philip made himself available and it led to a life-changing opportunity.
• Nothing is too small for someone who is to be great.
(2) A Disciple LISTENS to God’s Bidding
Philip was clearly LISTENING. He was responding to God’s call. He was led because He was listening.
• In 8:26 when the angel of the Lord spoke, Philip heard him. He was asked to go to the desert road, with no explanation given. He has to take it by faith that God knows what He was doing.
• 8:27 “So he started out…” BY FAITH, just like Abraham when he was called to leave his home.
• When he reached the place, 8:29 “The Spirit TOLD him [when he needed it] - to go to the chariot and stay near it.”