Summary: This message explores some important truths regarding our prime ministry as portrayed by Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
‘BETTY, LIE STILL’
‘Old Betty was converted late in her life, and though she was very poor she was very active. She visited the sick; out of her own poverty she gave to those who were still poorer; she collected a little money from others when she could give none of her own, and told many of the love of the Saviour. At last she caught a cold and rheumatism and lay in bed month after month, pain-worn and helpless. A good minister went to see her and asked if after her active habits she did not find the change very hard to bear. (Listen to Betty’s reply)
"No sir, not at all. When I was well, I used to hear the Lord say day by day, ’Betty, go here. Betty, go there. Betty, do this. Betty do that," and I used to do it as well as I could. And now I hear him say every day, ’Betty, lie still ...’"
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
This morning some of us have committed ourselves to help in bringing little Oliver up in the ways of the Lord – let’s aim to be like Betty who clearly exhibited her dedication and trust in Jesus Christ.
What are some truths we need to know in order to live like Betty? I believe we will discover the answer to that by considering this mornings text. For in it we’re going to meet another just like Betty - one who heard God’s voice and obeyed. In actual fact we’re going to meet two people who heard and obeyed.
Please turn with me to Acts chapter 8 where we will look at verses 26-40.
(READ ACTS 8:26-40)
What does that passage have to say on the theme of how to live like Betty?
Well, let’s start at the beginning. For in verse 26 we will discover a foundational truth. A truth that will set the agenda so to speak. A truth on which all others are built. Listen to vs 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."’
Can anyone pick that truth?
Yes, that verse proclaims that:-
1. We (People) Are Vital In God’s Plan!
‘Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go …”’
Why didn’t the angel go himself?
I’ll tell you why the angel didn’t go – it was because this was a mission where a person was worth ten thousand angels! A person who has collided with the Creator of the universe and has had his or her sins forgiven and life changed can do a work no angel can accomplish! For that person has experienced and can give authentic witness to the life transforming Jesus! The best that an angel can do is come as a messenger from God, and tell that person to get up and go.
God’s plan is one of partnership. He works in you and with you and for you and by you and through you. He’s counting on you. What a privilege! The King of kings and Lord of lords invites you and I to be key players in His Divine plan. Make no mistake – God’s Will cannot be thwarted by us. We don’t have control over God like that. But He has decreed that we are to play an integral part in the execution of His Will.
If we are not convinced of this fact we will not be convinced of the need for us to be involved in the Lord’s work. You know, our beliefs have a habit of being seen in our practice. Perhaps this is what Jesus’ brother James meant when he said, 2:18 ‘But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.’
The knowledge that we are vital to God’s plan should inspire us to commit to it!
‘Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."’
Philip, recognising that his part was of utmost importance responded instantly! Look at verse 27. ‘So he started out …’ Philip was obedient immediately! And I want to suggest that Betty followed Philip’s example. For she understood that:-
2. Delayed ‘Obedience’ Is In Fact Disobedience!
If anyone had grounds to question this directive to ‘go’ – it was Philip. We are told earlier in Acts 8 that Philip was enjoying a very fruitful ministry right where he was. Samaritan people were coming to Christ – why abandon a fruitful ministry?! And worse why abandon it to go to a rarely used road travelling through a barren land?! And to make matters even worse it was the road that led to Gaza – the city that Joshua could not subdue and the tribe of Judah could not retain! Yet if Philip had delayed – he would have missed a Divine appointment and sinned against the Living God. His delayed ‘obedience’ would have in fact been disobedience!