Summary: From the very beginning of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry, we see that faith means connecting to Jesus. And faith in Jesus means a connecting lifestyle. We connect to Jesus and then we connect others to Jesus. When you become a follower of Jesus, you cannot
Acts 8: 26-40
The first time a Philip is mentioned in the Bible is in John Chapter 1. Jesus has just been baptized in the River Jordan and John the Baptist proclaimed him the Lamb of God. Jesus then leaves to begin his ministry in Galilee. Finding Philip along the way, he says to him, “Follow me.” Philip then goes and finds Nathanael telling him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law." He takes Nathanael to meet Jesus and Nathanael comes to believe in him. From the very beginning of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry, we see that faith means connecting to Jesus. And faith in Jesus means a connecting lifestyle. We connect to Jesus and then we connect others to Jesus. When you become a follower of Jesus, you cannot help but find and connect others to Jesus so that they might experience what you have in Jesus.
Now the Philip that is mentioned in our Scripture passage today is not the same Philip mentioned in John 1. That is the Apostle Philip. This Philip was a layman, one of the first 7 deacons of the early church, but carries on the same tradition of connecting others to Jesus as his namesake. He is only mentioned 3 times in the Bible. First was when he was nominated by the church to be a deacon to help oversee the distribution of food to widows in the congregation. Acts 6 tells us that he and the other 6 men who helped in this ministry were “…known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom….” (Acts 6:3) Not long after Philip was given this responsibility, King Herod began to persecute the church in Jerusalem - executing the Apostle James and imprisoning Peter. Many Christians - including Philip - fled for their lives to other cities and regions. Philip went north about 35 miles to the region of Samaria and promptly began to share his faith with the people in a city there. We’re not told how big this city was, but as soon as he arrived he began preaching about Jesus and was wildly successful as he converted nearly the entire city to Christ. Just as things were taking off for Philip’s new ministry, an angel came to tell him to leave and go south to continue his practice of connecting others to Jesus. Like the Apostle Philip and the elder Philip, we are called to connect others to Jesus as well. But what does that look like and how can we accomplish it?
In our Scripture today, we find five keys to a being a connecting disciple. First is to be available to God. When Philip got to Samaria, he made himself available to God to do his work. How many of you when you evacuated for Katrina or even Gustav said in your location, “God want would you have me do here in this new place?” That exactly what Philip did. He made himself available to God and thus began to preach the Gospel of Jesus. A lot of people believe in God and even worship God but fewer still make themselves available to God. The problem is our busyness. People today are too busy. We’re so over-programmed and overcommitted that can’t fit anything else in our lives. We are so busy that we barely have time for God. We run from one commitment to another and have our minds, energy and focus on our family, our jobs, our kids or sometimes even the work of the church that we aren’t available to God.
You cannot connect others to Jesus unless you first make yourself available to God. Now remember Philip had started a very successful new ministry Samaria. Even then, his sole desire was to do God’s bidding. Suddenly an angel tells him to go to a lonely desert place some 60 miles away. The thing about being available to God means you have to be willing to be interrupted. It may involve a sacrifice or stopping something altogether. God may be calling you to give something up, even a good thing so you may go and be a part of his next great thing. Our value as witnesses does not depend on our ability, our value depends on our availability. (repeat)
Second, be sensitive to the Spirit. Being a connecting disciple means you have to be sensitive to the move of the Spirit. Some people try to connect everyone to Jesus, no matter where they are or where the person is in their life and spiritual journey. This produces more negative results than good harvests, as they turn people off because they weren’t ready. So how do you know when someone is ready? Let God guide you to whom he wants you to connect and when God wants you to make that connection. (vv. 29-31) That means we need to be sensitive to when the Spirit moves or speaks. How do you do that? Henry Blackaby said that God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit through the Bible. For Philip, when he saw the Ethiopian Eunuch reading from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the Holy Spirit urged Philip to go and explain what he knew and understood about the text. But we can also be guided by the Spirit as we read God’s Word and he speaks to us. If we wish to hear God speak to us through the Holy Spirit, then we need to be plugged into the power source, which is God’s Word.