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Summary: To join God’s search and rescue operation, we must submit to the Spirit’s direction, share the Gospel to seekers and seek to be more fruitful for Him.

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Do you still remember our mission statement? Let us all recite it. “Glorify God by Multiplying Biblical, Committed and Loving Followers of Jesus Christ.” This morning we will look into the “multiplying” aspect of our mission statement.

It is God’s will that we become fruitful. Jesus said in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”[1] Yes, if you would look at the context, the word “fruit” probably refers to “love.” Verse 13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I like how The Message translated this: “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” Would you put your life on the line by joining God’s search and rescue operation?

Let us read the life of one who did join God’s search and rescue operation. Let us look into the encounter of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. Let me give you the background for our passage. Philip was one of the original seven deacons or workers of the early church. Now, persecution broke out due to the stoning of Stephen. As they scattered to escape persecution, Philip as well as the rest of the believers “preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.”[2] Because of Philip’s preaching, many Samaritans became believers also. The apostles Peter and John even visited Philip’s work in Samaria and “When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem...”[3]

One day, “an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’”[4] Remember that Philip went up north from Jerusalem to Samaria. Now the Lord wants Him to “Go south along the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” [5] From Samaria to that desert road is about 50 miles. That’s even longer than his travel from Jerusalem to Samaria! That doesn’t make sense at all. In fact, Philip could have told the Lord that Peter and John were already in Jerusalem. Philip could have reasoned that God could save time and money by sending them instead of him.

Yet, Philip obeyed “and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 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...” Note that the Spirit spoke to Philip and he obeyed. To join God’s search and rescue operation, we must SUBMIT to the Spirit’s direction.

Os Hillman, in one of his devotionals in the Today God is First website,[6] wrote, “God’s ways of determining where we invest our time and energy often has little to do with results. It is not by the success or failure of the events we are involved in. Our plumb line for determining success can be only one thing: obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit.”

Let us backtrack a little. When the apostles decided to delegate to deacons the work of feeding the widows, they gave this criterion to the church: “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose… Philip”.[7] The fact that Philip was among those chosen by the whole group speaks a lot about him. He was “full of the Spirit”. And we see in the response of Philip that a person full of the Spirit is an obedient person. Charles Stanley wrote in his Timely Testimony article, “Philip wasn’t mighty in spirit because he performed signs and wonders. Rather, he made his mark in simple obedience. Wherever the Spirit led, he followed; whatever the Spirit prompted, he said.” The question now is, “Are you an obedient believer?” Now you may be asking, “How do we know what the Spirit wants?” Well, He revealed it in the Bible. And the word of God says, “Make disciples of all nations”.[8]

That’s brings us to our next point. To join God’s search and rescue operation, we must SHARE the Gospel to seekers. Philip obeyed the prompting of the Spirit and he “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.”[9]

The Bible describes the eunuch as an important government official, “the chief treasurer for Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia.”[10] He was a Gentile. He was not a Jew. Yet he believed in God. The Bible says he just came from a worship service in Jerusalem. He really sought God for Philip saw him reading the Old Testament on his way home. However, as he admitted to Philip, he did not understand what he was reading. In short, he was a very successful, sincere seeker. In his Be Dynamic, Warren Wiersbe wrote, “This Ethiopian represents many people today who are religious, read the Scriptures, and seek the truth, yet do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ. They are sincere, but they are lost! They need someone to show them the way.”

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