Summary: Exposition of Acts 8:26-40, 1 of 2 parts, about a vision for the coming new year in the church
Text: Acts 8:26-40, Title: In 2008 I, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/6/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: Last year when I called my parents to wish them a happy New Year, my dad answered the phone. "Well, Dad, what’s your New Year’s resolution?" I asked him. "To make your mother as happy as I can all year," he answered proudly. Then mom got on, and I said, "What’s your resolution, Mom?" "To see that your dad keeps his New Year’s resolution."
B. Background to passage: Having just seen the moving of the Spirit of God in Samaria and the entrance into the kingdom of the Samaritans, revival was happening, and Philip was right in the middle of it. Then God leads him away from the revival, away from the hot spot to meet an individual in need of Jesus.
C. Main thought: As today is the first Sunday of 2008, I want to look at this passage related to some New Year’s Resolutions for us in the coming year. It will be a two-part message, which I will finish tonight.
A. Let us be sensitive and obedient (v. 26-27)
1. Philip was a disciple who was doing what he was supposed to do. And then the Angel of the Lord showed up, maybe in his prayer time, maybe after a service, maybe at midnight, but He came and He spoke. And Philip was ready for Him to speak. And when He spoke, Philip arose and went. Philip already knew that if God led him to do something, there was no negotiation needed.
3. Illustration: most of us are rather hard headed and second-guessing about His leadership, mention Ronnie’s three fleeces, and my refusal to take the restarted LSCC instead of beginning with nothing, In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery. “Your Majesty,” said Prior Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.” “I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.” “Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.”
When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.” there will probably be a lot of questions and objections to finishing up cleaning out the church roll, because we will based our opinions more on feelings than on scripture,
4. It is important for you to be doing what you know that you are supposed to be doing for God to speak to you about future events. We must have high expectations about God speaking to us. We are so used to operating without the extraordinary leadership of the Spirit that we have ceased to look or listen for it. Do you anticipate God speaking to you? Does your life grant you liberty to have that anticipation? Pray that God would make you, and your church leaders sensitive to the moving of the Spirit. Many times God does not speak, for He knows that we will not hear. Many times things go undone, because we don’t decide beforehand to do it. We must decide beforehand that we will be obedient. We do the same thing with the bible! We claim to be people of the book, although many of our lives do not reflect decisions based in that book. Certain structures and ministries in our churches are not based on the book, but on tradition and personal preferences. We must decide today that if the King or the Book says it, we will do it. “There is no try, do or do not.” So in this coming year, make it your constant prayer for yourself and for your church to hear from God and radically commit to obedience that we may be known by all as those who are sensitive and obedient to Christ! TREASURE CHRIST BY BEING READY, WILLING, & OBEDIENT TO HIS COMMANDS!
B. Let us bring hope to the nations and races (v. 27)
1. The man whom Philip was sent to meet was a man from Ethiopia, which in the OT was called Cush. It was land south of Egypt, at least 500 miles away. By the way, several ancient writers considered this part of the ends of the earth. It is a possibility that this man was part Jewish, or he could be what’s known as a God-fearer. But never the less, he was vastly different from Philip. He was probably black, he was wealthy, and he had much authority in the kingdom of Ethiopia. Here we see a little of God’s heart. Christ died to purchase men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And God is ensuring that the prideful, racist Jews do not neglect to reach those of other races or nations.