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Summary: A first person narrative sermon told by Philip. Based on Acts chapter 8

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Title: "Oasis in the Desert." Philip – in the first person

Situation; it’s been quite an exciting season around Jerusalem…

We’ve been waiting so long for the messiah to arrive. Then, Jesus of Nazareth came – through his teaching and his love and his miracles, people started to realize - yes!!! Finally – our long awaited messiah had a arrived. Not only for the Jewish people – but the messiah is for all the world!!

Then Jesus was arrested and crucified. It was ugly…

Peter denied even knowing him

Judas another disciple sold him out

All the disciples abandoned Jesus and ran for their lives

“Black Friday”

But then 3 days later Jesus rose from the dead … “he is risen – just like he said.” When Jesus Rose from the dead – that clinched it. The romans and the high priest and the Sanhedrin thought they had everything under control. They never anticipated him getting up out of the grave – he even folded his grave clothes before exiting the tomb!

Then, 40 days of thrills -- 40 days of Jesus “showing up.”

First, Peter

Then the 12

Then Thomas the doubter saw and believed!

Then James

Then the 2 - while walking the road to emmaus

Then…500 of us at one time.

it was no mistake – he was alive.

Then, good-bye.

Jesus ascended to heaven – but promised a special gift would follow – the Holy Spirit.

He told the 12 to wait in Jerusalem – the gift would be delivered there.

It happened on Pentecost (a Jewish holiday – 50 days after Passover) – the time we always remember the gift of the law – now a new gift -- for a new era.

There were languages and flames. We knew some of the symbolism – fire has always been associated with God’s presence – like at the burning bush and like on MT Carmel – fire came from heaven

Then Peter preaches this amazing sermon – yes- Peter the same one who denied even knowing Jesus… now look at him… preaching like he’s Jeremiah or john the Baptist

Everyone was in awe.

3000 people believe!!!

Our burgeoning movement of Jesus followers is capturing everyone’s attention. Then, just a short time later the number of Jesus followers reaches 5000.

Complication; But we were so poorly organized in those days – just riding the wave so to speak… the Holy Spirit was on the move.

“we had the fire – but we had no fireplace” – we needed leaders and we needed to get organized. For example…. The widows among us had to be fed… Jesus always had compassion for the poor and as Jesus followers we would do the same. The 12 apostles were overwhelmed and feeling stretched… They decided the preaching of the gospel had priority – but what about the hungry?

Physical food or spiritual food? Must we choose? So… they decided to appoint 7 deacons to care for the “foodbank.” It was a daily task… every day more people came – every day we had to find food … and fairly dispense it – making sure the Hebraic Jews and the Greek Jews were treated the same…

Where to find these leaders?

“Find 7” … said the 12

It was no trivial decision – all 7 men had to be filled with the HOLY Spirit and wisdom. By God’s grace I was one of the 7 – my name is Philip.

At first it was busy and then it got busier… Now I knew why we needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom – people can turn cranky when they are hungry or feeling overlooked. The 12 apostles laid their hands on us and prayed for God’s wisdom.

Then, a short time later – one of the members of our food team – Stephen – started preaching and God used him to perform miracles. Stephen was a man of great faith – and a great anointing of the Holy Spirit was on him. He started preaching and God used him to work miracles. Very soon the push back came…The Jewish authorities – the Sanhedrin brought him in – to investigate the charge of blasphemy – very serious!!!

Stephen – being bold and full of zeal was not intimidated – he began to preach to them too…. He covered the entire history of Israel… Egypt…Moses…the burning bush.. king David… prophets… and then Jesus … “and now you have murdered and betrayed him.” {7:52)

They were furious --- they dragged him out into the streets and stoned him to death. Our first martyr.

A very sad day.

On the heels of stoning Stephen… a great persecution breaks out – and everyone scatters… south to Judea and north around Samaria.

Saul of Tarsus was the ring leader in the outbreak of persecution… he began to destroy the church…he was throwing both men and women in prison for being a Jesus follower.

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