What kind of company or community are you keeping? Are you surrounding yourself with people encouraging and challenging you to grow in your relationship with Christ?
Are the people you hang out with causing you to grow in your purpose and calling?
This week we’re talking about growing in our community; pray with me before we get into the teaching: Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that you make us doers of the word and not hearers only. In Christ’s name, Amen.
I always like to encourage people to grow to their full potential and to find an environment where they get a chance to grow spiritually, relationally, and educationally. However, you can go to all the Bible studies and attend all the mentoring classes, but they all mean very little if you don’t learn the discipline of obeying God quickly.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.” — Jim Rohn (American Entrepreneur)
We should practice many disciplines daily and weekly, such as daily devotional times or weekly church attendance. One of the most significant disciplines is learning to obey God quickly.
Learn to Obey God Quickly.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “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 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. Acts 8:26-31 (NIV)
One of the principal characters in this story is Philip. In Acts chapter 6, he is introduced to us in the Biblical narrative. The church in Jerusalem was having a problem. They had a feeding program for widows. Some of these widows were Jewish, but some widows were Jewish but had Greek culture. Therefore, they didn’t speak Hebrew. Their mannerisms reflected more of the Greek type of culture, and so they were overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
The problem that could have broken the church into factions was disrupted, and the church maintained its unity because they chose several people that served, one of them being Philip. They chose him because he was full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. That is where Philip is introduced to us in the Bible.
Fast forward to years later, and we see Philip again, but this time he is on a whole other spiritual rung on the ladder of Spiritual Maturity. We see that Philip had quickly become a master of obeying God, which was the genesis of his growth.
How can you personally grow in your community amidst all the things that it offers you?
Obey God quickly. That’s it. That is the answer.
What does it mean? Listen to God, and whatever He tells you to do, do it.
When you start to do that, God will trust you on a whole other level. In fact, in earlier verses of Acts chapter 8, we see that Philip is preaching the Gospel in the city of Samaria. He’s holding a citywide crusade where crowds had gathered and were set free from sin. People were healed physically, and those who were demonized were delivered.
Philip shook the city, and God used him to do that. Suddenly, we read that an angel told Philip to go South on a desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Notice the instruction God gave Philip, “go south.” He never told Philip what would happen or why he should go south. Philip never asked what God wanted from him by going South. Philip just obeyed God quickly. He is on this long road, about a 50-mile trip to get to Gaza, and suddenly he sees a fancy chariot. We read that the Holy Spirit tells Philip to go to the chariot and stay near it. Notice that the Holy Spirit doesn’t tell him why he needs to go to the chariot, and Philip doesn’t ask why.
He just obeys.
I imagine Philip looking at this royal chariot and is intimidated by it. But the Holy Spirit told him to stay by it, so he does. He runs up next to it despite his intimidation and feelings. I want you to see how he obeyed God quickly. That is what you and I must do if we want to grow.
Philip overhears that eunuch reading Isaiah the prophet. He was reading about the metaphorical lamb that would be slaughtered, and it was silent as it was enduring death. The eunuch had no idea what it meant or what the prophet spoke of. Then Philip asks him if he understands what he is reading and the eunuch informs him that he doesn’t, so Philip gets into the chariot. The eunuch was not a foolish man. He was reading out loud and in the language of Greek, which was not his native tongue. Even though he was a devout man and was serious about having an authentic relationship with God, he had no idea what the reading meant. Philip introduced himself and began to explain what the text meant.
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, him or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. Acts 8:34-35 (NIV)
Philip was telling the eunuch about the Lamb of God. He was telling him of God’s indescribable gift of Salvation. He explained that Jesus died on the cross for everyone, and anyone who accepts Him as Savior can experience forgiveness of their sins.
Have you ever experienced forgiveness of your sins?
You know that when you are saved, you get to experience Christ. You have the assurance that your sins have been forgiven.
Have you ever experienced salvation?
Something happened in the chariot that day to the eunuch. Philip introduced him to the Savior, and he was saved. I love the fact that the eunuch practiced the very principle that Philip laid as a foundation for his spiritual growth. What was that? He started the habit of obeying God quickly.
How do we know that?
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of me being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. Acts 8:36-37 (NIV)
Philip never planned to get into the water and baptize someone. He never planned on getting wet. You may be a follower of Christ but have never been baptized. What is stopping you? Baptism isn’t salvation but a public declaration that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Why aren’t you getting baptized?
What excuses are keeping you from doing it?
Remember the principle that Philip developed, used, and practiced.
Obey God quickly. Obey every dimension of communication that God affords you. If you see water, what prevents you from being baptized? Philip got out of the chariot with the eunuch, and they went into the water. Can you imagine what the driver of the chariot is thinking? It is amazing when you see someone surrender to God, and that day, the eunuch surrendered.
“Baptism is an outward testimony of an inward transformation. It’s the first step of obedience for a disciple of Christ.” Anonymous
That day, Philip didn’t make a bunch of excuses for why he couldn’t get baptized. The eunuch didn’t make excuses. No, they learned the principle and disciple of obeying God quickly.
“We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life.” Vance Hanver (Author & Preacher)
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:39 (NIV)
I am not perfect, but I’ve learned to obey God quickly over the years. I encourage you to invite Christ into your life and practice the discipline of obeying God quickly.
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, I need you. I’ve sinned against you and others. Wash away all my sins. Change me and help me to walk with you every day of my life, starting right now. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Congratulations! Welcome to the family of God.