Divine Appointment (Acts 8:26-40)
– Proverbs 16:9, A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
– Over the past couple weeks, we have been talking about Philip. Described as a “Man of faith and filled with the Holy Spirit”. Today, he meets a eunuch on the road and shares the gospel with him.
– When the great persecution of Christians began, Philip left out from Jerusalem and continued preaching the Good News about Jesus from Samaria to Caesarea.
– Philip went from Jerusalem north to Samaria. Pastor Kevin said 22 hours by foot (65 miles)
– Then from Samaria south to the desert place, another 35 hours by foot, approx. 100 miles
– It’s 2,400 miles from Ethiopia to Jerusalem. That’s how far the Eunuch had to travel to get to the temple and worship. This was more than a casual decision. He is looking for something.
– I’m just trying to put into scale this “chance” meeting on the desert road.
– When we consider the idea of divine appointments, it’s important to see how cosmically unlikely it would be for these two to just “run into each other”. They had both travelled many hard miles from opposite directions, to reach this spot for a Holy Spirit encounter.
– Example: I thought 20 hours of travel time to get to Cambodia was long, but there we met Chan.
– Veterans on the mission field looking for “Healing through Service“, from the physical and emotional wounds of war and trauma. 7,000 miles away from home.
– Chan, father of the local missionary, told stories of his own military service (Khmer Rouge), fighting in those very fields by day, and clearing off the dead bodies by night.
– He was captured, beaten, left for dead, suffering in a field hospital… “Why did I live?!”
– A nurse there quietly shared Jesus with him, and he and his whole household were saved.
– His heart was completely healed, but still in physical pain he prayed, “Heal my pain, but even if you never do, Jesus, I will serve you no matter what.” Jesus healed his physical pain too!
– He found physical & spiritual healing from trauma through Jesus. Healing is possible through Jesus Christ!
– As we were beginning our healing journey, and he was ending his, this one short week was exactly what we needed, to see the future and hope that Jesus brings to our lives. We are still alive!
– He died 6 months later. We won’t see him again until we get to heaven.
– God will send you places & put people in your path for a reason. He knows what He’s doing!
– If you will be willing and obedient, amazing things can happen.
– Look forward to these moments, and listen to the Holy Spirit when he calls you.
- Go where He sends you, when He sends you.
Read Acts 8:26-30
– Philip had left Jerusalem and went north to preach the gospel to a town full of hungry souls.
– Now the Angel is telling him, “Arise and go…” 100 miles in the opposite direction in to the desert!
– Why?! It’s unlikely that anyone would even be in this deserted place. It’s inconvenient, inefficient, and makes no sense.
– Galatians 5:25, If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
– Philip was a Spirit-filled man, so he must be obedient to the Spirit’s leading.
– The Spirit led Philip to an unlikely person, the Ethiopian Eunuch.
– Traditionally, we think of sharing the gospel with the poor and disenfranchised. Not the rich and powerful, because they seem like they got it all together, or are simply unapproachable.
– This man is the treasurer of Ethiopia, rich and powerful, beautiful chariot, and probably had a whole entourage traveling with him. Who is Philip that he should disturb this guy?
– Example: Finding yourself in an ATM vestibule with Denzel Washington, but instead of asking for an autograph you ask him if he wants to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
– Eunuchs were often scorned by Jews, and were “unaccepted” according to the law of Moses.
– Philip being Jewish would also have to put aside any cultural or personal bias too.
– As Christians, we often scorn celebrities, and think of them disqualified from our concern.
– Think about it: Are we praying for their souls, or condemning their actions?
– They’re arrogant, rebellious, engage in sexual sin, basically worship the idols of the culture… Ah! 1 Cor 6:11, “And such were some of you!” Before Jesus made you clean and saved you!
– Asking the rich and powerful dignitary if he understood what he was reading was a bold move. He risked being ridiculed, embarrassed, or maybe even assaulted for approaching the chariot.
– How many divine appointments have you missed because you were not willing to be uncomfortable or embarrassed? Or you froze in the moment, and the opportunity was wasted?
– Esther 4:14, For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (These moments are for your benefit too!)
– Unlikely place + unlikely person = divine appointment
– George Macdonald once said, “I find the doing of the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.”
- Let the Holy Spirit be your guide.
– John 16:13a, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…”
Read Acts 8:30-35
– Matthew Henry said, “In order to our right understanding of the scripture, it is requisite we should have someone to guide us; some good books, and some good men, but, above all, the Spirit of grace, to lead us into all truth.”
– The passage of scripture that the Eunuch was reading was:
Isaiah 53:7-8 (NLT), He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 Unjustly condemned, he was led away.[b] No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream.[c] But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.
– His question: Who is the prophet talking about?
– The Eunuch is an intelligent and well-traveled man. He is returning from worshiping at the temple where he surely heard the priest preaching, so he knows of God. He apparently can read Hebrew, and he knows there is something important for him in the scriptures.
– He is going to “church” and reading the “bible”, but still needs someone to guide him.
– Example: Running cross-country, the coach never spoke, just follow him as he ran.
– We didn’t know the course, or how long, just keep up if you can. But what if you fall behind?
– I got lost in a race one time, and everyone else was too busy “running their race” to point me in the direction I needed to go. I needed some coaching and a team. I had neither.
– This is why yours can’t be a “personal faith” only. That is why evangelism is so important.
– That’s why it’s important to preach the true gospel, and not waste a lot of time trying to be relevant and entertaining. Philip had an interaction with this guy, and the Holy Spirit moved.
– A person may only come to church one time, seeking something they couldn’t find elsewhere. This is why we preach the gospel on Christmas eve, etc…. That may be the one moment they hear it.
– You can’t expect a nonbeliever to figure out what the bible MEANS without the Spirit of the one who wrote it to guide them.
– 1 Cor. 2:9-14, 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (Isaiah 64:4) 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the [a]Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
– The Spirit reveals the truth. That’s why if someone has the holy spirit they can help explain the mystery of the bible. They should be actively discipling others.
– Philip did not go into some wordy and lofty exposition of the scriptures. He simply showed how the scriptures all point to Jesus. He “connected the dots”, and shared the most important part of it all, Jesus Christ crucified.
– Philip started with the very words of Isaiah that the Eunuch was already reading.
– We can never think of discarding the Old Testament. It is the very thing that Peter and Paul also used to preach the gospel and point the way to the Messiah. Why should we try to avoid it?
– We must be teachable and accepting of guidance when it comes to the harder parts of scripture to understand (as the eunuch was). We can’t disregard it just because we don’t understand it.
– A stranger walks up to “man of power” and asks if he understands all these things, and he humbly replies, NO. It takes humility to accept the gospel. This shows a ready heart condition.
– Billy Graham said the reason he asks those who would accept Christ to come forward for prayer is #1. It is an act of the will, and #2. It shows humility in your approach to the throne of Jesus, unto salvation. For someone to truly put their flesh to death, and take up the yoke of Christ in salvation, they must humbly and willfully come to the foot of the cross. Repent and live a new life. If someone cannot do those things, then how likely will it be that true conversion would take place?
- Salvation is available for all people.
Read Acts 8:36-40
– The Eunuch is reading from the Prophet Isaiah starting in chapter 53, but would surely continue reading on through chapter 56, which lays out God’s plan for salvation. An innocent man punished for our transgressions, our repentance, and God’s mercy and forgiveness for all.
– 53:6, All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
– 53:9, He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal;
– 54:4, “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
– 55:6-7, Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. 7 Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
– This is why Philip could start with these verses to share the gospel about Jesus.
– These next verses though must have been the most powerful and important words for eunuch. The man with no earthly legacy can now have a hope and a future!
– Isaiah 56:3-4 (NLT), “Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’ 4 For this is what the Lord says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.
– Then in Verse 8 (NLT), For the Sovereign Lord, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”
– They are so many reasons why the Eunuch would have felt disqualified, but in the new covenant, all who have genuine faith have a place among God’s people.
– YOU have not fallen outside the reach of God’s grace either!
– The Apostle Paul uses the same writings of Isaiah to show YOU the way of salvation:
– Romans 10:8-15, 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (This is what the eunuch just did.) 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16) 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who [b]preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Isaiah 52:7)
– This is the Good News about Jesus that we preach. If you never hear it, how can you believe it!
– Jeremiah 29:13, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
– The eunuch immediately initiating his own baptism is an act of the will, and humility.
– This will be the 1st time of many when you willfully humble yourself before your savior Jesus Christ.
– The Eunuch left rejoicing because of his salvation. Will you leave here tonight rejoicing too?
– How long have YOU “traveled” through life looking for healing from your wounds from the battles of this world?
– Maybe, like the eunuch, you didn’t understand it until someone was able to explain it to you using the scriptures.
– You’re here now. You made it! Be willing to take the next step, and willfully humble yourself and receive salvation. If you do, you will leave here rejoicing too!