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Sunday, June 6, 2010

"This is Desert."

While most messages at church provide something of value, I was blown away at how much the Lord gave me to think about today. And if I don't blog about it now, I'll probably never reflect on the message. So, here I am!

At Calvary Chapel of Lafayette, we go through the bible, verse by verse. I love this approach to God's Word, because the Pastor doesn't get to skip over passages that challenge us or feed us a steady diet of his pet doctrines. Everything is learned in context, and we are edified as a result. Sometimes, you have to eat your vegetables, too! (As we are doing on Wednesday night, having just started studying Leviticus verse by verse). There's some rich, delicious dessert in there too, by the way.

Anyway, today we were in Acts 8. I'll try to briefly hit on all the things that stuck out at me.

It's amazing how the Holy Spirit operates. It was as if He was speaking directly to me today, regarding the ministry He has prepared for me (Eph 2:8-10).

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert.
Acts 8:26

Philip was in the midst of a great revival. People were getting saved and turning to God. Healings were taking place. Everyone was fired up. And God told Philip to go somewhere else. Not just anywhere else. The middle of nowhere.

If I attempt to do ministry my way, or my pastor's way, or my favorite teacher's way, then it will fail. Because no successful ministry happens unless I am filled with the Holy Spirit, listening for His call, and obedient to that call whenever it comes. Even if it looks like foolishness to the world, I must allow the Holy Spirit to tell me where to go. He has set up divine appointments for me. Sometimes, those appointments are where you least expect them - away from the excitement and in the desert.

By the way, if you're in Lafayette and I knock on your door this Saturday, it's a divine appointment. Please don't take it lightly. If you're a Christian and you haven't shared your faith with a lost person recently, can I challenge you this week to get out of your comfort zone and into a conversation with a lost person about Jesus? Charles Spurgeon said, "If you have no desire for others to be saved, then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." I'm not putting a legalistic trip on you. I'm just asking you to pray about it.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Acts 8:29-30

When Philip heard the call of the Holy Spirit, he ran. He didn't question or ponder. He didn't think of excuses. He didn't walk. He ran. May my heart be one that hears and runs to obey. Lord, create that sense of urgency in my heart to be on time for the divine appointments you've created for me.

So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“ He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”

Acts 8:30-34

When you come to a difficult part of Scripture, ask God for understanding. He promises to answer you with the wisdom you seek (James 1:5-8).

Philip also shows that we should meet a person where they are and steer them toward Jesus, because their eternal destiny is on the line. In this case, Philip showed the Eunich how the Scripture he was reading pointed to Jesus.

Whether it's Scripture or a situation a person finds themselves in, we should be looking for ways to steer conversations toward spiritual things. The more I practice doing this, the better I become at it. If I'm not looking for those opportunities, I will easily miss them with all that is around to distract me from my purpose of sharing the Gospel.

This is a big weakness I have. I know that God has called me to evangelize, and I want to share Jesus with everyone. But how do I swing from natural conversation to a conversation about eternity, without sounding like a wierdo? There are so many things we can use.

Recently in Lafayette, a man shot a fast food employee at the drive-through window. Think people in Lafayette have an opinion about that? I wonder what sports fans in Lafayette think of the recent passings of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, or former Astros pitcher and colorful character Jose Lima? Where do you think those guys went when they died?

I wonder if the people of Lafayette feel safer today than they did on Sept. 11, 2001. I wonder if they have an opinion on where the pe0ple in those buildings went? Or the terrorists who took over those planes?

By the way, if you believe in Heaven but not Hell, where did those terrorists go? Are we all going to be spending eternity in Heaven singing Kumbaya with people like Stallin and Hitler? Seems we're in the midst of a conversation about eternity, and it was a very short trip to get there.

Or, how about: "Can I ask you an interesting question? followed by "Where are you on your spiritual journey?" or "When you die, what do you think is on the other side?" There are many ways to turn conversations to spiritual things without looking like a wierdo. I know many of them.

I claim I don't because it's easier than sharing my faith. But one day, I'll no longer be able to share my faith with any more lost people, because I'll be in Heaven. There are no lost people in Heaven, and I want to take as many people with me to Heaven as I can. Don't you?

The bigger question is this: am I willing to put my pride aside and live out what I just said? Are you?

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