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Spirit Filled: TUNED IN

Spirit Filled: Tuned In

Are you tuned into God? With modern radio equipment and digital tuning it is necessary for me to let you hear a little static because believe it or not there is a generation that may not understand what static is.

This is the story of Phillip. This Phillip should not be confused with the Apostle Phillip. He was one of the seven men along with Stephen that were hand-picked to serve the widows that were being neglected in Acts 6. After the death of Stephen widespread persecution of the early Christ followers began. Ultimately this has been looked on as a good thing because it spread the message of Jesus Christ to places it had not yet been spread to.

In fact, we read in Acts 8:5 that “Phillip went down to Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.”  He preached and proclaimed the message with great power thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. Phillip is a living example of the priesthood of believers. This concept suggests that we are all called to share in the message of Christ and that we don’t need a priest to confess to. This concept is largely based on the Reformation writings and 1 Peter 2:9 which says:

“. . .for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

All of us have been chosen to share the message. Reading the Book of Acts for the first time, it would be impossible to guess that men picked to wait tables and serve others would do such great things for God. It is the irony of the Bible and message of Christ. Phillip was not a professional preacher or teacher but empowered by the Holy Spirit and motivated by persecution he found himself in middle of God’s plan and purposes.

There is a favorite quote from Shakespeare that I love and have tried to live by.

Brutus and Cassius are discussing the final phase of their civil war with the forces of Octavian and Marcus Antonius. Cassius has been urging that they group their forces at Sardis and take advantage of the secure location to catch their breath. Brutus, however, advocates heading off the enemy at Philippi before Octavian can recruit more men. "There's a tide in the affairs of men," he insists; that is, power is a force that ebbs and flows in time, and one must "go with the flow." Waiting around only allows your power to pass its crest and begin to ebb; if the opportunity is "omitted" (missed), you'll find yourself stranded in miserable shallows.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I believe that Phillip lived this out and today we are going to focus on one story from his life as recorded in Acts 8. He was tuned in to God’s plan and purpose. He was tuned into the Holy Spirit’s leading. He was a man well respected, full of God’s Spirit and full of wisdom.

The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man. -D.L. Moody

1. He Was Tuned into the Moving of the Holy Spirit

26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

 29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Acts 8:26-29 NLT

Being in tune with the Holy Spirit meant that Phillip was open to the Spirit’s guidance and direction. This sensitivity to divine guidance was a major factor in his becoming the touch of God to others.

This is a delicate subject and one that has been misunderstood by well meaning people. The consistent Christ follower is certainly tuned into the Holy Spirit. The person that embraces a daily walk with God lives in a perpetual conversation with God throughout the daily duties of life. I am personally very careful when it comes to using familiar language such as “God told me this or God told me that.” I believe that God does speak to us through His Spirit but I do not believe that He is giving us permission to speak for Him. I don’t want to be in a place where I am putting my words or interpretation out there as something God said.

R.T. Kendall in an article entitled, God Told Me. . .Really?  writes the following:

“One of the hardest habits for some of us to break is saying, "God told me this" or "Here is what the Lord showed me." Is this truly a bad habit? Yes. In fact, I believe it's one of the worst claims perpetrated in churches today, despite being a clear violation of the third commandment: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Ex. 20:7).

 

How do we misuse God's name when we claim He told us something? With our intent. Most often we mention Him for one reason: to elevate our own credibility. It is not His name we are thinking of, it is our reputation. Adding the weight of God's name to our words gives us authority and respectability. But the truth is, we're not thinking of God's name and glory when we do this—we're thinking of our own.”

Let me talk for a few moments about the leading of the Holy Spirit. Years ago Martin Wells Knapp wrote a great book entitled Impressions. Too often well meaning men and women will stray from the path of reason and responsibility to follow some impression that they ascribe to the Holy Spirit. Knapp said there are some simple ways to distinguish the voice of God in our life:

            A. Scriptural: In harmony with God’s will as revealed in the Bible

            B. Right: In harmony with God’s will as revealed in man’s moral nature.

            C. Providential: In harmony with God’s providential dealings.

D. Reasonable: In harmony with God’s will as revealed in a spiritually enlightened judgment.

One of the easiest ways to know if you are being impressed by the Holy Spirit do something is to remember that God does not drive us but leads us. G.D. Watson wrote, “The devil always talks loud and Jesus always talks low and tender.” Impressions from above always give sufficient time to the honest seeker to test their genuineness.

Phillip was in tune enough with the Holy Spirit that he could recognize His leadership.

26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

 29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Acts 8:26-29 NLT

Phillip was so in tune with the Spirit that he was not only flexible as to how the Holy Spirit would lead but as to where the Spirit would use him. He was obedient and if we learn anything from the story of God it is that obedience matters. He became the touch of God anywhere and in any way and to anyone that God asked him to be.

In fact in this story you are going to see that he ran over to the carriage the man was riding in. He was so anxious to obey the Spirit of God.

I want you to notice two perspectives from this story: First of all from above God was working in a man’s heart and life in such a way that after making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he remains spiritually hungry. Secondly from the ground level we see the role of human obedience. God chooses to use human obedience to carry out His plans.

When we chose to do our own thing and dabble with sin and disobedience we have no idea of God’s plans for others that we are messing up. (personal story)

Lloyd Ogilvie says, “The Lord of all creation ahs ordained that He would do His work through us. Our seeking the Spirit’s guidance and obeying what He wants us to do and say is the way He works to bless the world.”

Divine appointments await those that are obedient to God’s leading. It is really important that we live in such a way to be tuned into the moving of the Holy Spirit.

2. He Was Tuned into the Message

Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

 31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

 32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:

   “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
      And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
      he did not open his mouth.
 33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
      Who can speak of his descendants?
      For his life was taken from the earth.”[c]

 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. Acts 8:30-35 NLT

It must have been an impressive caravan out there in the desert. He was a black man and a gentile. He was royalty. He was wealthy and had somehow obtained a copy of the scriptures (OT). He had a searching heart. He had just completed a 1000 mile journey in search of a relationship with God.

Now here he sits reading from the prophet Isaiah. I love verse 35. “So beginning with this same scripture, Phillip told him the Good News about Jesus.” No doubt he pointed him to the rest of the chapter and shared these words as well: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

The point is Phillip was not a professional preacher or fulltime pastor but he knew the word of God. He knew God and when you know God you know His word and you can share His word with anyone at anytime.

I have never bought the excuse that the Bible is hard to read because the beauty of the Bible is that when we try to read it and earnest seek to understand the Holy Spirit will do more to aid us in our pursuit then we can ever imagine. In this case the Spirit sends Phillip to help the Ethiopian understand. How many times in my early days as a Christian did the Holy Spirit open my eyes to His word day after day when I would attempt to read it. Were there things I didn’t understand of course but daily I would find something to grow me and enable me to be more like Christ.

When we know the word it becomes effective in our life and in the life of others.

As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. Acts 8:36-38 NLT

Now for just a few minutes I want to look at Phillips heart. He wasn’t just a “one hit wonder.” This passion for people and especially lost people never left him his whole life long.

3. He Was Tuned into the Masses and Multitudes

 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea. Acts 8:39-40 NLT

If Phillip would not have love people with Christ love, it would have been impossible for him to minister cross culturally. He did it before it became a mission buzz word. He went to Samaria. He shared a conversation and the message with an Ethiopian. He was in touch with the needs of people no matter what their ethnicity or background. He cared for the rich and for the poor.

While I would not agree with most of George MacDonald’s theology he did write a poem that certainly stands on its own. It is a moving conversation between choosing between the fields or the city as a place to serve those in need.

I said, "Let me walk in the fields.
He said, "No; walk in the town."
I said, "There are no flowers there.
He said, "No flowers but a crown."

I said, "But the skies are black,
There is nothing but noise and din."
And He wept as He sent me back;
"There is more," He said. "There is sin."

I said, "But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun."
He answered, "Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone."

I said, "I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say."
He answered, "Choose tonight
If I am to miss you, or they."

I pleaded for time to be given.
He said, "Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have followed the steps of your Guide."

I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town.
He said, "My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for a crown?"

Then into His hand went mine;
And into my heart came He;
And I walked in a light divine,
The path I had feared to see.

God’s pathway always leads to people. Being tuned into God is being tuned into people.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “You can close more business deals in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Phillip never quit being interested in people

“The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Phillip the evangelist, one of the seven men who have been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.” Acts 21:8-9 NLT

But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. 13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. 14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Psalm 92:12-14 NLT

To be in tune with the Holy Spirit let me suggest three concepts that you can write down or get it later from the church website.

1. Yield daily to the Spirit’s guidance.
2. Seek to understand the Message and proclaim its truth
3. Love people like God loves people

One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me."

The mother said, "Oh? Why is that?"

The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that’s true honey."

"And he also said that God lives in us? Is that true, Mommy?" Again the mother replied, "Yes."

"Well," said the little girl, "if God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?"

Maybe you have had a little static in your life. Maybe you’ve had a lot of static in your life and today you want to tune in and get back in touch with God. Just like this radio all it takes is turning in the right direction and you will be tuned in.

Prayer: Now Father you know us better than we know ourselves. IF you have blessed us today by revealing the truth about our lives give us the courage to do the hard work of tuning in to You.

May we be full of the gospel, full of Your Spirit, full of compassion for people – sinners that need a Savior. May we each bear your touch today and in days to come. Please help us to be tuned into Your grace and to those around us. Thank You for Your willingness to use us to reach others. In Jesus name, Amen

 
 

 



2010/08/01