Let There Be No Argument

I say it somewhere almost daily; “If God said it, that settles it.”

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Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

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I have said it for decades, fully believing it.  In Peru it became a power-statement expressing the absolute integrity of God’s Word that should take precedent over any and all other words, ideas, and actions.  “If God said it, that settles it.”  In Peru I learned to say it in Spanish, making it even more impactful to Spanish speaking peoples.  “Si Dios lo ha dicho, esta establicido.”  In my travels in Africa, I found I could make a strong and Godly impact on the good people of Kenya by learning that phrase in Swahili.  There it is said, “Kama Mungu alysema ataidhibitisha.”  My point is simple, and one to which every believer needs to submit him/herself.  There should be NO argument with ANYTHING God says.  Once again I state it simply and directly; “If God said it, that settles it.”

In Acts 10, we see the Lord beginning to open the pathway for the fulfilling of the Great Commission, to “go into all the world.”  “All the world” includes the Gentiles; the NON-Jewish world.  So, God instructed Peter to NOT call common what He (God) had cleansed.  And Peter certainly understood the truth of our leading statement in today’s Second Miler; “If God said it, that settles it.”

It is to that end that I write to you today.  I see and hear all to often how easy it is for us (believers) to speak judgmental, often harshly or disagreeably so, statements based on what we see with our eyes, when in reality, what we see with out eyes is in complete disharmony with the Word of God.  My friend, such things ought not be.  We know the power of words.  The Scriptures are replete with instruction, admonition, teaching, and even correction concerning the words of our mouths.  Words license unseen spiritual forces, both holy and unholy, to carry out activities that all to quickly become seen.  What is seen provokes even more words.  Sadly, when what is spoken is contrary to the mind, will, and plan of God, dark forces move quickly to attempt the establishment of something that appears concrete, thus powerfully impacting all who see it to speak even more words in witness against the Word of God.  Once again, my friend, such things ought not be.

The finest and most powerful guard the believer has against such activities and speech arising from his/her own mouth is to personally covenant before the Lord that he/she will allow NO WORDS that are contrary to the mind, will, or plan of God to proceed from his/her mouth.  Simply stated, ANY WORD contrary to God’s Word is a corrupt word.  Commit Ephesians 4:29 to heart, and then live it.

Manna for Today – Acts 10; John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Proverbs 6:2; Proverbs 4:20-23; Matthew 12:35-37; Ephesians 4:29; Romans 3:4

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Give a Hand

All so many people in this world need is a hand, and they, too, can live.

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Acts 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

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This event can be related very simply.  Dorcas (Tabitha) had died.  She was greatly loved.  The church called for Peter, perhaps for some comfort in their mourning.  Peter raised her from the dead.  When she opened her eyes, Peter “gave her his hand, and lifted her up.”  Now isn’t that simple?  But we must be aware that in the simplicity of how this story is related, we do not lose the importance of what took place.  Was it important that Dorcas had died?  Yes, for the death of a saint is precious in the eyes of the Lord.  Was it important that Peter be called?  Perhaps.  At least he understood something of comforting the bereaved, and he DID walk in the power of God.  Was it important that Peter put out the mourners?  Likely so.  After all, Jesus put out the doubt and unbelief before He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Was it important that Peter spoke to her?  Yes!  For it was in his words that faith was released, and Holy Spirit found full authority upon which to act.

Sadly, that is where many would stop.  Imagine if you had just had the wonderful opportunity to raise a person from the dead.  What a marvelous event!  What a powerful demonstration of the power of God!  What a powerful testimony you can now offer of the power of God!  But is that all that happened in our Text for Today?  Hardly.  After that, Peter gave Dorcas his hand, lifted her up, and then presented her to the saints.  It was not his raising of the dead that was the great gift of the day.  Rather it was his presentation of a valued human life who carried specific talents, treasures, and anointings that was the great gift.

To that end, I offer you this challenge.  There is much that every believer in God’s kingdom both can and should be doing in the earth today.  As long as a single lost person lives, the Gospel needs to be delivered to them.  As long as one sick person remains, the saints of God must proclaim healing and walk in the power of God to deliver it.  For every cripple, there is a healing.  For every prisoner, there is a deliverance.  For every blind eye, there is sight.  For every deaf ear, there is hearing.  For every poor man, there is an enriching.  For every mute, there are words to speak.  For every dead man raised, there is yet work to do.  And for all these, having received that critically needful thing, there needs to be a hand given.  That’s where our work really starts.  The healing, the deliverance, the dead living, the need met is an event, but there is a life to lead that follows, a life that needs a hand given; given to rise up, given to move forward, given to begin again, given to lead them to their own fulfilled life in Christ.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:36-43; Mark 16:15-20; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Slayers Await

This is NOT melodrama.  This is reality for a true Christian today.

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Acts 9:29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

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For many years, now, the church has really had it quite easy.  It might be said we have been at ease in Zion.  The Scriptures have some things to say about that sense of comfort.  For instance, we are warned that when men cry “peace, peace, then cometh sudden destruction.”  Some may think that taken out of context, but the fact remains, that is what has happened in many respects to the modern church.  During my own lifetime, now some seven decades, and I believe much longer, the church has not been under the attack of the enemy that we see today.  Most of the church’s battles were from within.  And while many of those same battles and even new ones exist, in this modern era, the church is under a most obvious attack from outside forces; politics, government, rampant sin, and in this hour more than ever in history, religious attacks, especially from the Islamic religion.

In earlier writing we saw how the Jews sought to kill Paul.  In the context of our Text for Today, it was the Grecians who sought to kill him.  It was a different place, a different moment in history, a different culture, and a different people, but the intended outcome was the same.  They were seeking to kill Paul because he was a voice of the Word of God; the Word they feared so greatly.  Learn this principle, dear reader.  Why don’t people generally go about just generally killing chickens?  The answer is simple.  They are not afraid of chickens.  But that same general group of people who ignore chickens will run from every snake they see, and in most cases, if possible, kill the snake.  Why?  Because they are afraid of the snake.

Now I fully realize that God is love.  Perfect love casts out all fear.  But people in darkness, regardless of their religious background, naturally fear light.  The entrance of the Word brings light.  Jesus said the world hates light, and what the world hates, it fears.  No, the world is not afraid that the Word will hurt them, but they do fear its power to change them.  Are you a proclaimer of the Word?  Are you a progenitor of the Gospel?  If you are, the world fears you for they see you are called by the Name of the Lord.  The Spirit of the fear of the Lord is upon you.  You represent change to the world; light that dispels darkness; an overcoming of sensual pleasure by replacing it with spiritual power.  Generosity that expels selfishness. Service that rises above being served.  They world hates that, and therefore hates that which causes it – that’s YOU SPEAKING THE WORD OF GOD.  Be ready to be hated and sought out by slayers.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-31; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Isaiah 54:17; Luke 22:31-36

 

Counsel to Kill

Nothing new here.

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Acts 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

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The French have a saying.  It is “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”  In English that means, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Take a moment to read again our Text for Today, and then take time to read the preceding verses in that chapter.  Get the facts firmly established in your mind, and having done that, realize this truth.  Things really haven’t changed.

 

Consider what you have read.  Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was one of the key persecutors of the church, wreaking havoc in the infant body of Christ.  Then things changed.  He was converted and immediately began to speak out for Christ, testifying of His saving work.  Remember, it was still an infant church, but its spokesmen caused such discomfort among the Jews and unbelievers that killing them was thought to be a favor to the world.  So, though the church was still in its infancy, those who spoke out for the Lord, the church, and His kingdom were very quickly targeted as problems that needed to be silenced and eliminated.

Allow me to say once again, ”Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”  There is nothing new today.  Yes, there are many differences in the realm of tools and possessions, but spiritually, nothing is new.  It’s still the same today.  Travel across our world.  In almost every nation of the world, there are people who would love to silence, or even kill Christians, especially vocal ones.  They are afraid of the power of God’s Word.  I have traveled to many nations, and in every one of them are haters and would-be killers of Christians.  Even in our own country of the United States this is rampant.  Elements of our own government strive daily to silence the Christian voice.  We saw it with Madelyn Murray-O’Hair.  We have seen it in our courts relating to prayer and witnessing in schools, and even the removal of the Ten Commandments from government buildings, and attacks on traditional Christmas at every juncture.  Some churches are even taking down crosses, banners, flags, and signage that promotes Christianity, so they won’t be offensive to other religions in their community.  And I will not use space here to innumerate shootings that have taken place in churches around the world, and even in the United States.

 

No, myfriend, things have not changed.  In fact, they have gotten worse.  Are you a voice for Christ?  Are you an advocate of Biblical Christianity?  If you are, make sure you have on the “whole armor of God,” and make sure you know who you are in Christ, for knowing that allows you to stand in faith, fearing nothing, and doing all to please the Father.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-25; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Isaiah 54:17; Luke 22:31-36

Be Filled

There is a difference.

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Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

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My offering to you today is for your edification through close observation.  I draw your attention to our Text for Today, and especially two portions of it.  The truth revealed, strengthened, and confirmed here is powerful.  The two portions are the following words; “Brother Saul,” and “that thou mightiest . . . . be filled with the Holy Ghost.”  Let’s examine them in a most reasonable fashion.  After all, the Lord did say that we should “reason together.”

Saul of Tarsus (Paul), while on his way to Damascus, had been confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ.  It was at that point in the life of Saul of Tarsus (for simplicity, I shall refer to him as Paul) was born again.  There, on the road to Damascus, Paul encountered Jesus, and accepted Him as his Lord and Savior.  Then three days later, while he was in a house in Damascus, the man Ananias came to him.  Ananias had been sent to Paul by the Lord to share certain things with him.

Upon his entry before Paul, look closely at the first words of Ananias.  He called Paul, “Brother Saul.”  This is a very clear indication that Paul was a Christian.  In the church it is only proper to call those who are born again “brother” or “sister.”  It should be obvious from the events leading to the appearance of Ananias before Paul that Paul had already been born again.  He was already saved.  On that I am sure we can agree.

Now let us examine one of the key reasons Ananias gave for his coming to Paul.  The Lord had sent Ananias to lay hands on Paul for certain distinct purposes.  The final purpose Ananias stated was “that thou (Paul) mightiest . . . . be filled with the Holy Ghost.”  This statement is clear and quite definitive.  Paul had already been born again, but from the words of Ananias, we can clearly see he was not yet “filled with the Holy Ghost.”  This was something the Lord desired for Paul that was beyond his experience of being born again three days earlier on the road to Damascus.

I don’t know where your “Damascus road encounter” with the Lord took place.  I refer to the place and time of your being born again.  But I do know this.  It is also the will of the Lord that you be “filled with the Holy Ghost.”  If you already have, I praise God for and with you.  If you have not, you need not wait any longer, for if you, being earthly, natural people, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Ghost to them that ask Him?  Just ask, my friend, and believe.  The Lord is waiting to fill you with His Spirit today.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-18; Acts 1:8; Luke 11:13; Acts 2:4; John 14:15-17

What a Change!

  • As bad as it can get, God can change it.

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Acts 9:13 & 15 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me . . .

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It makes no difference how bad you are, or think you are.  Jesus is more than sufficient to redeem you from sin and all its consequences and transform you into a child of light (God).  Allow me to offer you a scenario for your consideration, particularly in light of our present world and the laws of man under which we live.

There is a man who is standing before you.  He has a long history of being a violent offender, heavy drinker and drug user.  His reputation for cruelty and vicious behavior is widely known.  The tattoos on his hands and arms speak to the issues of his past.  The scars on his face and hands give clear indication to a life NOT well-spent, but wasted in violence, much of which took place in the most questionable of places.  He is applying for a job with your company.  His work will put him in the company of clientele in their homes, likely having children present.  WOULDL YOU HIRE HIM?

In the modern marketplace, the answer will almost assuredly be, “NO.”  Current laws would put you, your business, your reputation, and ultimately your family in a very risky position.

But what of the man?  Continuing the scenario, since his last incarceration, he has become a Christian.  He is attending church, following through with every program to which he has been assigned, daily in times of extended prayer and study, completely disassociated from his past influencers and daily engaged with strong Christian accountability.  He is truly a new man in Christ, old things having passed away, all things having been made new.  If you could KNOW this to be a fact, I offer the same question again.  WOULD YOU HIRE HIM?

 

Now consider our Text for Today.  Paul was an evil man, knowledgeable of the Scriptures for the purpose of abusing and destroying Christians, persecuting the church, imprisoning many, guilty of the deaths of many Christians and the disruption and destruction of many families, including children’s lives.  Would you hire such a man to serve in a leadership role in your home church, or even your business?  I certainly would not.

 

BUT GOD!  He can do what man cannot.  God caught Saul of Tarsus.  God changed Saul of Tarsus.  God saved Saul of Tarsus.  God chose Saul of Tarsus.  God called Saul of Tarsus.  God anointed Saul of Tarsus.  God used Saul of Tarsus.  And Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle, wrote half the New Testament, traveled his known world, and was a key player in redirecting the path of history.  So, you think you’re bad.  Get in line, my friend; a change is awaiting you.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-18; John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 3:13-29

A Word for You

If Father has a Word just for you, He knows where you live.

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Acts 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

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God has a Word for you; a special Word, and it’s just for you.  It is “the Word of God,” or “The Bible.”  There are some things you must know about “The Bible.”  Every word in the Bible is truly recorded, but every word in the Bible is not true.  Example – it is truly recorded what Samson told Delilah about how to lose his strength, yet he lied to her on two occasions.  Still, “The Bible” is God’s Word to you personally.  Receive it, believe it, meditate upon it, allow it to establish faith and life in you.

God can, and does at times, bring a special word to certain individuals, or groups of people.  These come as a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, or even in prophetic utterances.  When a word from the Lord comes in such a manner, it is for those to whom He spoke, and not for the general body of Christ.  Example – the word of the prophet Agabus to Paul the Apostle; the word of the prophet Nathaniel to King David; the word of Samuel to Saul of his rejection as king.  The body of Christ can learn from these words, but they are not given to the body of Christ at large, but to individual(s).

At this point I come to a situation of our time, that before this current age, could not have existed as it now does.  It is the injection of social media into the kingdom of God.  What should be the injection of the kingdom of God in the world, in media, in social media, in business, in education, and every other arena of life has today become the injection of all those things into the church.  And my friend, those injections have, I am sure, upset at many levels the balance of the church and the impact it should be having.  My words here are not intended to attack the motives of good, Christian people who post so many good things in social media.  I do, however, have somewhat to say about WHAT is often posted on social media, and one of the negative ways I believe it has impacted the church.

I’m sure you’ve seen such posts such as, “Today is going to be a day of recovery of things lost.”  And even addendums like, “Pass this on to at least ten other people so it can come to pass in your life.”  It looks kind, perhaps sounds encouraging, but is, in fact, powerless and ineffectual well-wishing to those that read it, and though unintentional, has entered into a kind of witchcraft.  Generalizations like that are dangerous to the body of Christ, its integrity, and its honor.  If you have a word of God for the body of Christ, make it clear.  If you have one for an individual, make it clear.  Avoid the generalities.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-18

More About WHAT Than WHEN

Quite often I become a bit agitated hearing so much about God’s timing. 

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Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

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I hear so much talk about God’s timing.  I truly believe most of such discussion has become an excuse for so many who are not willing to make necessary preparation for the Lord to work.  Allow me to explain.   It was Abraham who prophesied that Israel would be in Egypt 400 years, and then they would come out.  Yet it was 430 years.  Was Abraham wrong?  Did God miss it?  NOT AT ALL!  God’s plan was 400 years, but Moses’ action in killing the Egyptian put God’s plan in arrears by 30 years.  You see, the WHEN of Israel’s coming out of Egypt was not a matter of God’s timing, but of WHAT one of the key players, Moses, did on his own.

And what of Abraham.  When Father called him from Ur of the Chaldees, He spoke NOTHING to Abram of a time, or schedule.  All Father said to Abram was about WHAT Abram was to do.  The WHEN was not of God’s establishing, but of WHAT Abram did.  When Abram had fully carried out the WHAT, the WHEN took place.

And consider our Text for Today.  The fulfilling of God’s call upon and vision in Paul (Saul) was not an appointment at a certain time.  Rather its activation, and future fulfillment as a matter of Paul’s obedience to the voice of the Lord and the heavenly vision God gave him.  God did NOT tell Paul WHEN he would be told, but WHAT he had to do to receive the instruction.  He was told to go into Damascus where he would be told.  Note closely our Text for Today.  There was NO WHEN given; only a WHAT to do.

Now I offer you some thoughts for consideration.  What has God called you to do?  To come out from captivity?  To leader others from captivity?  To go into the world at some level – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or the uttermost part of the world?  I know He has called you to SOMETHING.  So, what is it for which you are waiting?  Are you waiting for a time when something happens?  When something is provided?  When some circumstance is in place as you see it needs to be?  My friend, could it be that the issue is NOT WHEN something happens, or WHEN something is provided, or WHEN circumstances are in a specified condition?  I would ask you to consider that many, if not most, of the WHEN issues with God are NOT a matter of His timing, but a matter of WHAT you are doing to make it possible for Him to release YOU and HIS POWER IN YOU into the earth.  Do WHAT you should do, and WHEN you’ve done it, Father is ready.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-18; Genesis 12:1; Genesis 15:13; Galatians 3:17

That Time Again

There is nothing new under the sun.  What has been will be again.  It’s in the Scriptures.

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Acts 9:3-4 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

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I urge you to take a few moments and read our Manna for Today.  The Ecclesiastes passage is critical.  Then having read the Manna for Today, consider the events surrounding our Text for Today.  Those events have already transpired, but the level of circumstances surrounding them have occurred at other times in history, and I believe, are taking place at this very hour at a level that has never before been seen.  What was happening?  The church was being persecuted, but at the same time, the church was praying.  Sons and daughters are born to the kingdom of God when Zion travails.  It is no coincidence that Saul of Tarsus was born again when he was born again.  Someone was travailing in prayer.  We don’t know who, but we can be assured someone was travailing in prayer.  Was the church being persecuted?  Yes, and as never before, especially in its infancy.  But it would seem that instead of thinking about preservation of themselves, the saints were thinking about expansion of the kingdom.

In today’s parlance, we might call Saul of Tarsus the “point man” in the religious world’s persecution of the church to destroy it.  And to whom did Jesus come directly to address this situation?  To the “point man.”  And what did Jesus ask him?  “Why persecutest thou Me?”  Jesus did not ask why Saul was persecuting the church.  Jesus took it completely personally, and Jesus never changes.

What are we seeing today?  While the church has always been persecuted, I believe the persecution of today is the worst that has ever existed.  At least Saul had to carry some “legal” authorization from the Jewish high council in Jerusalem.  But today, it’s more than a religious persecution.  While it still comes from the religious-minded, today’s persecution is arising from all sides.  Liberal politicians with their governmental powers are attacking the church and all for which it stands.  Educational institutions are doing the same.  Hollywood and the entertainment industry, with their overwhelming influence in the public view, likewise are seeking to destroy all that is holy.  Of course, we MUST NOT overlook the current influence of radical Islamists around the world.  All this can be seen in laws attempting to silence the church, entertainment that mocks all things truly Christian, educational elements that mock Christianity and denying the truths of God, and the bombing of churches and open slaughter of Christians (including children) in many nations where Islam is pressing itself upon society.

Then the question arises.  Is the church today praying for preservation of self, or expansion of the kingdom?  When the intercession is right, there will come modern “Damascus Road” experiences.  You see, it is still Jesus that is being persecuted.  He still takes it very personally.  Pray for your enemies; pray for kingdom expansion; pray that the church would get out of its own way.  We await that time to come again when the persecutors hear the challenge of the Lord.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-18; Ecclesiastes 1:1-11; Isaiah 66:18; Malachi 3:6; Hebrew 13:8

Evangelism 101

Where does one start in the work of evangelism?

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Acts 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

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You will find it most helpful to read our Manna for Today before delving deeply into our discussion.  There are some basic things we need to see in order to lay a foundation upon which to build.  Examine the progress from Samaria to water baptism.  Allow me to share with you 10 observations.

1.     Holy Ghost sent Philip in a particular direction; actual destination unknown.  He did the same with Abram.  Has He pointed you in a particular direction; actual destination unknown?

2.     On the journey, Philip encountered the eunuch.  Have you had any encounters on your journey?  Sometimes our “destination” is a person, NOT a place.

3.     Then from our Text for Today, Holy Ghost gave Philip specific instruction to make a personal contact with the eunuch.  Has Holy Ghost directed you to approach someone directly?  Are you keenly listening for instruction from Holy Ghost?

4.     As Philip approached, he was very observant.  Are you being observant, circumspect about those you encounter?  Prejudice MUST give way to righteous judgment.

5.     Philip opened the encounter with a question.  Are you asking questions, or making assumptions?  Unless you have a word of knowledge, questions always trump action.

6.     Philip then answered the question asked of him.  Are you answering the question asked, or are you presuming to know what someone is thinking?  Unless you have a word of wisdom, listening always trumps pontification.

7.     Philip used the passage the eunuch was reading and preached Jesus, NOT theology, eschatology, prophecy, or the like.  He preached Jesus.  Are you familiar enough with the Scriptures to clearly preach Jesus from any passage?  Perhaps our need to “study to show ourselves approved” just took on new meaning.

8.     Is it not amazing that God always provides what is truly needed when it is needed?  And that includes a body of water sufficient for baptism in the desert.  Do you find needs provided through your timely obedience?  It’s not good to come up dry.

9.     When it was time to baptize the eunuch, Philip was ready to perform the needed function.  Are you ready to go beyond “speaking” to “doing?”  We need what I have called “talk-walkers” as never before.  That is someone who not only speaks truth, but lives it.

10.  When Philip was finished on that task, he was caught away by Holy Ghost, and was found many miles away preaching.  And can there be any doubt WHAT he was preaching?  CHRIST!  Are you ready to move from task to task, or do you get comfortable at your last baptism?

This is by no means a complete litany of legitimate observations from Acts 8, but it does indeed make a clear picture for us about the foundational work of evangelism.  It IS a process.  There IS preparation beforehand, during, and after the apparent work.  And there IS (WILL BE) follow-up.  Selah.

Manna for Today – Acts 8:26-40; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 10:1-2