Eyes Wide Open

25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] 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, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. 31 ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.’ (Isaiah 53) 34 The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:25-35)
When Philip says ‘yes’ to the Lord’s strange command in Acts 8, he discovers his destiny on a dry and dusty desert road. When Philip was willing to leave a city in revival at the Lord’s command, he is divinely empowered to begin a revival in the heart of an Ethiopian government official which would set a Gospel flame burning across Africa.  

It would have been easy for Philip to miss it, however. The Lord had told him to go south to a desert road and to await further instructions. When an Ethiopian appears on the road in his chariot, what is it that stops Philip from batting him away as a distraction. What’s this man doing here in his chariot? Hurry up and get out of my way. I need some peace and quiet here. I’m on a mission from God!  

Thankfully, Philip has his eyes and ears wide open. He doesn’t fall into the same trap as the people in Jerusalem. The Ethiopian was so eager to find out more about the Lord that he had travelled all the way to Jerusalem in a chariot. That’s a seriously difficult journey! And yet nobody had noticed him or spent the time with him he needed to find the God he was looking for. The Ethiopian spent his time in Jerusalem reading the Old Testament at the Temple. By the time he heads home in disappointment, he has reached the book of Isaiah, so if he began at the beginning then he has been reading the Old Testament for a long time. He is evidently keen to know the Lord! And yet nobody in Jerusalem has taken the time to sit with him and to explain the Gospel to him. He still has no idea that Isaiah 53 is a famous prophecy about Jesus the Messiah.  

Praise God, Philip takes the time to ask him questions and to listen to him. Because he honours him by listening to him, Philip is able to share the Gospel with him, “beginning with that very passage of Scripture”. It makes me wonder how much we miss of what the Lord is trying to do all around us. As we regather back together after lockdown, here are a few suggestions as to what the Lord might be saying to you right now.  

Everyday Kids – I don’t know about you, but this has been one of the biggest insights for me during lockdown. When we were sent into our houses, it is as if each parent suddenly saw their children in a new light. Let’s keep our eyes open to the children in our church. It is wonderful to hear about the many ways in which parents have discipled their children during lockdown. But let’s not stop now. As we gather back together, we want our children to be seen and heard! It’s so easy to overlook the kids within our church, but they are our primary mission field!  

Youth and Teenagers – We have all been hit by lockdown, but our youth and teenagers have been hit more than anybody. They have lost Newday two years running and they have lost the opportunity to gather with their church friends to grow in God together. Zoom is brilliant, but it’s harder to engage with youth and youth leaders online. As we gather back together, let’s spot the opportunities that God is giving us to make up for lost time.  

Nations and Leaders – During lockdown, George Floyd’s death opened many people’s eyes to racial issues. That’s a key theme in Acts 8 too, since the Ethiopian government official is a black man living in a world that is ruled by white people in Rome. Maybe his ethnicity is one of the reasons why he was largely ignored the people in Jerusalem. Philip is able to see past those racial differences to see a potential disciple and disciple-maker. When we read the gospels, it’s amazing how often Jesus would look at a person that the world ignored and see a leader. Peter, Nathanael, Matthew, Saul of Tarsus. As we gather back together as a church in person, let’s keep our eyes open to a whole army of new leaders emerging. That’s what it means for us to become a Post-Lockdown Church like the one in Acts.
1)   How were you serving at church before lockdown hit? Will you continue to serve in that same team or will you join another team? Have you connected back with your team leaders yet?  

2)   How was God using you in your day-to-day life before lockdown hit? Do you still feel faith to serve him in that same way? How can the return from lockdown be a recommissioning moment for you?  

3)   How can those excellent ways of serving God become a distraction from the even more vital work of proclaiming and proving that the Gospel is true? What does it mean for you to be ‘more than just a cook’?
Father God, I thank you that you have given me a specific calling. I thank you for the areas in which I get to serve you in my day-to-day and I thank you also for the areas in which I get to serve within my church family. I give myself to you afresh to serve you wholeheartedly in those areas, and I also give myself to you more generally. Lord, use me whichever way you choose. Like Stephen, I want to be more than just a cook for you. Amen. 
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.  

If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.  

Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.