By Charles Harris
Today's Scripture: Acts 8:14-40
Central Thought: Willingness to accept an assignment from the Lord, whether near or far, in a high or low position, should dominate the mind of today's 'world” Christian.
Next to preachers, people seem to love jokes about deacons. One story has a deacon going to sleep in the choir, beginning to snore, and thus interrupting the service on a Sunday night. A fellow choir member nudged him in an effort to remedy the situation. The deacon awoke with a start and reflexively cursed out loud in church!
The original deacons in the church at Jerusalem were nothing like the one in this story. Philip was a deacon who gradually moved into the office of evangelist. His experiences in leadership in the local church helped prepare him for ministry as an itinerant preacher.
By the time Philip pioneered a church in Samaria, he was qualified to handle the problem of a sorcerer's invasion into its ranks. Philip detected that the sorcerer's 'conversion” was not genuine and quickly corrected the situation. However, mature Church leaders in Jerusalem sent two fellow apostles to give whatever guidance was needed in the new church. The most apparent need was to lead the converts into a deeper experience with God. It seems the young evangelist had not yet emphasized the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The mature elders provided what was needed to bring them into the fullness of the Spirit.
The young evangelist was prepared, though, for another assignment. The Spirit directed him to leave the crowds in the city in order to minister to one hungry soul in the desert. The seeker was a governmental official from Ethiopia. Riding along in his chariot, the official pondered the meaning of a passage in Isaiah. By invitation the preacher joined him and rode with him for a ways. Philip began at the page that provoked questions for the Ethiopian and preached Christ to him. The result was that the hungry seeker believed and was baptized before parting company with the minister.
Thus Philip faithfully served the Lord as a deacon, an evangelist in a city, and a soul winner in a lonely desert area. In the same way, the believer today should be willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads. He may direct him or her to work for God as a layperson in a local church, to preach a citywide campaign while planting a new church, or to engage in personal evangelism in an isolated area of the countryside.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, make me willing to work for You wherever You place me, whether in a behind-the-scenes labor or in an out-front, conspicuous ministry.
Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 9:1-10:29; Acts 8:14-40; Psalm 130:1-8; Proverbs 17:2-3