Prayer 556 - Week 4, Monday
Monday - Look, here is Water!
We will continue with the image of water as we go through this week. Today we're looking at a passage from Acts 8, where Phillip is traveling and notices an Ethiopian Eunuch traveling in a chariot. God tells Philip to go and speak to this person. When Philip obeys, he finds this person reading Scripture (an odd passage in Isaiah). The Eunuch has questions about what the Scripture means and Philip takes time to explain.
Acts 8: 35-38
"Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.
As they were going along the road, they came to some water;
and the eunuch said,
“Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”
He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him."
Philip hears God tell him to go and speak to the Ethiopian Eunuch - this would have been very out of the ordinary in that day because of different nationalities, religions, and social status. But Philip listens immediately and shares the Gospel with an unlikely person who is excited to receive.
Have you ever heard God ask you to talk to someone and share the Gospel with them? Did you listen right away or were you hesitant? Does sharing Jesus come naturally to you or is it sometimes uncomfortable?
Philip's explanation of the good news must have included a teaching on baptism, because the Eunuch's response was to want to be baptized IMMEDIATELY. This person sees water and asks "What should stop me from being baptized in that water right now?"
Ask yourself the same question - what would stop you from publicly proclaiming Christ?
What is it that stops you from jumping into the waters of baptism each day - waters of forgiveness, of dying to yourself, of being made new in Christ, of following with abandon?
Is it fear of what others may think? A busy schedule? A grudge you don't want to let go of? Something you aren't willing to hand over control of?
As these things come to your mind, ask God to help you let go of them. Tell the Holy Spirit that you want to live with the enthusiasm of the eunuch who could not wait one more moment, but wanted to surrender all to Christ right then.
Protect us this day,
O Lord, holy Father,
almighty and eternal God,
and in your compassion and mercy,
help and guide us.
Enlighten our hearts
and keep our thoughts, words and works
pleasing in your sight,
that we may do your will
and walk in your path of righteousness
our whole life long.
- Antiphonary of Bangor, ninth century
I love the prayers that Pastor Kaitlyn includes. This one is from the 800’s. Let my thoughts and words be pleading today just as Antiphonary prayed 1300 years ago. We stand in a rich heritage. Though, this Ethiopian has no biological children, he carried the Gospel back to Africa establishing the Church in Ethiopia which continues to this day. It all began with Phillip’s obedient response to do something which he might have originally thought was crazy. He shared the Gospel! Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here! The Ethiopian, a man whose name we do not know, wanted change in his life. He wanted this Kingdom. He was baptized immediately . The waters of baptism signal death to the old way of living and new life in Christ! He never looked back! He had passed through the waters as surely as the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea and later the Jordan. I was first baptized as an infant. Later I remembered that baptism at the Jordan in Israel. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I have continued in the Word and in Fellowship to this day. May I be ready as Phillip was to share the Good News trusting that God has prepared the Works He wants me to do in advance.
I too love the prayers!! Each one speaks right to me!! ♥️
I have always felt inadequate about sharing the gospel. I have so much to tell, and yet I find it hard to do. One Sunday our pastor at my previous church encouraged us to share the gospel with someone that we did not know. That week while I was waiting for my husband to pick me up at my work place, I encountered a man who was discouraged because the Social Security office closed that day and he did not know the schedule. He was very upset to find out that the Social Security office closes at noon every Wednesday. He happened to be inebriated. I asked him if he really needed help and he indicated that he did. I then asked him if he New Jesus. He told me he did not, and I started to introduce him to Jesus. He asked me if that was my husband who was coming to pick me up. I told him that he was not my husband, but that he was Jesus the son of God who is very special in my life. I had a hard time getting him to understand that I was not talking about my husband. I don’t know if he really understood what I was talking about, but I pray that when he was not inebriated that he would remember our conversation. My husband then arrived to take me home, and I had no further opportunity to talk to him. I have felt bad about this encounter for a long time. I pray that this encounter did not hinder me from sharing Jesus in the future. I have so much in my heart to share of Jesus, but I still find it difficult to do so. Lord, I pray that you would fill my heart to overflowing so that I will not be able to hesitate to share Jesus with others.
This has been my favorite Acts story as an adult. Imagine the persistence it took not only for Philip to run alongside the chariot, but for this eunuch to listen and learn from him! What would their common language have been? Would Philip have been given the gift of tongues? And for Ethiopia, the gift of Christianity was like an inoculation against the disease of colonialism, as it became one of the only two countries in Africa never colonized. Imagine what this small meeting gave to the whole nation--all because of a eunuch 's enthusiastic faith. Also, in our Isaiah study, we learned that God would welcome eunuchs and foreigners to the temple-- this fulfills both of these prophecies. Eunuchs had been banned by Levitical law, and here the Holy Spirit shows that Jesus has completed this law and opened up the blessing to everyone!
All that is to say-- you just never knew why God takes you to a certain place, to talk to a certain person. He may have a huge, generations long, global plan for them, or he may just want to bless them with the knowledge that someone cares enough to listen to them and share God's hope, so they can know they are loved. Telling people this gets easier with time, as a relationship is built. But this type of on the spot evangelism is harder for me-- I pray that I'll be open to God's leading and not too busy or preoccupied with my own agenda.
Great passage about trust and obedience. Should I be in a conversation with a non believer and the door opens I'm comfortable to talk about Jesus. On the other hand, it's hard for me to begin a Jesus conversation with someone, such as in line at the market. I would like very much to have that free spirit to begin a conversation about my life with Christ. Especially when we're on campgrounds. Heavenly Father help me to be bold for You sharing Your love and salvation with non believers or those who have walked away, or those who are in need of a listening ear. I want to be Your mouthpiece. In Jesus name I pray.
As I read this today, a rare rainy day in SoCal, I was compelled to go into the Bible to reread the passage, and I found this in the verse before: “So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.”
Acts 8:30-31 NRSV
There was a God connection from both of them. To hear the Eunuch admit he needed someone to guide him in the scripture and invite Phillip to be that guide is such a spiritual moment. And for me, being invited to and led in this 556 study with my new brothers and sisters in Christ is what God intends for our faith. He gave us the life of Jesus to show us how. And, the universal message from God is for us to live and work together to build his Kingdom on earth. That beautiful moment led to the most beautiful ritual in our Christian life; baptism. I’m so happy to be led by you all on this faith journey. Amen!