And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
1. Don’t miss the promise just because it looks different.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The persecution that Saul of Tarsus leveled against the new believers in Jerusalem has forced them into Judea and Samaria.
Pain does not mean God’s promises are not coming true. It may be through pain that they are fulfilled.
2. The Gospel penetrates every boundary.
Samaritans were a people with no people. They were not gentiles, but they were not fully Jewish either.
Philip is now in Samaria preaching the Gospel even though Jews hated the Samaritans.
Samaritans were also looking for the Messiah and could have already heard about Jesus from the encounter He had with the woman at the well.
John 4:7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?
3. Faith is lived out one step at a time.
26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”27So he started out,
29The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30Then Philip ran up to the chariot
Faith is not proven by what you don’t do but by what you do.
James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
4. Confirmation comes after obedience.
30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
The Israelites had to walk around the walls of Jericho 7 times before they fell down. Faith was exercised before the confirmation of the walls falling.
Hebrews 11:1 11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
1. What stood out to you most in this week’s message?
2. “Don’t miss the promise just because it looks different.” In painful circumstances, why is it sometimes hard to remember that God allowed us to be there? How can we keep our eyes open for what he wants us to do in those situations?
3. Can you look back and see times of pain where God was working out his promises in your life? What do you see now that you didn’t see then?
4. The church was scattered and yet preached the gospel everywhere they went. How can we be prepared to share Jesus everywhere?
5. “The Gospel penetrates every boundary.” What boundaries in life and culture do we want to penetrate? How can we do this with grace and truth?
6. “Faith is not proven by what you DON’T do but by what you DO.” Not doing the right thing is as much of a sin as doing something wrong. What holds us back from doing what we know is right? How can we have the courage to act in faith?
7. “Confirmation comes after obedience.” Have you had a time when God gave you confirmation after you obeyed what he asked you to do? How did he send the confirmation?
8. What do you plan to differently because of this week’s message?