Week of Oct. 28: Don't hesistate when God asks you to take a bold step in sharing your faith

10/16/2012

By Rev. John Brantley
Lesson for week of Oct. 28
Scripture: Acts 8:26-39
An angel comes as a messenger of the Lord to Philip in such as way that he would get up off the sofa, leave work or home, risking public exposure and threats of attack. The call was to get up, and Philip went.
 His intended destination was a treacherous and barren stretch of road. Imagine being asked to make an urgent drive through metro rush-hour traffic to reach a troubled rural road to meet someone you never met because the Lord needs you to be there as quickly as possible. Philip’s ability to trust God’s timing is worth changing his own limitations. Many would have been waiting for a more comfortable time and would have missed the need that waited on the road.
 Philip’s target was unknown to him; his first step was to take a first step. The awesome task of faith sharing for a disciple is to take the simple actions that create progress and momentum and put them into play. The first challenge to Philip was to get up. Invite your class members to stand, as they are able, and move to another seat as a simple act of faith that we are ready to follow God’s call.
 What does it take to get you up from the places you spend the majority of your time? What gets you out of bed, off the computer, away from the television, and out of the house? For Philip, it’s the compelling power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is working through the messenger of an angel. Most often the Spirit’s word-bearers are the people already around us and are not strangers.  The actual first challenge is to be willing to listen for God’s presence through both the common as well as the miraculous.
 Philip is led down a wilderness road. This would not be a dark and wooded adventure like driving from Dalton to Blue Ridge through the National Forrest on logging roads. It would be more like long stretches of I-16. Philip was traveling on hot and sandy, desolate roads with no shade, no commerce and no water. His comfort is in the Spirit.
 Philip is led to the minister of finance for the country of Ethiopia. It is likely that a generous tribute had been given to the temple in Jerusalem and, in return, the queen was sent a most rare copy of the Torah. Philip discovers the treasurer reading through this book, which was probably exchanged for a large sum. Likely the treasurer was thinking of the skilled and prayerful hours of replicating the scrolls to prepare this token of faith to be shared with a political ally and neighbor.
Philip shows up without a stack of Bibles, no track, no coffee mugs, apples pies or coupons for Wednesday night dinner. He shows up with a faith-growing question for the traveler. He listens to the needs of the one in the chariot and perceives a lack of understanding. Often we allow fear of the unknown to keep us from sharing our faith. Philip assesses the situation by listening first, and then fires his opening question: “Do you understand what you are looking at?”
 Remember it is vital to listen to the Spirit and to the needs and perspective of the one whose chariot you are about to jump into before being so bold as to teach them. Imagine driving alongside someone on a long stretch of road with no signs of civilization for miles. What would compel the driver in the other car to listen to you from your car?
 If you notice someone has a tire going flat or something is about to blow out of their trunk or bed of their truck, you drive up alongside and begin using hand signals and shouting to get their attention. Philip asks a question from the perspective of being alongside the chair of the finance committee.
 One year we were struggling to find money at the church, particularly in the area of missions. It was charge conference time and we took the passionate “bean-counter,” who had been the finances chair, and swapped positions with the passionate mission chair, who could never find enough funds to do all the good that needed to be done.  Bringing them alongside each other, we had them exchange chariots. The heart for mission was in charge of the treasury and the treasurer was in charge of touching and changing hearts of Jesus Christ. After that year of change, we had raised more money for missions, paid apportionments, and set aside a surplus for new ministries. There is power in coming alongside one another, with strengths and questions, and learning to find Jesus by sharing what we know with one another.
 Action: Listen and look for your opportunities this week to ask a question of faith. Think of three ways you can support and encourage each other to get up, go out and be alongside those who are searching.
 Prayer: Holy Spirit, call me out from my work or rest to be your messenger to someone today. Give me the word and passion to share your story through my own. Amen.
 
 


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