Tuesday, May 8, 2012

“Rise and Go!” (Acts 8:26-31)

S-1316 4SAE/3B 5/06/12 Hymns: (O) #193; (S) #498; 496; (C) #658

Text: Acts 8:26-40; 1 John 4:1-11; John 15:1-8

Theme: “Rise and Go!” (Acts 8:26-31)

Question: “Have you taken a missionary journey for the Lord?

Immanuel Jamison and Grace Lutheran is in Burton (Preaching in Burton

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this Mission Sunday is from Acts: 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. (Acts 8:26-31).

Saints in Christ and fellow servants of the Most High God, Dr. Luke in this account describe a most moving picture of the evangelist Philip and what the Lord has asked him to do. It is so very important that we grasp how the Lord of the church operates. He employs the service of angels for brining the first Gentiles into His kingdom. Here the Ethiopian eunuch, and in chapter 10 of the same book Cornelius the centurion of the Italian regiment.

We don’t know much about the angel. But what we do have is the command He gives to Philip “Rise and Go!” It is also noteworthy to see it in the Greek language to help us grasp the urgency of the commission given to Philip. “Rise” is in the aorist verb form meaning definite past action with the word “Go” in the durative form meaning continue to go because the road is long. Rather than head north the angel asks him to head south towards Gaza about 50-60 miles for an extended period. This is similar to the great command the Lord gave His disciples before He went to heaven asking them to seek the lost and to make disciples of all nations.

And Phillip…does. He heads down the road towards Gaza. Just ahead of him a eunuch is in his chariot reading the scroll of Isaiah. He is reading it out loud which (was the custom of the day), and the Spirit again asks Philip. “Go over and join this chariot,” another way to say it, “Keep company with Him!” and he does. We see how the Holy Spirit used this evangelist to explain the story of salvation from Isaiah since that is all they had. He showed them Jesus in the O.T.

The eunuch must have had great wealth to own his own scroll. But He was richer spiritually because he would make a point of going to Jerusalem to worship the Lord God. It is a journey of a little bit of walking and a little bit of talking like the Emmaus disciples’ trip described by our author in his other book (Lk. 24). While on the Emmaus road Jesus taught the disciples about His suffering, death and glorious resurrection and the story of salvation all from the O.T. (since the NT had not been written yet.)

It is not uncommon for the Holy Spirit to call us to go on trips that is unknown to us or the destinations we are to take. This trip is similar in nature as the trip Patriarch Abraham was called to take to the Promised Land. By faith He believed and obeyed and his offspring became the Children of Israel who would one day worship the True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit also asks us to go not only for 50 miles, but our entire life ought to be one of seeking the lost and erring. Our life’s mission should be looking for opportunities to tell the greatest story ever told—the story of the Man who hung on the cross for 6 hours one Friday and changed history and our lives. This is to say, that our whole life should be one of going and going and going and going; like the Eveready Battery. A little bit of walking and a little bit of taking. PAUSE.

In his book, “In My Seat” Steve Scheibener tells the distinct privilege to live for Christ. Steve Scheibener an American Airline pilot was scheduled to fly flight 11 from Boston to LA on 9-11 but at the last moment he was bumped by a another pilot Tom McGuinnes. Steve had written 20 years earlier his life’s objective which is: “To seek, trust and glorify God through humble service and continual prayer. To raise up qualified disciples as quickly as possible, so that one day I might hear God say: “Well done thou Good and faithful servant.”

Steve goes on to say that two people have died in my place. Literally he took my seat. Tom took my seat in flight 11 and Jesus took my place on the cross; Tom and Jesus. Tom can’t take away my sins, but Someday I want to stand in the presence of God and hear Him say, “Well done thou Good and faithful servant.” That is what is on my plate. That is what is driving me these days. Why does God take one and leave another. It is not because I am a better person, or God wanted to do more with me, than He wants to do with Tom. I think in God’s providence that is obviously His choice.

What has stuck with me all these year is the fact He did leave me behind. I need to act that I am living on borrowed time; because I am. I can look and see my smoking hole on national TV. I saw where I should have died but I didn’t. Now there is an obligation that comes with that. I need to live my days with the sense of urgency. Trying to make sure I can get the most out of them. Not the most for me. We live in a world where everybody trying to get the most for them. It is not about me. This is about the distinct privilege I have been given to knowing that somebody died in my place. What I know is that somebody died in my place not once, but twice. That is where God comes in for me. Tom sat in my place and by all rights; I should have sat in that seat that day. But I didn’t. But Tom literally sat in my seat. Tom didn’t die for my sins.

God sent His own Son to die for my sins. Jesus Christ is the other one who died in my place. He hung, and He bled, and He suffered on the cross to pay a price for me, that I wasn’t qualified to pay. I couldn’t have hung on the cross. I didn’t have the same qualifications. So one guy sat on the seat that I should have sat in, and the other hung and bled on the cross. One is far more significant than the other. This is not to trivialize what happened to Tom, but to elevate and glorify what God did for me and mankind on the cross. PAUSE.

What an honor that the Lord of the Church bestows upon us to be His servants, rising and going, walking a little and talking a little and doing it all in His name. This is the privilege you and I as forgiven children of the heavenly get to do—proclaim to the world that Christ is our SOLE Savior from sin death and the devil. This is an awesome blessing the Lord of the Church calls us to be His ambassadors. Consider the honor, the privilege and glorious opportunity the Holy Spirit grants us to share a story like none other to make more disciples to be His followers.

We are told in the text, that after a little bit of riding in the chariot as Philip was talking to him the eunuch said: “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And we are told that the Ethiopian Eunuch left rejoicing after He received the grace of God in Baptism. This man was happy because he had been touched by the hands of Jesus in the miracle of baptism and was the happiest many alive. He understood what it means to be blessed, loved and cared for. He understood how much His Savior, Jesus suffered, died and rose for Him to grant him eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know that today, in Ethiopia there are more Lutherans than there are in the USA? Could it be this Gentile told them about His experience? Could it be that they are the offspring of the work of this man? It well could be!

As joyful we are about the eunuch being baptized and leaving rejoicing, think of what it means for us too, that we have been touched by the Savior’s hands in Baptism. Envision in your mind what heaven is going to be like—a little bit of walking and a little bit of talking, not with Philip, not with the angel, and not even with the happy eunuch, but with Christ our Savior. Oh, the joy of doing a little bit of walking and a little bit of talking with Jesus, hand in hand. No wonder we are rejoicing now and will forever. PAUSE.

Oh, you have been touched by the One who died and rose for you know this, today, the Holy Spirit, asks us to “Rise and Go” in His name to other places. He asks to teach others the grace of God. He asks us to be His companions on the long road of life. I pray that we would be faithful in our efforts to be evangelists sharing the Good News with all people—Gentiles and believers alike. To God be the glory as we Rise and Go by His might and power to make disciples of all nations. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Now the peace…


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