Acts 8:26 - 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.
By: Matt Prine, Texas Mobilization Coordinator, WorldVenture
May 10, 2018
Sometimes it is so difficult to think beyond the here and now in church ministry. Especially when we have spent sleepless nights praying for the Spirit to move—and He does! It can become an all-consuming task to keep the momentum going, because we all know that vision is like water in a leaky bucket and that momentum dies faster than off-brand batteries. So we work tirelessly because we do not want to break John Maxwell’s 16th Irrefutable Law of Leadership—the “Big Mo.”
I imagine Philip was feeling some of that leadership pressure in Acts 8. He was seeing incredible ministry success as he shared the gospel with people throughout Samaria. Large crowds of people were dialed in to the sermons he was preaching (imagine that —your whole congregation awake and engaged!). Demons were being cast out of masses of people. Those with physical infirmities were being healed. New believers were being baptized. It was a church planter’s dream come true! God was moving, and the result was that “there was much joy in that
city” (Acts 8:8). Revival was sweeping through town, and everyone was better for it.
Isn’t that our dream for our city? We dream of much joy—joy that comes from our church carrying Christ into the community. We dream that revival would break out and people would find freedom in the Lord. Philip was experiencing exactly that, which makes what happened next hard to comprehend. In the middle of an incredible time of revival, the Lord sends an angel of the Lord to Philip and says: “Rise and go toward the south, to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26). Now, I would have a laundry list of reasons why now isn’t a great time. “But Lord, we have a bunch of new people from the neighborhood who just joined the church. There are unbelievers who are being transformed by the gospel. We have the D-Now weekend coming up, and we haven’t even booked our speaker yet!”
The list of excuses only grows when the place to which we are called is not some beautiful oasis. Luke makes sure to let us know at the end of v. 26, “this is a desert place.” Let’s be honest, who would have a hard time accepting a commission to Hawaii or the French Riviera? But a desert? It’s easy to say “no thanks” to that one. Sending Philip to the desert when ministry was at its best seems crazy! But the Lord had plans in mind that went way beyond what was happening in the region where Philip had been serving—and he obeyed.
While on the road, the Spirit directs Philip to speak to a ranking official of the queen of Ethiopia, who “happens” to be reading from the book of Isaiah and needs a little bit of help understanding who the passage is talking about. Talk about a divine appointment! Philip is given the opportunity to share the gospel with this foreign dignitary and ends up baptizing him on the spot. I don’t think that the effects of this moment in history can be quantified, but what I do know is that there is a thriving church in Ethiopia today. Nearly 60% of the Ethiopian population claims Christianity and their evangelical growth rate is nearly twice that of the global growth rate. Perhaps this revival is due to one man’s obedience in setting aside the busyness of his thriving ministry and answering the call of the Lord to go into the desert.
So the questions must be asked. While I am praying for and pursuing revival here in my own context, am I missing the Lord’s calling to pray for revival in a spiritual desert somewhere far from home? Am I missing a clear call of the Lord to GO and make disciples who are not in my Jerusalem but dwell in the “ends of the earth?” Am I praying for revival to break out among the unreached and unengaged peoples of the world?
May we become more powerful prayer warriors, fiercely devoted to seeing revival, both in our city and around the world. May we be like Philip—obedient to the Lord, following Him wherever He leads!
Lord, thank You for being a God who delights in bringing revival. Thank You for allowing me to work toward and pray for revival in my city and for allowing me to be a co-laborer with Christ as You save the lost. As I devote myself to Your calling to seek revival, let me not miss the bigger picture—that revival is needed among the spiritual desert places of the world. Burden my heart for a region of the world where I can begin to pray for revival. Help me to feel the compassion that Jesus felt when He saw those who were harassed and helpless. Help me to walk in obedience like Philip did and use me as a catalyst of God-honoring change globally in the lives of others. Amen.