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Faithful Christ followers not only know what needs to be done, but they actually take steps to do all that God asks of them. We learn from Acts 8:25-40 that extraordinary outcomes start with ordinary obedience, extraordinary opportunities open through ordinary obedience, and ordinary obedience leaves an extraordinary legacy. Most of us are not going to be remembered by what we do one day, so let us be remembered by what we do every day.
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The Conversion of Cornelius AND Peter
How the Saints Go Marching Out
Saul: The Second Most Important Conversion in History
Extraordinary Living Marked by Ordinary Obedience
The “Illusion” of a False Faith and How to Deal With It. Simon Magus and Tares Among the Wheat
Tale of Two Adams: A Strategy to Change the World
Hey, it's great to be with you today as we continue to travel through Acts. Let me start here and just ask you guys a question. How many of you have a dog? Man, there were a couple of moans and groans on that. It's okay. How many of you have inside dogs? Yeah, look at you. I grew up on a 20-acre farm in a small town in South Texas, and we had outside dogs. We always had a dog, great dog. Outside dog. It wasn't allowed inside.
Then I met my wife, and she had a dog that was an inside dog, essentially an extension of the family. All of the benefits of the last name went to this dog. So the past 12 years have been a compromise of, "Are we going to have a dog? Are we not? Inside or outside?" I'm like, "No or outside." I'm reading through the Bible and get to this verse in Ephesians 5, verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, laying his life down for her." I thought, "Okay, maybe so. Maybe I'm going to get an inside dog."
I'm like, "I don't want one that sheds. Maybe a goldendoodle." Right about then, a friend reaches out and says, "Hey, we have a goldendoodle we would love to give to you." I'm like, "This is the Lord." So I called a meeting. I come home. Going to go be a hero, you know. I get everybody together and sit down. "Kids, Monica, I have some news." He texts me a picture of her. Her name is Gracie, a really sweet goldendoodle.
I say, "Hey, I want to show you guys something." I'm like, "What do you guys think about this?" I'm showing them on my phone. They're going, "Oh wow, Daddy. She's beautiful. Whose is she?" I'm about to say, "She's ours," and Presley goes, "Daddy, you have a text message." I'm like, "Oh." He's like, "Change of plans. We're sending her to the dog trainer." I'm like, "Yeah, I just wanted to show you my friend's dog."
But this really cracked open this idea in my heart and mind, because I was so close. I thought, "What makes a dog a good dog?" I started thinking about this. I'm like, "Okay, if we want to get a dog, we want to get a good dog, what does that mean?" I was able to come up with one word for your consideration. That word is obedient. A good dog is an obedient dog. A good dog is a dog that does what you want it to do.
Some of you are like, "No, no, no. A good dog is a lovable dog." That's because you want it to be lovable. Let's call that obedience. A good dog is an obedient dog. It's not dissimilar to children. What makes a kid a good kid? The teacher says, "I have a good kid in my class." What does she mean? She means, "I have an obedient kid in my class." This kid does everything we ask or expect him or her to.
It's not dissimilar to employees. "I have a really good employee." What do you mean? What are you really saying? "I have an obedient employee." You might be like, "No, no, no. It could mean they take initiative." That's because you want them to take initiative. Let's call that obedience. Are you tracking? What about this crazy question? What makes a Christian a good Christian? What makes a follower of Christ a good follower of Christ?
I'm tripping over the same word. "If you love me, you'll obey my commands." A good Christian is an obedient Christian, one who will do everything the Lord asks. In fact, David was called a man after God's heart. I don't know if you've wondered, "Why was he called a man after God's heart? What does that mean?" Acts 13 actually tells us. It says the reason David was called a man after God's heart is because he did everything God asked of him.
So what about you? As you came in here today, how are you doing at doing everything the Lord has asked of you? All of the things he asks you to. Are you an obedient follower of Christ? Does obedience mark your life? That's what I want to talk about. As we dive into Acts, chapter 8, this second section, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, I want to discuss with you how God does extraordinary things through ordinary obedience.
As we move through this extraordinary story that I candidly could spend four or five weeks on (there's so much going on in this little section of Scripture), I want to look at these three ideas. The first one is the outcomes that come from ordinary obedience. I want to look at the opportunities that come from ordinary obedience, and I want to look at the legacy that is left through ordinary obedience.
This is an incredible text. This is the gospel moving to the Gentiles, to the ends of the earth. This is Acts 1:8 lived out. A really profound thing is about to happen in the Scripture. This is the gospel reaching past Judea and Samaria to a foreigner, someone who has no Jewish blood in them. This is great news if you're here and you're not of Jewish descent, if you do not have Jewish ethnicity. This is the gospel reaching you. That's going to be blown open in this text today, and God is going to use a man named Philip.
Not the apostle Philip, but the cafeteria worker named Philip. Remember in Acts 6 when the widows didn't have food and they appointed seven people to distribute the food? One of them was Stephen, who is now deceased. He's been stoned. Another one of them was just a faithful, ordinary, obedient man…nothing extraordinary about this man except his obedience…named Philip. God is going to use this cafeteria worker to change the world.
Verse 25: "After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages." Of course they returned to Jerusalem. That's where the action is. That's where the church is growing. That's where the Way is growing wider and wider. People are coming to the faith in droves. The church is strengthening. Go back to Jerusalem. That's where it's all going down.
Then in verse 26: "Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Go south to the road…'" Not just any road. "…the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." Gaza was destroyed in 97 BC. Gaza, about 60 miles from Jerusalem, this desert road, this road through the wilderness. This is where Philip comes to the angel of the Lord and says, "Hey, I'm willing. I'll go there, but can you tell me what you want me to do there? Can you tell me why you're sending me there? Can I pray about it first?"
I have a map showing you where he's going. This is Jerusalem. That's where they are. Jerusalem, Samaria…that's where we've been, and now God is sending Philip to Gaza, this road here, this desert, middle-of-nowhere, wilderness road. Philip would have all kinds of questions. Right? He's going to stop the angel of the Lord and say, "Hey, let's just discuss this first."
But it says in verse 27, "So he started out…" Do you ever want answers from God and you feel like they're not there? "So he started out…" Philip knows that delayed obedience is disobedience. Repeat that. Tweet that. Write it down. Delayed obedience is disobedience. He hears the Lord say, "Go," and he goes.
1._ Extraordinary outcomes start with ordinary obedience._ Extraordinary outcomes start with just a person saying, "God, I will do whatever you ask me to do." God is about to use Philip to begin this mission of taking the gospel to the Gentiles, but Philip doesn't know that. He can't see around the corner. He doesn't even ask questions. He has what I call a "Matthew 6:33" obedience, the "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and trust him for everything else" obedience.
"God, I don't know what you're doing. I don't get it. I don't see it. It doesn't fit in my logical plan. This is not the way I'd do it if I was God, but you're sending me to the desert. I don't know if you know this, God. My friend Stephen just died. Hey, I don't know if you know this, God, but the church is growing here, but you want me to go to this place that makes no logical sense. You got it. I'm in. I'll go."
He started on his way. He's about to do something incredible, extraordinary, but it starts with this ordinary obedience. He doesn't go for what he's going to get out of it. We don't see this prosperity gospel in Philip's life. We don't see, "Okay, I'll go to the desert, but there had better be a house and a chariot waiting for me." He says, "Okay."
Remember Simon Magus, Simon the magician, Todd taught us last week? He had some sort of faith, some sort of conversion, but at the center of his faith, at the center of his belief was himself. He didn't want followers of Jesus; he wanted followers of himself. He's constantly thinking, "Hey, how can I be opportunistic with this idea of church and the Way and Christ?" Very different than Philip.
At the center of Philip's obedience is trusting God. "I'll do whatever you ask. You're a good God. I know that you love me and you have plans for me. I'll go." This is my biggest fear. Todd talked about that last week. Let me say that again, because I just threw out my biggest fear. I weigh those words carefully. My biggest fear in life is that I would make ministry about me, that I would pursue the accolades and a following rather than make famous the name of Jesus Christ.
I love Philip's obedience. He says, "Hey, I'll just go. It's not about me." In fact, when I came into this place 14 or 15 years ago, I was hungover and sat in the back row. I remember hearing Todd say, "We're just going to do what this Book says." There was something simple and beautiful about that.
A whole life of growing up in church, and he just says, "Hey, we're just going to know what this Book says, and we're just going to do it. I don't care if they persecute us, what they say about us, the things that come against us. We're just going to know what the Book says and live it out. That's what we're going to do. I don't care if we grow, and I don't care if we shrink. I don't care if we own buildings or not." We didn't at the time.
"We're just going to do what the Lord tells us to do. They can call us fundamentalists. They can call us names. They can call us anything. We're going to do what the Lord says to do." There was something about that. I said, "Yes! Yes!" It's not obedience for the approval of man, like Simon, but the obedience because you trust the Master, like Philip.
Galatians 1:10 says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of God or of man? Am I trying to win the approval of humans or of God? Am I trying to please people? If I'm trying to please people, I'm not a bondservant, I'm not a servant of Christ." This is a beautiful verse, and I want to explain what it means, because there's this message in here that really ministered to me.
A bondservant is someone who willingly comes under servitude to a master because of who the master is and the way they trust him. A bondservant is someone who can go freely. They're free to go, but they say, "No, I will remain here as your slave because I trust you." That's our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
"I'm here as your servant, because where else am I going to go? You alone have the words to eternal life. Where else am I going to turn? Who else am I going to follow?" This is Philip. It's an incredible freedom that comes from a simple mantra, a life mission, if you will: trust and obey. I want to live a life where I trust and obey. This is where extraordinary outcomes start.
I received an email sometime ago that I've held onto and I share with you with permission. It says, "Hey, JP, I wanted to say a few words of thank you. Almost two years ago, I began attending the Porch. I believe that you were the person who did a lesson on anxiety. A few months before, I had begun having almost daily panic attacks that my therapist and others informed me were part of an anxiety disorder or panic disorder.
That lesson was the first night I actually asked and believed that God could take it away from me. However, I did not let go of my club VIP lifestyle. My life took several bad turns after, in which I was constantly turning to the wrong things or people. I have lost a job. I've had hospital visits thanks to drunk driving, and another hospital visit after a pregnancy resulted in an infection in my body and a miscarriage. This was by my boyfriend who cheated on me with multiple women.
At some point, a few months ago, I found myself crying and turning to Scripture every day, but not understanding what I was reading." Remember that. "This would result in me thinking that I just could not live like that anymore. I would cry out and pray and tried to get in touch with old Christian friends of mine, as I was someone that was a youth group leader many years ago in high school with several friends that I had somehow managed to stay in contact with."
I'm going to step away for just a minute and say this. What you see here is all kinds of… Like, "I've read the Scriptures, I've prayed, I've even pursued Christian relationships, but in reality, up until this point, I haven't done what they've said. I have a lot of information, a lot of resources, but I'm continuing to live my life in the rebellion that marked me at the time. I've done what I wanted to do. I've pursued the way that seems right to a person but in the end leads to death," as Proverbs says.
"About three months ago, a change happened in me, and as you said in a lesson once, I began radically chasing God. The words trust _and__ obey_ played in my mind whenever possible. I would still have anxiety and fear to the point that it was difficult to focus or work some days, but in the last two months, after truly seeking… I guess I had always thought that if I just prayed for forgiveness it would just, snap! be gone, but after truly seeking, my life has completely changed.
I got involved with the church, and for the first time in my life, since I was very small, I had complete peace. I have never really truly had that before. As a young child, I could not be alone in a dark hallway in my house without some sort of fear, but after really chasing him and asking him to be first, I definitely am a new creation.
I so thank God that he works in people to teach and remind us that we can be changed, and there is magnificent life in what he wants and loves. It is a reward and not fear or a chore. I thank God for this group of people and this church that he guided me to. It has been a long time since I've been able to smile this much every day." Praise God.
"I found freedom in not just knowing what I needed to do, but the freedom came in doing it. This ordinary obedience of 'trust and obey' has led to an extraordinary outcome in my life." I think so often we want this big "Jesus" experience. We want to pray a magic prayer or have some sort of emotional experience with God without the "one foot in front of the other," long obedience in the same direction. "God, I'll walk with you. I will pursue you. You will be the biggest thing about my life." Ordinary obedience had an extraordinary outcome.
Verse 27: "So he started out…" Philip obeys. "…and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake…" Your Scripture may say Candace. It's not a name but a title. "…(which means 'queen of the Ethiopians'). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet."
So much is going on here. This man is two things. I want you to remember these two words. There will be a quiz later. He's a foreigner and a eunuch. Remember those two words: foreigner and eunuch. He's a foreigner. He's from Ethiopia. Not modern-day Ethiopia but an area near Sudan at this time. He's a eunuch. It's where we get the word unicorn. (No, it's not. I wish it was.)
A eunuch is a man who has been castrated. The reason he has been castrated, typically, was because he worked in a royal court of some sort. So he could be focused and trusted… You can imagine how focused that would make you. As beautiful women came and went throughout the palace, he could focus on his job. Typically, that was the case. It's certainly the case here.
He works for the queen of Ethiopia. He's essentially the CFO of a country. He's reading a scroll from Isaiah. Now you wouldn't own a scroll at this time. They would be held up in the temple or the synagogue. This is a wealthy man. He owns a scroll. So a wealthy man. He's driving a chariot, the modern-day equivalent of a limousine, and Philip runs up.
"The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to the chariot and stay near it.' Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. 'Do you understand what you are reading?' Philip asked." The Spirit of God says, "Stay near it. Keep up with it." The chariot is moving down the road. I'd never pictured that as I read this text before, but the chariot is moving down the road. Philip runs up beside it.
This man is reading out loud, which in antiquity would be normal. You would not read to yourself. If you were reading something at this point in time, you would be reading it out loud. Philip hears him and says, "Do you understand what you are reading?" "'How can I,' he said, 'unless someone explains it to me?' So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him." He's reading Isaiah. If you're an evangelist, this is a lay-up opportunity. You can picture Philip.
Obedient Philip runs up. "Hey, roll down your window." You're walking out here. There's a limousine. "Roll down your window." The Spirit of God says, "Go up." You're like, "What? Why?"
"Oh, you're reading the Bible? Okay. Do you know what you're reading?"
"No, come disciple me."
That's the craziness that's happening here. He basically responds Romans 10:14. "How can I understand unless someone preaches?" This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading. Verse 32: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."
He's racking his brain. "What does this mean? What does this mean? God, I wish you would send someone to me to tell me what this means." "The eunuch asked Philip, 'Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?'" Let me ask you. Who is the prophet talking about? He's talking about Jesus. Isaiah the prophet, hundreds of years before Jesus, shows up on the scene talking about Jesus. "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus."
Let me add to this context of what's happening. This Ethiopian eunuch has traveled a long way to spiritually seek God. He has everything you think you want. He has a job that is one of the most important jobs in the land. He has people reporting to him. He's in a position of authority. He controls the money. He has a lot of money himself. He has golden handcuffs that… I mean, this man was committed to his job, if you're tracking with me. Really, really committed to his job.
He's like, "I have to figure out what God wants for me, the purpose." He goes to the temple to worship, but do you know something? In Deuteronomy, chapter 23, verse 1, it says the eunuch is not allowed in the Lord's assembly. When he would have traveled that long way from Sudan to Jerusalem and got there to worship, they would have said, "No, no, no. You can't come in here. You're not allowed in here. You're one of them. Maybe the Court of the Gentiles potentially, but not in here."
So he has traveled that long way back, reading this Scripture, racking his brain, and God loved him so much he sent faithful Philip. "Go tell this man what this means. Go explain this to him, Philip. Go rock his world in the best way possible."
2._ Extraordinary opportunities open through ordinary obedience._ There are a couple of things we can learn from Philip. First, he was interruptible. He's on his way. It says, "When he was on his way," and then the Spirit of God says, "No, I want you to go there. Go over there." If you're not interruptible, you're probably not a bondservant of Jesus. You're probably a bondservant to work or promotion or children or something else.
Jesus was really interruptible, constantly open. "Hey, who have you placed in my path to love?" That's this guy here. Excellent model for evangelism too. Let's consider some things he does. He goes up, and the first thing he does… Do you know what he does? He listens. He listens to understand the context of what he's moving to. He hears the man speaking these words. Then the first thing he says out of his mouth is a question, a very powerful tool of evangelism.
He asks a question. "Do you understand what you're reading?" His sincerity, his love for this man, allowed him to be his guide. In the Greek, what the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip to do is, "Come and guide me through the Scriptures." You've heard it said before, but it's worth repeating. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. His sincerity allowed him to be this man's guide.
Because he understands the Scripture, the Old Testament, Genesis to Revelation, has a central character, and that man is Jesus Christ, that the narrative is pointing to Jesus, he's able to take what he hears from the man, the context, and use it to point to Christ. Friends, Jesus shows up in Genesis, chapter 3, a little verse called the protoevangelium, where it prophesies that he's going to crush the head of the Enemy.
Jesus was the second Adam. Noah was a type of Christ. Those who trusted in the ark, the wooden structure, were saved. Abraham, who was going to kill his son, a type of Christ, substitutionary atonement. Moses, the way shower, a type of Jesus. David slayed the enemy, a type of Jesus. Joseph, a type of Jesus. Daniel, pointing to Christ. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, pointing to Christ. This narrative is all about Jesus.
There are these prophecies that he's going to be born in Bethlehem, that he's going to live in Nazareth, that an enemy is going to come out of Egypt, that the children around them, the firstborn, will die. All of these prophecies in this Old Testament, telling us that Jesus is coming, and Philip knows them. Philip has now trusted in him for salvation, and he's telling this man, "Hey, let me tell you who this is about."
What's the application for us? Not just to know this Word for ourselves but also to teach it to others. Don't let that be lost on you. There is a normal part of obedience that is taking the things you've been taught and entrusting it to others, that a part of your legacy would be teaching others. You say, "Well, JP, I don't know how. I don't know what it means." Today is your day.
How many times will you hear announcements like Equipped Disciple or Training Day or Great Questions, and you're like, "One day"? "One day I'm going to take Blake Holmes' Cover to Cover class. One day. One day I'm going to sit through Bobby Crotty's Sticky Pages class. One day." Today is your day. Become a disciple and make disciples. Ordinary obedience for a Christian. Telling others about Jesus is not optional for anyone following Jesus.
As a church, we're doing everything we can to help you and equip you to do this. This is God's providence that we're here today, and the announcement earlier and this just lined up in his providence. Consider we are going to closed countries, places where the gospel cannot be taught, and there's a simple tool you can grab as you leave here. You can fill it with necessities and send it to this country so that somebody who knows Jesus can give it to them in the name of Jesus and share the gospel with them.
I had a missionary come forward after the first service and say how effective of a tool it is. So please do not leave this real estate without stopping by my friend's desk out there and say, "Hey, they were kind of cryptic in there. Can you give me more information?" We're being streamed right now, and we can only say so much.
We're asking you to find someone not like you, maybe born in another country, and have them sit down at your dinner table, because 500 people are coming into Dallas every single day from other countries, and there's a statistic out there that says they never go into a home of an American. How sad is that? We want to change that as a body, that you would do that over the holidays.
I love what Philip does here. He takes away all of our excuses. In this one tiny story, the gospel penetrates racial boundaries, socioeconomic boundaries, professional boundaries, geographic boundaries, and physical boundaries. The guy is moving down the road. What excuse are we left with?
This guy could not be any more different than Mr. Philip, but just the hope of Jesus brings down all of those walls. Philip cares more about the conversion of others than the approval of others. We have to care more about the mission of saving souls from the fires of hell than whether they like us or not and walk in an ordinary obedience.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, Desmond Doss responded like every other red-blooded American and said, "I want to go and represent my country." The problem was, as a Seventh-day Adventist, he had made an agreement with God that he would never kill another human being or even touch a weapon of any kind. Desmond enrolled in the military as a medic. He said, "I self-taught. I can help people heal from the wounds of battle."
He joined a battalion that was sent to Okinawa, Japan. They sat at the base of a 400-foot cliff, affectionately called "Hacksaw Ridge." The reason is that as the American military climbed up this ridge, they were mowed down like a hacksaw by the enemy, the Japanese. His battalion climbed up there and entered into an intense firefight that lasted for days until an all-out assault occurred by the Japanese.
They released hundreds and hundreds of men to come, and mowed down this battalion, instantly wounding 75 men, pushing Desmond's troops to retreat down the cliff, leaving only these 75 wounded American soldiers and one Desmond Doss without a weapon of any kind. Throughout the night, he went seeking over the battlefield amidst enemy fire, looking for someone who was hurt and still alive.
He found a man and carried him to safety. Not only did he carry him to safety, but he tied a rope around him and began to lower him down that 400-foot ridge, so that his troops below saw the man and were like, "What's going on?" They took him and put him in the hospital and began to care for him.
Desmond Doss laid there, no sleep, has not eaten, has not had any water, and begins to say, "Lord, would you give me just one more?" He gets up and goes and, in the midst of intense enemy fire, looks for another man, and even throughout the evening, hours and hours, another man, another man, and another man. He takes them, and throughout the night, one by one, lowers those men until he had saved 75 men in the field of battle.
They said, "Desmond, how did you do that?" He said, "After the one, and then the second one, I said, 'Lord, would you just give me one more? God, give me just one more.'" He'd go and find someone else, and then lying there, exhausted, completely spent, "God, give me just one more," and he'd find another, and another, and another. He was awarded the greatest honor, the Medal of Honor.
Not to take anything away from Desmond Doss, but I'm going to ask this controversial question. Did he not simply do his job? Did he not enlist and say, "I will risk my life to care for every single soldier I can as a medic"? Ordinary obedience, extraordinary outcome, extraordinary opportunity, and now an extraordinary legacy that is Desmond Doss. Some of you are frustrated for the spoiler alert. It's a true story, and I didn't tell you anything that's not in the trailer.
Philip did all the Lord asked of him. It's our job to do all the Lord asks of us. Philip's obedience is contagious. Verse 36: "As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?'" It's like he's anticipating an objection, but Philip is not going to get in the way of him being baptized. Verse 38: "And he gave orders to stop the chariot."
Let me just say this quickly. There's no verse 37. In the King James Version there is a verse 37. We've since found more ancient manuscripts that date past that that did not have verse 37, which changed the meaning of this text not at all. It's just a summary verse that was later added. It builds my confidence that the Bible we have and read is the most accurate version of the Bible that is available. The Bible, as we've gained more and more manuscripts, has only become more and more accurate. Again, the verse did not change the text at all.
"And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing."
I don't know what happened to Philip here. I don't know if the Spirit of the Lord carried him through the air or he was like Raiden in Mortal Kombat and just showed up somewhere else or what happened, but if you want my opinion, I'll step over here and give you my opinion. I think God just simply directed him on to Azotus, to the next place to share the gospel.
The Spirit of God just said, "Hey, your work here is done. Now go on." And he left. That's what I think happened. I love that it says that on his way the eunuch was rejoicing. "Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea." He was ordinarily obedient.
3._ Ordinary obedience leaves an extraordinary legacy._ You say, "JP, where is that in the text?" It's not in the text. It's in the context of the text. There are things happening around this text that are absolutely incredible. I'm going to share some of them with you before we close.
First, let's talk about this Ethiopian eunuch. What is he reading when Philip runs up on him? He's reading Isaiah, chapter 53. What that means is he's going to get to Isaiah, chapter 56, and his world is going to be rocked in the best kind of way. Do you remember the two words I said that were used to describe this man? I told you there was going to be a quiz. You cannot blame me for this. Foreigner and eunuch. Let me read to you Isaiah 56.
"Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord** …" Remember, he was just rejected from the temple."…say, 'The **** Lord **** will surely exclude me from his people.'" No, sir. He sent Philip, because he loves you, to make you a part of his people, my friend. Look at this."And let no eunuch complain, 'I am only a dry tree.'"**"I can't even have children. There's no legacy for me." No, sir.
"For this is what the Lord says: 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.'"
How amazing is that? This guy who is like, "I can't even have kids…" God says, "Oh no, no. You don't understand. I have something better for you than kids, a legacy that will last forever. That temple they wouldn't let you in is going to be a memorial to you right in the middle of the temple. Obedient eunuchs get in. They not only get in; they get a reward better than sons and daughters, a stronger legacy. Not just eunuchs but foreigners too. This verse is for you, Mr. Ethiopian eunuch."
Let's talk about Philip for a second. Philip's name means lover of horses. None of you probably knew that. Like, when I said Philip earlier you went, "Oh yeah, Phil, the horse guy. He loves horses, that guy." You probably didn't know that. It's not his legacy. You probably weren't even like, "Oh, Philip the cafeteria worker. Yes, yes, yes." No, because if you have read this book you know that in Acts, chapter 21, verse 8, Philip is given a new descriptor, a new legacy, a new name.
"Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven." Philip's legacy is he's known as the Evangelist. He has a new qualifier, a new legacy. He's the "Lord, give me just one more" guy. That's Philip. "God, give me just one more." If I may go back to the Ethiopian eunuch, the only other writings we have on him come from Father Irenaeus, that I know of, at least. The only other historical writings of this man, and he says this about him. I'll read it to you. This comes from about AD 200.
"[The Ethiopian eunuch] was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed, that there was one God preached by the prophets, but that the Son of this [God] had already made [his] appearance in human nature…and had been led as a sheep to the slaughter; and all the other statements which the prophets made regarding him."
This is unbelievable, if this is true what Irenaeus wrote in AD 200. This Ethiopian eunuch goes back to his country, takes the one truth God gave him through Philip, that the sheep who was led to slaughter was Jesus, and he changes a country. He begins to tell the gospel to a country, a new legacy for the Ethiopian eunuch. He simply took the truth Philip gave to him and told everyone.
Here's why I tell you that: because you're probably not going to be remembered by what you do one day; you're going to be remembered by what you do every day, the ordinary obedience that marks your life. It's not this one accomplishment, this thing that you one day get. "I'm going to get this job, and I'm going to buy that house and be there."
No, it's going to be, "Man, he was the Bible guy, always reading the Word, always praying. That brother was a Christian." "She was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. The way she loved, the truth she spoke, the way she shared, the mother she was, the sister she was, the daughter she was, the wife she was." Every day. That's your legacy.
This week was my birthday, and for the past 18 years on my birthday a man named Bruce Brown has called me and wished me Happy Birthday. I don't know him. He's from my small town, Cuero. It's just his lot in life. He wakes up in the morning, he gets the paper, he finds out whose birthday it is, and he calls them and tells them Happy Birthday.
He started this for me 18 years ago when I was 17 years of age. My parents' phone rang, and it was Bruce Brown wishing me a Happy Birthday. Then he followed me. He followed me to Waco, and then he followed me to Dallas. Usually I don't answer, because it's a number I don't recognize. It goes to voicemail, and every year for the last 18 years, faithfully, I've gotten a voicemail. "Jonathan, it's Bruce Brown, Cuero, Texas. Just wanted to tell you Happy Birthday. Awesome."
I've asked my parents, "Who is this guy?" They're like, "Oh that's 'Birthday Bruce.' It's just what he does." So this year my phone rings, and it's a 361-275 number. I'm by myself. I'm like, I'm going to answer.
"Yes, sir, I know."
"Yeah, I just wanted to call and tell you Happy Birthday."
"Mr. Brown, you have done that faithfully for 18 years, and I just want to say thank you. It means a lot." This year it meant more than it has.
"Where are you at these days?"
"I'm in Dallas, Texas."
"Oh, how long have you been there?"
"About 15 years."
"Okay. Happy Birthday." Click.
Let me ask you a question. How many of you have wished someone a happy birthday? Everyone in here has said at some point, "Happy Birthday," but you're not "Birthday Mike" or "Birthday Jane" or "Birthday John" or "Birthday Kelly." That's not you. He's "Birthday Bruce," because he does it every day. It's the obedience that marks your life daily that you will be remembered by. Philip the Evangelist, the Ethiopian eunuch who changed a country, and you.
In summary, extraordinary outcomes start with ordinary obedience, ordinary opportunities open through ordinary obedience, and ordinary obedience leaves an extraordinary legacy. Some of you might feel like obedience is so counterintuitive to grace. Grace is a free gift. Earlier this past week, my buddy calls and says, "Okay, we're done with Gracie. We're done with the dog. We want to give her to you." On my birthday she's going to get delivered. I thought, "Okay, how do we do this?"
So I brought the kids together that morning before they left for school and just said, "Hey, you know how on Jesus' birthday we receive gifts?" They said, "Yeah." I said, "Well, that's grace." This was Monica's genius idea. I'm not smart enough to come up with this stuff. I say, "Hey, on my birthday I'd like to give you a gift, so Grace is going to come live with us today."
They don't know what this means. I'm like, "You're going to find out when you get home from school, but I just wanted to let you know that you will receive Grace today." Pastor jokes, you know. So we did, and Gracie came and lived with us. Can I tell you something? Dogs are a lot of work. Like, wow. She has interrupted our lives in a profound way.
She was completely free, but she has changed our routine. We get up in the morning with a different purpose now, and we stay up late. You know, the kennel and the outside and the potty breaks and the food and the routine, the cleaning up after. She was free, but, man, she has interrupted our lives in a profound way.
Some of you are like, "Grace is free." It absolutely is free, but, man, is it costly. It changes everything about you. If you look at your life and it's not marked by an obedience that is true of one who has received grace, you may go back to that gift and make sure you actually opened it, that you've actually received it, because you cannot receive grace without your life turning in the most obedient of ways. This is my prayer for you.
Father, thank you for this extraordinary thing called grace and the way that it does change who we are. Help us to pass it on to others, as your faithful servant Philip has. Give us a legacy like the Ethiopian eunuch, like Philip. Help us to be faithful to take these boxes to places that we can't go ourselves. Help us to be faithful with going to our neighbors, a place we can go ourselves. Help us to be faithful with inviting coworkers into our homes, at our dinner tables, and sharing the truth of your scandalous grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.