Gifted for Service: Philip

Scripture: Acts 8:1-40, Acts 6:3
Date: 09/20/2008 
Lesson: 12
The disciple Philip displayed powerful gifts of the Spirit as he executed his ministry in foreign lands.
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Good morning, Happy Sabbath, we're so glad that you're joining us for another "central study hour." Coming to you from Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church here in Sacramento, California. Like to welcome those of you who are joining us this morning, life on the internet at Watching 3 weeks delayed on the various television networks or listening on the radio this morning. Welcome and Happy Sabbath. We're gonna sing, as we always do, some of your favorites.

And the first one this morning, you'll find on 388 your hymnals. "Don't forget the Sabbath," 388 is a request from lorraine in Ohio; winsome in tennessee; ali in malawi; derrick and merina in florida; icilma in antigua; joyann in New York; and harrigan in trinidad and tobago. , Verses 1, 2, and 3. [Music] Thank you so much for that request and if those of you who are here or around the world would like to send in a song request, you can go to our website at, click on the "contact us" link, and send in your song requests. And we will do our best to sing that for you on an upcoming Sabbath.

We love to hear from each and every one of you. Our opening song this morning is 422, "marching to Zion." And I want to see you singing this with gusto, smiles on your faces, 'cause we are Marching to Zion this morning, right? Amen. We're gonna do the first, second, and fourth verse. But first, this comes from alfonse from Canada; ajani, also from Canada, he's 4 years old and he watches with his mom and dad every week; judith, also in Canada; ivonne in columbia; rob in australia; andy in the seychelles; acheampong in ghana who requests this song for his wife gifty and hopes you have a speedy recovery; julia in Delaware; jim, dianne, buffy, and jamie in florida; margaret in florida; jeri in Minnesota; Joel and nicole in New York; joyann in New York; and steve in Washington; , Marching to Zion. [Music] Father in Heaven, this morning we are Marching to Zion and we are so excited because you are leading the way.

And one day we are going to see your face when you come in those clouds of glory and we look forward to that. And I pray that everyone here will be ready and those that aren't with us today, but are joining us, however they are, that, father, we can all meet, one day soon in the sea of glass. We know that this world is coming to an end very quickly, 'cause we see what's going on in the world around us. And I just pray that our hearts would be ready and that we would have the burden to tell those around us who are lost and dying that they can find hope, they can find eternal life in you. Father, we thank you so much for blessing us with the Sabbath this morning, the opportunity that we have to come together and worship you in your holy house.

I pray that you will be with us as we open up Your Word and study together and be with us--be with our speaker as he brings us lesson study. And we thank you so much for loving us, for dying for us, in Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here the at Sacramento central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Amen. Thank you, thank you, jessica and debbie and our musicians.

Morning, friends, Happy Sabbath. It's good to be home. I've been traveling a lot and I'll tell yeah, I think I'm takin' next year off. Spent a lotta time in airports and it's good just to stand up straight. I didn't know that I'd ever be so excited just to be able to stand for a few hours.

But I am lookin' forward to our study today. I wanna welcome afcoe class, we are in the, still, the early stages of a new afcoe session. That's the Amazing Facts college of evangelism that's based right now up in weimar and preparing for a couple of evangelistic meetings here in the Sacramento area. We're going through our study guide, almost done. Matter of fact, next week I'll be introducing the future quarters lesson, dealing with God's great missionaries.

And today we're gonna be going into lesson number 12. Before we do that, we always like to remind our friends that we have a free offer, it's called "Lord of our service." Our lesson today deals with gifted for service, and so we thought that this would correspond. All you've gotta do, we'll send you a free copy, is call the number, -866-788-3966 And ask for offer number 772 and we'll send that to you for free and it hopefully will help enhance your Bible study. Also wanna remind our friends, sometimes because of scheduling, they may not be able to catch the lessons, there's a new website where you can go and it's got--it's Amazing Facts evangelistic programs 24 hours a day. It's simply amazingfacts.

tv, and there among the choices, is one for Sabbath school. And so we archive these lessons there and we also hope you'll send that link to your friends. It just provides some good Bible study. Today we're gonna talk about Phillip, and it's titled, gifted for service. Phillip, Phillip, not the apostle, Philip the deacon.

We're speaking of principally here. And we've got a number of Scriptures we're going to consider, most of them are in the book of acts and some in Romans. We have a memory verse, and the memory verse is acts 8:6. I always appreciate if you'd say this with me. Acts 8:6, "and the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake.

Hearing and seeing the miracles which he did." Now, Philip is a great example of Bible of somebody who has an expanding ministry. Matter of fact, I'm gonna start with a verse, turn with me, please, to 1 Corinthians 12. While we're talking about spiritual gifts and being gifted for ministry, I thought this would be a good place to begin. I wanna look at verse 4. Corinthians 12:4, now, "there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit.

And there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities or differences of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." In other words, God's Spirit is given to different people and when you pour the Spirit of God into different people based on what their bouquet of gifts are, it's all for serving God. And then he goes on, verse 8, "for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit." Some of these special gifts of wisdom. You remember when Solomon prayed, what did he pray for? He prayed for specifically for wisdom, but really he's askin' for the Holy Spirit.

If you read in your Bible in Isaiah 11:2, it'll say that "the Spirit of the Lord will be upon him," the Spirit of wisdom, one of the attributes of the Spirit of God is wisdom. That's what God's Spirit gave to Solomon. To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge. Are wisdom and knowledge the same thing? It says in Daniel that "in the last days, knowledge will increase." The man who helped build the temple had great knowledge. You can have great knowledge--I've met some people that are just outright geniuses, but they can be lacking in common sense, wisdom.

In the last days, we've got great technology, it's where you get the word knowledge or-- but you can have a society that has all kinds of sophisticated space stations and know how to make nuclear bombs to kill their fellow man. No wisdom, lots of knowledge. So, there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge, okay. The word of knowledge through the same spirit, to another, faith by the same spirit. Some have special gifts of faith that--and you just say, "boy, they just are so trusting and things happen and they pray and they believe and it happens.

" To another gifts of healings by the same spirit. You ever met somebody and you say, "boy, that person's got a green thumb. In their house, in their garden, everything they touch, it looks like they use miracle grow." They got a green thumb. Some people have a healing thumb. Of course, you wouldn't want a doctor, a brain surgeon, that's all thumbs.

But you know what I'm talkin' about as a figure of speech, some people have gifts of healing. And they, boy, if you can get a doctor who's well-trained, who also has the gift of discernment, to look at a person and help to quickly assess and evaluate what that problem is. 'Cause sometimes the symptoms can be a little bit nebulous and hard to identify. Some people have a gift, and you've got gifts of healing. Some people have gifts of miraculous healing, you don't see as much of that this day.

But I still believe in all those gifts of the Spirit. To another, working of miracles. Well, no other way to understand that except God does give his people miracles. Now, when we talk about Phillip, it's gonna say, we're gonna read where others watched and saw the miracles that were performed by him. To another, discerning of spirits.

Some people have these great gifts of discernment, to another, different kinds of tongues or languages, and to others the interpretation or translation of tongues. But verse 11, "one in the same spirit works all these things distributing to each one individually as he will." Is there anybody who comes to Christ and accepts Christ that doesn't have some spiritual gift? Everybody gets some spiritual gift. Would you go to a king's wedding and not bring a wedding gift? Wouldn't be very classy, would it? In the same way, God's not gonna come to your wedding without bringin' a gift; he's got taste. And when you're baptized, the Bible says that Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down. When Peter preached in acts 2, he said, "repent and be baptized every one of you for their forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

" Now, that Holy Spirit will manifest its gifts in different ways. When I came to the Lord and I was baptized, I had no idea at the time that I'd be teaching. I mean, I had never been teaching anybody up to that point. Didn't know I had that gift. I really think myself more as a teacher than a preacher.

But you know, just, the Lord when you're baptized and the Holy Spirit comes in, you start sharing with people, you see that they're understanding and you go, "wow." Now you can analyze those things all different ways. You know, well, you know, maybe it's because he got it from his mother, or you know what I'm saying? Some people have gifts of music, hey, yeah, their parents might be able to sing, but there's a spiritual gift of music where you can communicate with special power. And so there's all, and this is not a comprehensive list here in 1 Corinthians 12, there are many, many different kinds, it's a kaleidoscope of gifts that God gives. And many of you have a whole assortment of gifts. Some have got ten talents, some have got five, and some have got one or two; right? But everybody's got something and I believe you can multiply your gifts.

If you're faithful in using what you have, God will give you more. So, use the gifts that God gives you. One of my great regrets in my life and it still may not be too late, but is I think the Lord gave me a gift of music. Now, I'm not talkin' about singing, but--well, and you know what? If I had grown up singing, we just didn't sing much in our house. My mother was writin' songs all the time, she always had people around singing, but I personally didn't do much singing.

And I never learned to read music, I'm so glad our boys are taking music, 'cause they've got gifts of music. They've got good pitch, they've got good ears, nathan picks up the guitar and he starts to play. And the first time you show him a song and he's, you know, just 12 now, he'll pick it out and he finds it. He's just got a gift. And I always regretted that I never learned to read music.

And so that gift has been stunted and probably always will be, because I didn't use it. When God gives you spiritual gifts, use them for his service. If you want those gifts to grow, use them for his service. One of the reasons we're so excited now about the new weimar, the college and the academy, as well as the new start program, is we're in encouraging everybody in the world to say, "whatever my calling in life is, I'm called to serve God." There's a whole spectrum of possible professions that you might get involved in. But whatever that is, the time that we encourage people to go through afcoe and the weimar program there, is to say, whatever God's plan is for me, I'm a missionary, I'm called to be a servant.

You might make tents like Paul, but that's really to subsidize your service for God as a missionary. So, whatever your job is, you may work for the state here in Sacramento or you might work in the automobile industry, it's one of the biggest in the country. But you always need to see that as secondary to, "I'm called to serve God with these gifts." I know people who had just a great gift in auto mechanics. And I'll tell you what, they were able to witness so much, because folks are breakin' down all the time. And they would be so thankful this person could lift the hood and he had the gift of discernment too.

And they could find out what the problem was and he'd get them goin' down the road and be witnessing in the process. So, everybody is really called to serve God. That's the most important thing, we are ultimately, as Christians, we are servants of God. Look at how Paul signs all his letters. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.

Matter of fact, they did not use the word servant the way we use the word servant. We use the word servant sometimes thinking about somebody who's in a restaurant bringing you your water. In the Bible mind when someone said servant, some translations translate this, slave. Meaning, you don't have a union, you don't complain because of work conditions, you don't ask for higher wages, you're owned. Now, that's not very popular, but that's what it meant.

And so Paul was sayin', "I am a slave of Jesus Christ, I'm owned by Jesus Christ, I'm his property." We are all bought, the Lord buys us to set us free, though, doesn't he? We are all bought and owned by the Lord. And so, just a little introduction there to the lesson, talkin' about service. Now, under the heading "called to serve," as I would like someone to read for me, first time we see an introduction of Phillip, acts 6:3-4. First, let me find out where the microphone is. Vicky's got one here, you got one over here? Or we have just one.

All right, who's got acts 6:3-4. It says, "therefore brethren, seek out from among you 7 men of good reputation full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." All right, so, they're looking for these men who have these gifts of service. Now, and they end up calling 'em what? Deacons, right? Does the Bible tell us something about what are the qualifications of a deacon? Well, first it tells us here, "they wanted to find these people that were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom who we might appoint over the business." Now, there's a little crisis in the church. You know, back in the time of Jesus' early ministry, when the people were hungry, Jesus would use the disciples, the actual apostles--and you remember the little boy brought his bread, Jesus broke it up, gave it to the apostles, and the apostles were the waiters and they dispersed it.

But now the Holy Spirit's being poured out and thousands are being baptized, ,000 at pentecost. You read 5,000 a little later. And so the church is just exploding with growth, the 12 apostles could not effectively be distributing the offerings to the people and taking care of some of that practical business and really be teaching and preaching what Jesus had taught them during their time with him. And they said, you know, this is poor management of time, we need to delegate for more effective service. You know, every now and then I meet people and they say, "Pastor Doug, I love the Lord, you know, and I even believe the Bible, but I don't wanna be part of any organized religion.

" And they think that's spiritual. I'm a very spiritual person, but I'm not part of any organized religion. It's almost like when you say, religion or organized church or denomination that it's something demeaning, it's something regulated, it's something unspiritual. That is a myth. The only alternative for your not being part of an organized religion is for you to be part of a disorganized one.

And some people are very proud of how disorganized their religion is and that's nothing to be proud of. Back in the days of Moses when Moses, the children of Israel, this millions of people, well, over a million come out of Egypt. And they had all kinds of problems and squabbles and things he had to settle and he was sitting from the sun up to sun down trying to help mediate and to settle all these problems. And father-in-law came to visit, jethro, and he watched this and he pulled him aside. Can you imagine having a -year-old son-in-law? And he pulls him aside to give him a little council.

Jethro must have been even older. And he said, "what you're doing is not good, you will surely wear away." And he said, "I'd like to advise you that you appoint men who will be captains of thousands and captains of hundreds and 50s and 10s and delegate these problems and you become the supreme court and have these lesser courts that take care of the small problems. Can you imagine if the supreme court would have to convene for me to dispute my speeding ticket? I mean, that'd be bad time, can you imagine the line comin' down from Washington d.c.? And so, the idea was to appoint fellow servants that could help with your work. Now, the idea being that as leaders grow old and have to retire and they pass off the scene through death, you have been training through example those who are doing the delegation under you. As you read on in the story of Philip who's chosen as one of those deacons, you'll find out he starts out serving tables and he ends up being a preacher and ultimately one of the leading evangelists in the church.

But it begins through serving in smaller areas. God prepares us for great things through faithfulness in little things. Joseph's a prime example. Why did God have Joseph go through the crucible of being a slave in potiphar's house and then later a prison, before he was leading Egypt? Before you can effectively lead and serve God, you must learn to serve your fellow man. And it is not demeaning for a Christian to be a servant, it's a noble calling.

Joseph's a great example. Was God with him? Did he serve faithfully? And because he was faithful in little things, you see him--first, he's an errand boy for his father, he's takin' a message to his brothers. And then he's workin' in potiphar's house. And then it becomes even more of a trial there in prison and he's serving the fellow prisoners. He's, remember, he was consoling them with their dreams and all.

And God was preparing him over those years for great service. That's the idea of serving God, you start out faithfulness in little things and the Lord gives you a widening opportunity for ministry. When rebecca was faithful in watering the camels of eleazar, that act of service, faithfulness in little things, prepared her to be a mother in Israel. When the woman at the well, I mean, Jesus asks her for a drink of water. I don't know if he ever God his drink, but it still teaches the lesson, service in a small area, he then used her next to be an evangelist to a whole town.

We talked about this a few weeks ago. So, you have this pattern here. Back in acts, I wanna go back to acts 6, we read verses 3 and 4. So, the idea of getting people who were capable, it says, "it pleased the whole multitude and they chose stephen a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit and Philip, prochorus, nicanor, timon, parmenas, and nicolas a proselyte from antioch." By the way, when you get to Revelation and it talks about the doctrine of the nicolatians, the thing which I do hate. Some believe that nicolas, who was full of the Holy Spirit and a man of God, he was one of the deacons, later apostatized and developed a corrupt theology and they were known as the nicolatians.

He would--he had been a convert from antioch. Anyway, so they set these seven men before the apostles. By the way, the word Philip means lover of horses. Now, there's a spiritual meaning to that, but I don't know what it is. Anyway, that's what his name means, the lover of horses.

They set them before the apostles and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. And the Word of God spread. Notice as they get organized and as they delegate for service, the Word of God spread. What was it disciples were going to give themselves to? Prayer and the ministry of the word. You know, I just had a meeting this week and I don't mean to be complaining, but it just popped into my mind as most of what I share with you does.

I do plan, I've got some notes, but I sorta, kinda ramble. This has been such a busy year and I've been traveling so much in Amazing Facts and I've spent so much time writing and, you know, it breaks my heart, but it's true. Amazing Facts, you know, is 100% supported by people who watch. And so I have to spend certain amount of time communicating and writing and fundraising. And time that I would really rather spend studying the word, preparing messages, writing spiritual things.

I have to spend a lotta time sittin' in airports and waiting in lines and traveling. And I thought, Lord, there's gotta be a way that I could somehow reserve what life I've got left to really focus on prayer and the ministry of the word. And I was thinking those things and then I ran into this lesson. And so, the Lord's convicting me, I don't know what the answer is yet, but y'all pray for me. I just don't wanna gobble up all the time, I'd like to be preparing messages.

And sometimes I think, you know, on a scale of one to ten, I deliver maybe a 7, but if I had more time to prepare, it could have been an 8. You know what I mean? And so I'm always a little frustrated, because you just don't have the time to study like you want. That's not good management, that's not good economy. And every one of us in our lives, we've gotta ask ourselves, what are the most important things in serving God? What gifts has God given me? Sometimes you'll find yourself forcing yourself to do things that you're really not gifted to do and you're neglecting the things you are gifted to do. And you're not being as productive in God's service because of that.

I know there's sometimes there's circumstances that, you know, dictate what we have to do, but find out what your spiritual gifts are then ask you to have wisdom and plan so that you can maximize your service to God and your fellow man. And organize your time and delegate so that you can focus on what you're good at and what God has gifted you to do. Anyway, so, I'm really preaching to myself, but I'm sure it applies to you as well. Now, it says, "they were picked as deacons." Deacons, the word deacon means servant, deaconos. And many times you'll see the word, servant translated in the Bible and you're gonna find that word deacon.

Matthew 20:25, and somebody look up for me, Matthew 23:11. "For he that is greatest among you, shall be your servant." So, how does God determine greatness? It's through service. How does the world determine greatness? You get to the place where everybody works for you. In the world they measure greatness by you're retired, you don't have to do everything, you don't wash your own car, you can pay people to wash it for you. Everybody does it for you.

But is that how God measures greatness? You know, I'm always impressed when I read the Bible that no matter how great God's leaders became, they still served. You think about Abraham, when those visitors came to him and one of them ultimately, we discover, was the Lord. He's got thousands of servants in his house. How do we know that? Well, he had 300 of 'em in his own army, that's not counting the others. And so here's this man who's fabulously wealthy, he can have people do whatever he wants for 'em, but when visitors came, he took time to serve them personally.

Sarah takes time, she bakes the bread. Abraham goes and he finds a fatted calf. I mean, they weren't afraid to serve. In the mind of the jew, work was a noble thing. And it was good to serve, it was good to work and to use your body and your brawn and your brain and your muscle.

And so that's just part of being a Christian. Matthew 20:25, "Jesus called them to himself," Matthew 20:25, "you know that the rulers of the gentiles Lorded over them. And those who are great exercise authority over them," they love bossing the servants around. "Yet it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.

And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as The Son of man did not come to be served." Here's the King of heaven, but he didn't come to be served, but he came to be a servant and to give his life a ransom for many. If there's anything that Jesus modeled in his life, it's the truth that we should serve one another. Even to the last supper when he washed the disciples feet. Now then it goes into the specifications of a deacon. Timothy 3:18-13, "Philip was then chosen as one of the deacons.

" What were some of the qualifications for a deacon? "Likewise, deacons must be reverent, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience, but let these also first be tested." In other words, you don't have somebody transfer into fellowship and say, "we're gonna make you a deacon" before you know, you know, is this person faithful? Are they dependable? Is there regular attendance? Their character should be proved. A principle in life, don't forget this, it's always a lot easier to give someone a raise than to cut their pay. Once you give someone a raise, it's really hard to bring 'em backward. It's a lot easier to give someone a position than to take it away, because you find out they're not doing it right. Make sure that you know that somebody has these qualifications and they're demonstrated and it's a good idea whatever the church office.

If someone's gonna serve in some capacity in a church office, whether it's in the children's divisions or in music department or a deacon or a deaconess, let them work in that capacity as an assistant, as an associate. And they get a chance to, first of all, their mentoring and then those in leadership can say, "hey, you know I've watched 'em and they've got it." Or they can say, "you know, they need more time to develop these gifts or maybe they'd be better in another department, but it should be observed. I've seen a lotta churches that have broken down in all kinds of problems and a lot of division, a lot of hurt feelings when someone is too quickly put into a position they've not demonstrated. Amen. Well, that's not a happy subject, but it's still true.

So, they should demonstrate that. "Let them first be tested then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husband of one wife," they still practiced some polygamy back then, "ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

" Now, it's interesting to note that as they organized the church and the church began to spread, persecution came next. Go with me to chapter 8 of acts. Matter fact, I think I've distributed that one to someone. Acts 8:1. "Now, Saul was consenting to his death.

At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was in Jerusalem. And they were all scattered throughout the region of judah and samaria, except the apostles." All right if you were ever wondering if this Philip here, who goes to preach in samaria is this Philip the apostle, you can find out right here, this is not Philip the apostle that goes to samaria, it's Philip the deacon. There was a Philip apostle, remember? 'Cause where did the apostles stay? We just read here, they stayed in Jerusalem. But it says here, "except the apostles." Meaning, the Philip we're about to read about, he's the one who goes to samaria. He starts out as a deacon, but his service is now expanding.

And you can read on here, in verse 4. Oh, by the way, sometimes God uses persecution and trials to expand our opportunities for service. And that's what we see happening here. This persecution, did it squash the preaching of the Gospel? Or it says, "then they went everywhere preaching." They went throughout all the regions, Judea and samaria. Another point, indulge me, Jesus says in acts 1:8, "but you abide in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit is poured upon you.

And when the Holy Spirit has come, you shall be my witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem then Judea then samaria then the uttermost parts of the earth." So, you've got a widening circle of service and what Jesus said would happen when the Holy Spirit was poured out, if you got four Numbers and you can arrange them anyway you want, what are your odds? You've got what, 16 different options? Is that how that works? Okay, but it didn't happen out of those four named, Jerusalem, Judea, samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth. It came in exactly the same sequence that Jesus gave them. You see them first in Jerusalem, Holy Spirit's poured out in acts. Then is says "in Judea, then samaria," then Paul's filled with the Holy Spirit and he starts going to the gentiles and they go to the civilized world back then. So, just wanted to mention that.

So, they--then you read in acts 8:4, therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Jesus said, if they persecute you in this city, go to the next. So, when they were persecuted in Jerusalem, they went on other places and did they quit preaching? When they said there's a moratorium here, well, we're gonna go where there's not. Therefore those who are scattered went everywhere preaching the word. "Then Philip went down to the city of samaria and he preached Christ to them.

And the multitudes with one accord, heeded the things spoken by Phillip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits," and it tells what these miracles were, "for unclean spirits crying out with a loud voice came out of many who were possessed. And many who were paralyzed and lame were healed and there was great joy in that city." So, Phillip, he's a deacon, he's casting out devils and he's healing people who are physically paralyzed or lame. Oh, he maybe wasn't opening the eyes of the blind or raising the dead, that maybe came later. But God tells us that he had these gifts.

Do you think we're gonna see those gifts again in the last days. Why did they seem to come and go through history? I never cease to amaze of the story where gideon says to the angel, "what ever happened to all the miracles we used to hear about?" Way back in the old testament, he's wondering what happened to the miracles. And so it seems like as you watch the history of the Bible, they come and they go in waves. Do you think that the second coming of the Lord is gonna happen with a whimper on earth? With no miracles, no power? Or is there going to be a latter reign outpouring of God's Spirit and you will see genuine signs and wonders and miracles. Does the devil counterfeit miracles? That leads us to our next section, acts 8:9, matter fact I gotta turn in my Bible here.

It says, "there was great joy in samaria, but--when you hear a story like that and it interrupts the story with that -letter word, but. Great joy, but they did have some problems. When you're preaching and when God is working and when the Holy Spirit's being poured out, will the devil stand by and cheer? Or is he gonna get busy doing something to cause problems. You know, as we're preparing for these kids meetings in Texas, the potential is so incredible. As a matter of fact, by the time this broadcast we'll have already begun.

That I'm really praying on pins and needles, because I think the devil is so threatened by this, especially if you're gonna reach young children now he's gonna cause problems. I hope you'll all be praying for us as we prepare. 'Cause he's not gonna stand back and just say, "well, you know, I don't wanna bother 'em this time, they're--after all it's kids, you know." You think the devil has a soft spot? No, he's the opposite. And so whenever God's working, the Bible says, "all that live Godly will suffer persecution." The devil's gonna try to stop it. And here you've got that happening.

It says, but--verse 9, I'm in acts 8:9, "there was a certain man called Simon who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of samaria claiming he was someone great. To whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying, this man is a great power of God. And indeed because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time." All right, let's pause real quick here. We had just finished talking about Philip preaching and doing miracles and signs and wonders and great conversion. Then we talk about someone else in the same area who also had the respect of people, they said it was the power of God.

You notice it says, God, g-o-d. They said it was the same God, they thought. But we read on, we find out, it's a counterfeit. He is working from another spirit, he's deceiving them with the signs and the miracles. There's sorceries, and he deceived them a long time and you'll find out also that he had a credit card machine.

He would charge them for the miracles. That right there, when someone starts emphasizing money and they claim to be a prophet of God and have the power of miracles, they start charging for the miracles, you'd better be real careful. You just don't see that in the Bible where any of God's messengers or prophets perform a miracle and say, "now, we'll double that order for--get your credit card out, $19.99." It doesn't work that way. It says, "they believed Philip as he preached these things concerning the Kingdom of God in the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized then Simon himself also believed and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip and was amazed seeing the miracles." Now, wait a second, he's supposedly had done his own miracles, why is he amazed? 'Cause he did his miracles through his slight of hand, through incantations, through the power of the devil, through bamboozling them with chemical concoctions, he was using typical magic and tricks. And what he saw Philip doing, he said, "how does he do that? This is real.

" And he was amazed at the genuineness. Now, this fella's going through a feigned conversion, he's been baptized, but his heart is not converted. Notice, "when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard about what was happening at samaria and how they had received the Word of God," I'm in verse 14, "they sent Peter and John to them. Who when they had come down, they prayed for them and that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet he had not fallen on any of them. For they'd only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

" See, now, just pause real quick. Sometimes the Holy Spirit comes before a person's baptized. Acts 10, cornelius, Holy Spirit poured out, Peter said, who can forbid water that they should be baptized. Spirit first then baptism. Sometimes the Holy Spirit's poured out at baptism, that's the most typical.

Jesus baptized, Holy Spirit comes down. Peter says, repent, be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is poured out after baptism. The apostles were baptized by John the baptist, but they didn't get the Holy Spirit 'til pentecost, happened later. And so you see, the Holy Spirit, it can happen any time.

So, they'd not received the baptism of the Spirit, but they were baptized by Philip, and it says, verse 17, I'm in acts 8:17, "for as he had fallen on none of them, they'd only been baptized in the name of the Lord, Jesus. And they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now, when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostle's hands, the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money saying, 'give me this power also that anyone on whom I lay my hands, might receive the Holy Spirit.'" Why do you think he did that? Just think about it, if I really could give the Holy Spirit to somebody at my choice by laying my hands on them, and I were to get a good corner location in Sacramento and have a cash register, make a lotta money, couldn't you? Philip had been selling his sorceries and his miracles and deceiving the people. And he says, "wow, these guys got the power, they lay hands on them, and they're filled with the Holy Spirit. If I had that, I could make a fortune, I could go on the road.

Get a bus, drive around, and say, 'Holy Spirit are us,' hand out business cards." And Peter realized what he was thinkin'. Now, listen to what Peter said, this is some of the strongest language you're gonna find in the Bible. Peter said to him, "your money perish with you, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money. You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God." Notice here, it says earlier that "Simon himself also believed." He believed, does the devil believe? You can have an element of belief and still not be converted. He believed, he said, "this is the truth.

" But he wasn't, his heart wasn't changed. And that's what Peter says, "your heart is not right." I wonder how many, if Peter were here today, he could say that to in the church. A lotta people are convinced mentally, but their hearts are not right. Maybe they're in it for the wrong reasons or for selfish gain. "Repent there for of this, your wickedness.

And pray God, if perhaps the thoughts of your heart might be forgiven you." It's not just deeds that we need to ask God'll forgive, but thoughts. For I see, verse 23, "that you are poisoned by bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. Then Simon," let's hope he was converted. "Simon answered and said, 'pray none of the things--i said, pray to the Lord for me that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.' " And then the story drops there, we don't know what happened. Let's hope that he was converted, that he did repent.

His heart was not right, he was wanting to sell the Holy Spirit. The love of money is the root of all evil. Now, don't forget in this story, there was counterfeit service, there was a counterfeit Holy Spirit. When Philip began to preach, the devil sent a counterfeit. Will there be a counterfeit latter reign in the last days? I think we're seeing that already, a lotta things are being done in the name of the Lord and all they do is they turn up the amplifier and they beat the drums and they say, "well, the Holy Spirit's come down.

" And it's an imitation. When the real thing comes, the evidence for the Spirit is the fruits of the Spirit which is, there'll be love and joy and peace. It doesn't say that the gifts of the Spirit are the evidence, it's the fruit of the Spirit. You'll know them by their gifts or by their fruit? You'll know them by their fruit. Can some people counterfeit the gifts? Can some people counterfeit tongues? Can they counterfeit music? They can counterfeit all kinds of things.

But you can't counterfeit love. It's the great--divider. All right, just a few minutes left here, I wanna get on with our lesson. Opportunities for witness. And I love this story, acts 8:26, now you read here in the same chapter, Philip, he's done a great work, this is where he started getting his name as an evangelist.

Holy Spirit's poured out in samaria, the apostles go up there, they establish a church there, they delegate probably to other leaders and now the Spirit says, now, Philip, I want you to go somewhere else. And verse 26, now the angel of the Lord. Oh, wait, I was gonna have someone else read that. Acts 8:26. "Now the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'arise and go towards the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to gaza, this is desert.

'" All right, again, the circle, he's gone from samaria, now they're going out and they're expanding. Does the Lord sometimes send us out in the desert to learn things? Yeah, if he did with Jesus, he did with Elijah, he did with the nation of Israel, he did with Paul. Was Paul sent to arabia? And so now he sends Philip. You might go through your own desert like Moses wondering how can I serve God out here? When the Lord came to me, I was in the desert, 100% desert, palm springs, up in the hills there surrounded by cactus, it was desert. And but you know, the Lord sometimes, it's where he gets your attention.

And you might be thinking, you know, why? Why am I taking care of sheep, I wanna serve you, God. And he sends you out to the desert and you wonder, what in the world am I doing out here? And there's sometimes people he wants you to reach out there. And it's amazing. Have you ever out--been out in the middle of nowhere and you wonder why you're there and all of a sudden the Lord brings you in touch with somebody that needed to hear what you had to say? And I was on a plane recently and there was a mix-up of seats. And I had what I thought was a better seat and I got shunted back to this microscopic seat in the back of the plane.

And you know, grumblin' to myself and sayin', "oh, you know, Lord, why is this happening? And God sat me down next to a Christian piano tuner and I was able to share literature with him and get involved." And you just gotta, whenever those things happen, you say, "why is this happening?" Why this detour? You'd better keep your antenna up because God is often, he's got someone out there that he wants you to speak to. I've shared this story before, but it just popped back on me. I remember one time I tried to take a short cut across the mountains to covelo. Normally you don't wanna go there until you know the snow has melted, but I thought for sure since we had such hot whether down there in--i was in paradise doing meetings; the town of paradise. Though I would much rather be in the other real paradise doing meetings.

And I was gonna drive 3 hours over to covelo to go home and I thought, oh, I'm sure the mountains are open and I took off across the hills. And after I got way up in the hills I saw there was snow and I thought, oh, I need to turn around, I'm out in the middle of nowhere. But and I thought, "Lord, I prayed before I turned, did I just felt impressed that the pass would be open, why did you send me?" 'Cause you're talkin' like a 3-hour detour, you have to go back down around. And there was some tracks in the snow, one set of tracks. I said, "well, there's no way they got through.

" I could see how much is on the trees on the side. But I thought, "well, I'm gonna see how far they got." You shouldn't do this out in the middle of the mountains by yourself in the snow at night. And so I started following these tracks and I followed 'em and pretty soon I came across a little toyota pickup truck with a camper shell on it. And there was a german tourist from--he was from germany obviously, in America, and he thought he could--saw the road on the map and he thought he could get across the hills, he was headin' over to highway 101 and he got stuck. He had been there 2 days.

And nobody had come by and he was hopelessly stuck way hundreds of yards back there. I was able to pull him out, 'cause I had a wench and a four-wheel-drive truck. I was able to turn him around, get him pulled out and witness to him. And then as I went back, I was praising the Lord and said, "you know, this was way out the way." I said, Lord, "why'd you make me go so far out of the way for just one person?" No, I'm just, I didn't really think that very long. But I realized that--but I was thinking, well, you know, does the Lord care that much about one person? So, here Philip's sent out in the desert and he does evangelism with one person.

Let's read about this. You can read in acts 8:26, now, "the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, told him to go to the desert. So, he arose and he went and behold a man of Ethiopia a eunuch of great authority, under candace, the queen of the Ethiopians who had charge over all of her treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship." Why would people be comin' from Ethiopia to worship in Jerusalem? Do you remember reading in the Bible where the queen of sheba came and she was impressed with the God of Solomon and she took that knowledge back with her. And it's believed that she introduced the worship of jehovah at that time and it had been sustained over those hundreds years from Solomon until the time of Christ.

And here is someone who is a leader in the court of what was once the court of sheba, now it's queen candace and he's coming to worship God. And he's got the scrolls with him, he reads the Bible. They had kept that contact through Solomon's witness years earlier, he's still impressed. But they don't know about Jesus, do they? Not yet. And he was returning, sitting in his chariot.

Wealthy man, he's got his limo. And he's reading Isaiah the prophet. And the Spirit of the Lord said to Philip, go near and overtake his chariot. Evidently, it was moving. So, he had to kind of jog up and catch up with it.

And the man is reading out loud and that was not uncommon. Jews, often, when they read the Scriptures, they'd read the scroll, they read it out loud. And he's reading the verse that says--boy, the perfect verse to begin with. It's like if I'm sitting down on a bus out in the middle of no where and someone next to me happens to be reading Daniel 2 and saying, "I wonder what this means?" Could you have any better scenario for an evangelist than that? Well, what a segue into our message. Well, this was the perfect verse for a Jewish Christian to talk to a jew about Christ back then.

Isaiah 53, keep in mind there was no new testament back then. This is the perfect old testament verse. So, the eunuch answers to Philip and he says, "I'm want you, I'm asking you had whom does the prophet say this? Is he speaking of himself or of another man?" And then Philip opened his mouth and he began at this Scripture and he preached Jesus to him. He probably did what Jesus did, starting in Moses, he went all the way to Malachi. And as they went down the road, they came to water and the eunuch says, "see, here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?" Philip said, "if you believe with all your heart, you may be.

" And he answered and said, "'I believe that Jesus Christ is The Son of God.' So, they commanded the chariot to stand still and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away." By the way, do you think that same spirit filled the Ethiopian treasurer? I believe it did. the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so the eunuch saw him no more. Now, this is the only example that I know of in the Bible where somebody gets, for lack of a better word, beamed. I mean, the Spirit of the Lord caught him away.

All of a sudden, Philip finds himself in another town. He had been transported. Now, I believe that the Lord can translate Enoch from earth to heaven, right? Or Elijah. He did both, right? This is the first time that he translates 'em from one geographic location on the map to another. How important was it to the Lord? You notice that God tests Philip, he says, "look, if you're willing to walk the first half of the trip, I'll take care of the second half of the trip.

You walk down there to the desert to talk to this fella, I'll give ya--I'll let you fly on your way out." God will bless you on your return voyage. So, he transports 'em somewhere else after that. "And the eunuch saw him no more, he went on his way rejoicing." He probably thought Philip was an angel, but Philip was found at azotus and passing through he preached in all cities 'til he came to caesarea. It's just a wonderful story. And then later, of course, we read Philip becomes Philip the evangelist and he's got four daughters that prophesy.

Oh, one more point that I thought was interesting. You know, you can read in the Bible in Jeremiah, I think it's chapter 37, about an Ethiopian eunuch that saves Jeremiah. Now, you get to the new testament, and it says, God is returning the favor. Because Philip preaches to this Ethiopian eunuch. He then takes Jesus down there and the whole church grew.

Matter of fact, there was a Sabbath keeping church in Ethiopia for 1,000 years after Christ, because of the work that had been done for that one individual. So, how much does it matter to serve one person faithfully? Oh, this is a great story about service. Friends, we've run out of time. But I wanna also remind you for the free offer, just call the number you see on your screen and ask for offer number 772. God bless you until we can study together again next week.

If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at There, you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including "Amazing Facts presents." One location, so many possibilities. [Music]

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