Openhanded Obedience

Justin Smith

"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." (Acts 8:26)
The setting is one of chaos and fear, but it is in the midst of this mayhem that God meets His people. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, had just lost his life, and a great persecution had erupted, with Saul leading the charge. Persecutors were storming into houses and dragging out men and women to beat and take to prison. Christians were scattering in hopes of finding refuge from their attackers, and the Church was being ravaged by the enemy. With danger looming around every corner, one would think the Christians would run and hide in dark caves and distant mountains, but it was in this backdrop that bravery and zeal for the Lord took root. The scattered sheep courageously shared the Word, and Philip, an emboldened Christian, would become a history maker.

Philip journeyed to Samaria and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ. His message was accompanied with supernatural power as he cast out demons and healed the sick and paralyzed. Philip was the talk of the town, a blessing to the masses, and an extremely fruitful evangelist. God's anointing was upon him, and there was joy in the city. In the midst of this Divine move, God made a strange request of Philip. He asked him to leave the masses and momentum and journey down a lonely desert road.
I'm not sure how Philip initially responded to this request for God, but I know how I most likely would have.

"You want me to do what!? But why? Everything's going so well for me here. The people love me, and they need me. I don't want to go into the desert. It's hot there, and I'll be lonely. Can't you send Peter? He's perfect for that job!"

Questioning, complaining, and quick talking would pour forth from my mouth, as I thought of any possible loop hole to excuse myself from this undesirable assignment. But Philip responded in openhanded obedience. He "rose and went" without a peep. As the story goes, it was on this road that he would meet an Ethiopian man. This man was one who was searching for the Truth, and he would find it that day as Philip shared. This Ethiopian wasn't an ordinary man. He was in charge of the treasury, which means that this moment marked a movement of the Gospel to another place and people group, through government officials. Talk about a God-sized assignment.

Perceiving God's still small voice and walking in openhanded obedience led Philip into God's Divine anointing and plan. When things don't make sense, when He asks me to lay aside my comfort levels, when He beckons me down a desert road I must remember Philip's openhanded obedience.
Lord, I am amazed by Your love, Your grace, and the fact that You desire to use me for Your glory. My desire is Your highest and best, so I surrender to Your Will. I thank you for teaching me through Philip's example, and I ask that You would help me to perceive Your still small voice and walk in openhanded obedience.

Devotions for February 01

Exodus 30,31,32
Acts 8

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