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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Philip the Deacon

They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly…. – Acts 6:5-7

You know Peter, James, John and the rest of the 12 Apostles/Disciples. You’ve heard of Mary Magdeline and the other Marys. But what about those seven guys chosen to help the Church that were called “deacons”? They are first mentioned in Acts 6. We know their names. Stephen Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.

Stephen is probably best known for being the first person to die because he confessed faith in Jesus Christ.  All we know of Nicolas is that he was from Antioch and a convert to Judaism. We know even less about Procorus, Nicano, Timon and Parmenas.

That leaves Philip. Philip had a few adventures that are preserved in the Book of Acts. He stands as a man who can be someone to look up to as an example of someone who was called by God and followed God’s leading. 

He shared the Good News about Jesus in the villages and towns of Samaria. He was in Samaria because a guy named Saul was really putting the pressure on the Christians in Jerusalem. He lived in Caesarea and we know that he had four daughters – unmarried – who also shared the Good News about Jesus.

Philip is probably best known for telling the Good News about Jesus to a eunuch from Ethiopia. God had Philip go to this Ethiopian – using an angel to get him there. God, in a special way, lead Philip to a special meeting.

What would have happened if Philip pulled a “Jonah” and went north instead of south? That’s a question that we need to ask ourselves. What might happen if we say “no” to God’s leading? Would someone never hear the Good News about Jesus? Are you comfortable with that?

If Philip said “no” to God’s leading, the Ethiopian might never have figured out what Isaiah 53 was all about. His very soul was at stake, and most likely the souls of countless others who otherwise would come to faith in Christ as he shares the Good News about Jesus that Philip shares with him.

This is an important lesson to us Christians today. It reminds me of a legend I’ve heard.
After Jesus had ascended into heaven, the angel Gabriel asked Him, “Who is going to carry on Your work now?” And Jesus answered, “I have left it to John and Peter and Andrew and the others.” Gabriel then asked, “What if they don’t do it?” Jesus answered, “I have made no other plans.”

Christ has no hands but our hands
To do His work today;
He has no feet but our feet
To lead men in His way;
He has no tongue but our tongues
To tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.
(Burgess, David F.; compiler, Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations, (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House) 1998, c1988.)

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