June 14th – “Go to Gaza”

He was black – and African, a diplomat, highly respected and trusted by his government. he was the equivalent of our British Chancellor of the Exchequer in his home land. He was unmarried. He had been to Jerusalem on a diplomatic mission, probably for his Head of State, but we cannot be sure because he was also a Jewish believer by conviction. Although not born a Jew, he had become one, attracted by the vast vision of the One God who is Creator and sustainer of all;the God of law and order and perfect justice. The God whose name and nature was expressed in the covenant with Israel, the part of which was summarised by what we call the 10 Commandments.
He was on his way home to Africa, travelling in a state chariot, and accompanied by his staff, probably riding camels and horses. Near to what we call the Gaza Strip a Christian evangelist intercepted him as he sat in his chariot reading his Old Testament scroll of the Book of Isaiah.
“Do you understand it?” asked the evangelist, who was called Philip. “No, I need some help with this – what does it mean ‘was led like a lamb to the slaughter’?” Philip, now sitting alongside the Ethiopian in the chariot explained that it meant Jesus who was the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He told him all about Jesus. That day the black diplomat trusted his life to Jesus, the Messiah, and there and then as they were travelling beside the Mediterranean Sea shore he asked Philip “Why shouldn’t I be baptised into Christ now?”. And right there and then he was baptised a disciple of Jesus Christ, and went on his way home to Ethiopia, the first Christian in that land.
That account comes from Acts of the Apostles Chapter 8, and would be called by many ‘one of those chance encounters’ – but there was no chance about it, for the story begins with these words:
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza”.
So he stared out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, 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. Acts 8: 26-27

A Prayer:
O God when you speak to me today, help me to do what you say, even if it means going to speak to a total stranger. I can be sure that you will have prepared the way ahead before me.

Now read II Timothy Chapter 2.

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Thought 4 The Day

Our lord’s first obedience was to the will of his Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of his obedience to the father. (Oswald Chambers)

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