VIDEO Jesus in Isaiah

Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” He answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” — Acts 8:37

As recorded in Acts 8, Philip was out in the desert and saw the Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot. The Holy Spirit said to him, “Go to this chariot and stay with it” (Acts 8:29). The eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Acts 8:32). Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30).

Then the eunuch said to Philip, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet speak, of himself or of someone else?” (v. 34). Then we read: “Then Philip spoke, beginning with the same Scripture, and preached Jesus to him” (v. 35).

Beginning at that Scripture, Philip preached Jesus to him. So we see that the authoritative New Testament Scripture makes very clear that this passage is talking about Jesus Christ. Just the very content of it makes it absolutely plain—crystal clear, that that is what it is about.

This Ethiopian treasurer might have been the first person that we know of who was converted to Christ by the words of Isaiah 53, but millions have followed in his footsteps.


Acts 8:26-40 – Led by the Spirit to One

Compassion Over Bitterness

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger. Ephesians 4:31

When the World Trade Center towers fell on September 11, 2001, Greg Rodriguez was one of the victims who died in the wreckage. As his mother, Phyllis, and his father grieved, they also carefully considered their response to such a horrific attack. In 2002, Phyllis met Aicha el-Wafi, the mother of one of the men accused of helping the terrorists. Phyllis said she “approached her and opened my arms. We embraced and cried. . . . For Aicha and me, there was an immediate bonding. . . . We both suffered on account of our sons.” 

Phyllis met Aicha amid shared pain and sorrow. Phyllis believed that fury over her son’s death, appropriate as it was, could not heal her anguish. Listening to Aicha’s family story, Phyllis felt compassion, resisting the temptation to view them merely as enemies. She desired justice, but believed we must release the temptation to seek revenge that often grips us when we’ve been wronged.

The apostle Paul shared this conviction, admonishing us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger . . . along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). As we relinquish these destructive powers, God’s Spirit fills us with new perspective. “Be kind and compassionate to one another,” Paul says (v. 32). It’s possible to work for wrongs to be made right while also refusing rageful vengeance. May the Spirit help us show compassion that overcomes bitterness.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where have you been held captive by bitterness, rage, or anger? How can God help you live out compassion rather than vengeance?

Dear God, there’s so much wrong in the world. Please help me be filled with compassion instead of bitterness.

A Greater Love

When we’re grounded in God’s love, we are able to develop healthy relationships

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

The Swiss Army knife is a remarkable invention. Small and compact, it contains blades and screwdrivers as well as a corkscrew, can opener, saw, and scissors—every tool a person might need to get through the day. But no such claim can be made about human beings. None of us are designed to meet all the needs of another individual, and it isn’t fair to expect one person to fulfill that kind of role. In order to thrive, we must have multiple relationships.

What’s important for us to recognize is that even the strongest bonds will prove insufficient unless we nurture a still greater one—the relationship we have with our Creator, who loves us beyond anything our mortal minds can grasp. (See Deuteronomy 7:9Ephesians 2:4-51 John 4:16.) All of the people we share life with teach us something about God’s love, but they can never be an adequate substitute for Him and His perfect affection.

Think About It

  • Is there a person you expect too much of? Or does someone demand too much of you? Ask the Lord to help you see your relationships through His eyes—and to give you the strength to make necessary changes.

Deliverance from Fear

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

There are many things in such a world as ours that can bring fear into human hearts—fear of want, fear of war, fear of rejection, fear of the dark, and a multitude of others. Some fears are rational, some are foolish, but all are very serious to those who experience them.

The good news of the gospel, however, can set us free from every fear. Remember that fear entered the world when sin entered the world. “I was afraid,” Adam explained when God found him hiding in the garden after eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:10). The second reference to fear in the Bible, on the other hand, was when “the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). The Lord protects us and provides for us; we have His Word and need “fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).

At least 19 times in the New Testament we hear the words “fear not” or “be not afraid” on the lips of Christ. Whenever phobias beset us or fears discourage us, deliverance is ours when we seek the Lord. Then “we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). Even if we must sometimes “suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14).

Perhaps the greatest fear of all is the fear of death, but the Lord delivers us even from this fear, for He has conquered death. In His glorified body, He has said, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18). HMM

Function Joyfully

In my presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.Psalm 16:11

My Christian brother or sister, thank God always for the blessed gifts of sensitivity and conscience and human choice He has given you. Are you being faithful as a Christian believer where He has placed you?

If God has called you out of darkness into His light, you should be worshiping Him. If He has shown you that you are to show forth the excellencies, the virtues, the beauties of the Lord who has called you, then you should be humbly and gladly worshiping Him with the radiance and the blessing of the Holy Spirit in your life.

It is sad that we humans do not always function joyfully for God in the place He has marked out for us. We may even allow trifling things and minor incidents to disturb our fellowship with God and our spiritual witness for Him who is our Savior. WHT100-101

Outward trials and troubles do not cease because the soul is baptized with the Holy Ghost. The disciples abounded in affliction after their sanctification, although they also abounded in joy. SAN047

A Position of Strength

Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power.1 Corinthians 15:24

If people are to live securely in this world, then they must cultivate a worldview. They must see the “big picture.” Is this why Jesus, when laying down a pattern for prayer, taught His disciples to focus on the “big picture” of the kingdom of God? Whether it is or not, one thing is certain—when we start off in prayer, gripped by the certainty of God’s coming kingdom, our prayers are launched from a position of strength.

Just as I was about to begin this page, a sales bulletin came in the mail, and on it were the words: “Get the idea—and all else follows.” I thought to myself: When the idea is God’s idea (the kingdom) then, indeed, all else follows. What if we were to begin our prayers, however, by focusing, not on the kingdom of God, but on the kingdoms of this world? We would receive very little motivation from such an action. Man-made empires come and go. Egypt came and went. Syria came and went. Babylon came and went. Greece came and went. Historians tell us that at least twenty-one former great civilizations are extinct. Earthly kingdoms go the way of all flesh.

The kingdom of God, however, unlike earthly kingdoms, is destined for success. Call it triumphalism if you like, but the eventual accomplishment of God’s kingdom has more reliability about it than tomorrow’s dawn. When our minds are permitted to focus on such a tremendous truth, it will not be long before the heart leaps up in confident, believing prayer.

Prayer

Father, I think I get the idea. When I focus my mind on the glory of Your coming kingdom, then, against such a wonderful backdrop, my prayers take on a new boldness and authority. “Get the idea, then all else follows.” Thank You, Father. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 115:1-18; Php 2:10; Heb 1:8; Rv 11:15

How does the psalmist relate heaven and earth?

How can we help to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth?

Go!

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . . —Matthew 28:19

Our Master commands us to “go.” We need permission to stay! The gospel is the account of Jesus’ leaving His Father’s right hand to go to Calvary. Jesus instructed those who wanted to be His disciples to leave their homes and their comforts and follow Him. Some insisted that they could not go yet because they still had to care for elderly parents (Luke 9:59–60). Others wanted to make sure everything was in order first (Luke 9:61–62). Still others expressed willingness to follow but wanted to know the details of what they would be doing (Luke 9:57–58). Jesus never excused those who struggled to follow Him. He made it clear that to follow Him meant He set the direction and they were to follow.

We can convince ourselves that Jesus does not really want us to adjust our lives, pointing to the success we are enjoying right where we are. Yet Jesus often told His disciples to go elsewhere in spite of the success they were experiencing. Peter had just pulled in the greatest catch of fish of his entire career when Jesus invited him to leave everything (Luke 5:1–11). Philip was enjoying astounding success as an evangelist when the Holy Spirit instructed him to go to the desert (Acts 8:25–40). Success where we are can be our greatest hindrance to going where Jesus wants us to be.

If you become too comfortable where you are, you may resist Christ’s invitation to go elsewhere. Don’t assume that God does not want you to go in service to Him. He may lead you across the street to share the gospel with your neighbor or to the other side of the world. Wherever He leads, be prepared to go.