The Old Dusty Trail

Noley Billick
Our witness for Christ can be hard sometimes. Sometimes we feel like things are going so good, and our life is on fire for God! Great things are happening all around us and then all of a sudden He sends us down this Old Dusty Trail. A trail that is off the main path and it seems like it is dry, lacking in opportunity, and long! We think to ourselves will it ever end? We are lonely and there are tumbleweeds blowing all around us. Understand that with God no road is WASTED! You see, when we take the focus off His will and think about our dire situation, we may miss the opportunity He has set before us.

This is the very situation we see in the book of Acts Chapter 8. Earlier we are introduced to a man named Phillip. Phillip was a man that was well respected, full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom. He was one of the first Deacons called to serve in the early church.(Acts 6) In fact we see that in Acts 8:4-8. Phillip is in Samaria, he is on fire for the Lord. Great things are happening! Evil spirits are being cast out, the lame are being healed, and the Gospel is being shared leading to lives being changed!  Acts 8:4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. 5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city. In fact peoples lives were being changed so much that the Apostles back in Jerusalem decided to send Peter and John over to Samaria (v. 14)

There was no question that at this point in time that Phillip was on a Spiritual high! God was moving, Phillip was being used, and lives were changed. Then something dramatic happens. The Holy Spirit tells him to go south down a desert road…..  26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. WHAT? How deflating would that be? Here is the thing, sometimes God takes us away from where all of the action is and puts us in a position that is necessary. (more on that in a minute)  I love Phillip’s reaction though v.27 says 'So he started out.' What we don’t see is him making every effort to stay where all the excitement is. Phillip is so in tune with the Holy Spirit he goes! What a concept. Phillip saw past his own glory and was focussed on God’s glory. Phillips' needs and motives were lined up with God’s will for Him even if that meant a lonely walk down a desert road. He was living out the verse in Romans 12 where it says, 'let your bodies be a living sacrifice,' or in our words “ God I am Yours do with my life however you see fit!” There is always a purpose for where God sends you. Let's see that purpose for Phillip.

27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.

Phillip’s purpose from God in that moment was a divine appointment with a man who was on his way back to his home. At just the right time God positioned this Eunuch at the right place to get understanding from the one he had sent to deliver that understanding. This man wasn’t any normal man. He was a high official for the Queen of Ethiopia. He was headed back after traveling to Jerusalem to worship God. On his travel back he was reading from the book of Isaiah. This man had no idea what he was reading. Here is the crazy thing: The Holy Spirit placed Phillip in the right place at the right time. Phillip in that moment was able to provide clarity of scripture to this Eunuch by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. This scripture was a direct reference to what Jesus did for us on the cross and how He saved us from our sin and all condemnation. All this led to the Eunuch believing, and giving his life to Jesus

    36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing.
So why does all this even matter? How is a story of a man sharing the Gospel with another man matter to us 2000 years later? Glad you asked. By one man's act of obedience to take a hard path that the Holy Spirit led him down, the whole continent of Africa was able to have the Gospel sewn into some of their culture. Historians say that this Eunuch was able to go back to Ethiopia and had much influence through the Gospel.

What does this mean for us today? I think there are a few things we can take from this passage.

Live your life in full sacrifice to Jesus: Much like Phillip we are called to live in full sacrifice. That means follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all walks of life. Whether we are on the top of the mountain seeing lives changed all around us or we are called to walk the hard paths. We are called to be obedient. Not an obedience that is rooted in works where we are trying to earn God’s favor or blessings, but an obedience that is rooted in the Gospel. How do we do that? By responding out of love. When Jesus’s sacrifice becomes real to us that should be the only way we know how to respond. Knowing we never can earn God’s love, that should allow us to live in freedom. Prayer should become a lifestyle for us not just a minute or two we decide to carve out for God. We have to long for God’s presence! When we get in a good habit of living in God’s presence then being in full sacrifice will become who we are not what we do.

Be bold in your faith: Like Phillip, boldness should come through the Holy Spirit. Phillip was called to a desert road and boldly walked to a random chariot to engage in conversation with a man he had never met before. For us I’m not saying we should just walk to random people and share the Gospel with them (unless God has called you to that in the moment). Instead we should be so bold and radical in our faith we should never be afraid to build relationships. If we never engage with anyone then we will never be able to share the good news of Jesus. The Gospel has to be proclaimed. Not just in action but also through conversation!

We must be students of God’s word: The Eunuch was reading Isaiah. Now, I’m not sure if you have studied Isaiah before, but it's not the easiest book to understand. As Phillip approached the wagon, he was ready to explain the scriptures to the Eunuch. Much like Phillip we have to be ready in all seasons to be able to explain scriptures to others. Jesus came alive to the Eunuch because of the scriptures. Only way we can be ready is to spend time with God in His word. When we do that the Holy Spirit makes those truths come alive in our lives. Once they become real it gives us the boldness to share God’s words with others. Make time to create rhythms to know God in His word. Recently I have challenged myself to start waking up at 5:30 am to dedicate that hour to be with God in His word. Early in the morning may not work for you but find that time you can open His word and spend time with Him.

How prepared are you when God sends you down that Old Dusty Trail? Be ready!

….And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus……


Kim Brand - October 27th, 2021 at 9:36am

Excellent and full of such HEALTHY thought provoking wisdom…needed this today…the road is pretty dusty right now!

Kelsey - October 27th, 2021 at 11:25am

This is wonderful! Two biggest takeaways:

•“When we get in a good habit of living in God’s presence then being in full sacrifice will become who we are not what we do.” That hit my heart!

•I learned why Phillip was on the road! My whole life I never knew the backstory as to why Philip was even there on the road to engage with this guy, but now I do! Because God sent him, AND he was obedient to go.

Thanks, Noley, for sharing!