“The Road to Joy”, Acts 8.26-40

Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

A multi-cultural evangelistic encounter

“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 started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “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. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: 

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26–40 NIV11)

  • Philip
  • Question: “Why might the voice in Phillip’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of Philip?”
  • Ethiopian
  • Question: “Why might the voice in the Ethiopian’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of the Ethiopian?”
  • Spirit
  • Question: “What do we learn about the Spirit’s priorities?”

Suggestions

  1. Pray over how you can be more in tune with the Spirit’s priorities. We desire as a church to be “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). What could that look like for you this coming week?
  2. If you are an ‘Ethiopian’ seeking the joy of the good news about Jesus, what can you do this week to find out more about this message?
  3. If you are a ‘Philip’, which of his attitudes and/or actions inspire you the most? Pray over how to express those this week.

Additional notes and scriptures for further study

  • Look up parallels between this passage and the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4.
  • Philip had a powerful prophetic family, Acts 21:9.
  • We are seeing here Luke describing the expansion of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and, soon, the rest of the world (i.e. Gentiles). Act 1:8; Acts 8:4, 5; 10/11.
  • Eunuch: Deut. 23:1, Isaiah 56:3–8.
  • See parallels between this passage and Jesus explaining the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35. See also the parallel sudden disappearance (and also, 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezek. 3:14)!

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The connection between the kingdom, peace and joy”

What is the connection between the kingdom of the heavens, peace and joy?

I’m teaching a three-part series on the kingdom for the Thames Valley churches of Christ.  There’s no way I will do it justice, but I do hope to make it more relevant to myself and the congregation.  One of the kingdom verses which has given me the most pause to think and pray is Romans 14:17-18.

Here is Tom Wright’s translation:

“God’s kingdom, you see, isn’t about food and drink, but about justice, peace, and joy in the holy spirit. Anyone who serves the Messiah like this pleases God and deserves respect from other people.” (Romans 14:17–18)

Compare that translation with the NIV:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:17–18 NIV11)

Finally, take a look at this translation by Dallas Willard:

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [whether you do it in one way or in another] but is inner rightness and peace and joy sustained by the Holy Spirit. For those serving Christ in this way are well-pleasing to God and approved by men.”

The key phrase here for me, is “inner rightness”.  Far be it from me to criticise the NIV or Tom Wright, and I’m sure the translations are correct, but the Willard version emphasises the personal connection with Jesus. It is this personal connection which ensures our ability to experience the peace and joy of the Messiah.  It is he who gives us peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11).  Why are we confident of this personal connection? Because Jesus promised, “I will be with you” Matthew 28:20.  Since we have the spirit of Christ, we can enjoy the fruits of that spirit (Rom 8.9; Gal 5.22).

As Willard says, “..the kingdom of the heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus’s continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

Would you like more joy and peace?  Practice becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. That is why we pray, and engage with spiritual disciplines. Not to make us “better”, but to make us more aware and thus more connected with the source of peace and joy. And the benefit? Why do we need to question the benefits of more peace and joy! But, we should also be aware that the fuller our experience of the peace and joy of the spirit, the more it will set us apart in this world as people who have something others need. Those with spiritual hunger will sit up and take notice.

The kingdom has many facets. But perhaps, practically, the most fundamental is the opportunity to avail ourselves of a supernatural peace and joy for which we were always designed.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool“, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to have a harvest of joy”, Acts 8.1-8

“How to have a harvest of joy”

“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:1–8 NIV11)

“God places the best things in life on the other side of terror”

Question: What examples of courage do you see in this passage?

  • Joy’s significance
    • “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV1)
    • “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (Matthew 28:8 NIV11)
  • God is joyful; Jesus is full of joy; the Holy Spirit provides joy…
    • “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Luke 10:21 NIV11)
    • “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17 NIV11)
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” (Galatians 5:22 NIV11)
    • “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thess 1:6)
    • Therefore makes sense to pursue joy. How?

Questions

  • Where does courage comes from? Matthew 28.20.
  • What would living faithfully courageously look like in your life?
  • Where do you need more joy?

Three steps to faith-fuelled courage and joyful living:

  • Jesus
  • Open
  • Yes
  • People filled with joy attract others
  • A church filled with joy attracts others

“God places the best things in life on the other side of terror”

Here’s the PDF of the handout: Acts8.1-8 Handout TV

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.
God bless, Malcolm
PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The source of joy” Acts 8.1-8

Do you have a joy-filled life, or a joy-less life? Joy is vital in a healthy marriage, family and friendship. Why is it so elusive? We learn in this lesson how to find joy – via courage.

Question: what examples of courage do you see in Acts 8.1-8?

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV1)

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (Matthew 28:8 NIV11)
God is joyful; Jesus is full of joy; Holy Spirit provides joy…

“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said…” (Luke 10:21 NIV11)

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17 NIV11)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” (Galatians 5:22 NIV11)

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6 NIV11)

Therefore makes sense to pursue joy…
How?
Through courageous acts inspired by the love of God.

Summary:

  • Jesus provides access to God’s joy.
  • He designed us for joy.
  • We need courage.
  • When we live courageously people notice and listen – then they, too, have access to the joy

Where does courage come from?
Not knowledge Jesus rose from dead; God exists; going to be with God forever when die etc.
Instead, it comes from knowing Jesus is alive, walking with us, accompanying us; keeping his promises; Matt 28 – “I am with you”.
Jesus is with me now, present, involved, immanent, attentive, listening, available for me now, interceding for me now, hearing my prayers now, sustaining me, strengthening me.
This gives us courage.
Joy comes partly from courage expressed, but partly because of knowing I have lived something fundamental to being a Christian – living by faith, trusting in Jesus.

Where do you need more joy?
That’s the same place you need more courage.
Courage first – then joy will follow.
Three steps to faith-fuelled courage and joyful living:

1. Jesus: trust he is with you
2. Open: to new ideas
3. “Yes”: say “yes” to new opportunities for courage

People who have joy attract others
Who would you rather be with?
Cannot fix some situations, but can fix courage.
If have courage, will have joy, will not mind situations so much!
And…others benefit

A church which filled with joy attracts others.

You can find more videos on our YouTube channel. Our web site is www.watfordchurchofchrist.org.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: thewatfordchurch@gmail.com.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

The connection between courage and joy, Acts 8.1-8

I’m preaching soon on Acts 8.1-8, and noticing a connection between courage and joy. Could you help me in my sermon preparation by sending me your reflections on the connection between courage and joy? I’d be very grateful.

“And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:1–8 NIV11)

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“For God Alone”, Class 3.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.” (Psalms 62:1–2 NRSV)

Sometimes the most basic things in the Christian life suffer. Either because we forget their significance, or we lose inspiration. This class series is designed to refresh our desire for a daily focused time with God – something that is often called a “quiet time”.

The FGAClass3 Handout and FGA3 Slides for the third class are attached.

If you have any questions about quiet times in general or about the class material in particular, please drop me a line.

I hope you find this a blessing.

God bless, Malcolm

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: tvcochrist@gmail.com.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

“How to steal a dragon’s treasure”, Mark 9.30-37

Have you ever fought a dragon? I expect you have. We all have our ‘dragons’ to battle. But how do we know when a dragon is in our way? And, how do we fight it? Is it worth the effort? Are there any rewards?

Oh, yes! Every dragon is hoarding treasure that’s rightfully yours. We take a look at an example of Jesus slaying a ‘dragon’ with his disciples in Mark 9.30-37.

The slides are available here: Dragon’s treasure Mk9 Slides.

God bless, Malcolm

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

“For God Alone”, Class 2

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.” (Psalms 62:1–2 NRSV)

Sometimes the most basic things in the Christian life suffer. Either because we forget their significance, or we lose inspiration. This class series is designed to refresh our desire for a daily focused time with God – something that is often called a “quiet time”.

The FGAClass2 Handout and FGA2 Slides for the second class are attached.

If you have any questions about quiet times in general or about the class material in particular, please drop me a line.

I hope you find this a blessing.

God bless, Malcolm

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email.

Thanks again for listening and watching. Have a super day.

“The antidote to chaos”: Psalm 62

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.” (Psalms 62:1–2 NRSV)

I spoke on what Psalm 62 has to teach us about what to do with the chaos in our lives. We looked at how Jesus has the rest, salvation and hope we need because of the power of his resurrection and the evidence of his love shown us on the cross.

 

If you have any questions about quiet times in general or about the class material in particular, please drop me a line.

I hope you find this a blessing.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Thanks again for watching and listening. Have a super day.

God bless, Malcolm

“For God Alone”. Class 1.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.” (Psalms 62:1–2 NRSV)

Sometimes the most basic things in the Christian life suffer. Either because we forget their significance, or we lose inspiration. This class series is designed to refresh our desire for a daily focused time with God – something that is often called a “quiet time”.

The handouts for the first class and the class series are attached below. The pdf of the slides is here.

If you have any questions about quiet times in general or about the class material in particular, please drop me a line.

I hope you find this a blessing.

God bless, Malcolm