The night I had to preach without notes at Hope City Church ‘coincidentally’ was about God putting Philip into an unscripted situation where he would have to improvise based on the Spirit’s leading. Here’s the version with notes.
God prompted this highly unusual, unscripted opportunity. The Holy Spirit is your teacher leading you into unusual scenes where you can play a part. How unusual was this event?
1. The Unusual Place & Time
God had a strategic time and place for Philip. It was specific—noon today at that desolate road going from Jerusalem to Gaza. Where are the desolate places and when is the time to go there? Desolate may mean working in an Inuit village or it may mean a high-rise condominium in Downtown Vancouver. It may be this neighbourhood.
We need a theology of place, understanding that the earth is the Lord’s and he wants His glory to be revealed in every place. People on a mission from God recognize that we must be interrupted from our place of choosing to venture into the world we are less familiar with.
Sometimes it will be a call to Thailand, but more often it may be to the people living next door or the person who cuts your hair. Where are you going today? Listen for your prompting. Learn to recognize why you are at the places you go.
2. The Unusual Person
The Ethiopian Eunuch was on assignment 4000 kilometres by chariot away from his home. A flight that would take us 4.5 hours would have taken him weeks. That is a long time to be away from home on a mission. He was an unusual man in that he was a eunuch. These royal servants had been emasculated to prevent them from getting into trouble with the royal harem. We would see him as a sexual minority. He was a financier doing business for a foreign dignitary, the Queen of Sheba.
There are people you encounter who are far from home and involved in business that you have no familiarity with. Philip gets into character by getting curious and asking a question.
It may feel bold for some, but asking what a person is reading is conversational. Improv artists must observe the scene and find their way into dialogue. How observant are you when you need to be?
3. The Unusual Concern
Perhaps the Ethiopian man was a Jew. Perhaps he was a curiosity seeker trying to understand the world around him. He had the scroll of Isaiah and was using his long journey to study.
Philip is in the unusual place to meet an unusual man with an unusual concern. The Spirit makes an unusual request of Philip. Run alongside the chariot and ask the man if he understands what he is reading. Not, what are you reading—instead do you understand it.
Picture that scene… running alongside a chariot to ask if the man understands what he is reading. Sound awkward and unusual? God will sometimes lead us into awkwardness.
As the Spirit leads, the door is opened to reveal Jesus to the Eunuch. The Spirit is also speaking to the man who then requests to be baptized. Philip has responded to God and the unusual conversion has taken place. Then, the Spirit is leading Philip elsewhere to reveal the gospel to others.
What is God calling this church and perhaps specific individuals into? Because the Spirit of God is alive in you, there are specific answers that will emerge to interrupt your life plans.