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The Gaza Road

Saul’s violent persecution of the church in Jerusalem, after the death of Stephen, only served to scatter the disciples into the surrounding areas, preaching the gospel as they went. Philip had gone up to Samaria, where many believed in Jesus, as he preached the gospel with powerful accompanying signs of healing and deliverance. There was much joy in that city as the Holy Spirit was poured out on the new believers. Yet, in the midst of this revival, the angel of the Lord came to Philip and instructed him to leave it all and go down to the desert road which descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.

We aren’t told that Philip was given a reason for being sent away from the revival ignited by his preaching. He seems to have simply obeyed. It was only when he arrived on that desert road, and saw the Ethiopian eunuch on his chariot, that he heard the Spirit tell him to go up and join him. The eunuch was an important official of the court of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, and had travelled up to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning with a scroll of the prophet Isaiah and was reading the words of Isaiah 53. As he read aloud from the scroll, he wondered whom the prophet’s words were describing. Philip called out to him, and then, climbing up to sit with him in the chariot, led him to a personal relationship with Jesus, the Messiah of Isaiah’s prophecy.

When Gemma and I moved to the east of England from our home in Lancashire, over two years ago, to be nearer my elderly parents, it felt a bit like coming to a desert place after the blessing of being involved at Ellel Grange. We came to our new home with a burden to reach out to some of the marginalised people in the town where we now live. Although we have got to know and share the gospel with a few people, we haven’t seen anyone’s life dramatically changed yet. One person that we have got to know, a man battling with an addiction, has shown a genuine desire to know God, but he hasn’t come through yet to truly know Him.

As I was this writing this Seed, I felt the Lord remind me of how that man has often said to me, “Dean, I don’t understand the Bible. I need someone to explain it to me”. I suddenly realised that his words were the same as those spoken by the Ethiopian eunuch to Philip, all those centuries ago. I had seen this place where we live as hard, and as a desert place. But the Lord was lovingly showing me that, even if we have come to this town for that one lost man, it will be worth it.

Perhaps there’s someone reading this Seed today and you feel as if the Lord has led you to a desert place. Be encouraged. God specialises in making even deserts bloom.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, here I am, available to You in all my weakness. Use me where You have placed me for Your glory. Amen.


 

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Scripture

But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.)
Acts 8:26, NASB

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Today's Writer

Dean Gardner worked part time in the Ellel Grange Ministry Office for four and a half years until October 2018 and is now part of the Associate teaching and ministry team. He now lives in Norfolk with his wife Gemma. In 1988 he experienced God`s amazing grace at a carol service and began a journey of restoration and healing with Jesus. He longs to continue that journey allowing God`s truth to change his own life but also to share that truth with others that they too might know Jesus for themselves.

Dean Gardner


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