Luke chapter 8

Where is your faith?

“And He said to them,’Where is your faith?’ They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” – Luke 8:25

Where is your faith? This isn’t so much as a question of its existence as to its focus? In other words, we all have faith. We all trust in something or someone. The issue has to do with the who or what our faith is in. For the disciples, they were having to learn to have faith in Christ. And every time they turned around they were having their misguided, misdirected faith exposed. In the case of verses 22-25, they had their misguided faith in themselves exposed. Think about it, a good portion of these guys were professional, seasoned fishermen. They had been around and on the water for most of their lives. They had seen their fair share of storms. So they knew what to do when one blew in while they were out on the water in a ship. They could probably predict the weather without fail. The could read the signs. They could ride out the worst of storms like the best of sailors. In other words, they had faith in themselves and their own abilities.

In this story they found themselves in a storm on the sea of Galilee and they began to panic. They woke up Jesus who was calmly sleeping in the bow of the boat. They fearfully explain the gravity of their situation to Jesus. “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Luke 8:24 NASB). What happened to all their boating acumen and experience on the waves of the Sea of Galilee. It was all gone. They suddenly discovered that they were no match for this storm. They weren’t going to be able to get themselves out of this one. No, from their perspective, they were about to drown. Which is right where Jesus seems to want them. Jesus heard their cries and calmly rebuked the wind and waves. The sea suddenly calmed and so did the disciples. To a degree. They were now fearful because of what they had just witnessed. They realized that they had just been part of something truly amazing. They had just seen a power displayed that that they had never seen before. A power greater than the waves and winds of nature. A power greater than anything they could bring to bear on the situation. Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith?” It seems to be a rhetorical question. He knew the answer. Their faith was non-existent. At one time it would have been in themselves and their own abilities. Now it was nowhere. Nothing they had ever relied on before was going to help them out of this predicament. Only Jesus!

That’s where we need to be each and every day. We need to stop putting our faith in anything or anyone other than Christ. And every day they spent with Him was going to be a lesson in faith. They would watch Him heal. They would hear Him teach. They would see His power on display. They would take in all His parables and witness Him casting out demons and healing the sick. They would even see Him raise the dead. They were eyewitnesses to the power of Christ. And it was rocking their faith system. Over time they would learn to put their faith in Him and not in themselves. That is the journey of the disciple. Before we can place our faith in Christ, we must openly admit where our faith has been. In whom or what have I been trusting? Where have I been turning for comfort and consolation? Tearing down the idols we have erected and the sorry substitutes we have turned to for years is the first step in putting our faith in the One who is always faithful.

Father, I feel as though you are asking me each and every day, “Where is your faith?” And the truth is, I still struggle with putting my faith in the wrong things. I still want to trust myself and others more than I trust You. Forgive me for that and show me how to trust You more. Your power is limitless. You alone are worthy of my faith. Everything and everyone else will fail me. They don’t deserve my faith. But You do. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Acts chapter 8

… and beginning from this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him. – Vs 35

Two words jump out of this chapter at me: Persecution and proclaiming.

At the stoning of Stephen in chapter seven, a young man stood by watching this godly man’s death, holding the coats of those who threw the stones that killed him. That young man was Saul. He was already in the employ of the high priest with the responsibility of rounding up Christians and throwing them in jail. The joy of Pentecost had quickly turned into the hatred of persecution for the early Christians. Stephen had been their first martyr.

But God has a way of turning tragedy into triumph and oppression into opportunity. The persecution of Saul ended up scattering the thousands of believers who had been gathered in Jerusalem since the days immediately following Pentecost. These Jewish converts had become Christ-followers and now, out of the fear of possible imprisonment,  were “scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” God had never intended for them to remain in the city of Jerusalem. He wanted them to take what they had heard and received, and share it. Little did Saul know that his plan for destroying the church would actually end up causing its growth.

Verse four tells us they “went abroad preaching the word.” This included Philip, one of the seven men “of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” who had been chosen to oversee the distribution of food to the widows (6:3). Philip ends up in the city of Samaria and he begins “proclaiming Christ to them” (vs 5). Like Stephen, Philip ends up being a lot more than just some administrative type with the gift of service. Along with his preaching, he casts out demons, heals the lame and the sick, and leads one of the town’s leading celebrities to the Lord. But God isn’t done with Philip. An angel of the Lord gives him a new assignment. He is to get up and go to the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. That’s all the information he received. But he obediently went. Once he arrives on the scene, he meets a visiting dignitary, the treasurer for the Queen of Ethiopia.

A “Chance” Encounter

When Philip gets to his destination on the desert road, he meets this Ethiopian official from Candace’s court. He has his chariot parked and he just happens to be reading from the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Philip, sensing that this is his divine appointment, asks the gentleman if he understands what he’s reading. The visitor pleads ignorance and invites Philip, a perfect stranger, up into his chariot to explain to him the meaning of this obscure passage from the Hebrew scriptures.

It just so happens that this Ethiopian has been reading from what we now know as chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah. For whatever reason, he had chosen to read from a section of Isaiah’s writings that are Messianic in nature. They prophesy of the coming of the Messiah. The Ethiopian is intrigued and wants to know who Isaiah is referring to in these verses. What a set up? Philip has got to be thinking to himself, “Lord, can you make this any easier?” Luke tells us that Philip “opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (vs 35).

He Preached Jesus

When I go back and read Isaiah 53, it makes me think that Philip probably didn’t have to go very much further than this single passage to preach Jesus to this spiritually starving man. In this prophetic passage, Isaiah tells of the One to come:

… our griefs He Himself bore …

… our sorrows He carried …

… He was pierced through for our transgressions …

… the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him …

… the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him …

… the Lord was pleased to crush Him …

… putting Him to grief …

… He would render Himself as a guilt offering …

… [He] will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities …

… He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors …

Wow! There it is right there. I think Philip had a field day with this passage. He was able to preach Jesus right from the writings of Isaiah. And the result is that this Ethiopian dignitary recognizes that he is a sheep who has gone astray. He sees that he has turned to his own way. He understands that the Lord had caused his iniquity to fall on Jesus. That Jesus had died in His place as his sin substitute. His eyes are opened and he steps from unbelief to belief, from lostness to salvation, as he confesses, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (vs 37).

Are You Going and Telling?

Philip was obedient. When the angel of the Lord said, “Go!”, Philip went. Not knowing what was going to happen when he got there. But God had prepared the way. He had been working on the heart of a stranger, drawing him to Himself, fertilizing the soil so that Philip could plant the seed of Truth. All Philip had to do was preach Jesus. He had to be ready to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior. He simply had to tell the Ethiopian that Jesus was the one he had been reading about. Jesus was the one who had accomplished all those things. And all for him.

So what about you? Are you willing to go? Are you ready to tell someone else about Jesus? God still arranges divine appointments. He still brings people into our path who want to hear, who are dying to know. But are we ready to preach Jesus to them? Philip was. And it changed one man’s life forever.

Father, I want to be ready to go when you call. I want to be ready to tell when the opportunity presents itself. Give me a heart like Philip and a sensitivity to all those around me, so that I can see the ones You place in my path who are fertile soil for the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org