Read: Acts 8:26-40
It is Christmas Eve Day as I type this, and I have not yet had my fill of either Christmas music or Christmas movies. There are many of the classic tales that make me happy no matter how many times I watch them. I think this is true because often the theme of these stories pictures a character's change of heart. For example, isn't it sweet when the hard-boiled Scrooge becomes caring and generous? What about the Grinch whose heart grows several sizes, causing him to return all the Christmas trappings and gifts that he had previously stolen? Oh, and the joy I feel each time while watching Miracle on 34th Street when little Susan and her mother soften toward the elderly gentleman who believes he is Chris Kringle.
If it is uplifting to watch a movie where one or more characters changes, how much sweeter is it when a human being receives the miracle of a truly changed life! That is exactly what we read about in Acts 8:26-40, the thrilling account of a man becoming a new creation right before our eyes, 2 Corinthians 5:17. What a miraculous encounter we read about in only 14 verses. What makes each salvation account so amazing is that the person who has been born again, John 3:3 doesn't merely become an improved and kinder man. He goes from being dead in sin to becoming alive to God, Ephesians 2:1-6.
It is what the scriptures call regeneration, Titus 3:4-7, and it is so incredible because unlike the sweet Christmas movies, the Ethiopian's change was totally the work of God. To borrow from the movie title, the Ethiopian experienced a miracle not on 34th Street, but in the desert. I love how God orchestrated it all.
Philip had been going about his day when God called him to go to a desert place. As far as we can know, he didn't know how far he would be going or whom he might be meeting. I love how God directed Philip bit by bit. The Lord guided him right to the Ethiopian whose heart was fertile soil for Philip's questions, words and explanations. What a picture of the sweet work of the Holy Spirit in both the man who was wondering about the Lord and the one whom God hand-picked to answer his questions. All praise belongs to Jesus Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. The result? God released a man from the kingdom of darkness and transferred him into the kingdom of light, Colossians 1:13-14.
May I borrow one more time from the title of the movie about the Miracle on 34th Street to share our own miracle that occurred on a different street? I was going about my day one morning a few weeks ago when the phone rang. It was a relative whose name I won't mention since I don't have permission to do so. When I began to talk with her, I had no idea what would transpire, but suffice it to say that our conversation was used by God. The Lord helped me listen and ask simple questions. He gave me words that because of His grace and power, were received by my relative. I truly felt that God put together the encounter as only He can do. Like the Ethiopian, she was ready to receive God's precious gift because He had gone ahead and done the work. How gracious the Lord is to have allowed me to be the vessel He used when He wanted to do a miracle not on 34th Street, in the desert, but on Brighton Drive. How thankful I am that God is orchestrating miracles all over the world. He still is at work opening hearts and getting people ready to receive His love. He is still using ordinary people to listen, ask Spirit-led questions and share His truth, according to His leading.
In Acts 8, we are told that the Ethiopian's commitment to Jesus caused him to rejoice. In Luke 15, we are also reminded that heaven rejoices when a sinner repents, Luke 15:7. How sweet to think about the fact that heaven and earth join hands and rejoice together when a life is truly made new. What a picture of why the angels rejoiced at Jesus' birth. The Savior had come, and His life and death would swing open the way of salvation, Luke 2:8-14.
Thank You Jesus for coming and that You will surely come again, Acts 1:10-11.