Philip the evangelist is one of the forgotten heroes of the early church.
Philip was a member of the church at Jerusalem. His first official ministry role was that of ensuring the fair distribution of food to the Greek and Hebrew widows in the Jerusalem church.
The next time we meet Philip he is evangelising in Samaria (Acts 8.4-8). His ministry has an incredible impact and attracts the attention of the apostles who have remained in Jerusalem. Eventually Peter and John are dispatched to Samaria to lay hands on all the new believers so that they are filled with the Spirit.
Meanwhile, an angel has told Philip to leave these scenes of revival and take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8.26). As he is walking along the road, he meets a high ranking official from Ethiopia and shares the gospel with him. The man responds to the gospel and as soon as they find some water Philip baptises him (Acts 8.26-40).
And then Philip disappears once again. This time the Spirit transports him to Azotus and he begins a new preaching tour.
Philip clearly had God-given vision.
There are a number of things in Philip’s story that will help us keep our vision tank full.
If you want to keep your vision tank full, a secret life with God is essential.
Firstly, Philip had a secret life with God.
When the apostles were looking for people to distribute food to the widows in the church, the looked for people who were full of the Spirit (Acts 6.3).
You don’t stay full of the Spirit unless you have a secret life with God.
Secondly, Philip had a reputation for wisdom. He was full of the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6.3). He was a wise man. Wisdom is a quality that enables us to make decisions that are good and godly. Philip had that quality.
We need to be spiritual and practical!
If you want to keep your vision tank full, look for opportunities where others see problems
Philip’s evangelistic ministry began during the greatest crisis the church had faced up to that point.
One of its greatest leaders, Stephen, became its first martyr. In the aftermath of Stephen’s death, a violent persecution broke out against the church. Many of the Christians left Jerusalem. Philip went to Samaria.
Philip began his evangelistic ministry at what seemed the worst time. And he began it in one of the worst places, Samaria. Samaria for any Jewish person was not a destination of choice. But Philip went there and God blessed him.
Philip seized an opportunity in a time a great difficulty. Sometimes God sends us opportunities, but they are wrapped up in a problem! When your vision tank is full, you see the opportunity, not just the problem.
If you want to keep your vision tank full, don’t settle for success
Philip could easily have settled in Samaria. He could have made it “his” revival. But he didn’t. He listened to God – or more precisely listened to God’s angel and walked off down the road!
He left a good thing to pursue a “God thing”. What he didn’t know was that he would lead someone to Christ who had the potential to influence a whole nation.
When your vision tank is full you will be prepared to take new roads to pursue what God is doing, even if it seems you are leaving something successful. And you don’t know who you are going to meet on that journey.
If you want to keep your vision tank full, look out for your family
In Acts 21, we see Philip at home. Paul and Luke and their friends stay at Philip’s house. Luke explains:
Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21.8-9)
He had four daughters who prophesied. Clearly Philip had given time to his family despite all his responsibilities and activities. There was an atmosphere of God in his house.
When your vision tank is full, you will look out for your family and have their spiritual interests at heart.