“And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” Acts 8:6-8 NKJV
I pray and ask God when is the day that church is a daily thing and we see signs and wonders consistently like the early church. I long to be part of the early church or have that in my life! Especially the JOY. Sometimes modern churches are too solemn and grave. But the Joy of the Lord is our strength and Joy accompanied the Holy Spirit. And God wants us to make a joyful noise. And Joy is a side effect of having a relationship with God, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 8 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
Saul Persecutes the Church
8 Now Saul was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Christ Is Preached in Samaria
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to [a]the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
The Sorcerer’s Profession of Faith
9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced [b]sorcery in the city and astonished the [c]people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his [d]sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
The Sorcerer’s Sin
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Christ Is Preached to an Ethiopian
26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is [e]desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”
34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37 [f]Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at [g]Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
- Acts 8:5 Or a
- Acts 8:9 magic
- Acts 8:9 Or nation
- Acts 8:11 magic arts
- Acts 8:26 Or a deserted place
- Acts 8:37 NU, M omit v. 37. It is found in Western texts, including the Latin tradition.
- Acts 8:40 Same as Heb. Ashdod
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Matthew 5:16- “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
So, on Friday we met Saul (aka Paul) who seemed to be in charge of the mob when our friend Stephen was stoned. Chapter 8 – verses 1-3 should probably be attached the previous chapter, as it continues with Saul.
During these years (and opening chapters of this book) we have seen more and more persecution of the church, more beating, more thrown in jail, and now a death. Some had already started to flee. But the death of Stephen seemed to make them all scatter through the region. Finally, they were doing the whole: “Go ye therefore…” (Matt 28:19) I mean just look at:
“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Verse 4
Praise the Lord – because that is how it spread far enough to reach me on the other side of the world, thousands of years later! And you, as well, Gory to God!
Sometimes when we are going through the persecution and hard times – we do not know if it will continue to change the lives of people thousands of years later, so make sure you stay in the will of God so you can have eternal impact.
Now one last thing about Saul – he was pretty ramped up by all this and these Christians who he honestly believed were harming the Jews and He honestly thought he was fervently serving God – so he just started storming into their houses and dragging off both men and women and throwing them in prison.
How can someone think they are serving God and be doing so much harm to individual Christians? Actually he was serving God and God used it to get these Christian to Go! But he was also VERY wrong. How can both be true? God is spirit, not of this world. Our flesh could never calculate it. But, it we move to spiritual understanding we can say, God is outside of time and space, He is the beginning and the end, He is all knowing and sovereign. God can use a faultless innocent antelope to feed a hungry lion (God’s explanation to Job in the book of Job). God can move a man to serve him by persecuting them, and God can move the same man to then become one of those he persecuted. God can do as He wills – and as our creator, He has every right to.
Verse 4 seems to start a new chapter. Christ Is Preached in Samaria and Everywhere the People, Who were Scattered, Went
Wasn’t it in Samaria that Jesus first started preaching that He was the Son of God? Isn’t it interesting that the disciples, started in the same place as Jesus and then went to Samaria first, when they started moving. And when Jesus went to Samaria He was well received. When the early church hit Samaria, Jesus was still well received.
First the scattered folk were preaching there and it was going so well, Philip went to join them. And it was going so well that Peter and John then joined them! That right there was the first revival! It had been about 20 years (give or take) since Jesus preached there and obviously they were hungry again and needed to be revived! No worries – they were baptized in water this time and they laid hands on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit!! This time it had staying power!! Jesus planted the seeds – this was the harvest!
Now, before the disciple and Christian arrived there was a sorcerer, named Simon, who was doing magic and misleading the city. He was apparently good at it. Well, he followed Philip around and came to believe. He even was baptized. Then when Peter and John arrived and were laying hands on people – something shifted inside old Simon the Sorcerer. You see, at that point he believed it was a magic trick he could buy from the Apostles and do himself. He didn’t any longer, if ever, believe it was a Holy thing from a Holy God.
You know how every now and then I challenge you asking if you truly believe this Bible stuff? Some of it is crazy! But if we truly believe we should be transformed and signs and wonders will happen to us and around us. When Grace hits, through faith, it transforms powerfully! Simon the Sorcerer was never transformed.
We see people in the church, certain ones like Simon, who we see them willing to do good deeds, we assume their eagerness to serve is a fruit of the spirit. But how long can they keep that image and not be exposed as a Simon? Eventually you will see them standing on the stage, they want the fame. They want to be the holy one – but that is a title for only God. At some point their flesh will be exposed, because all of us in our sins will be exposed. (This is why Jesus said to repent daily – so when Justice comes, we will be vindicated and not judged.)
When Simon was rebuked, his response should have been, “Oh no! I am so sorry, I repent, pray with me. Help me turn away from it!” But that was not his response. He asked them to pray that the curse would not come upon him. But it already had. He wanted prayer to not have to deal with the consequences of sin. Now, Simon, if you figured out how to do that you’d have the bigger following that Jesus and the Apostle combined! I mean, wouldn’t everyone’s flesh want to sin without consequences and still get to heaven?! But that is not how this works. We never find out if Simon ever repented and made it to heaven.
We don’t learn much else about Samaria – we don’t even learn how the lady at the well is doing. The apostles head home preaching at all the villages along the way.
Philip has a vision of an angel. I am not sure if it was while he was going home with the others or if he was alone or if he was still in Samaria and had not left yet and God gave him separate orders from the rest of them.
In Jewish Law a thing can only be established with 2 or more witnesses – So when Jesus first sent them out to preach He sent them in pairs – two to bear witness of Jesus. Then throughout the New Testament they continued to work in pairs, especially with travel. There are very few times anyone was sent off alone. This is one of them. (Off the top of my head, Peter and Paul both we called to solo adventures – and I am unsure if Mark’s trip to Egypt was solo or not.)
Anyway, Philip takes the route he is told to go on and has a divine encounter with and Ethiopian who is reading from the scroll of Isaiah and hungering to understand it. Philip jumps on board his chariot and preaches Jesus! The passage he just so happens to be reading is about Jesus’s death as the ultimate sacrifice for all sin! The Ethiopian is saved and they (going through a desert) come up upon some water and are able to baptize him! Talk about divine appointment!
Then when they came out of the water the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away and he was found in Azotus. And just like nothing different of amazing just happened, Philip just starts preaching as he passed through and came to Caesarea.
I wonder how many people came to know the Lord through that Ethiopian, that he was so important that God set up all those things to fall into place just so he could believe. But then I think about How other people say my return to God was quiet the divine appointment and experience. And I suppose the Ethiopian did not know all the things God put together to make it happen, so neither would I. Then I figured I would have to look at other people’s experiences. And honestly, I can see it. God moves everything to come for u when it is our time to believe. When our heart is soft, He moves heaven and earth to get the right person there to speak to us. It speaks to how much our creator loves us and truly does seek to have a relationship with us. So we should seek him in return. And we will find His love and plans for us to be perfect.
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!