“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.” Acts 8:25 NKJV
In the beginning, God created everything, and you and me. He visited us in the garden and had a personal relationship with us, a friendship with mankind. The curse of sin, which has a price tag of death, came upon the earth thanks to the devil’s trickery and changed everything. Although nothing can separate man from the love of God, sin does physically separate us from God. God created us to commune with Him and the enemy knew sin would destroy that bond. So, God created hell to punish the devil and his demons. The enemy knows it is his punishment, but he plans to take as many humans with him as possible to continue to hurt God. Because God created heaven where he can be reunited with people. Well, people needed help to overcome the enemy so God sent laws and formulas for worship and sacrifice that should point people into a position of acting in love. And the enemy attacked it over time and twisted it until it became punitive. But God so loved us that He then sent His only son, Jesus, to break the curse of sin over mankind by bringing it down into the grave, paying the required price for it, and then conquering it by rising again! Jesus ascended to heaven after 40 days. So that we know through Him we can access a relationship with The Father. God made a way to reconcile with mankind and commune and have fellowship with them again! This is GOOD NEWS.
God also created us with free will. Just as we do not want to be married or in a relationship with someone who is forced and manipulated to be in the relationship (we do not want a partner who is chained and a prisoner to us), God also wants us to freely choose Him. Or we can choose to believe the devil’s lies and go to the devil’s punishment – hell. It is our choice.
I know this sounds like a children’s story. It is simple, moral, and almost imaginative. God made it simple so that even children can believe and be saved from the wrath to come. God wishes that no one parishes. He wants us to at least give a relationship with Him an honest try – and see that He is good. He says that if you repent and seek Him, you will find Him!
Now imagine if you will what it could be like to have your best friend be the creator of the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful, having all wealth, and super generous – not like a genie in a bottle granting wishes, but a friend with mutual respect and trust and love, who is willing to use His resources to help you. He is willing to talk to you can since he can see ahead, he can prepare you, position you, and protect you from all the craziness in this world. Oh, and all that crazy? It is the enemy knowing his time is short and working very hard to destroy people and distract them from being reunited with God.
It feels like just yesterday, I was crying laying on my floor, exhausted from trying to fix the mess I made. My sin and poor choices caused broken hearts and broken friendships and broken families and despair and death… yes, I made a huge mess of my life. As I lay there with no way I could fix anything, nor could I go on like that – God reached out to me and made me feel like He still loved me and was ready to help me through it. I had tried God before and it did not seem to work out the way I expected, how could He help me this time? As I thought I realized the last time I treated Him like a genie in a lamp and not as a loving and kind Father and Friend. So I looked up and shook my fists and said – fine! Ok! I surrender! I give up and will do things your way! Things can’t get any worse. BUT!! You MUST be a real God. You MUST be who the Bible says you are! You must be an ever-present help! You MUST be the: I AM! You MUST be the God of fire shut up in my bones! I expect to see the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, demons cast out, and addiction destroyed in people’s lives starting with mine!!! I expect life and relationship!
It is now years later and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS! I have seen miracles. I have heard His voice. I have experienced Him personally. Oh, and I have to also put in the work because relationships go both ways. Not works like doing good things to earn heaven – that is NOT how this works. I have to put the work into the relationship, you know like talking to Him (because He talks back), spending time with Him (because we both enjoy being in each other’s presence), reading His word (I love learning about his stories and getting to know Him, He already knows me and this is how I can learn of Him), and worshiping Him (because He is faithful and just and worthy!) You know putting the work in as in keeping up on my side of the relationship.
In this world of lies – this simple truth is hard to understand. We can have a relationship with the Father through Jesus in the Holy Spirit.
Do you want to know the truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was a whirlwind of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. I was lost and I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choices. Then I found Jesus, and truth while lying on my floor crying that day. He challenged me to accept Him, trust Him and follow Him and I challenged Him to be who He says He is – I found peace and deliverance from sin.
If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and a relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you. It becomes the two-way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth because he is our only way to the Father.
“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, to 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
If you have said this life-changing prayer and really want a relationship with God, please reach out to me. You can reach me in the comment section here (comments need approvals so you can use it as an email to me and I will not publish / approve it), or you can PM me on Facebook or DM me on Instagram. I do not always have instant access to my accounts, but I will respond when I check them. I would like to follow up and let you know the next steps to forming a healthy relationship.
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, bless us, shine your face upon us, pour your grace over us, and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is found in the Book of Acts, chapter 8, at verse 9 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
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.
Acts 8:9-25 NKJV
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
“But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” Luke 9:55-56 KJV
It seems to be a reoccurring message this week – at least from what I am hearing. I heard a message about the secret conditions of the heart, I gave a teaching on the fact that our hearts need to be changed. I had a separate talk with a pastor about the conditions of the hearts of people. And today we read about the Sorcerer, Simon.
What is interesting, is how confusing this passage and story is. Some of you do not find it confusing but for most, it is a difficult story to discern. And rightfully so. You see we do not know the hearts of those around us. Many times we even lie to ourselves about the condition of our own hearts. But God – He knows, He already knew, and He is waiting for us to surrender to Him, to change our stony hearts!
In this passage, Peter could discern. And you and I will grow in our discernment so we will also discern. Like I said, I used to think Peter was harsh, but I have learned that once there is still an evil spirit there – the spirit cannot be tolerated.
“9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the 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 sorceries for a long time.”
I think I have shared before, and I will again: I love a good historical documentary – especially about ancient Greece/Rome through the first century, even though the first millennium. One day I happened upon one called something like computers in the first century. It showed the simple machines of the day and how they also had complex machines with weights and gears that could “calculate” (in the most rudimentary meaning of the word) processes to perform tasks. The documentary showed how the pagan temples in Greece and in Turkey that are exposed, even show some of these machines in them. It appears that these machines performed in the temples and would have appeared to have been magic to the common person. One trick that stood out was that then they burnt something on the altar outside the temple it also burnt a weighted tension rope. Once the rope was burnt through the weight came down and it swung open the huge wooden doors to the temple – where the onlooker would have thought that their offering was accepted and the gods were inviting them in. But more commonly, according to the documentary, it wasn’t these expensive machines making people believe in miracles and magic – it was tricksters and sorcerers who exploited people with sleight-of-hand tricks and games of chance with open-ended answers that anyone could apply to themselves.
At first glance, we assume Simon is one of those people.
“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.”
Simon’s conversion seems genuine. You and I will make disciples to such people who seem genuine – but at the first taste of power, pride overcomes them. I have learned to separate and pray for that person. And no worries, that person will want to separate while they are full of pride because they are better than you. It will happen and we are not responsible for their hearts – just our own. Let us make sure that THIS is not describing us!!! Stay humble before God – He’ll keep you.
“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.”
I do not think this is at all a criticism of Philip’s ministry. I do not think Philip did anything wrong to not get the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He was preparing the way. God often works in waves, and each wave prepares the way for the next.
“17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
Peter and John just came in and did the next step.
Fun note – it was John and his brother James who wanted to call down lightning to strike a few Samaritans, just a couple years earlier, and now John is returning to pour love out to these same people. What a fantastic testimony!
“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.”
I think if I was Philip, my jaw would drop open and I’d be at a loss of words! I’d want to smack him in the head with my Bible and say that is not how this works you devil! But I think the majority of the modern Christian church would try to love him through it. I often get criticized for not being sensitive enough. But we are closing in on the end of an age – stop being so sensitive and grow up! We don’t have time for humoring demons!
“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.”
So, here is the confusion – Peter curses this man harshly! There is NO tolerance for Simon at all! But our modern church invites witches and sorcerers in and tries not to offend them. They are going to love the demons out of them and not notice those very spirits taking captive silly women and spreading like wildfire in their congregation.
Here we realize something more about Simon; he was probably not just a trickster. He was probably blessed with prophetic gifting – but he is using it for profit and therefore illegally accessing the spirit world which is “witchcraft” and a rebellion against God!
He is one of the forms of a false prophet that we were told to look out for. This is the kind Paul wrote to Timothy about. Some false teachers really have a heart for the people and are deceived and do not fully realize the error of their ways. But Simon is the kind who doesn’t care as long as he makes money and his demon handlers are just looking for an open door to access people.
“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.”
Did they? It appears they did not. Was Simon eternally doomed? Well, like you and I, he has to work out his own relationship with God with fear and trembling (as Paul calls it). watch out for the Simons and do not be a Simon. Examine yourself today and let God transform any hardened hearts into soft ones!
“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.”
Please join us tomorrow as we continue to “go” through the book of Acts.
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Thank you for reading in 2023 – a Year of Grace and Provision
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace. Walk in wisdom.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!