ACTS – The Acts of God
There is an old saying in leadership circles about spending all your efforts and passion climbing the ladder to success and then find that you had your ladder propped up against the wrong wall. This is Saul. A zealous man, full of God’s Law, a leader by nature with a following. He was able to use his authority to ravage homes of new Christians proclaiming Christ. The church gathered in homes at that time. This sent many underground to gather to pray, worship and commune. However, a great many were “forced to leave home” and became missionaries of the gospel!
“Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus.”
Philip is one of the first missionaries to preach away from home base. God acted in many miraculous ways through Philip. There was great joy in the city of the Samaritan region. Evil protested loudly. Evil was defeated and sent packing. Imagine going to a sin filled city where evil reigns and has control then watching God enter and bring salvation to all. And they accept!
We meet Simon “the wizard” in this passage. The writer of Acts decided we needed to know how God exposed him. Simon had his own following when Philip arrives on the scene with Truth. God acts of healing are far better than Simon’s performed tricks.
So, Simon is impressed with Jesus…merely impressed. He sees the power of the Holy Spirit and offers to buy this gift freely given to all who believe which shows the shallow depth of his own belief.
The story takes us on Simon’s journey from mere performance to raw belief. We are shown how God dealt with him from the inside out. We see the steps God took Simon through to transform his thinking, change his heart’s desire to perform for riches and humble his very soul. “Pray for me!”, Simon cries out.
The gospel is preached passionately today. How many are merely impressed with the baby Jesus in the manager without developing a surrendered relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior and Lord of our lives?
How many get rich on the emotions of people, manipulating God’s Word to bring people to themselves? Woe to those who’s desire is to use God to make money. Be alert, dear Christians!
Acts 8, The Message
Simon the Wizard
8 1-2 That set off a terrific persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The believers were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. All, that is, but the apostles. Good and brave men buried Stephen, giving him a solemn funeral—not many dry eyes that day!
3-8 And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail. Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus. Going down to a Samaritan city, Philip proclaimed the Message of the Messiah. When the people heard what he had to say and saw the miracles, the clear signs of God’s action, they hung on his every word. Many who could neither stand nor walk were healed that day. The evil spirits protested loudly as they were sent on their way. And what joy in the city!
9-11 Previous to Philip’s arrival, a certain Simon had practiced magic in the city, posing as a famous man and dazzling all the Samaritans with his wizardry. He had them all, from little children to old men, eating out of his hand. They all thought he had supernatural powers, and called him “the Great Wizard.” He had been around a long time and everyone was more or less in awe of him.
12-13 But when Philip came to town announcing the news of God’s kingdom and proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, they forgot Simon and were baptized, becoming believers right and left! Even Simon himself believed and was baptized. From that moment he was like Philip’s shadow, so fascinated with all the God-signs and miracles that he wouldn’t leave Philip’s side.
14-17 When the apostles in Jerusalem received the report that Samaria had accepted God’s Message, they sent Peter and John down to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Up to this point they had only been baptized in the name of the Master Jesus; the Holy Spirit hadn’t yet fallen on them. Then the apostles laid their hands on them and they did receive the Holy Spirit.
18-19 When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!”
20-23 Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.”
24 “Oh!” said Simon, “pray for me! Pray to the Master that nothing like that will ever happen to me!”
25 And with that, the apostles were on their way, continuing to witness and spread the Message of God’s salvation, preaching in every Samaritan town they passed through on their return to Jerusalem.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Don’t let us be merely impressed with you as a baby this time of year as our emotions run high as we are exposed to music, arts, lights, tinsel and flashy displays of what others depict you to be. You are Savior of the world. You are God and we are not. You are Lord of lord and King of kings! And Your one desire is to be in an intimate, unconditional, loving relationship with us. Emmanuel…God with us! Every day. Not just at Christmas. Forgive us when we are distracted, Lord from the beauty of being WITH You. Transform our thinking and behavior.
In Jesus Name, Amen