We read in Acts 1:8 that the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s coming is to give believers the power to be witnesses for Jesus – “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." And it’s happening: Acts 1 = Jerusalem, Acts 2-7 = Judea and now in chapter 8 = Samaria! How cool is that?!~!
We read that on the day Stephen was killed for his faith, a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem that scattered everyone except the disciples. It also says that a man named Saul (whom we will discuss tomorrow in Acts 9) was leading this charge.
The rest of the chapter tells us about the ministry of Phillip. This is not Phillip, the disciple of Jesus, but is Phillip the deacon chosen in Acts 6:5. He had been scattered and is now taking the good news of Jesus to Samaria! God did healings & miracles thru him that brought great joy to this city.
Also in Samaria was a magician named Simon who was also amazing all the people – enter here: competition. It says that people believed Phillip’s message and believed and were baptized and followed him – even Simon. When he noticed the disciples laying hands on people and the people receiving the Holy Spirit, he wanted in on the action. But Peter’s reply revealed Simon’s heart, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." And Simon’s reply? “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me."
Ok, so Phillip is having this great ministry in Samaria and then God tells him to go somewhere else and he obeys. So he’s heading down this road and meets this big wig treasurer for the queen of Ethiopia. Phillip hears him reading the book of Isaiah and asks him if he understands it. He basically says no, I need help and so Phillip used Isaiah to tell him about Jesus! Totally cool – the Ethiopian eunuch (ask your parents what this is) believes and when he sees some waters asks to get baptized! As he’s coming out of the water the Holy Spirit (I vision Star Trek here) transports Phillip outta’ there and he appears later in another city preaching the Gospel – sweet!
*God is fulfilling His Word (acts 1:8), spreading the good news of Jesus through his people! Are you involved in this good work? We can come up with lots of excuses – “I’m not outgoing”, “I don’t know what to say”, “I’m busy serving the Lord in other ways”, etc… but ALL believers are called to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. God is in the business of scattering us - one way or another. Let’s enjoy the AWESOME privilege share Jesus today!
*So……was Simon a believer or a make-believer? Did he truly believe & then sin, or did he never really believe? Good question! I don’t know his heart – but you know your heart and I know mine – and God knows every heart. What is your motive for following Jesus?
*Has God ever called you to a new place? It’s tough to leave the “comfortable” and obey God. Twice now Jean & I have sensed God was calling us to a new ministry and each time it’s been painful! But both of us want God’s will over being comfortable! And we know that God will bless our obedience. Is there an urging in your life you believe is from God? Pray, get godly counsel, then go for it and trust the Lord!