Father, You are a great God and greatly to be praised. Grant me a bigger and clearer picture of who You are.
Read ACTS 8:4-25
 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.  Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.  When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.  With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed.  So there was great joy in that city.  Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,  and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.”  They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.  But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.  When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.  When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,  because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.  When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money  and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  Peter answered: “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.”  Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”  When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was Simon’s big problem (and misunderstanding)?
Today’s passage brings us down to earth with a bump! Here we have the nitty-gritty details of evangelism in Samaria.
Evil spirits are shrieking, the lame are leaping, Philip is baptizing, and Peter is telling a magician and his money how captive to sin they are (20)! These are the sorts of things that happen when the good news is being preached and the Holy Spirit is at work. They don’t happen if we have settled for a safe and predictable form of Christianity!
In an increasingly word-resistant culture, people need to see demonstrations of God’s power; without them we may even question whether the gospel is being fully proclaimed (Rom. 15:18,19). What happened in Samaria was, in part, the result of a great persecution that broke out against the Church at Jerusalem (1). In all sorts of ways God can break through our order and complacency, disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed in the process. God works in unexpected ways at unexpected times using unexpected people. How have you seen that?
Is there anything God wants you to do “outside the box”? How is his power evident in and through you?
Lord Jesus, I pray that Your life and Your power might clearly be seen in and through my life.
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