Acts: What Jesus Started
Philip’s interactions with the magician Simon (Acts 8:1-19) and Paul with Elymas (Acts 13:4-12)
Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word. Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
Monday – Acts 8:1-3 The Church Persecuted and Scattered
Did God have to use persecution to get the Church to do what Jesus had commanded? Scripture doesn’t say. The use of Judea and Samaria in this verse is reminiscent of Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1:8 to take the gospel to all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The most we can say is that God used this persecution for his own purpose: to spread the gospel. How does this make you feel in response to God’s action (or perceived lack of action)?
Tuesday – Acts 8:4-8 Philip in Samaria
Why weren’t the Apostles scattered? The Jewish authorities undoubtedly put pressure on the apostles, thinking that if they could weaken the leaders of the church, they could weaken the entire movement. Because Jerusalem was the Jewish religious center, the apostles may have felt compelled to stay where they could have the most influence. What’s your first response to pressure? After a bit of time and prayer, does you response sometimes change?
Wednesday – Acts 8:9-13
Did Simon possess actual power? Sorcerer’s included a wide array of spiritualists, con artists, magicians, astrologers, and showmen who earned a living with their abilities. Whether Simon’s powers were occult or natural illusions, they were clearly inferior to the power of the Holy Spirit. Simon confused the power of the Spirit with a stronger version of his own kind of powers. But the Holy Spirit’s power, power in the name of Jesus, is radically different from the power Simon had.
Thursday – Acts 8:14-19
How could baptized believers not have the Holy Spirit? The Samaritans were apparently baptized with little or no mention of the Holy Spirit. Some think this shows that life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit can occur even after initial faith in Jesus. Others believe this merely shows the link between the Spirit and baptism, for the Spirit was given soon after baptism when Peter and John arrived and portrayed over the Samaritans.
Friday – Acts 8:20-25
What did Simon want? Simon was in the power business. He didn’t care what the source of his power was, as long as he had power. Spiritual, occult, or magic powers were all the same to Simon- they were a means to earn a living, commodities to be bought and sold. When he witnessed the power of the Spirit, unleased when the apostles placed their hands-on people, Simon wanted to purchase that power. However, the Holy Spirit is a gift, not merchandise to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. How would the world respond today, if they witnessed the miracles of the Holy Spirit?
Saturday – Acts 13:6-11 How can we tell if a miracle is of God?
- The miracle glorifies God
- The miracle stems from a righteous source
- The miracle rings true to the Holy Spirit
Paul demonstrated this gift when he told Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, that he was a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right.