Monday, January 08, 2007

The Workings of the Holy Spirit

Today I had four readings to do, but for this devotion I will focus on just the one, Acts 8.

In this reading, Saul has not yet been converted. At this point in history he is still zealous for the Jewish leaders and is in charge of the arrest and execution of countless Christians. Through his actions, the church disperses into other regions, thus helping spread the gospel of Christ.

Interesting how even before Saul becomes Paul he is instrumental in the spread of the gospel. Shows the power of God working through all.

Philip is one of the disciples. And like all the other disciples he was busy about preaching the word of God to everyone he came into contact with. Through his preaching, many would come and pay attention to him, and these folks would also see all the signs and miracles he performed.
7For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.
In one of the cities that Philip preached in, there was a magician named Simon. People liked Simon. They paid attention to him. They would say "this man is the power of God that is called Great." They had paid attention to this man for a long time because of how he amazed them. BUT when Philip came...they heard his message of good news about the "kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" and so they were "baptized, both men and women" including Simon. Simon was amazed by the signs and great miracles that were performed.

Can't say I blame him. A magician who knows the tricks of his trade, seeing miracles and so forth performed? I'd certainly be amazed.

Unfortunately though for Simon, he thought these signs and miracles were tricks to be performed and wanted very much to know how to do it, to the point where he offered money to the disciples to learn the trick of "giving the Holy Spirit".

The disciples rebuked him for such a thing.
"May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity."
Simon did just that (at least I infer that from these words)
"Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
The word of God was not only preached to the Jewish people, but to the Samaritans as well, as they travelled throughout the regions of what we know as the Middle East.

Philip was a man who was responsive to the word of God. When an "angel of the Lord" came to him telling him what to do, Philip just went out and did it. He didn't stop to question, he just obeyed. When he did that, that life of an Ethiopian eunuch was changed. This man was a court official, Philip came upon him reading Isaiah and not understanding it. Philip helped him to understand this passage
"Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth."
As they traveled, they came upon some water (this was out in the desert), and the eunuch asked to be baptized. A new member of the house of God was found that day. The eunuch continued on his way rejoicing and Philip was whisked away by the Spirit of the Lord to Azotus, where he continued preached the good news of Christ as he travelled along to Caesarea.

You know something? I find it amazing. Philip obeys, a man is saved, Philip is whisked away and we don't read anything about the eunuch being totally stunned by this (just that he rejoices) and we don't read about Philip saying hey....I was taken by the Holy Spirit. All we read about is a man doing the job that God called him to. He was faithful to the task set before him regardless of where he was located.

This is a good example and a reminder to me. Even though I at times, find it difficult living in my small town, it is where God has called me to be at this time. So I should not focus on my struggles with small town living, but instead should focus on what God would have of me, the raising of my boy to be a man of God, the supporting of my husband to do his job, the work within my church and the witnessing to my neighbours as I meet them along the way. May I be more like Philip.

1 comment:

Holly said...

May we all be more like Philip!

Good exhortation!

(How are you doing???)