Acts 11 Part 2–Barnabus and the growth of Ministry

Luke changes course again.  During all that was happening with Peter and the Church in Jerusalem, Luke then sets the stage for the rise of the Church in Antioch, and the spread of Christianity across the globe. Luke tells of the spread of the gospel to Antioch where several Jerusalem’s believers fled during the persecution by Saul of those in Jerusalem.  There the believers ministered to the Greek speaking Jews, called the Hellenists. 

News traveled back to Jerusalem and the Apostles sent Barnabus to Antioch to check things out.  This was the second introduction of Barnabus, who was first named as a benefactor in Acts four and later discussed as a proponent to Paul the now converted persecutor of the church.  Barnabus was clearly a man that Loved God and gave his life to the spreading of the Gospel.  In this account, Barnabus tracks Paul down in Tarsus.  The two of them return to Antioch and spend a year ministering and collecting funds for the Church to feed the hungry during the famine in Claudius’s reign.

God was preparing for the worldwide spread of the Church.  Many were used to do the work.  The same holds true today. God is constantly at work in the lives of those who are willing to remain available.  Henry Blackaby in his book experiencing God said, “Rather than telling God what He needs to do in ministry, as believers, we need to simply go where He is working and join in that work.” 

That is what Barnabus did in Cypress and Antioch. We too can be used by God to do extraordinary things if we will simply trust the Lord and allow Him to lead us into our ministry.

God Bless you

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists[c] also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers[d] living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11 Part 1–A Nation of Priests

As Jesus selected His Apostles, He chose Peter very early.  Throughout the ministry, Peter both blessed Jesus with his loyalty and devotion, and, he frustrated Jesus with his impulsiveness and his simplicity.  But, from the start, it was always Peter that was 1st out of the gate and all in for every task.  Jesus needed a man like Peter to march forward into the battle without regard to the outcome. So, Peter marched forward into the home of Cornelius.  He preached the Gospel to the man, Cornelius’s family, friends, and close associates. They were saved, baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter then returned to Jerusalem to give an account for what had happened.  It is important to note that Jewish Law prevented such contact with gentiles.  Good Jewish folks were not supposed to associate with such people; much less help them to join the family of God.

Lest one forget, however, that was not God’s plan.  He built the nation of Israel to be His nation–a nation of priests.  The Father’s motive was always to restore the entire world back to fellowship with Him.  The Lord wanted all to know and have a personal relationship with Him.  The men in Jerusalem came to the meeting with Peter that day, to chastise Peter and possibly punish Him.  Yet, after hearing how God Himself called Peter to make the journey and preach the Gospel, there was only one step to take.  The Church would now carry the Gospel to the very ends of the earth.  This was and Is God’s mission until Christ’s return.  

For the Apostles, that meeting was mind-blowing.  It set the marching orders for the leadership to change their paradigm from a national relationship with God for the Jews; to a personal one for everybody who would accept the gospel.  We are the beneficiaries of that meeting, and, as we hear of mission efforts across the globe, we can point to this event as the catalyst for the movement.  Peter was the man and Jesus was the great gift to reunite all sinful people with a Holy God.  We like Peter need to trust God and share the Gospel with whomever God sets before us.  We need not make any distinction–because God did not!

God Bless You

Now the apostles and the brothers[a] who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party[b] criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Act’s 10 Part 2–Peter’s Faithfulness Was God’s Game Changer

What a dream! Peter had no idea that the picnic he was just attending was the precursor to God’s bigger plan.  Peter stood with Jesus as the Lord returned to His Father.  Jesus told the Disciples that they would be God’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.  Peter was now faced with the opportunity to make that charge a reality.  

Cornelius Had served God and His people faithfully.  As the local Roman leader, he was kind and generous to God’s people. He sought God and followed as best as he was allowed.  Now, God would honor Cornelius’s faithfulness by giving Him and His household salvation. Peter was gifted with the opportunity to see the Spirit fall upon these people who were not Jewish.  How could that be, you ask?  Well, as the Lord had demonstrated to Peter, What God had prepared, no man would be able to call common, or unclean.

The Church stands in communities across the globe because of Peter and Cornelius’s faithfulness.  Paul was able to express the idea most clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any person ne in Christ, He is a new creation.  The old is gone and the new Has come.” Later Paul said in Colossians 3:11, “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free.”  Why? you ask, it is simple–because Christ is all and in all!

To whom and how Christ spreads His Gospel is only our responsibility to the extent that we remain obedient in sharing His message. Like Peter, ours is not to determine if someone is fit to hear the message of salvation, our only responsibility is to remain available and speak God’s truth in love.  He will do the rest, and we will enjoy the blessing that comes from following Him.  

God Bless You

 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation,[c] for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends…
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 10–What God Calls Clean Is Clean Indeed

This is one of the game changers stories in the Bible. Peter was doing His ministry with a grateful heart.  Then one day God calls Him to change the ministry of the church forever.  Remember, when Jesus ascended, he told the disciples they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth. Luke was careful to document the spreading of the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea and of course Phillip’s revival in Samaria.  Now in Joppa, Cornelius was seeking to know God in a personal way.  God told Cornelius to send men to Joppa to Simon the Tanner’s House–Cornelius immediately obeyed God.

Peter was given the vision of God presenting every form of non-kosher food known to man.  Peter a devout Jewish believer, refused to touch any of the food.  Three times God presented the non-kosher food and reminded Peter what God made clean was clean indeed.  It was the reminder that God and His grace was what made all clean. It was not the keeping of traditions or dietary laws, instead it was simply His grace that covered our sin.  It is significant that Peter, the one Jesus used to propel the movement of the Gospel initially in Jerusalem to now lead the charge to the end of the earth.

Peter did not expect to be the missionary to the gentile world.  Still God knew Peter needed to look past His Jewish community if the church was to grow to the ends of the earth.  We are so blessed that God saw fit to move past His chosen people to allow salvation to anyone who would believe.  It was as simple as Paul indicated in Romans 1:16, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God to salvation for anyone who would believe FIRST TO THE JEWS AND THEN TO THE GENTILES” It is critical that we remember that what God told Peter holds true today–What God calls clean, NO man should consider common! It is a promise that gives each sinful person hope for salvation and eternal life with God!

God Bless You

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day[a] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[b] to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Acts 9 Final–Peter is Back

Peter Never quit.  He was continuing His ministry despite the persecution.  Then after the conversion of Paul, the Story turns back to Peter’s ministry. In this collection Peter Healed a paralyzed man and raised a beloved Lady from the dead.  In the process many lives were changed.  The resurrection of Tabitha, though, caused Peter to stay in Joppa for many days.  The result would again change the world.

Every event in the life of one that follows the Lord could be a game changer.  We never know when God is going to use us in a mighty way.  Often, we are simply faithful, and God uses that faithfulness to change the world. The retiring tent revival preacher in his last excursion led Billy Graham to the Lord. the teenager who dragged her depressed friend to youth group and she was saved and became a worship leader.  The pastor that led a couple to Christ during wedding counseling that raised children that went into ministry.  Each event was nice, but none knew the effect they would have.

We, as His chosen, need to remain faithful and available.  Only God knows the times and the ways He will use us to move His plan forward in our lives and the lives of others.

God Bless You

32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

Dorcas Restored to Life

36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.[d] She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics[e] and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

Act’s 9 Part 3–The Church Back on Track

God had really grasped Saul’s attention.  First on the road to Damascus, and then in Damascus.  He proclaimed Christ’s validity with boldness to all who would listen.  This was an annoyance to the Jews in the city, and so they decided to kill Saul.  Saul was aided and He escaped to Jerusalem.  In Jerusalem, things were a bit tense at first.  Saul after all had wreaked Havoc on the believers there not very long before.  But Barnabus saw that Saul was saved and as the son of encouragement, Barnabus became Saul’s friend and mentor. 

As Saul was changed, peace reestablished in Jerusalem.  The apostles were able to minister once again, and the church began to grow again. What would become one of the most turbulent and amazing ministries recorded in the Bible, Saul began by ending his siege of the Church.

When we ask the Lord to do things like heal or restore, we have no way of knowing how that will come to pass.  Rarely does God do things the way we would expect Him to.  Most times, His answer is so amazing, that we question its validity.  Still, if we simply trust God, He will do the things necessary to execute His plan and bring about significant change.  We can never give up or give in to the pressure of the world or of the enemy.  Instead, we simply need to press on to take hold of God’s plan for our lives.  If we will, we will see God do the remarkable in our lives and in the lives of others.

God Bless You

23 When many days had passed, the Jews[a] plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall,[b] lowering him in a basket.

Saul in Jerusalem

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists.[c] But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Acts 9 Part 2–He Who Calls Us is Faithful

Ananias was just a loving follower of Christ.  He was minding his own business when God sent Him a vision to go and meet Saul.  That is right, Saul the crusader against followers of Christ.  Ananias questioned God’s choice here, but, as God is wanting to do, He rightfully picked this man to begin the true conversion of Paul.  Once healed, God and Paul came to an understanding.  God would use this Pharisee superstar to teach non-Jewish people of many other faiths, races, and nationalities about God’s grace and acceptance of people just as they are.  It would literally bring the Gospel across the globe.

Ananias probably went home a bit apprehensive after healing Paul.  The believers in Damascus certainly were concerned that Paul, their arch enemy, was now leading a revival in the synagogue.  There is no doubt that Paul’s mission was controversial, and His resume was not the top choice for anyone seeking to hire a missionary for the Gentile world. Bible history reminds us again and again that is when God does His best work.  We should never doubt that when God calls us to a mission, he provides the tools to complete that mission. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 reminds us,  “He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”  The Father is not nearly as concerned with our abilities as He is with our availability.

Paul was being prepared to do some amazing things.  The preparation would not be anything like we would plan, but one need only search the New Testament’s table of contents to realize God’s plan worked.  Luke became Paul’s closest friend and faithful physician. There is little doubt that God knew Paul’s needs and the best tool for building the church.  God called Paul to build the church in Asia, but He also called Luke to tend His missionary and accurately report the adventure that ensued.  He who calls us is faithful and He will do it.  Then and now God is not looking for our ability only our availability.  Let’s be ready to be available with a grateful heart.

God Bless You

 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues

  1. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 9 Part 1–Saul’s Conversion

Saul was also on a roll.  He was focused upon stamping out “The Way”, the popular name for the early church. Saul attacked the church with a vengeance, jailing, killing, and decimating the believers throughout Jerusalem.  He heard the church was growing in Damascus, so with the blessing of the Jewish leadership, He set out with a band of enforcers to wreak havoc in that community as well.

Saul had his plan, he had written permission from the Jewish Council, but Paul had no idea what he was about to encounter–Jesus! On the road, Jesus stopped Paul with a bright light from Heaven.  The band of people that were with Paul heard the voice but could see nothing. Paul, however, came face to face with Jesus.  In that moment, Saul was changed.  Paul had been intent on vindicating God from this cheap imposter–then, Paul met Jesus. He saw Jesus was no impostor–He was God! Paul’s life purpose to Help God out had been the opposite.  He was attacking God’s chosen! Paul now faced the reality that he had been the sworn enemy of the very God he set out to avenge.

The meeting was dramatic and left Paul blind and completely changed.  As his troop took him into Damascus, neither Paul nor anyone else had any notion on what would happen next.  Suffice it to say that God was about to change the Jewish poster boy into the most prolific evangelist in church history.  As usual, God decided to take the least likely candidate for a job and do exceedingly, abundantly, more than anyone could hope or believe.

That is how our Lord works.  He takes those the world would not expect and uses them to change lives and build His kingdom.  When He does, the result is dramatic.  What is more, He is glorified in the process.  There is never a doubt that our Lord’s hand was in the plan.  That is why we must always be ready to seek God’s plan and humbly follow.  God will always take our humility and submission and turn it into amazing, miraculous impact on the world around us.  We simply must remain available and teachable.

God Bless You

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men, or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So, they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Acts 8 Part 2–The Ethiopian Treasurer

Philip was on a roll, In Samaria, He was changing lives, healing the sick, and leading all whom would listen to follow Jesus.  Amid the revival, God changed the plan.  He had Philip go to the road from Jerusalem leading to Gaza.  As he approached so did the Treasurer for the queen of Ethiopia.  As Philip approached, he noticed the treasurer reading from Isaiah.  He was able to use the scripture as a guide for the Ethiopian to understand the life and death of Jesus.  As He did,  the Ethiopian came to know the Lord and was baptized.

Philip’s obedience to God’s lead was clearly an opportunity to open the door to the gospel in Ethiopia and hopefully a start toward the ends of the earth. Upon completing the baptism, God took Philip to another area and started Him on a tour from Azotus back to Caesarea.

God’s plans rarely look like ours.  We are limited in our scope and abilities to see life from an eternal perspective, as it moves forward.  If we will trust God to lead, He will do exceedingly more than we could ever imagine.  Philip was having a major impact in Samaria.  Still, God saw Philip’s opportunity to open a path to the ends of the earth.  When Philip did that, He had an even greater impact upon the spread of the Gospel.  Once completed, God set Philip on yet another road to spreading the Good news.

We, like Philip, simply need to trust God in His administration of the Gospel and ministry.  Instead of trying to help God determine the best way to lead others to faith, we should simply join Him in the ministries He already has in progress.  If we will, God will not hesitate to lead us to the place He can best use us.  Then, as we follow His lead, He gets the credit, and we get the blessing of simply following Him and watching Him change the world.  That is good duty for any soldier.  

God Bless You

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[d] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[e] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8 Part 1–You Will Be My Witnesses

It was the mission.  Jesus told the disciples that they would be his witnesses. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth.  In Jerusalem, the new church was growing but then the Jewish leadership set out to decimate the church.  Saul led a great persecution.  It scattered the followers to Judea and Samaria.  One of the other deacons, Phillip, became a bold evangelist.  He was in Samaria and people were being saved, being healed, and being freed from demonic oppression and possession.  He was so amazing that even a local magician Simon was saved. 

Simon had been an enemy of God, but instead He was now saved.  Still, Simon was amazed by God’s power.  He wanted it so bad that he was willing to pay for it.  What Simon did not understand, however, was that God’s power was not a commodity to be bought or sold.  Instead, it is a gift to be given to all that believe.  Simon’s greed almost cursed him, but John and Peter showed grace.

This movement was growing.  It was growing as John the Baptist’s had before Christ began His ministry. The difference was that the Lord sent His Spirit to make the relationship personal.  That Spirit that changed the lives of the early church still guides us today.  Jesus sent that Spirit to guide, comfort, lead and empower us.  We can call on the Lord to lead us and as we walk with Him.  It is not a commodity to be sold or traded, it is a gift to all that believe.  We simply need to humble ourselves and seek God’s leadership as we follow Him.  Like the original disciples, we need to trust God to meet our needs and provide direction as we trust Him daily.

God Bless You

 And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed, or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.