January 30 - Acts 8
IT USED TO BE BAD BUT NOW IT'S GOOD: The word 'scattered' (v1 & 4) plays a big role in the Bible. In the Old Testament, being scattered was the result of bad behavior: those who tried building the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) were scattered because God confused their language; Israel was scattered throughout the Gentile nations because they stopped honoring God. But as with so many other things in the New Testament, there is a complete reversal. Now the Church has been faithful to God, yet He causes them to be scattered because of persecution, but now being scattered is a good thing because the Gospel was scattered all over the known world along with them.
LUKEWARM SIMON: Simon 'boasted that he was someone great (v9).' Then Philip comes along preaching the good news, and Simon 'believed & was baptized.' Awesome, right? Not so fast. Look at the end of v13: we read earlier that the new converts 'devoted themselves' to learning doctrine, building each other up, and participating in the sacraments (2:42), yet all we read about Simon is that he's 'astonished by great signs & miracles.' Was he truly converted, or was he just going through the motions? Next we read that he tries to buy the ability to dole out the Holy Spirit because he recognizes the business opportunity of a lifetime. Peter confronts him in v23 (much in the same way Jesus confronted Peter in Mark 8:33). Concentrate on Simon's reply in v24. Did Simon actually repent, or did he just want to avoid the consequences? Simon is a pathetic character, a guy for whom it's impossible to tell if he was truly a believer, or was just in the Christian crowd. Meditate on the story of Simon today. Will people know that you're truly a believer, or will they wonder if you just hang out with the Christian crowd?
THE POWER OF GOD NEEDS SOME 'SPLAININ: The cool thing about how God works through His Word is that the Bible has the power to convict sinners and point them to salvation in Christ without any outside help, yet God designed it so that as it's explained, it becomes more valuable. The Holy Spirit used scripture to cause questions to form in the eunuch's mind, but then He provided Philip to come along and explain what was written. The Holy Spirit certainly didn't need Philip, but at the same time He relied upon Philip. It's awesome that you're reading God's Word each day, but you also need to have it explained, and you have lots of tools available to explain it to you as you dig deeper (with the primary tool of coming to hear God's Word explained to you on Sundays). As it's explained to you more and more, you now have the ability to explain it to others. The Spirit is relying upon you to do that!
AND THE WINNER IS: Thank you to the dozens of people who entered into the January contest a few days ago. The randomly selected winner of the Phileo's gift card is Amy Woitalewicz.
Sunday we learned to pray constantly following the AAA pattern given by Jesus. We will be practicing that pattern by using what we read each day to guide us in prayer.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is the King of the universe who saves us in the name of Jesus Christ (v12)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God that He has revealed His will to you in His Word and given you people in your life who have helped explain it to you (v31)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED. Remember God cares for you and wants to hear of your physical needs, but that your greatest need is forgiveness of sin.
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