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Wow. Acts chapter 8 verses 18 & 19 should be a warning to each of us to not lose sight of where spiritual power truly comes from - "When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given when the apostles placed their hands upon people's heads, he offered money to buy this power. "Let me have this power, too," he exclaimed, "so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!"" Scary stuff... but I have a hunch this type of thing still happens today. People want to "buy" faith or buy spiritual power. God ain't selling it. It's a free gift. Salvation is free. It ain't for sale. I pray that each of us realizes that our faith in Jesus is a free gift. We didn't buy it. We didn't earn it. And we most definitely should not exploit our free gift of faith in any way for $. That is scary to consider. And if we are blessed with what appears to be spiritual power in any way, I pray we realize that this power comes only from God, and not from ourselves. And if we ever happen to think that spiritual power comes from ourselves, then I am sure we will quickly learn the maxim - "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away." Spiritual power goes bankrupt quick if we ever try to claim it as our own...
Today in Acts chapter 8 we read about Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. In verses 34 and 35, just after the eunuch has finished reading verses in Isaiah 53 about Jesus, we will read – “The eunuch asked Phillip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else? Then Phillip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” I wonder about this in our lives today – do you think there are people that you know who are trying to understand who God is and what God is saying, just like this eunuch was trying to understand? Are there people in your life who may be seeking God and Jesus? If so, will you be like Phillip was for this eunuch for these people in your life? Will you begin with wherever these people are (“that very passage”), even if they are very far from God, and begin to share with them the good news about Jesus? Yes, this story about the Ethiopian eunuch is a very quick conversion story. Not all of our stories of having conversations with others seeking God will turn out like this. In fact, I’d venture to say that many will take many months and maybe even several years. But, even if it takes a lifetime of conversations with someone about the good news of Jesus, isn’t it worth it? Who in your life is God calling you to share the good news about Jesus with? Will you begin those conversations now? And, perhaps most importantly, will you begin praying for those that God has placed in your life – praying that they will come to understand who God truly is?
Big readings today! Saul is converted to Christianity by Jesus himself! I think this is the most powerful conversion story in all of the Bible! Below is the phenomenal painting "The Conversion (of Saul) on the Way to Damascus" by the Italian Baroque Era painter Caravaggio, circa 1600:
As I was reading Acts chapter 9 today, I thought more about Ananias than I have before. Can you imagine being Ananias and being asked to go find Saul of Tarsus? Ananias demonstrated amazing faith in today's readings. God's words to Ananias about Saul in verses 15 & 16 are powerful - and as we now know, so very true: "But the Lord said, "Go and do what I say. For Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for me."" Great stuff... In your life, who might God be calling you to go visit - like he called Ananias to visit? Is there someone who is waiting for you to visit them, lay hands on them, and open up their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit? Will you be Ananias for that person? Below is an image of Saul/Paul (kneeling) and Ananias from today's readings:
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "The Conversion of Saul" is at this link.
Wow. Something about Acts chapter 9 verse 31 really stood out to me as we read about the early church today: "The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." Read this verse again. Whaddya think? The believers of the early church were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I don't know about you, but I want to walk like that! I love that dichotomy - that balance - of walking in fear and comfort. No - don't get me wrong - I'm not talking about a fraidy-cat type of fear. But I am talking about a healthy / respectful fear - I mean, just look at the image above again of the lion and the man of God. I don't mean to bag on the man of God by any means, but I think it is safe to say that he was walking in the "fear of the Lord" when he shunned Jeroboam's invite, but then he may have not been walking in the "fear of the Lord" when accepted the old prophet's lie. And, like the old prophet in today's Kings readings, do you think that people will lie to you and me today? Will the Enemy, the Destroyer, seek to lie to us? If so, do you think there is value in walking in the "fear of the Lord" today? While - at the same time walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. There is something about the wisdom of this verse in Acts today that I really really like. This may be one of those verses to really meditate upon. I think there is so much value in this verse for our lives... Today - are you walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit?
Great readings today about Peter healing and raising the dead in Jesus' name! Verse 40 is amazing: "But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, "Get up, Tabitha." And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up!" Below is a fresco of this scene (though Peter is not kneeling and everyone had not left the room... still some great art! :) from the year 1424 by the Italian Renaissance painter Masaccio, which is in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence, Italy:
Worship God: Philip's evangelism of the Ethiopian eunuch in today's readings in Acts reminded me of the Casting Crowns song "Does Anybody Hear Her" and our call to evangelism of others in our life today:
Are you running in the wrong direction? Click here and turn around!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." Acts 9:31 NLT1
Prayer Point: Pray that you are walking in the fear of the Lord today. Pray that you are walking with the comfort of the Holy Spirit today. Pray that forevermore you will walk in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
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