Takeaway: Verse 4
But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
Welcome to The Bible for Busy People. I’m Erica Parkerson. This is the place where we meet up to read half a chapter of God’s Word together and remember how loved we are. Jesus extends an amazing invitation to us in the Bible. He says, come to me and I WILL give you rest. This is us RSVPing: Yes!! to that invitation. So, take a deep breath and let’s get started.
Today’s episode is called, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and I know you’re singing it now too! Because I love you, I won’t sing it for you. Before we dive into Acts chapter eight, please join me in a word of prayer. Father, oh we come to you in the name of Jesus and we confess today that you are good. Thank you for your priceless and measureless love that you poured out on us on the cross and that you pour out on us every day. Please open our eyes and our hearts to what you want us to see and understand in your word. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Okay, well, last time we read about Stephen. What a vibrant faith he had. He was stoned, murdered for his beautiful faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. And there were many people who saw that happen, who watched as God gave Stephen a glimpse of heaven, the place he was going to. A glimpse of Jesus standing beside God, the father. What a sight that must have been. There were people there and Luke, the writer of the book of Acts picks it up at that scene.
Here we go. Acts chapter eight, beginning with verse one, “Saul was one of the witnesses and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.” We’re gonna get to know Saul a whole lot better soon on the podcast. Here we go. “A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning. But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.”
This is our takeaway verse, “But the believers who were scattered preached the good news about Jesus, wherever they went.” Can we just pause for a second? Think about the persecution that was going on. And yet it says right here in verse four, the believers preached the good news anyway! They knew that Jesus had radically changed their lives forever. They felt his love, and they were absolutely compelled, at the risk of their own lives, at the risk of imprisonment, to share it. Wow. That inspires me.
“Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city. A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One, the Power of God.” They listened closely to him because for a long time, he had astounded them with his magic.
“But now the people believed Phillip’s message of good news” thank you, Lord “concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” Doesn’t that just lower your blood pressure. When you hear his name, Jesus Christ. “As a result, many men and women were baptized. Then Simon, the sorcerer himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles philip performed. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.
“When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them 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!’ But Peter replied, ‘May your money be destroyed with you for thinking that God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.’
‘Pray to the Lord for me,’ Simon exclaimed, ‘that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!’ After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the good news.”
What a story. Simon, the sorcerer had it wrong. He thought he could buy God’s gift and his power. I was thinking about elementary school, there was a boy named Charlie in my class and he would always go to Peroni’s deli and buy candy and bring it to school. And he thought that if he gave candy away, he would make friends. Charlie was such a nice kid. He didn’t need to give everybody candy to make them like him. I believe Charlie just needed to believe in himself a little bit more, be a little more comfortable in his own skin. Similarly, Simon, the sorcerer thought he could buy God’s gift. Impossible! And I think some of us think, oh, we would never do that. You know, we would never turn to sorcery or want to buy God’s gift. But I don’t know about you, how often do we try to earn God’s love? I have tried to do that before with good works and you know, the reality is you can’t buy his love. You can’t earn it. He pours it out freely on us. The good works are our response to the love that God pours out on us. We are so loved, you are so loved. You don’t have to buy his love. Can’t wait till next time.
Thank you so much for listening to the Bible for Busy People. If you need prayer or you’re ready to go a little deeper in your faith, we’ve posted some resources for you in our show notes. We’d love for you to share this podcast with a friend and leave us a review. It helps us reach even more people with the hope of Jesus. This podcast is part of Purposely, a podcast network designed with practical podcasts to help you find and live in God’s purpose for your life. Find more podcasts that will recharge you at onpurposely.com.