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Sep 30, 2018

This is Us: Called

This is Us: Called

Passage: Acts 8:26-40

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: This is Us

Category: Faith, minister

Keywords: calling, faith, minister

What will you be when you grow up?

Scripture

Acts 8:9-24
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.  But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,  because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”


Devotional

I don’t even remember what my perceived grievance was. I was having lunch with my pastor at the time. I was complaining about something or someone. It was probably about some minor issue or perceived slight. My pastor looked me in the eye and said six words that I will never forget. “You know, it’s not about you.”

I was flabbergasted. I tried to compose a reply in my head. But as the cogs whirled around in my head, I knew one thing with complete certainty. He was right.

The book of Acts shows us a reflection of the church from its earliest days. And while some may look back on it as some golden age, I see real people in situations that are not too different from us today. There are people who allow the gospel to transform them and those who try and use the gospel for their own gains.

In the reading, Simon had a following. He was a big deal in Samaria. Apparently, he was capable of performing tricks of sorcery and proclaimed that he had the power of God.

But when Phillip arrived, Simon heard the gospel message. He converted and was baptized. He was part of the kingdom. Probably for the first time, he saw the true power of God. Later, when Peter and John arrived, the people were being filled with the Spirit. In that moment, I think Simon’s past got the better of him. He offers to pay the apostles to show him their “trick.”

Peter harshly rebukes Simon and he has his, “not about you,” moment.

Though this story is about the misuse of religious power, it really makes me ponder my how I “use” my faith. Personally, I have never tried to use my faith as a get rich scheme. But how many times have sat stewing in traffic, praying that God would help me not be late? Have I prayed for God to help me through a presentation at work that I did not adequately prepare for? Yep. God let that officer overlook my speeding. Check. God, please send better weather. Really? Well, it has been awfully cloudy recently.

From time to time, I need someone to gently admonish me to, “SNAP OUT OF IT!”

God blesses us richly. But those blessings are not for us to grasp onto. They are to flow out of us. We are blessed to be a blessing.

If we try and focus our own agendas it can stunt our spiritual growth or even cause division in the church body. But in the book of Galatians, Paul lists the results of allowing the spirit to freely flow through us: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Being filled with the Spirit requires us to surrender our lives and lean into God’s plan, no matter where that might take us. And why would we want to impose our own agenda? When we follow God, we are living in the kingdom.

Prayer

Jesus help us to take up our cross daily. Help us to relinquish our will and surrender to Your perfect plan. Help us to lift our eyes so that we bear witness to the pain of others. Use us to bring them into Your kingdom. Amen

Written by Ben Roberts. Ben leads one of the Men's Ministry groups. He lives in Ashburn with his wife Jennifer and their son Ethan.