Wednesday 11th January 2017 - Daily Reading:
Acts 8 - The Word on the Move by Karen Cowling

Acts 8 starts with the menacing line of: 'And Saul approved of their killing him.' And so the persecution of the early church begins. People flee for their lives. Yet this seems to be a kick start to spreading the gospel further than Jerusalem.

Philip, the first to be called an evangelist, travels to Samaria, the place where Jesus said to the woman at the well that a time was coming when the people there would worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4). Philip preaches the gospel and baptises many in the name of Jesus, including Simon the sorcerer who was used to all the people in Samaria following him around in awe of what he could do. The apostles hear of what has happened in Samaria and go and pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit as they have not yet done. Simon sees people receive the Holy Spirit and the fruit of this. He sees that this happens when the apostles lay their hands on people. Simon may have been missing being the main focus of the people, and so asks the apostles if he can buy the power to give the Holy Spirit. This is a big mistake. You can't buy God's anointing, Simon's heart was in the wrong place as he wanted to regain the awe of the people. He gets a very stern warning and repents asking the apostles to pray for him too.

Philip goes on to evangelise further. God tells him to follow a chariot. I love this part of Acts 8. Just imagine God asking you to jog along next to a car doing 20/25 miles per hour and be able to talk to the person in the car at the same time. Yet God enables him to do this so that the eunuch, a high official in Ethiopia, can come to know Christ. Philip tells the Ethiopian the gospel and then, when they come to a river he baptises him. But the amazing elements of this meeting continue! They come up out of the water and God just picks Philip up and moves him to somewhere else. The Ethiopian just continues, praising God as he goes.

So here starts the vicious persecution, but what the enemy means to use to destroy the church only kick starts the Great Commission to go further. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus says: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' So if you are going through a rough time, remember God is still in control, 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and live according to His purpose' (Romans 8:28).

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