Simon The Sorcerer

16th June

They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptised.”

Acts 8:11-12

Simon the sorcerer had been living in Samaria for many years, fooling the people with his deceiving trickery and claiming to be someone great from God. Yet when Philip came bringing the true Gospel and the power of Jesus Christ, people turned away from the ‘fake news’ and became hungry for the truth; hungry for the only One that can satisfy – Jesus Christ. Notice the text says, that even though many had been astounded and fooled by Simon’s sorcery, when they heard Philip’s message of Good News, they instantly turned away from the imitations, got saved, baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Friends, anything less than Jesus, is a cop-out. It will always be second best. Nothing can compare to the Good News of Jesus, His life transforming miraculous work in our lives, His un-conditional love, and His grace and mercy to forgive and cleanse us of our sins. Other ‘stuff’ may fill or even entertain us temporarily but after the ‘fun, amazement, or initial satisfaction’ has worn off, it only leaves us feeling empty, yearning for something to fill our emptiness. Friends, it is only Jesus that can fill that gap in our lives. It’s only Him, His word, His spirit and His love that can make our hearts leap and be filled with joy.

Run away from anything that is an imitation of Jesus, or anything that tries to take God’s place in your life. Be like the people of Samaria, who heard the truth and turned away from the lies. Even Simon himself, who deceived many people for so long, eventually turned to Jesus. What a statement of the power of Jesus Christ.

Blessing In Persecution

15th June

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 in prison.”

Acts 8:1-3

Put yourself in the apostles shoes for a moment. They had recently seen a huge increase of favour for both their message and the wondrous miracles they were performing. The church was growing. People were being saved, healed, and delivered from evil spirits. Even Peter’s shadow was causing people to be healed. The fellowship was running effectively and smoothly now that the role situation had been clarified……UNTIL, Stephen a devout man of God, filled with the Spirit was arrested after being falsely accused of blaspheming against God and Moses. Sadly those lies, accompanied with Stephen’s boldness to plainly and clearly declare the truth about who Jesus was, led him to be stoned to death, and from that, a huge persecution threatened to completely destroy the work of the disciples in spreading the Good News of Jesus.

Yet the persecutors could not be more wrong! There is nothing or no-one that can stop the move of God. His church can never be stopped, shaken or destroyed. What happened in persecution had an adverse effect. Instead of shutting down the church, the church grew stronger and those who had been scattered, preached about Jesus even more, making the words of the respected Pharisee Gamaliel sound truer than ever…‘So my advice is this, leave the men alone (the church). Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.’ The apostles could have given up, but they pressed on, because God’s Kingdom cannot be destroyed or overthrown. Even in persecution the church rapidly grew through the power of the Holy Spirit through the scattered believers and the apostles unwavering message.

Friends, if you are faced with any kind of persecution because of Christ, at work, at school, by friends or even family, no matter how hard it is, don’t give up. For even in persecution, God is at work. He is with you. Hold fast and trust that your life is in His hands. His Kingdom can never be overthrown.

Godly Leadership

14th June

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.””

Acts 6:2-4

There are often times in our lives whereby we think we are irreplaceable and have to do everything. It may not be arrogance or pride that leads to this conclusion, but rather it may be you think there is no-one else to do what you’re doing. Yet no-one should have to have the burden of doing everything. The apostles in today’s verse proved exactly that.

On first glances when you read the passage, it may seem like the apostles were giving the impression that they were beyond the day-to-day tasks of making sure everyone was happy and fed. But nothing could be further from the truth. They realised that their resources and their gifts were not being used effectively. Instead of preaching the Good News, healing the sick and living out the commission Jesus gave them before He left, they found themselves appeasing the discontentment between the Greek speaking believers and the Hebrew speaking believers over issues of food rationings.

The apostles, by delegating the task of the day-to-day running of the ‘fellowship’ to the elected seven men, were able to continue sharing the Good News of Jesus, and as verse 7 says, ‘God’s message continued… and the number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem..including Jewish priests too’ who were originally opposing the message of Jesus.

Friends, sometimes we need to re-evaluate what our gifts are and stop trying to do everything. By delegating to others, we both empower people to use their gifts and walk boldly in our own. We have been blessed with many parts to the body, each one effective for extending God’s Kingdom and living in unity as ONE body.

Do you need to step up to responsibility or step down to give others a platform to express their God given gifts?

The Great Treasure

13th June

The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!””

Acts 5:17-20

When God changes your life, you simply can’t keep it quiet. It’s like a great treasure that you want to share with everyone. See being saved isn’t solely for an entry ticket into Heaven! It is so much more than that. It is holistic healing. It is being set free from fear, from hurt, from pain and un-forgiveness. It is physical healing. It is being liberated to live how God intended you to live, His purposes and designs for you. It is being made whole again; our broken hearts restored, our wounds patched up and our insecurities and weaknesses transformed to strength in Jesus. It is for these reason that we can’t stay quiet. We have to share it, because we want others to have this GOOD NEWS.

Peter and the early church apostles and disciples were like this too. Jesus had done so much in their lives, completely radically and supernaturally transformed them, that they too just couldn’t stop sharing about Him. As the angel of the Lord said ‘it is the message of life’ that they were sharing. Even in spite of punishment and captivity from the Jewish leaders, they persevered with sharing the Good News to all people, filling Jerusalem with the message of Jesus Christ, His love, redemption, restoration and renewal. Even jail bars could not stop them. They were empowered with the Holy Spirit to boldly share the Gospel with all people.

Friends, we too must have the same urgency and passion to share about Jesus to a lost and needy world. Don’t be afraid to speak up, using words or actions. God is with you. All you need to do is share the treasure you have and let God open people’s eyes to its value!

Don’t Doubt Him

12th June

Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. Why did you doubt Me?””

Matthew 14:28-31

There are not many humans that can say they have walked on water. Of course you can use camera trickery nowadays or special affects to give the illusion you are walking on water, yet none can say that they have walked on water without aid, except Jesus and Peter (Jesus being fully God and fully man). Yet when Peter stepped out of the boat and lost His focus because of what surrounded him, he started to sink.

Jesus’ words to Peter after He rescued him from almost drowning, stand as a poignant reminder to us too. “Why did you doubt me?” Notice Jesus didn’t say, ‘why did you loose focus?’ or ‘why did you let the storm scare you?’ or even ‘why did you take your eyes off Me?’ Jesus rather showed Peter, that by taking his eyes off Jesus, and succumbing to fear, he actually doubted who Jesus was.

Think about it, Jesus, the man who had just fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, who had healed a paralysed man and done so many other miraculous signs and wonders, was walking on the water, in the midst of a storm. Peter challenged Jesus and said ‘if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water,’ and Jesus did. By stepping out the boat, Peter obviously believed it was Jesus. Yet he let his human nature distract him, loosing focus and forgetting who was in the water with him. If Peter just took a moment to re-focus, he would have remembered that the person he was walking too, firstly was also walking on the water, but was God in the flesh and promised to protect His sheep always.

Friends, this stands as a great reminder to us too. When we are surrounded by the storms of life, we must not doubt that God will calm the storms around us and stay with us. He won’t abandon us to sink. He promised to be with us always. Don’t loose focus or take your eyes off Him. Don’t doubt Him but trust Him. You are His!

He Takes Our Worries So We Don’t have To

10th & 11th  June

Weekend Edition

We make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps.. ..The Lord directs our steps, so why do we try to understand everything along the way?”

Proverbs 16:9, 20:24

It is so great to know that God is in control of our lives. He knows what is best for us and guides us accordingly along the right path. Yet so often we seem to want to take the driving seat, row in the boat or try to map out every step we are going to take. When we have big decisions to make, we often find ourselves starting to worry, trying to plan things out on our own, even though we know God has, time and time again, provided, guided and led us in the right path for our lives.

Yet rather than worrying about “everything along the way”, every hurdle, bump and insecurity, our first step should be in taking comfort in knowing that every plan and idea we have given to God, is safely in His hands. We can fully trust Him, because not only does He hold our lives in His hands but holds the whole world in His hands, yet He hears and cares about our needs as individuals too.

However, this does not negate the responsibilities of planning and organising our lives as best as we can, rather than being passive and leaving everything to God to do. We simply just need to give our plans to Him in faith, and trust that His perfect will will be done. We can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that God is already ahead of us, preparing every step for us. Let us trust God together, for He always knows best and has our best at the forefront of His plans. Be open to His guidance, trust His best judgement and be at peace in His direction.

Silver And Gold I Have Not…BUT

9th June

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!””

Acts 3:4-6

People often think that you need great power to do great works in the Kingdom of God, but Peter proved that to be the opposite. Yes, he lived with Jesus, ate with Him, and learnt from Him, but there was nothing in Peter, that is different from what we have in us. We worship the same God, we have the same Spirit living in us, and we have access to the same power that performed many miraculous signs and wonders through Peter. Perhaps the only difference is, is that Peter knew what and who he had in Him!

When Peter and John met the lame man next to the ‘Beautiful Gate’ in Jerusalem, they may have already been aware that he would ask them for money, after all he was there everyday. Yet Peter and John, knew that they didn’t have money to give to him. What they did know, is that they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, empowered by Him and given boldness to bring God’s Kingdom, here on the earth. So what they DID have, they gave freely and the lame man was healed; not of or in their own but through the power of the One in them.

If Peter and John didn’t know who they were in Christ, if they didn’t realise the ‘world and life changing power’ that lived in them, then perhaps this story wouldn’t even be in the Bible. It is also probable that the Gospel might not have even been spread across the world, if the disciples too, lived in ignorance of who lived in them. Yet thank God they didn’t. They all knew that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, lived in them and was freely accessible to boldly spread the Good News of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, coupled with signs and wonders, all for God’s glory and in His power not theirs.

Friends, we too can live in this resurrection power because He lives in us. He has made His home in your hearts. The power of the living God lives in you. You might not have silver or gold, you might not have the answers for everything, but you do have Jesus, and that is all that matters. In our own strength we are powerless but we with Christ we are more than conquerors.