Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Acts 8 - Spreading the Gospel

by Katrina

LINK: Acts 8

Stephen's death fueled the fire for persecution against believers. And Saul (later to be known as Paul), one of the Pharisees, was a leader in this effort to wipe out those who believed in Jesus. He was ruthless and was soon known and feared by believers everywhere.

This persecution was the catalyst that moved the gospel out of Jerusalem and Judea into Samaria. Jesus said his witness would spread, and this is the beginning of that movement.

This Simon who supposedly believed was really only interested in what he thought was magic powers of the apostles. But God did not give him the Holy Spirit. He is reserved for true believers only.

You'll notice a variety of "ways" the Holy Spirit was received through the next several chapters of Acts. God didn't always do things exactly the same way every time there were new believers. This is because there were different circumstances in different places. Overall, though, God made it clear that all believers would receive the Holy Spirit. And Paul will explain this more clearly in his epistles that we'll be reading soon.

God led Philip to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch while he was reading about the Messiah in Isaiah 53. Philip used Scripture to explain Jesus to him, and he believed. I love this story of God's orchestration of events and Philip "picking ripe fruit" through God's leading.

I was talking with a group of believers last week about sharing the gospel with those around us. And one of the things we discussed was that sometimes we put a lot of effort into talking to people who aren't "ripe" for the gospel. And at the same time, we may be neglecting those who are "ripe" and ready for Jesus. We need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and remember that some fruit takes a lot of time to ripen and will need many different people to plant, water, and tend them over a long period of time before they'll be ready. While others may have already gone through that process and are ready for harvest.

Father, make us sensitive to your leading and give us the boldness to share Jesus with others. In the name of Jesus, amen.
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