Note from Jesus
Dear Precious Disciple,
One of the great gifts you received with your salvation was the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). I pour out the Spirit on all who come to Me in faith and are baptized (Titus 3:3-7). The Spirit cleanses you of all your sin as you call upon My name to save you, and you turn from your past sins and from living for yourself (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
When Philip went to Samaria because of the persecution in Jerusalem, he taught and baptized people there (Acts 8:12). The emissaries of the Jerusalem church, My apostles, needed to see that these Samaritans — “half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans” — received the Spirit so they would include these new believers in full fellowship. When these apostles saw the Samaritan’s faith was genuine, they prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit because I had not yet poured out the Spirit upon them (Acts 8:14-17). When the Spirit came upon them in a clear and demonstrable way, full fellowship was recognized with these new believers and full fellowship and acceptance with My Samaritan followers were achieved — I will share more about this tomorrow.
One of the new believers was a magician named Simon. He had amazed people with his power. However, in the miracles performed by Philip, Simon saw a greater power that wasn’t tied to magic. The coming of the Holy Spirit on My Samaritan disciples when Peter and John laid hands on them and accepted them into full fellowship revealed an unredeemed part of Simon’s character. Simon had grown accustomed to being admired and held in high regard. His lust to be seen as amazing led him to offer Peter money for the power to give the Holy Spirit to others.
Peter’s response was clear, harsh, and right on target. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be purchased. I give the Holy Spirit to My disciples when they come to Me for salvation. The Spirit is My gift to give. The Spirit is My promised presence to be your Helper (John 14:15-27; John 15:26-27; John 16:5-15). He is your assurance that you will share with Me in resurrection and glory (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14), giving life to your mortal body (Romans 8:11).
The Spirit’s work is to conform you to Me (2 Corinthians 3:18), not to bring you glory, as Simon wanted. The Spirit works in you to bring about the character and compassion you have seen demonstrated by Me in My ministry (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit intercedes for you even when you don’t have words to speak what is on your heart (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit joins with your spirit and cries out to the Father using the very same name I used to address the Father when I was on earth — “Abba”! (Mark 14:36) The Spirit empowers you to overcome the very kind of things that were going on in the heart of Simon (Romans 8:13).
Thankfully, Simon was willing to see the error of his request and the evil that needed to be eradicated from his heart. He wanted to be My disciple more than he wanted to be recognized as someone important or powerful. He was willing to leave his past glory as a magician using black magic and become My follower. The question for you, My dear one, is whether you are willing to be My disciple more than you want your own forms of recognition or your own sense of self-importance?
Verses to Live
Is there something that keeps you from fully following Me and being led by My Spirit? Do you wrestle with ways of feeling important other than your great importance to Me? Have you left your past life?
If any of you want to walk My path, you’re going to have to deny yourself. You’ll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Listen, what good does it do you if you gain everything — if the whole world is in your pocket — but then your own life slips through your fingers and is lost to you?
Look closely at Simon and how, in the end, he offered up everything to follow Me… just as every true disciple must do! Thankfully, Simon turned his heart to fully follow Me. Have you?
All those who had been scattered by the persecution [in Jerusalem] moved from place to place; and wherever they went, they weren’t afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus.
Philip, for example, headed north to the city of Samaria, and he told them the news of [Christ] the Anointed One. The crowds were united in their desire to understand Philip’s message. They not only listened with their ears, but they witnessed miraculous signs with their eyes. Unclean spirits cried out with loud screams as they were exorcised from people. Paralyzed people and lame people moved and walked in plain view. So the city was swept with joy.
There was a fellow named Simon who had a widespread and long-standing reputation as a sorcerer in Samaria. Everyone — not just poor or uneducated people, but also the city’s elite — paid him great respect. Because he had amazed them with his magic, they thought, “This is a truly great man, full of the power of the God of Greatness.” But they were even more impressed with Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Anointed. Both men and women received … baptism — and even Simon himself became a believer. After his baptism, he shadowed Philip constantly, and he was as amazed as everyone else when he saw great and miraculous signs taking place.
Meanwhile word had reached the Lord’s emissaries in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all.
Simon watched all this closely. He saw the Holy Spirit coming to the people when the apostles laid hands on them. So he came to Peter and John and offered them money.
I want to purchase this ability to confer the Holy Spirit on people through the laying on of my hands.
May your silver rot right along with you, Simon! To think the Holy Spirit is some kind of magic that can be procured with money! You aren’t even close to being ready for this kind of ministry; your heart is not right with God. You need to turn from your past, and you need to pray that the Lord will forgive the evil intent of your heart. I can see deep bitterness has poisoned you, and wickedness has locked you in chains.
Please — you must pray to the Lord for me. I don’t want these terrible things to be true of me.
Response in Prayer
O Father, I confess that many things distract me from fully trusting and serving Jesus as my Lord. I know that when my heart is divided between following Him and seeking my own good and glory, I end up interfering with the Spirit’s work of transforming me to be like Jesus. So I ask for your forgiveness. I commit to seek to follow Jesus with my whole heart and not hold back. I do ask, Holy Spirit, that you strengthen me as I take each step of faith so that Your work can be completed in me to the glory of God the Father. In the name of Jesus, the Father’s Son and my Savior, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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