The Spirit is Not for Sale

Acts 8.4-25

After Stephen was stoned to death, Saul began persecuting Christians, raiding their houses, dragging men and women away and putting them in prison. Many Christians fled from Jerusalem into the countryside of Judaea and Samaria. But wherever they went, they told people about Jesus.

Philip went to the city of Samaria. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and urged people to follow Jesus. His preaching drew large crowds who listened eagerly to what he said and were amazed at what he was able to do. People came forward to be baptized, both men and women. They said:

God is great! God is good!
This is awesome! So amazing!
See how evil powers are banished!
Limbs are given life and movement!
Now the lame are walking, running!
Freed from forces that have bound them!
We will serve this God of wonder!
We will serve this God of love!

Now there was a man called Simon who lived in the city. For a long time he had amazed the Samaritans with his magical power, for he was able to do things that no normal person was able to do. He had a lot of influence in the town. People respected him, feared him and listened to him, because they said, "This man is filled with the power of God."

But when Philip arrived, even Simon was impressed. He decided to follow Jesus and was baptized. And after this he stayed close to Philip, watching the marvellous changes that happened as a result of Philip's preaching and teaching. Simon wanted to know how it was done.

He said:
God is great! God is good!
This is awesome! So amazing!
See how evil powers are banished!
Limbs are given life and movement!
Now the lame are walking, running!
Freed from forces that have bound them!
I will serve this God of wonder!
I will serve this God of love!

In Jerusalem, the leaders of the Church heard about what was happening in Samaria and sent Peter and John to help Philip. When they arrived, they prayed with the new Christians, asking God to pour out upon them the Holy Spirit, for although the Samaritans had been baptized in the name of Jesus, they had not yet begun to experience all the gifts that God could give them.

When Peter and John prayed and laid hands on them, the new disciples were filled with the life and love of God. Simon could see the difference and wanted to be able to do the same. So he went to them and offered them money. "Tell me your secret. Show me how it is done. Let me have a share in this so that when I lay my hands on people they receive the Spirit's power."

But Peter answered, "Take away your money! Do you think you can buy the gifts of God? You will never be able to share this power while your heart is not right with God. Open your eyes! Change your mind! Humble yourself and pray that God will forgive you for intending to abuse this gift. For I see that you are bound with chains of bitterness and fear."

Simon replied, "Pray for me to the Lord, that I might be free and live!"

Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, travelling through the villages of Samaria, preaching the good news. And wherever people turned to Jesus, they said:

God is great! God is good!
This is awesome! So amazing!
See how evil powers are banished!
Limbs are given life and movement!
Now the lame are walking, running!
Freed from forces that have bound them!
We will serve this God of wonder!
We will serve this God of love!

Copyright Julie M. Hulme 2011

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