Acts Devotionals

To Samaria

Today we come to a man called Philip. He was a deacon and an evangelist in the Early Church.

Ac 8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

He certainly had various spiritual gifts that enabled him to make a huge impression on people, which promoted the spread of the Gospel and growth of the Church. Unlike many today who claim all sorts of gifting and often do “apparent miracles”, boosting fame and wealth, Philip was a man of God, gifted by God for the purposes of God.

Because many claim “God’s Anointing” resulting in personal wealth and fame, I want to use an illustration for you to make your own judgments and draw your own conclusions about the claims of many. (Just by the way, you can google any of those falling into this bracket and do a personal lifestyle audit on them, checking out their wealth and fame).

Kenneth Copeland is an American author, public speaker, televangelist, and musician who has a net worth of $300 million. In recent years Kenneth has attracted controversy for his lavish lifestyle which includes several private jets (including one that was acquired from Tyler Perry for a reported $20 million) and multiple mansions. Kenneth and his wife Gloria reported live in a $6.3 million lakefront mansion that is also reportedly funded by his church. There have been reports that Copeland could be worth as much as $750 million or even $1 billion. He has not denied reports about his wealth, confirming to at least one reporter that he was a “very wealthy man”, pointing to oil and gas investments and reserves on his various properties. According to various reports, Copeland used church donations to acquire a $20 million Gulfstream V private jet from Tyler Perry. After purchasing the jet he caused additional controversy by asking his followers to donate an additional $17 – $20 million to upgrade his airport’s runway and hangar. He allegedly has used this jet for trips to resorts and various other personal vacations. He previously stated that he does not want to fly commercially because he doesn’t “want to get into a tube with a bunch of demons”. In 2009 Kenneth applied to have his $3.6 million private jet be given tax-exempt status from the IRS. His request was denied.

1) Philip was a man birthed by God for sacrificial Kingdom Ministry.

Ac 6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Where the verse says … “Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”, one might think this was only him with this qualification. The sentence continues … “also” … and this word implies that those who are now named are also and equally “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”. Now, as Philip starts ministering with amazing results, one can understand that there is nothing of self, the flesh or the prompting of the devil.

He was “full of faith”, believing that Jesus was Messiah, crucified and risen from the dead, now ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven from where He rules and reigns over His Kingdom.

“Full of the Holy Spirit” amounts to the power received from the Holy Spirit according to Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8. Being a deacon, chosen by the people reveals that he enjoyed serving gifts and being a preacher reveals he enjoyed evangelistic gifts.

This shows that he had a heart for the Gospel. He wanted to see The Kingdom grow and advance amongst his people. Love for Jesus results in love for people resulting in a passion to see people saved. We need to pray that God will raise up people with such spiritual qualifications …

(1) Serving Gifts. Sadly most people today either want the visible limelight or the invisible pews to hide in. Any Kingdom needs servants. God’s Kingdom needs willing servants and for their sacrifice a rich welcome awaits in Glory.

(2) Evangelistic Gifts. Far too many preach Christ without a passion to see souls saved. The Church desperately needs the Holy Spirit to raise up men with evangelistic gifts to reach the lost in great numbers. Our task is to pray.

2) Crossing ethnic boundaries. It is interesting that Philip goes to non-Jews … he goes to a city in Samaria. (When the Bible uses the name Samaria, it always refers to the country and not a city.) The Jews in the main rejected Jesus, so now the Gospel enters new territory, non-Jew territory. It is a Gospel thing that when people’s heart are hardened towards the Gospel, God moves His people to new locations. This scary truth needs to be heard by both preachers and hearers today. In response to stubborn hearts, God moves on!

When the Assyrians conquered the North Kingdom (Israel) and displaced them, they moved pagan people into the region. These intermarried with the lower class Jews who remained resulting in Samaria as a nation. The Jews detested the Samaritans because they saw them as half-breeds who distorted the worship of God. Jesus ministered to Samaritans, accepting them without any prejudice. Philip followed his Master’s example.

Within God’s Kingdom, there is no room for ethnic prejudice or discrimination based upon color, language or culture. Those who outlaw people different to them because they are not from the same ethnicity, excluding them from the Visible Church … and from Heaven, display a tailored religion to suit their personal persuasion, but sadly without Biblical Truth.

One drop of poison pollutes the bucket of water, making it useless. There is only God’s Gospel. You may not alter it, be it ever so minutely and expect it to be acceptable to God. I suggest the bottom line to be “it’s all or nothing”, it’s God’s Gospel or no Gospel! One of the hardest pills to swallow for those who are called “racist” (though the term ethnic discrimination, ethnic prejudice or ethnic exclusion would be more accurate) is that fact that the Bible teaches …

(1) There is one race.

(2) All come from Adam through Noah and his sons.

(3) God never discriminates against any ethnicity.

(4) Yes, He does reject those who are pagan, following false religions and worshipping idols … but He never excludes people from salvation based upon their color, appearance, language or culture. All that He demands is that when a person surrenders to Jesus as Lord and Savior, should culture conflict with the Gospel, that or those parts of culture need to cease.

We have an opportunity to examine our own hearts now to see whether there are any tendencies towards ethnic discrimination, prejudice or exclusion.

Lord, search my heart and cause me to repent of any such sin. Amen.

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