For a short time, I worked for a ministry that was all “smoke and mirrors”, although I did not know that at the time I was hired. I use that phrase because the staff used it! It was heartbreaking to see so many people fall for leaders who could pull a quick trick, even in the Name of our precious Lord and Savior, while their hearts were merely impressed with Jesus and what they could get personally from the ministry. Yes, it happened in the early church and it still happens. That’s why we must cry our for wisdom, insight and understanding to discern the difference between an impressive ministry and a committed to God for His glory ministry.
There was a man such as this named Simon…
Acts 8, The Message
9-11 Previous to Philip’s arrival, a certain Simon had practiced magic in the city, posing as a famous man and dazzling all the Samaritans with his wizardry. He had them all, from little children to old men, eating out of his hand. They all thought he had supernatural powers, and called him “the Great Wizard.” He had been around a long time and everyone was more or less in awe of him.
12-13 But when Philip came to town announcing the news of God’s kingdom and proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, they forgot Simon and were baptized, becoming believers right and left! Even Simon himself believed and was baptized. From that moment he was like Philip’s shadow, so fascinated with all the God-signs and miracles that he wouldn’t leave Philip’s side.
14-17 When the apostles in Jerusalem received the report that Samaria had accepted God’s Message, they sent Peter and John down to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Up to this point they had only been baptized in the name of the Master Jesus; the Holy Spirit hadn’t yet fallen on them. Then the apostles laid their hands on them and they did receive the Holy Spirit.
18-19 When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!”
20-23 Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.”
24 “Oh!” said Simon, “pray for me! Pray to the Master that nothing like that will ever happen to me!”
25 And with that, the apostles were on their way, continuing to witness and spread the Message of God’s salvation, preaching in every Samaritan town they passed through on their return to Jerusalem.
What do we learn?
–God is in control and governs every situation. He will not allow falsehood to go on forever.
–God is God and we are not.
–To be merely impressed with Jesus is not being a committed follower of Jesus. Even the demons are impressed with Jesus!
–Committed followers do not use God to make money.
–We cannot buy God’s gifts. They are freely given by God who gives what is needed WHEN needed to glorify Him and to accomplish His purpose and will.
Reflection: Am I merely impressed with Jesus and His teachings of how to live my life? Am I growing and maturing in His love for me because I am committed to obeying His will? Am I stuck spiritually? Am I waiting for Him to act without taking the first challenging step toward what He already has for me?
Commitment brings clarity. Commitment is the foundation of our faith in Jesus who saved us. It is more than a decision to follow an impressive teacher, it is a commitment to allow Jesus to live in and through us. Every day, every hour. He is not a part of our lives, He IS our Life. Eternal. Forevermore. No matter what.
Dear Heavenly Father, I know Whom I have believed! In Jesus Name, Amen…I can only sing this song of praise to You this morning…
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”