Tag: Gift of the Holy Spirit

God is no respecter of persons!

Scripture reading for May 19th:  Acts 10

Peter, now a Christ follower, had been a well-trained Jew.  He had been taught that Jews should maintain separation from Gentiles.  Gentiles were not to be associated with because they were not “God’s people” or “Abraham’s offspring.”  But God was interested in reaching Gentiles as well as Jews and making them all His children!

Cornelius was a Roman centurion stationed in Judea.  He was a man of prayer who feared God and helped the poor. An angel appeared to Cornelius and told him to send for Peter to come to him from Joppa.  At the same time, God gave Peter a vision of a large sheet with unclean animals on it.  “Get up, Peter, Kill and eat”  was what he heard.   Peter responded back, “Surely not Lord, I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  (Acts 10:13-14)   After three exchanges like this, men from Cornelius appeared on the scene looking for Peter.  The Holy Spirit told Peter to go with them, even though they were Gentiles.

When Peter arrived at the centurion’s home, he found a large group of people waiting for him.  Cornelius told him how God had given instructions to send for him and now they were ready to listen.  “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.””  Acts 10:34-36

As Peter preached the message, the Holy Spirit came on the Gentiles and they began to speak in other tongues and praise God.  Peter ordered that they all be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ!

 

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Pentecost continues in Samaria!

Scripture reading for June 12th:  Acts 8:14-40

Some in today’s religious community teach and believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only for the days of the early church.  The apostle Peter stated in his opening message in Acts 2:38, that the gift of the Spirit was for them, their children and all who were far off–all the Lord our God would call.  This promise of the Holy Spirit was initially fulfilled on Pentecost after the resurrection.   Luke records the spread of this gift from Jerusalem to Samaria and then to the Gentiles. Today’s reading is about the Samaritans receiving the gift!

Luke tells us that after Stephen’s stoning, persecution caused the apostles and believers to spread out.  Saul was behind some of this persecution for he was enraged at the church and sought to destroy it.  He went from house to house and found believers and had them killed or imprisoned.  But God is not stopped by man’s anger!  In fact, during times of persecution, the light of the Gospel shines brighter through those whose faith is strong and secure!

Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed Christ there.  He did many miracles and cast out evil spirits, bringing healing to cripples and paralytics.  There was much joy in the community.  A man called Simon was a sorcerer and boasted that he also had great power.  He did magic and many had followed him, but when Philip came doing miracles, many believed in Jesus and were baptized.  Even Simon believed and was baptized and followed Philip everywhere. (Acts 8:9-13)

The apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of Christ, and Peter and John came for a meeting.  While there, they prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit and many were baptized as they laid their hands on them.  Simon saw this demonstration of power, most likely he heard them speaking in tongues.  He tried to offer money to the apostles so that he could get that ability.  Peter rebuked him sharply, calling on him to repent of his wickedness, bitterness, and sin.  Simon asked for prayer then as well.  (Acts 8:20-24)

God’s gifts are just that–gifts!  They can’t be bought, only received by faith with thanksgiving.  God is no respecter of persons either.  He will pour out His Spirit on all who seek!

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