Great Plains Daily Devotional for 5/14/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Kathy Noble
Editor
United Methodist Communications
Wichita East District
Deann Smith
United Methodist Open Door, Inc
Wichita East District
Jimmy Taylor
United States Air Force, Chaplain Columbus Air Force Base, MO
Wichita East District
Ryan Lynch
Andover UMC
Wichita East District

Today's Lectionary Text

Acts 8:4-25 

Those who had been scattered moved on, preaching the good news along the way. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and began to preach Christ to them. The crowds were united by what they heard Philip say and the signs they saw him perform, and they gave him their undivided attention. With loud shrieks, unclean spirits came out of many people, and many who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. There was great rejoicing in that city.

Before Philip’s arrival, a certain man named Simon had practiced sorcery in that city and baffled the people of Samaria. He claimed to be a great person. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, gave him their undivided attention and referred to him as “the power of God called Great.” He had their attention because he had baffled them with sorcery for a long time. After they came to believe Philip, who preached the good news about God’s kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Even Simon himself came to believe and was baptized. Afterward, he became one of Philip’s supporters. As he saw firsthand the signs and great miracles that were happening, he was astonished.

When word reached the apostles in Jerusalem that Samaria had accepted God’s word, they commissioned Peter and John to go to Samaria. Peter and John went down to Samaria where they prayed that the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit. (This was because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon perceived that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. He said, “Give me this authority too so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter responded, “May your money be condemned to hell along with you because you believed you could buy God’s gift with money! You can have no part or share in God’s word because your heart isn’t right with God. Therefore, change your heart and life! Turn from your wickedness! Plead with the Lord in the hope that your wicked intent can be forgiven, for I see that your bitterness has poisoned you and evil has you in chains.”

Simon replied, “All of you, please, plead to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said will happen to me!” After the apostles had testified and proclaimed the Lord’s word, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the good news to many Samaritan villages along the way.

Today's Devotional

Simon had an art about him, he is what we would call a mesmerizer, and he had an audience that gave him their attention. Our Scripture says that He had their attention because he had baffled them with sorcery for a long time. v. 11 I’m guessing there was something appealing about Philip as he made his way into the crowd because even Simon joined in with the others who were listening to Philip’s preaching.  Was it a Holy Spirit moment that caused people to listen to Philip?  Could they hear the difference in the presentation of the message? Were they just using Simon to make them feel good, yet knew Philip was the real thing?

Even the trickster came to believe and was baptized.  He began to watch God at work through Philip.  Then enter Peter and John into the scene, as they had received word that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s word.  Simon watched them as they prayed and laid hands on the new believers praying for them to receive the Holy Spirit.  My mind pictures Simon at that moment, he used his hands for sorcery, surely it can’t be that hard.  He may have been thinking, I can do that – just laying my hands on someone.  Simon offered them money to receive the authority to lay on hands and give someone the Holy Spirit. 

Huge mistake!!! Peter didn’t waste any time you can have no part or share in God’s word because your heart isn’t right with God. v. 21  He also didn’t waste time telling Simon that he needed to get his life and heart straightened out.  Peter was fanning that flame!  We can’t buy God’s gift either, He doesn’t want our money, He just wants us! 

The scripture brings up a question for us to reflect on: How pure are your motives when it comes to advancing the Gospel and communicating the gift of the Holy Spirit?  (Catch Fire in 50 Days, page 124. Reflection).
-Rev. Hollie Tapley
Disaster Response Coordinator

htapley@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

Pray for pure motives and a clean heart so that everything you do and say fans the flame of God’s mission in the world.  Amen.  (Catch Fire in 50 Days, page 125)

Devotion and prayer inspired by Catch the Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World   by Blake Busick and Christie Latona, For sermon outlines and worship helps for the season of Easter, go to www.greatplainsumc.org/catchfire.   
 

 

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