Google+ 01/11/13 Great Joy in the City!

Acts 8:5-8

 

Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah.

Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message

And see the miraculous signs he did.

Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims.

And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed.  So there was great joy in that city. 

 

Today our Scripture deals with a "feel good" story.  Often times, things don't end well for Biblical heroes.  Serving God can be "life-threatening" in many ways.  Conventional,  theological wisdom says that Luke wrote the book of Acts.  We think that this book of the Bible was written some time around 62 A.D.  Luke tells us in our Scripture today about a guy named Philip.  We know that this Philip was one of the seven chosen by the Jerusalem church to assist the apostles in the administration of daily affairs.  Philip was far more than an assistant helping with physical needs.  He was a spirit-filled evangelist (21:8).  When the Christians were scattered beyond Jerusalem due to the intense persecution by Saul, Philip was the first to take the gospel to non-Jewish people.  Do not confuse Philip the evangelist with Philip the apostle.  Our Scripture today says that Philip went to Samaria and told the people about the Messiah.  This would not have been a safe thing to do.  Verses 1-4 of this same chapter in Acts, tells us that Saul was running around Samaria throwing every Christian he could find in jail.  Philip is following Stephen to Samaria and remember what happened to Stephen!  Why did Philip go?  Because God told him to go!  Please don't miss what happened next.  Philip spoke about Jesus.  Our Scripture says that the people listened.  The people watched the miraculous signs that God did through Philip.  Why is this so wonderful?  These people were Gentiles.  They were pagans.  Many of them were indwelled by evil spirits.  Regardless, they listened to Philip.   Paralyzed and lame were healed.  Evil spirits were forced out of people that were possessed.  There was much joy in town!  What if Philip had been too scared to go to Samaria?  What if he just didn't feel like going because he was having a bad day?  Have you ever stayed home from "Samaria" because you just didn't feel like going?  Have you ever looked at God and said, "not today?"  I must confess I have, and I have promised God that will never happen again.  The consequences are terrible for everyone.  We Christians get really nervous when we start talking about being possessed by evil spirits.  We have written that off as something that only happened in the Old Testament or in the modern day movie, The Exorcist.  Well, Acts is in the New Testament folks!  There are people, that you come in contact with every day, that are possessed by evil spirits.  Our Scripture lesson calls them "victims."  They certainly are and most don't even know they are possessed, because it has happened in their lives very slowly.  We didn't get "saved" by God overnight.  People don't become possessed by evil overnight, either.   You may be a "Philip" in these people's lives.  Go where God sends you, even if you don't want to.  Don't be afraid.  Help the "lame" walk.  Declare war on "evil spirits" and in the name of Jesus, call them out wherever you see them.  Remember the people that are indwelled are victims, so help them for God.  If you are obedient like Philip, we will get a chance to have great joy in our city!