God uses the bad things happening around us to press reset sometimes. In 2020, the lockdown pressed reset on church life. We couldn’t gather and so many of us learnt new skills and tried new things. Have you noticed how many more people are involved in our online services – whether it be welcome, worship, the kids slot or the sermon. It’s been a joy to watch people grow in skill and confidence. Instead of a few people doing things while the rest of us consume, many more have been active.
In the first days of the early church, the Acts 8v1 persecution allowed God to press reset on church life.In Acts 1:8 Jesus had told the church they would be filled with the Spirit and be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. The church had exploded in revival power and growth, but only in Jerusalem. No-one had gone out of the city. God used the persecution to scatter His servants into Judea and Samaria were they started spreading the Gospel. Some emerge as particularly gifted in evangelism like Philip and so it’s not just the apostles doing signs and wonders but ordinary men and women too. Salvations, deliverance and healing bring much joy in the city.
In that explosion of revival wider than Jewish background people into Samaria, the gospel spreads and a local first century Derren Brown, Simon, makes a profession of faith but is actually more interested in the power of laying of hands for baptism in Spirit. He’s rebuked because the gift of the Spirit is as free as the gift of grace. Have you been baptised in the Spirit or have you just been baptised in water? We can lay hands on you and pray for you to receive the Spirit on Sunday (get booked in!).
The gospel just keeps on spreading! Philip next encounters an Ethiopian Eunuch. He’d have been a “God-fearer” and a kind of convert to Judaism, but because he was a Eunuch he wouldn’t have been allowed in the Temple to worship (Deuteronomy 23:1-3; Leviticus 21:18-20). Would he be welcome in the Kingdom? The Spirit guides Philip to a divine appointment with him to settle that issue. Everyone is welcome! Even Saul in tomorrow’s reading. The Ethiopian is reading Isaiah 53 and not understanding it. The passage points to Jesus, so Philip explains it. The man gets saved and wants to be baptised as soon as possible. They jump down into a nearby bit of water and the man is baptised into the faith and goes away rejoicing and taking Christianity to Ethiopia. So my next question is have you been baptised in water? We can arrange it in a heated outdoor pool!
Are you a scattered servant? An ordinary man or woman who loves Jesus and taking the good news about Jesus into the places the Lord has set you? The next take a step video is out today – why not learn the next step right now?