Today Devotion is from Acts 8
A great wave of persecution began the day of Stephen’s death. Saul was hunting for converts. He was hell-bent on destroying what was being birthed, a new church, and the bride of Christ. And the believers were scattered. Men and women were being dragged out of their homes and imprisoned for one thing; they believed a new truth. This new truth believed all the same stuff the old truth did, but it had another dimension. A new level. A revelation. Jesus was the Messiah, and this was worthy of death. But the persecution scattered the church; it didn’t destroy it. It spread the gospel like seeds captured by the wind. Proving that pain propels, persecution promotes, and opposition opens new doors. The price was high, the cost unexplainable—the advancement of the kingdom, unbelievable. “But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” Acts 8:4 NLT
As the good news spread, a magic man named Simon saw the power Philip walked in. Simon, the sorcerer, could wow the people, but Philip could lead them. Great miracles wooed Simon, and he believed and followed Philip. Simon’s magic made him known as the Great one-the power of God. But then the people saw the true Great One operating through Philip, and they realized smoke and mirrors could not hold a candle to genuine authority. There is no contest when it comes to flashy magic versus heavens might. One entertains, the other transforms.
Then another level of power came when John and Peter arrived and laid hands on the new believers, and the Holy Spirit filled them. Boom! Simon was mesmerized and wanted to purchase the power that was demonstrated. That went over like a lead balloon. I wonder, what made Simon think this power could be bought? Did he make a deal with hell to be a sorcerer? Was it because Simon charged for his magic? Whatever it was that made him think he could purchase the power of the Holy Spirit, it fired Peter up, but this time his anger was righteous. Peter knew the price of the anointing. He knew the cost. And he knew that Simon was a fair-weather follower full of jealousy, looking to be the next high-profile evangelist.
The chapter ends with a remarkable convert, an Ethiopian Eunuch. “Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.” Acts 8:30-31 NLT
What was this man reading? The persecution of Jesus. Is it a coincidence that Philip was one of those who were scattered because of persecution? Isn’t it interesting that this gentleman was reading the prophecy about the cost Jesus paid for our salvation? And because of that price, the Holy Spirit was available to send Philip to the hungry heart. And then the real magic happens, the first disciple to be teleported by Holy Spirit.
The anointing may make you known. It may cause others to be jealous. It may create opposition. It may generate criticism. And many are not willing to pay this price. The cost of persecution spread the good news, and pressing always brings out the oil.
I would like to end with this: had the people stayed silent and just kept their salvation to themselves, secretly serving Jesus, the persecution may never have happened, but neither would the spread of the gospel and the mighty move of God.