Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
So that you may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, renew your mind through Christ by abiding in His Presence. Sometimes we all have pain and sorrow, fear and negativity, anxious moments, and hopeless thoughts– Jesus rescues you from these. In His living Presence He resets your mind to a faith view.
Jesus is the best thing to ever happen to you. Rely on His compassion with your faith. Your assurance that Christ is powerfully moving to align your mind in God’s best gives you spiritual maturity. Trust Christ. Expect Him to transform your mind– it is His anointing, again and again, of the Holy Spirit. Discern Jesus’ holiness.
People who gathered around Jesus were ready to get on with right living. Roman government was violently overbearing and Yahweh had seemed far off and silent. Yet with Jesus, the living presence of God personalized, near Him those yearning people found their hearts cleansed and their minds cleared. In Jesus’ Presence, while listening to His teachings and seeing the miracles, life was right and good again. Let us enjoy His living Presence in our midst, together, too.
Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Acts 9:8-9
For three days Saul is in the grip of New Birth in Jesus Christ. Three days Saul relived his sins and listened to The Voice speak to him. Jesus tells us of New Birth in John 3:3, “No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above.” New Birth is the transformation of the entire soul by the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit.
Scales had grown over Saul’s eyes, done by the Almighty Power of God, which not only aligned him with the state of blindness to Jesus’ Way but his blindness also turned his thoughts inward to Christ, as he was less capable of conversing with others. Saul’s fasting.
His blindness was a outward manifestation of what had happened to him. God has humbled him and is showing correction to the stiff necked Jews who put Stephen to death. For we see here the necessary elements of the New Birth: our complete humbling, the inward shake down of sins, and the powerful fire of the Holy Spirit that consumes sins by the blood of the Lamb Jesus slain on the Cross.
Now as Saul was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a Voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard The Voice but saw no one. Acts 9:3-7
When God suddenly and mightily attacks a sinner it is with the highest act of mercy. Mercy is ours through Jesus Christ for with our sins we may deter others. His attack of mercy may fell us just like Saul who falls to the ground of his guilt. The Lords Voice within our souls may be severe yet that Voice is full of grace while He rights us in Him.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Thus when Saul’s rage against believers comes to height then our Lord powerfully acts, teaching him not to breathe threats and murder. Saul is halted. His is inexpressible terror by light and Jesus speaking to him. Light from heaven flashes. Jesus speaks within their hearts and souls.
The men traveling with Saul now stand for they too were felled to the ground of guilt. It is Jesus’ grace that fells, redeems, then teaches the believer. Jesus next sends Saul to a Damascus believer who will guide him in New Birth. For with New Birth we need a believer’s help and assistance who is Spirit led, Spirit fed, and Spirit sped (quickened).
Meanwhile, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to The Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2
Early Christians referred to themselves as people of The Way. We still do. The Way of Jesus Christ. Saul is on the ‘my way’ which degrades humanity and services the spoils of evil’s needs. He is The Breather Of threats and murder. Pray ” protect us from evil in My Name,” Jesus says.
Saul connives to take the paper authority received from the governor under Aretas the king, to go to Damascus to round up believers in Christ there and murder or take them back to Jerusalem. He is ruthless for the Roman authorities. The Way prays for him in the Spirit’s Power and strength.
Saul wears Roman blinders, acting on cold hearted and stiff necked faithlessness. Of Jewish birth in Tarsus in Cilicia but brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, educated in the Torah he breaths threats and murder at Jesus’ followers. “Pray for those who persecute you,” our Lord instructs. “I’ll respond,” Jesus says to you. John 11:9-13
As they were. Going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being Baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip Baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:36-39
As a new Christian you must be born again. For it is by New Birth in Christ that you are adopted into His family. So, led by the Spirit Philip comes to clarify Scripture about Jesus Christ, the eunuch confesses his sins and takes Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and then their attention is on the water by the road.
The man asks, “What is to prevent me from being Baptized?” Nothing. Thus prompted by the Spirit both go down to stand beside the small pool of water. The man renounces the spiritual forces of evil, announces to his great number of attendants that he gives his life forever in obedience to his One Savior and Lord Jesus Christ Resurrected, and Philip pours water, “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” as he is Holy Spirit washed of sin and unrighteousness.
There is Rejoicing!
What’s next for the man? My friend, the Born Again Christian does ‘Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.’ Ephesians 6:18. Born Again, you naturally engage in continual humble requests and dialogue with our Lord in prayer. I’m praying for you as you read this that the Holy Spirit anoint you with Christ’s New Birth, and a sign that you have New Birth is continual prayer.
The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this Scripture, he proclaimed to him the Good News about Jesus. Acts 8:34-35
The eunuch was reading aloud from the Book of Isaiah, the prophesy regarding the servant Messiah who is Jesus Christ. When Philip runs alongside the chariot, then the man asks him to come up to talk with him about the Scripture, we again see the Holy Spirit at work in a heart hungry to receive salvation. Hungry hearts need Jesus.
For you can understand with your mind the humble offer that Christ makes to you as the only servant to salvation yet it is with your heart that by faith you believe. Then the Holy Spirit convicts your heart in such a way that you find that all your hopes, dreams, and desires are actually met in Christ. Christ is everything and His Kingdom is revealed. At Baptism you are sealed in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Good News began when God came down from heaven with a babe in His arms out of His love for you. That child, born to a virgin woman, was God’s own beloved Servant Son. Read aloud, learn with your heart from Scriptures, which also tell of the suffering Servant at the Cross. After Jesus Christ’s glorious Resurrection and at Pentecost abundant life in Jesus is given to us. Christ breathed the Holy Spirit (His real Presence) into believers back then and into hungry hearts now.
Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Acts 8:29-31
The Holy Spirit leads in each salvation event. The Scriptures are in the chariot already. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God which is what Jesus teaches us on the Emmaus Road after He has been Resurrected. The Word of God is God’s Good News found in Jesus Christ and the story of how salvation has come for us. Jesus is the prophesied Savior. Salvation alone is in Jesus Christ.
Philip has previously listened to Peter and John speak this Good News story which convinces and convicts. Philip has preached before the multitudes in Samaria where they gave their humble lives to Christ and were annointed with the Holy Spirit by Peter and John. Let us eagerly view the unfolding of The Secretary of the Queen’s Treasury conversion to Christ’s salvation, a Jewish prostelite needing the Savior.
The man in the chariot does not understand what he is reading from Isaiah and needs a Christian to help him know the full event of Jesus’ suffering death on the Cross, that with His stripes we are healed, His love for this man, and his need for Baptism where the Holy Spirit will be anointing him. Philip’s lead-in question, “Do you understand what you are reading” opens the way for talking. We use this lead-in too.
Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the South to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Acts 8:26-28
The eunuch is searching for Truth and his heart was hungry as he smartly reads the scroll of the Book of Isaiah the Prophet. He is the Secretary of the Treasury working for the queen of Ethiopia. A man who likes numbers to add up correctly and precisely, and who is precise in his understanding of people and events.
Philip and the Ethiopian intersect because of God’s plan, the Lord’s menu of Good News is readied, and an angel brings Philip swiftly to the right place at the right time. There may be times when you do not understand what the Lord is telling you to do yet, my friend, move quickly and focus on what the Lord needs for you to do immediately.
When you get up and go as you respond to our Lord’s directive then you will be in the right place at the right time, with the words He places on your heart to speak and render, and someone else’s life will be led to our Lord just because you responded to our Lord’s prompting from the Holy Spirit. Spirit may speak to you in your heart, in a dream, with an angel, or through other’s directives that are Scriptural and sound.
Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the Word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the Good News to many villages of the Samaritans. Acts 8:25
The first Samaritan convert was the woman at the well with Jesus https://atmyfathersdesk.com/2017/05/04/come-and-see-the-man/ Now after Jesus’ Resurrection the work of the Holy Spirit converts the Samaritans village by village and town by town. This event is marvelous. Let us rejoice in this view of the sweeping fire of the Holy Spirit and also take a forward look together at something excellent next in Acts.
In chapters 8, 9, and 10 three conversions are given to us. In chapter 8 is the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, the son of Ham. In chapter 9 is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the son of Shem. In chapter 10 is the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, the son of Japheth. Remember that the entire human family comes from these three divisions of people after the flood.
Ham, Shem, and Japheth were the sons of Noah. Thus we see that the Holy Spirit is reaching out to all of humanity; available. Also, in each of these three conversions there are three factors: 1.) the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead a person to witness so that the conversion opportunity is opened (go where the Holy Spirit is moving you in your prayer life for another individual), and 2.) the Holy Spirit uses things of Christ the Word of God through a person (use the Scriptures of Christ to witness), and 3.) a person is needed to speak what the Holy Spirit places on their heart for the other’s conversion.
But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.” Acts 8:20-24
The Holy Spirit usually comes at Baptism (Acts 2:38, 19:5-6) and here the Baptized Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit through apostolic anointing by Peter and John. After this, Simon the magician orders Peter to give him anointing Power, offering money to pay. The Scripture today shows how Peter rebukes him.
Peter’s instructions will lead him to New Birth in Christ. Simon the magician can choose to humble his heart and repent allowing the Holy Spirit to transform him yet he chooses self involvement instead of Christ involvement. New Birth occurs when we give ourselves wholly and completely to Christ and then we turn our back firmly on anything that is not of Christ. The New Birth continually enables Christ to transform us to be like Him.
Your heart softens and conforms to Christ’s love and you bow humbled because you are His dear one. You choose selflessness compassionate friends and together look outward to others needs instead of inward to just your needs. As you are growing in Christ-like love joy is found through immersing yourself in the Scriptures. You speak to affirm and encourage the Promises of Jesus into other’s lives and hold fast to them.
But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the Good News about the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were Baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being Baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place. Acts 8:12-13
Simon the magician had been amazing townsfolk then he is saved by Christ and he realizes that Philip is Christ’s real deal. Where Simon had been fooling the people with his performances of magic, Philip is being used by Christ to do Christ’s preaching and healing work. Then by his one action he is defiled. Simon tries to buy his way into being an apostle; Simon is professing false witness.
Jesus shows us what this defilement is: ‘Then Jesus called the crowd to Him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to Him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then He said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”‘ Matthew 15:10-20
Christ cleanses defilement when we repent from our sin. Jesus is with God at the beginning of Creation; for 3 years He speaks only what the Heavenly Father tells Him to speak; Jesus and the Heavenly Father are One. What Jesus Christ began in the hearts of believers when He was alive on earth He continues, and magnifies, in the hearts of believers by the Power of the Holy Spirit. My friend, may your intentions be rooted in Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord.