The Work of the Holy Spirit

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.

Choose Christ Daily

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.

Holy Intentions

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.

Unafraid and Confident In Faith

Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the Word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed, and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:4-8

Believers are scattered because of the brutal persecution taking place in Jerusalem. Although they have been spread out into the multitude of towns and cities, they are not passively silent for they are His proclaimers of Christ’s Resurrection and salvation. Joy is in Samaria where Christ is preached through Philip. The Holy Spirit’s fire is burning within hearts alive in Christ and believers are in one accord eager to be used by Christ.

Like Stephen, Philip is unafraid and confident in faith. These believers hear about the Word of God as hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit’s strong assurance Christ lives. Philip repeats the promises of Jesus, tell His parables and gives them understanding of Jesus’ three year ministry to give us all of God. They humbly give themselves to Christ and then they bring others to Christ by sharing their own stories of giving themselves to Lord Jesus and being Baptized.

Preacher Philip is one of the seven men who were chosen in Acts 6, Philip, is used by Christ for His continuing Advent of Miracles, casting out evil spirits, and curing of illnesses that had never been cured before. Christ is alive and using believers then and and uses you today. Can Jesus use you in such a manner as He used Philip? Certainly. Your eagerness to do your most for Him makes it so.

Fan The Fire Of The Holy Spirit

And Saul approved of their killing Stephen. That day a severe persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem, and all except the Apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the Church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison. Acts 8:1-3

Viscous persecution of the Christian believers begins that day. Christians are singled out because of the revolution of the Holy Spirit’s Power — Spirit Wind blowing within hearts of new believers like a hot brushfire on open dry grassland. All who speak to Him discover Him and love Him. The Holy Spirit’s Power today is just as fiery, Spirit strengthens you to do faith, do forgive, and do forge ahead in Christ.

Early believers and we today memorize and do what Jesus says: This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14 Go ahead and bear fruit my friend, bring others to Him. He assures you that ‘My Heavenly Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name.’ John 15:16 Fruit bearing and prayer are both dependent on obeying His commands to love.

You fan the fire of the Holy Spirit fueled to burn brighter as you love others like Christ. Love within you frees you to prayerfully enter into the Holy Presence of our loving Almighty God. As the Holy Spirit’s Fire burns brightly within them these early Christians firmly love even their enemies and are imprisoned, tortured, injured, and martyred for our faith. These dear ones show you that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Romans 8:31-39

Do Not Hold This Sin Against Them

Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. Acts 7:58-60

Stoned unjustly for his Spirit filled words about the Israelites turning away from God and rejection of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ, the witnesses who were legally required to cast the first stones at the offender (Deut. 17:7) murder Stephen. Our hearts are filled with sadness as the first martyred believer is treated so cruelly. We may blame this on mob mentality or closed minds yet the Scripture alerts us that the stoning is a direct result of uncircumcised hearts and ears, rejection of the Holy Spirit.

Those on the council would not bow their necks to God’s yoke nor draw near to the Word of God. The miracle of extreme extraordinary assistance, like Ezekiel 8:1-4, lifts Stephen’s suffering to the throne of God as both Christ and God stand ready to receive him. Before any sentence is passed they rush at Stephen, laying their cloaks at the feet of Saul– Saul who Jesus would later knock off his high horse and speak redeeming Grace, this Saul who cannot guess right now that he too would be stoned for the same cause of Christ.

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” as Stephen prays aloud, worshipping Christ in the very manner in which Christ worshipped our Heavenly Father on the Cross. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” as Stephen like Christ requests that our Heavenly Father continue to pursue the hearts of unbelievers even in the midst of their unrighteous unspeakable evil ways. Look to the Cross then also use, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” as the blessed Holy Spirit enables us to draw the lost ones to Christ in all ways we can and at all times we can.

Spirit Always Victorious!

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into Heaven and saw the Glory of God and Jesus standing at the right Hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the Heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right Hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Acts 7:54-57

Stephen is completely filled with the Holy Spirit as he speaks to the council, so much so that when he looks up into Heaven he sees the Glory of God and Christ. This was not his imagination nor a emotional event prompted by the tense situation he was in for this is the fullness of his witness in Truth. In reaction, the men on the council cover their ears not wanting to hear about Resurrected Jesus standing at the right Hand of God. They cover their ears as their hearts are vacant of all faith, causing them to grind their teeth in anger.

Some may think ‘poor Stephen, he is about to be murdered because he was just one person standing against so many angry men.’ Yet Stephen would say, “Not poor me; please rejoice with me for I stood fast in faith in our Resurrected Christ and witnessed to these unbelievers and murders of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was and is victorious!” Even if you are just one person speaking the right things for our Resurrected Christ stand fast and strong in the Holy Spirit and fear nothing of this world that may hurt you.

Each witness for Christ receives the victory! We do not fear death. Our fear is that our witness will shrink us into background-people because when we are put to the test-of-our-faith by anyone in this world we choose to be afraid to stand firm in our faith and rise to the challenge set before us. Take Stephen as your template to witness for Jesus and speak boldly about Jesus Christ. “Be not afraid,” Jesus says, “I have overcome this world.” He has and this world cannot harm our faith in Him anywhere, anytime, or any believer.

Heart Stayed, Ears Filled

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the Prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become His betrayers and murders. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.” Acts 7:51-53

These men were physically circumcised but not circumcised in their hearts and ears. In other words, they would not listen to God nor to the Son of God. They missed much of what God gave them because of their stiff-necked self serving ways even though the Prophets had given them every opportunity to expect Jesus Messiah Savior. Empowered by the Spirit, Stephen speaks before this cold hearted council and they hear not by their own choices.

Choice can lead to you Jesus or lead away from Jesus. What choices are you making my friend? By that I mean is your heart stayed in the Holy Spirit and your ears filled with Jesus Christ’s words from Scriptures? Is prayer to Him your first thought when you listen to others tell you of their struggles. Prompted by the Spirit of Truth (John 14:15-17) do you take action to do what Spirit prompts you to do to help, to answer with support and encouragement, and to give of yourself to the lost, lonely, and the ‘least of these’ children?

To be circumcised in heart and ears is to experience New Birth in Christ (John 3:1-21) and become a Holy Spirit Baptized Christian. This is the glorious beginning for then the Spirit of Truth will guide you in all things as you yield yourself to Spirit. Filled with the Spirit, Jesus Christ has come to fulfill the law, show us God Almighty, and and give us Spirit. Filled with the Spirit, Jesus allowed evil to put Him to death and then burst evil’s grip of destruction on our hearts and ears by His Resurrection as the angels rejoiced. Spirit shows the one way to God through Jesus Christ is open and stays open.

We Are A Blessed Generation!

This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as He raised me up.’ He is the one who was in the congregation (Church) in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him… Acts 7:37-39

Stephen speaks now about the One within the history of the Israelites where Another has been woven into important heritage events. This One is our Messiah Jesus our Lord and Savior; Jesus is always where God is! Jesus Resurrected is in the Holy Spirit through Stephen as Stephen reveals Jesus Christ to these stiff necked listeners on the council. Stephen wants to convert them.

Stephen refers to the living oracles (v. 39) which are the Ten Commandments. Moses met God on the mountain top and later Moses met Jesus, with Elijah, on another mountain top at the Transfiguration. Where God spoke to one man Moses, now through belief in Christ we hear Him speak within our hearts. We are a blessed generation! Jesus Christ is the Word of God our mediator; our heartfelt desire to be used to convert others is lifted to Jesus who elaborates and purifies these for God to respond.

Jesus Word of God, can discern all secret intentions of your heart. ‘Indeed the Word of God is living and active …’ Hebrews 4:12. In other words, you have absolutely no secrets from Jesus Christ. This activity of Christ’s allows Him to love you completely and fully, and use you for His spiritual purposes done by the Holy Spirit (like invite a stiff necked listener to yield to Christ). The living oracles of the Spirit are within the living Word of God Jesus Christ. As with Stephen, your dear Holy Spirit enlivens your eyes, rejoices your heart, converts souls, and raises you from the dead.

Following And Listening To God

When he (Moses) was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. Acts 7:23-24

Stephen points out that by an impulse from God, Moses visits his Jewish family and sees a task master is mistreating an Israelite man. Moses’ all encompassing love for his people is extremely strong fuel although he has been raised and has been working in Pharaoh’s household, groomed in how to act with authority. Yet out of intense anger Moses strikes the task master down and murders him to avenge the wrong done to the Jewish man. Because of this event Moses is demeaned, then flees yet to find himself working for an Israelite family with whom he finds loving companionship through the Heavenly Father and unity in the One True God.

Through Spirit inspired words, Stephen directs the council to grasp the understanding that faith is based on following and listening to God instead of self-driven actions and thoughts. By the Spirit, Stephen is fighting the good fight of faith right now– using his words. Throughout his dialogue Jesus Christ is anointing these words about God’s chosen people so that Stephen might present to them His Chosen One Messiah and Lord.

For Moses, it is another 40 years before the burning bush ignites his heart with great desire to serve the Heavenly Father. On Mount Sinai Moses receives the, ‘You shall not murder.’ (Exodus 20:13) Murder is on the minds of those in the council as they listen to Stephen defend himself against a half-truth. Stephen has the Holy Spirit– who gives us everything when tests of faith occur, when persecution comes at us, and where on our own we would fail. Faith is the Spirit powerfully moving in situations to shield your heart as your words speak volumes for our Lord and Savior.