Responding to Challenges (Acts 8:1-24)
Part of the Heart of Our Story series, preached at a Sunday Online service
Acts 8:1–24 (Listen)
8:1 And Saul approved of his execution.
And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.
9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Heart of Our Story
Responding to Challenges
How do you respond to challenges?
Quick lessons to consider:
*Nothing stops God's purpose
*Persecution opens the door to impact
*Challenges led to confidence
*We must set our hearts on His perfect plan while we endure great challenges!
*But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house to house, and dragging men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the Word. Acts 8:3-4
*But when they believed Philip was preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. Acts 8: 12
*Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and Mary the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:22
Three contrasting stories of challenge
I. Paul - Challenge of persecutions. Acts 8:1-4
A. Pain led to greater opportunities
B. Power was unleashed by the preaching of the Word
II. Philip - Challenge of focus - Acts 8:5-12
A. Deliberate choices led to maximum impact
B. Declaring truth was key to life change
III. Simon - Challenge of deception - Acts 8:13-24
A. Intentional acts of deception can confuse but true salvation changes everything.
B. Rebuke of evil lead to energizing opportunities
II Timothy 3:13
Are you prepared for challenges?