Read - Acts 8v3-8
Message - Scott Woodburn
As chapter eight begins the church is experiencing great persecution at the hands of a man called Saul (v3) and yet the story of the Gospel doesn't end. The Lord governs all creation with a wise and providential hand and even the persecution of His church is used by the Lord for good.
How can this be so? The persecution in Jerusalem scatters the church here, there and everywhere and wherever the believers ended up, they preached the Word (v4). Philip ends up in Samaria and immediately set about preaching Christ (v5). The Samarian response was wonderful. The crowds listened intently to what was being said and the message was confirmed by signs and wonders (v6).
Unclean spirits were driven out and the paralyzed and lame were healed (v7). The Gospel had arrived in Samaria and the result was great joy (v8). Today, if we could somehow put joy into a bottle we would make an absolute fortune. This year was supposed to be radically different from 2020 and yet in the past week our lockdown has been extended. When we do meet, we keep our distance and talk about Granny who has received her vaccine. Every day seems like the last one. Homeschooling tests our patience and family bond. We grow angry when we see the number of cars heading for Newcastle and wonder if we are the only ones taking Covid seriously. Oh what we would give for a bit of joy!
My friends the joy in Samaria came as a direct result of the Gospel. The problems those men and women faced didn't suddenly disappear. Those healed of demons and physical ailments still had to get on with life. Work needed to be done. Families needed to be fed. Leaky roofs needed to be fixed but still, Gospel joy had come.
I pray today for that same joy to return abundantly to our lives. Even in the midst of our problems may the extraordinary gift of the Gospel ring in our souls. Christ has made an end to our sin and His resurrection is a certain guarantee that we too will stand again on this earth. We have been blessed by the gift of the Holy Spirit who strengthens our legs for days like these and even if the world is turned upsidedown we know that nothing can pluck us from Christ's hand.
Christmas may be an increasingly distant memory but brothers and sisters "joy to the world! The Lord is come!"
Q100 What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us? The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven,” teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.