November 23

November 23

Peter — Ethiopian Eunuch — Discussing Isaiah 53, a 700-year old prophecy about Jesus.

Today’s Readings:
Reading 1: Acts 8:4-40
Reading 2: Isaiah 53
Reading 3: Acts 9:32-43

The  martyrdom of Stephen leads to persecution for the believers. It is unsafe to congregate in Jerusalem and they are scattered to the surrounding areas of Judea and Samaria. Another of the first deacons, Philip, went  to Samaria (regarded by devout Jews as a heathen stronghold because it was the capital of the ungodly nation of Israel when the nation was judged by God).

Philip had no regard for racial divisions, and told the Samaritans about the Messiah. With much supernatural power, there was a great revival and even powerful, ungodly Simon the Sorcerer believed in Jesus!

This episode shows us several things: first: that God wants everyone to hear and believe, even those we might think are beyond salvation. Second, it is the regular people, the newly appointed leaders, who push the envelope and go beyond the assumed barriers; the apostles were still in Jerusalem and had to come to Samaria to catch up with what God was doing after the fact!

Peter. who is our focus in the early part of Acts, brings leadership to this new work of God and corrects the omission of the Holy Spirit from their belief. And Philip goes on, following the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to meet a high Ethiopian official. This man is seeking God, and reading Isaiah 53. Philip explains God’s good news and the Ethiopian is convinced, asking to be baptized. Philip is having an amazing time – first he escapes persecution and goes to the people whose ancestors God had rejected, then he leaves the revival he had started to meet with one man – a hugely influential government official from a foreign nation, and next he finds himself miraculously transported to a different place where he carries on preaching!

Peter, meanwhile, also travels around and sees God do great things through him. In the twin towns of Lydda and Sharon, one miracle leads to the whole town turning to Jesus. And nearby, the death of a much loved believer is turned around when they ask Peter to come and he sees the first resurrection of the church age.

So what does God want to do through you today? From these readings, the possibilities are endless!

Have a great day!

Mark.

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