Prayer Focus: Sudan

Bible Reading: Acts 5-8

Scripture:
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. (Acts 8:9-13)

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”  (Acts 8:18-24)

Observation:

It’s so easy to be impressed by power, isn’t it?  We go to magic shows specifically TO be impressed.  illusionist devote their lives to the study and practice of their art.

It’s unclear if Simon actually had a power or if he practiced illusion, but when the apostles came and laid hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit, Simon was so impressed that he wanted to pay to have that power too.  Peter rebukes him quickly, telling him to repent.

Application:

When it’s laid out so bare like this, it’s obvious that Simon is wrong.  Obvious that he’s chasing after fame and after the apostles to learn where they get their power in order to acquire it for himself.  But before I gloss over this, thinking that it doesn’t apply to me, I want to look at it closer.

If I am honest with myself, I have to recognize that I like shows of power.  I am hardwired to want to see signs and miracles.  Harry Blackstone, David Copperfield and many more were like Simon, who called themselves “great” and made their living this way.  It’s what drew Simon into the apostle’s company in the first place.

The difference, of course, is that God sent Jesus and used signs and miracles as proof of his authenticity.  Jesus sent the apostles, and empowered them with the ability to do miracles to prove their authenticity.   The power they used, the source of it,  was from God – not their own.

Simon’s sin was the pursuit of the power instead of the pursuit of God.  It’s about who get’s the glory, right?  When you are a follower of Christ, and using His power to heal, you act as a conduit, then there is no question about who is great or where the power is coming from.  Right?  Yet putting the issue of miracles or magic aside, I know that I have been guilty of first pursuing my power over pursuing God plenty of times.

While I might not apply the use of magic to myself, I totally understand the want for power, for fame.  I understand the desire to make your mark, be called “great” and leave something of yourself that people remember.  It’s what makes this sin look so attractive to me.  So, I’m glad this cautionary tale is left for us here.

Prayer:

Lord, please check my life.  Show me where I transpose my glory for yours.  Test me,and show through any means necessary the places where I try to stand up and claim the victories that you’ve  secured.  Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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