Stopping the Flow
June 16, 2019 | Lisa Degrenia
Passage: Acts 8:9-24
Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Last week we read the story of Pentecost. (Acts 2) Over and over again it talked about pouring and filling and pouring and filling. Romans 5:5 is another scripture which talks about the Holy Spirit being poured into our lives.
These scriptures draw us to a very important question: Why do you want a relationship with God? Has your why changed over the years?
Some would say, "It’s the right thing to do." Others would say, "I was raised this way. I was carried into the church in the arms of my family. I've always had a relationship with God."
When I first started pursuing a relationship with God, I was 15 years old and I didn't want to burn in hell. I was scared to death and scared of death. I'd seen a TV show about the end of the world. There wasn't an adult around to tell me this was opinion, not necessarily fact. The idea of "turn or burn" was reinforced at the neighborhood church I began attending.
Over time my why has changed. Instead of being a fearful slave of God, it changed into a relationship of grace, love, and hope. I'm eternally grateful for that.
The "why" of us wanting to have a relationship with God is really important because it colors everything.
- How we see God and understand God
- How we read scripture
- How we look at serving, grace, hope, and eternal life
It’s important to check our motivations from time to time. Our motivation can be like a faucet. It can direct the flow of the Holy Spirit in our life. If our motivation is twisted in the wrong way, it can turn off the flow of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we're reading a cautionary tale. The scriptures are full of examples to follow and examples to avoid. This is one to avoid.
Side Note: There is nothing wrong with magic. The problem is Simon's heart, not that he's a magician.
Read Acts 8:9-24, the story of Simon the Sorcerer
Simon the Magician desired a relationship with God so God could be a means to an end. Jesus was a Divine Santa Claus to give him everything on his wish list. The Holy Spirit, a Cosmic Insider to hook him up with power, fame, and social status.
Am I like Simon? Simon’s story is a cautionary tale – full of wrong motivations. When we come across a story like this it’s important for us to pause, hold up a mirror, and ask, "Am I like Simon?" What’s my motivation for desiring a relationship with God? Why do I want the Holy Spirit?
It matters. It matters a great deal. It can be the difference between the Holy Spirit flowing in our lives and the turning off of the Spirit of God.
- Wrong Motivation: Draw Attention to Yourself
- Right Motivation: Draw Attention to God
Acts 8:9b-10, Simon likes showing-off. He is hungry for attention and fame.
[Simon boasted] saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.”
Acts 8:12-13, Philip draws attention to God
12 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. 13 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.
Phillip is filled with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news and perform real signs and wonders, not magical illusions. Lives are being transformed and he keeps pointing them to Jesus. He does nothing for personal gain or status. He's like Vanna on Wheel of Fortune, he points to the Word, constantly pointing people to Jesus.
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
We let our light shine so others say, "Look what God is doing! Yay God!"
Example: Trinity Director of Traditional Music, LaTerry Butler, always replying to a compliment with, "Thanks be to God... Glory to God... Blessed be the Name..."
- Wrong Motivation: Be THE Leader (Not be a leader. Phillip, Peter, and John are all leaders.) Who is sitting on the throne of your heart?
- Right Motivation: Follow Jesus
Acts 8:10, 11 both report the crowds listened eagerly to Simon. The people followed him and treated him like a god. Simon did not correct them. He liked it.
God is my co-pilot. No, God is the pilot.
- Wrong Motivation: Build up Myself
- Right Motivation: Build Up Others
Acts 8:18-20, Simon wants to buy God’s power for his own benefit
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!"
Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin, Bob Neuwirth, Michael Mcclure
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends. So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV? Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me. I wait for delivery each day until three. So oh Lord, won't you buy me a color TV?
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town? I'm counting on you, Lord, please don't let me down. Prove that you love me and buy the next round. Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town?
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
1 Corinthians 12:7
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
What are we to do? Phillip, Peter, and John model it for us. They are always following Jesus and always pointing to Jesus. Jesus is the leader and forgiver of their lives, their Lord and Savior.
Peters speaks the truth in love to Simon. Your heart is wrong! You need to repent. You need to turn away from this and turn towards God.
Simon says, "Pray for me." (Acts 8:24) Simon is open to change and that's the good news for all of us.
God keeps reaching out to us again and again and again. To create in us a clean heart, to renew in us a right spirit, to restore to us the joy of our salvation, and place in us a willing spirit.
It is a journey. We can turn and learn and become the people we were meant to be.
There's good news in the awakening. There's good news in realizing I haven't given that over to God yet. There's time to do it.
Why do you want a relationship with God? Who's sitting on the throne of your heart? How can you more and more point to Jesus?
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
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