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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

Do You Seek the Gift or the Giver? by Pastor Paul Becker

Acts 8:9-25

Think about this “Jesus thing:” Are you in it for the Fire and Life Insurance? Or perhaps the benefits of the Blessing of the Month Club? Avoiding the fires of Hell, being assured of Heaven, and having the hope of a comfortable life on Earth are motivating forces that can bring people to Jesus. However, these are selfish motives to be examined, confessed, and repented of.

The story of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8 shows us what a false conversion looks like. Simon was a Samaritan who had a famous career as a Sorceror.  People said of him: This man is rightly called the Great Power of God. We can classify him as a Showman who lived for his gigs and enjoyed the admiration of his audiences. As the story unfolds, Simon professes Jesus as Lord and submits to baptism.  He does this with the hope of having the ability to lay hands on people to give them access to the Holy Spirit. After Simon was baptized, he did not have the power of the Holy Spirit.  When he saw that the Apostles Peter and John had come to town, Simon offered to pay them money for some Holy Spirit power. Simon’s conversion was false.

Peter’s response to Simon’s “deal” was a powerful rebuke:

May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right before God.  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. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.

Peter’s rebuke offers us simple questions for self-diagnosis: Is my heart set on the gifts Jesus offers, or is my heart set on him? Is my service to him dedicated to giving him all glory, even if I get little or none? Even if I am rejected, reviled, or criticized by others? Or do I seek to be loved, admired, and adored by others?

This passage examines and diagnoses our hearts. Listen to Pastor Paul’s sermon, which ends with a treatment plan for a heart that is not right before God. The plan includes cultivating a heavenly mindset, trusting God unwaveringly, and offering love in his name to others daily.

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