Today’s Scrip-Bit 28 December 2009 Acts 8:20‏

Acts 8:20     But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Ah Friends, the Christmas festivities are slowly winding down. Boxing Day is over, and so are the many sales it spawned. I understand people were lined up outside stores from before six a.m. At one mall it took over an hour to find a parking spot. Steups! What is wrong with us eh? We have become such slaves to commercialism it isn’t funny. And the sad part is that many of the items we rush, push and jostle each other to purchase really aren’t that much cheaper. And if they happen to be, when you add the time and energy you waste waiting and enduring the hostile crowds, the few dollars you save aren’t really worth the harassment; at least to me. But that’s the mentality that exists in our society today; it’s all about the money. It does seem though, as our Bit suggests, that the money can buy all things philosophy also existed in ancient Israel, albeit on a lesser scale. Now the story here is that after Bruh Paul, then known as Saul, encouraged the stoning death of Stephen, ‘he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and hailing (dragging off) men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.’ (Acts 8:3-4). Oh Bruh Paul! What a monster he was before the Lord struck him down! In a sense though, his persecuting the early Church actually helped spread the Word, for when they ran from him, they preached the gospel wherever they went. This led to Philip going down to a city in Samaria and having a successful tour, preaching, healing and converting many. However, in that city lived a man named Simon, a sorcerer (magician) who held the people captive with his unethical practices, proclaiming that he was someone of worth. Now he had done this for such a long time that they all believed; ‘This man is a great power of God,’ and held him in high esteem. (Acts 8:9-11) But when the people heard Philip preach the gospel, they believed and were baptized, including the sorcerer Simon. ‘And when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered (was amazed), beholding the miracles and signs that were done.’ (Acts 8:13) But his celebrity days were numbered, for when the apostles back in Jerusalem heard that Samaria was bubbling with excitement over the gospel, they sent John and Peter to further spread the good news. When those two arrived in the city, they prayed that the people would receive the Holy Spirit, cause they hadn’t as yet. They’d only been baptized in the name of Jesus. ‘Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.’ (Acts 8:17) Simon must have been rendered speechless or simply exclaimed a mighty ‘Wow!’ ‘And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whosoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.’ (Acts 8:18-19) And that’s when Peter lit into him with Today’s Bit, proclaiming; ‘Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.’ My Friends, that’s gospel! It can’t be bought because it’s a gift of God, though there are many examples of people trying to buy or barter it, all unsuccessfully of course. Let’s look at a few. The first one that comes to mind is the Syrian captain, Naaman, healed of leprosy by Elisha telling him to go and wash in the Jordan seven times. He then offers Elisha gifts. ‘Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore I pray thee, take a blessing (gift) of thy servant. But he (Elisha) said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it, but he refused.’ (2 Kings 5:15-16) And we all know what finally happened: Elisha’s greedy servant, Gehazi, ran behind Naaman and lied, saying that Elisha had a change of heart, and now wanted some money and clothes for two sons of prophets that had just come to him. In his euphoria at being healed of the leprosy Naaman gave him more than he asked for. But when Gehazi returned to Elisha and was asked where he’d been, he lied again and said nowhere. But Elisha being a true man of God, knew his lies and gravely declared: ‘The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.’ (2 Kings 5:27) Oh Friends, it doesn’t pay to lie to God or His people, or be greedy and go behind the backs of others and accept gifts for services or blessings that were freely given. Isaiah was even more forceful and adamant about God’s blessings in a free offer of mercy to all. ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness (abundance).’ (Isa.55:1-2) Yes my people, the blessings of God are FREE! They are offered to all and sundry who believe. There’s no need for money or gifts to be passed or offered so they can be procured. The only requirement is to accept Him into your hearts and keep Him securely dwelling there. Oh my Friends, sadly, time and space have run out today, but there’s much more to say on this topic, so we will continue it tomorrow; God willing of course. Till then, let’s truly seek God and His free blessings, without which our lives will be lost forever. Much LOVE!…oh the promise is free…the gift is free…only believe…

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