Acts 8:4-25

Today’s devotional is written by Pastor Vance Rains.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It’s not surprising a Jewish Messiah would direct his disciples toward Jerusalem and Judea, the ancient home of the Jewish people. But, Samaria was a different story. For centuries, Jews despised Samaritans.

Technically, Jews and Samaritans were related. When the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judea divided, Jews living in the region of Samaria adopted non-Jewish religious practices and intermarried with non-Jews. Samaritans were the embodiment of all traditional Judaism considered unfaithful and unclean. Jews did all they could to avoid Samaritans, and went out of their way to avoid Samaria.

But, not Jesus. Jesus, himself, led the Disciples into Samaria, meeting the woman at the well in Sychar. Jesus made a Samaritan the hero of one of his parables. And, when Jesus sent his disciples into the world, he included dreaded Samaria.

Acts 8 tells the story. Philip went to Samaria, and preached the Gospel. Samaritans responded enthusiastically to the message of Jesus as the Resurrected Lord, and many were baptized.

Acts 8:14-17 says, “When word reached the apostles in Jerusalem that Samaria had accepted God’s word, they commissioned Peter and John to go to Samaria.  Peter and John went down to Samaria where they prayed that the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit.  This was because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. So Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

What a remarkable shift! For years, Peter and John, and the rest of the disciples, were raised to despise and avoid Samaritans. Now, transformed by the Holy Spirit, they overcame a lifetime of prejudice and hate, and shared the most precious gift they had – the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When have you overcome a personal prejudice?

When has the Spirit led you outside of your comfort zone?

Do you realize the tremendous gift the Holy Spirit is? With whom will you share her/him?

What are your thoughts, comments, or questions? We’d love to hear from you!

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