1. Saul abused his religious powers in persecuting Christians, the early church and encouraging others to have Stephen put to death for preaching Christ. Since such a prominent figure as Paul practiced persecution, many people wrongly followed his example by whipping up opposition to growth of Christâs church. Dr. Luke wrote, "And at that time there was great persecution against the church and the Christians were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria." (Acts 8:1) Ask the Lord to help you to avoid criticizing, opposing or hindering Christâs church. Trust the Lord to help you to avoid abusing any of the powers that God has given you.
2. God used Philip, a Greek speaking Jew, to go down to the city of Samaria and preach Christ in the power of the Spirit. Because Philip had experienced rejection from many of the Hebrew speaking Jews, he knew what it was to be persecuted and to be discriminated against so he was able to minister more effectively to the "half-breed" Samaritans. God used Philip rejection, suffering and uprooting for the sake of winning many Samaritans to faith in Christ. Godâs power often comes to people like the Samaritans who are most spiritually hungry and obedient to His will. Ask the Lord to allow each bad experience to be used for Godâs good ö just as in the case of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Remember that God often works out good in all things as long as we are willing to continue to love God and fit into His plans. (Rom. 8:28) Ask the Lord to help you to obey, trust and see beyond your immediate circumstances to how the Lord will use adversity to multiply His kingdom and righteousness through you ö as He did in the life of Philip and Joseph. Trust the Lord to help you work with people who are hungry for the power of Godâs truth, kingdom and love.
3. Realize that there will probably be people like Simon the sorcerer who will try to take personal advantage of the fruits of the Spiritâs working. Simon was a deceptive person who thought he could use money, magic and trickery to manipulate people for his own profit, power and popularity. Trust the Lord to help you to gain the discernment that is necessary to see through the motives of selfishly ambitious people. Ask the Lord to help you to use the power of the gospel and the truth of the scriptures to stay on the offensive rather than to be so afraid of making a mistake that you end up doing very little for Christ, the gospel or His church.
4. God used the power of the Jerusalem church and apostles to send Peter and John to come to Samaria to lay hands and pray for the Samaritans. The Lord used this public event to bring many more to Christ and to collectively cement the relationship of the new Samaritan church with their mother church in Jerusalem. God significantly used the prayer of Peter and John to unite in spirit the hearts of the believers in Samaria and Jerusalem and to bring confirmation of their unity despite ethnic differences. Though many individuals may have already become Christians at the preaching of Philip, God used the public event to give a people movement emphasis toward the Samaritans empowering of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord to allow you to utilize the power of public events, people movements and the confirming prayers of Godly people to give a greater witness to the empowering of the Holy Spirit for multiplication reasons.
5. God warned everyone throughout the ages to fear being cut off from the power of the Holy Spirit, as Simon the sorcerer was, who was only baptized, but had not placed saving faith in Christ as Savior. The greatest freedom, benefits and fruit comes to people who are continually controlled by the Spiritâs power, not their own clever skills, methods or motives. Ask the Lord to help you to avoid any tendency to rely on anything but Godâs kingdom, truth or churchâs power. Godâs power is best demonstrated through His people.