Acts 8:14-16—Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
After Stephen was murdered, the Jews that opposed the church began to imprison them. The believers scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, preaching the word as they went. Philip went to a city of Samaria. When the people saw the miracles that God did through him and heard his preaching, they paid close attention to what he said. The apostles had remained in Jerusalem. On hearing the good news that Samaria was accepting the word of God, they sent Peter and John to help. Philip had preached the good news successfully, but as yet, no one had been filled with the Spirit. Peter and John prayed that they would be filled. They knew how important it was to have the Spirit working through them to produce lasting results. They remembered how Jesus had asked them to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Spirit, who would empower them for ministry. These new converts in Samaria were like the disciples before Pentecost. They believed and were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Yet, they still lacked the power that would enable them to really be a witness of the new life in Christ. After praying for them, they laid hands on the new converts and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Later in the same chapter, a man wanted to pay them money to receive the Spirit. Obviously they did not lay hands on everyone, or he would not have had to make such an offer. He was rebuked for the very idea that the gift of God can be purchased. Reader, do you sense the need for the power to be an example of the Christian life. To be a witness not only means to tell others, but to live an example before others. If you are willing to obey, to let Jesus be the Master of your life, ask Him to fill you. He will (Luke 11:13).
1 Chronicles 16:8-11—Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
Chronicles record the story of the ark coming to Jerusalem. The first time they tried to bring it their own way, and Uzzah died. The second time they did it according to the word of the LORD. There was great rejoicing. David danced so all-out that his wife despised him. Musicians were appointed to play before the ark on a regular basis. David gave gifts of food to everyone. It was truly a festive occasion. At that time, David committed a psalm to his worship leader, Asaph. He didn’t just give it to him but committed it to him. Asaph had this Spirit inspired song and was now responsible to see it sung. Is that how we feel about Spirit inspired music? It is committed to our worship leaders so that they see it is sung to the LORD. In this psalm, David commands us to give thanks to the LORD, to call on His name and to tell the nations what God has done. He is commanding us to send out missionaries. We are to sing to Him! We often sing about Him, telling of His wonderful acts, but we need to sing to Him also. We are to glory in His holy name. His name is the sum of His attributes. Glory in all that God is! If you seek the LORD, your heart should rejoice. Then David shared a lesson that was just reinforced. He sought God when the Philistine army came against Israel. The first time God directed them one way to victory. The second time God directed them in a different way, and they defeated the enemy again. Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. That is something Saul did not do, but David was determined to do.
Acts 7:55-56, 60—But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
One of the first deacons was a man named Stephen. He had such a powerful witness that no one could resist the wisdom with which he presented Jesus as the Messiah. That made a group of Jews very angry. They hired some false witnesses to falsely testify against him, accusing him of speaking against the law and the temple. Stephen began to recount their history. He reminded them that God had spoken through the prophets saying God did not live in buildings. Then he reminded them that their forefathers had always killed God’s messengers just as they had killed the One that Moses had predicted would come to them. In a rage, they dragged Stephen out to stone him. Stephen had a vision of Jesus standing to receive him. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, the place of power and authority. He stands to receive His martyrs, His witnesses. Stephen’s last words were to the One in the vision. He asked that He not hold the sin they were committing against them. That is what Jesus had requested of the Father on the cross. The first of many martyrs for the cause of Christ fell asleep, the Lord sparing his body the pain of the rocks that were to pummel his body. Stephen had the boldness that the apostles prayed for. He did not back down when threatened but used it as an opportunity to speak the truth. We need such an example today. Many we meet are living in careless disregard for the God that made them. They ignore His sacrifice as if it were nothing. Someone needs to tell them. We need the boldness that Stephen had to speak the truth in love. His words fell on the ears of Saul, who would later become the apostle to the Gentiles.
1 Chronicles 11:17-19—And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD, And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives, they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest.
David’s mighty men were so committed to him because of the Spirit they saw upon him that an expressed desire caused them to risk their lives. Not every desire of an anointed leader is from the Lord. Leaders who have such loyal men must be very careful in what they say to those who support them in ministry. David longed for a drink from the well in Jerusalem. These three mighty warriors decided they would battle their way to the well and back to honor his request. When David received the water, he did something that must have broken their hearts. He poured it out to before the LORD. Then he explained why. The men had risked their lives for his personal desire. David knew that life was sacred and should only be put on the line for the One who gave life. How could he partake of something those men had risked their lives for? That would cheapen life and put him in the position of God. Later in David’s life, he did cross this boundary for a different desire. This passage shows us that he clearly knew where the line was. Devotion to an anointed leader is a good thing as long as that leader is expressing God’s desires and not his own. We have the Spirit and must discern which is which.