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Good morning and welcome to another week of Church here at the Bridge. I am so glad you were able to join us this morning. One quick note that I wanted to share with all of you this morning. We have elected to move to virtual services for this week and next. This is in light of the rapid increase of covid cases in our area and concern for safety.
I struggled with the decision greatly. There is something that needs to be said about the realities of the situations in our world. There are a lot of pressures to meet certain expectations as a leader in this world. Some people will criticize because we shouldn’t be afraid of the virus and we need to trust God. Others will tell you that we have a responsibility to protect people and do everything we can as Christians.
The Truth is that there is some balance in this that we need to recognize that there are time that we need to have some caution and protect others around us but we also need to work to diligently serve and worship our God. It is a fine balance that there is no easy answer for us to come to.
After some prayer and discussion this is why we came to this decision to exercise some caution over this week and next week to make sure we can be safe and care for others in our community. We still trust God and we still look for his guidance and we still seek to worship and honor him this morning. Let us begin by looking at his word.
Acts 8:14–17 NIV
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

This is a strange passage

When i read this passage for the first time this week i was kind of like okay. This is an interesting short little passage. It is an example that some times we have a smaller passage that we can learn something from but we need to understand the bigger picture about the passage to be really able to engage it.
One of the interesting things that stands out about this passage is the relationship the church was having at this point with Samaria. Samaritans were not viewed highly and often looked down upon by the Jewish community.
Not only that but the reality is that up to this point in the book of Acts much of the presentation of the Gospel and the ministry of the disciples was happening in Jerusalem. It is only shortly before the beginning of this passage that we see the persecution of the followers of Jesus had begun.
This caused the people to be scattered and disconnected.
That usually for any movement can lead to the end of the movement. Yet, this wasn’t a movement that was going to be stopped by persecution it had a higher purpose. The People went out and started sharing the Gospel into the areas around them and that included Samaria.
This meant that the Disciples were going to encounter and be working with people that they never expected to. Including Samaritans.

We Forget

Sometimes i wonder if John and Peter were surprised by the fact that they were on the way to Samaria to see what was going on in the church there. Did they experience moments of uncertainty on their travels to see these people? Did they forget who Jesus called them to?
I should note there is nothing in the scriptures to suggest these things but i just can’t help but be curious about these ideas. I think i feel that way because I can imagine myself asking those questions if i would have been in their shoes.
I can’t imagine what it was like to be called to check on this church to see what God was doing in the place that it probably was least expected. That their past and culture told them that it shouldn’t happen.
I think this is something that we do often in our culture today when we hear about people repenting that we have seen as “Known sinners”.
I was thinking about this a lot this week. There was some stories that came up this week that i read about some athletes that had some checkered pasts but are looked on with honor today. People were upset because how can we look at these people with any form of respect. What i find interesting is that these men did have a bad past, but what made them different is they wouldn’t deny what they had done or that they had made mistakes. Instead they would openly admit their flaws and faults to you. They came to faith and are trying to live the life as Men of God. Yet, our culture, yes even Christians in our culture can not forgive them. They hold that over them.
This is what i was pondering this week as i read this passage. Did Peter and John have similar feelings?
Did they have certain expectations they expected when they showed up and found the people who “claimed to be Christians?

God can transform anyone

That is the beauty of this passage though. This is a reminder of the power of God in our lives. Here we have a situation that the Gospel was spreading. It was being shared with more than just the people of Jerusalem it started to spread across the world.
The best part is that the Gospel doesn’t know limits like we do. The truth is that God can transform anyone no matter what culture, past, or other issues they may have had. This visit from John and Peter looks like the mother church or the leadership of the mother church checking up on a situation they weren’t sure of. Yet, it is really a testimony of the fact that the good news was spreading. It can bring people together who you would never expect. It can reconcile people who you would have never have thought would be reconciled.

Sharing with everyone

The truth of the matter is that the Gospel is for everyone. It isn’t a message that know limits. We must realize more and more that the gospel must be shared with all of those we encounter. Yes, that means that we are called to share the Gospel with people who don’t look like yourself.
Have you ever thought about that?
have you ever been willing to share the Love of God with the person whom you would think that you would never talk to?
Maybe that is the exact person you are being called to minister to?
The truth is that the gospel is transfomative and we are called to share it with everyone. The good news can’t be only reserved for those that we want to share it with but for all people.

The Spirit was poured out

We know this is true and had to be a reminder for both Peter and John as the Spirit was given to the Samaritans. The spirit was not a special thing only certain people could have but was a gift for everyone who professes faith.
I can only imagine how Peter and John were changed that day and how they not only impacted the lives of the church in Samaria but were changed themselves and reminded that God was bringing people of all nations together.

Are we Ready?

are you ready?
that is the question we have this morning. Are we Ready to share the Gospel?
Are we ready to show love to the people we least expect?
Who is it that God is calling you to share the message of hope that is Jesus Christ?
Are you open to he might call you to?
If you aren’t or haven’t really every given much though to that i encourage you to start praying about it. Seek God’s direction and his will for who he wants you to share the Gospel with. Open up your hearts and your minds to find those people or that ministry that you weren’t expecting and be willing to go even into the unexpected.
Let’s Pray.
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