July 25, 2021
Nothing Can Stop God!
Last Sunday we read and talked about how no matter what, Stephen answered the call. We saw Stephen’s faithfulness cost him his life. This morning the first three verses we read tell how the church reacted to what happened to Stephen. We see not only was Stephen attacked but then the church in Jerusalem was attacked. As a result, most of its members took off for other places. We even see in the third verse Saul led the Jewish people to go house to house searching for Christians. Saul and the other Jewish leaders so desperately wanted to destroy this group of Christians. They literally dragged men and women off to prison in the name of God. The ironic thing is when the scattered church left Jerusalem and went to the other towns, they continued to share about Jesus. The Holy Spirit gave them power to do many miracles, to drive out evil spirits, and to heal the sick, as well as those who had physical limitations. Philip was one person God used to take the Word to Samaria. If you remember, the region of Samaria and, in particular, the Samaritans, were people Israelites would not associate with. They were Gentiles. But that is where God led Philip to proclaim the Word.
We also see in one of the cities of Samaria was a man by the name of Simon. He practiced sorcery. He apparently was able to do some pretty good magic tricks and people thought he had special powers. However, when he saw what Philip was able to do, he realized he had nothing compared to him. The apostles who had remained in Jerusalem heard what God had done through Philip in Samaria and sent Peter and John to help the Samaritans with their understanding of God. When Peter and John shared the complete message of salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit, they truly were changed in a powerful way with special signs that all could see. Simon the sorcerer saw this and sought to buy this power from the apostles. God’s power, however, is not for sale. Ironically, it is free for all who will receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. While Simon had claimed to believe Philip’s message, he had not truly accepted the full message of Jesus as Savior. Peter pointed out that the power of the Holy Spirit is not for sale. Peter also told Simon to repent before it was too late. Simon asked for Peter to pray for God to forgive him and save him.
Peter and John returned to Jerusalem preaching the Word in other Samarian towns as they went, and God’s Word continued to be proclaimed. What an incredible message of God’s power and love in the midst of crisis. Satan continued to try to do what he was not able to do on the cross, stop the message of Jesus Christ the Savior from going forward. Satan continued to kill and destroy, yet God’s Word kept moving ahead. You would have thought Stephen’s murder would have driven everyone into hiding. That it also would have stopped the apostles and their followers from proclaiming the Word, but God is never going to be stopped.
We live in a world where more and more the church is under attack. Our message at times is drowned out by all the other things happening around us. Just like during the early days of the church in Acts we need to keep pressing forward living lives that honestly show God is still alive and waiting to move during the ups and downs we face in life. We may not have all the answers but we believe and serve a God who does. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to provide us power just like he did for Peter and John. The Holy Spirit’s power is not for sale, but anyone can receive it for free when we truly accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. What a story we have to tell!
May this church live in the power of the Holy Spirit recognizing nothing and I mean nothing can stop us when we are doing God’s will. What should have stopped the early church by the stoning of Stephen and the persecution that followed, God actually used to energize the believers. We need to be willing to do what the early church did. When life gives us lemons, make lemonade. Use negative things that come our way to learn from God and move forward in faith. Nothing is too hard for our God and the Holy Spirit.
May God’s word teach us how to deal with both the good, as well as the bad, we face in life. May our faith continue to grow whether we have been following Christ for a short time or a long time. God is not done with us yet. May we never forget that.
As we continue in Acts, may the Holy Spirit reveal new ways to grow and be empowered because as we have seen today, “Nothing can stop God!”
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
Newsletter submissions are due July 28.
We are looking for help with the regular adult Sunday School class. If you are willing to take a turn teaching, please sign the sheet on the east bulletin board.
August 11 Executive Committee
August 14 Oakley Brick Church Pork Chop Supper
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!
Donation Box: AC Bills
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
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Keep in Your Prayers
Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Church of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.