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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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ARE YOU TRYING TO MANIPULATE GOD?

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. (Acts 8:18-21 ESV)

Samuel A CainSimon desired the ability to lay hands on people so they would receive the Holy Spirit. However, he tried to buy the gift of God with silver from men who had received it by grace. Peter then told Simon that his heart was not right with God. Simon was a master manipulator who tried to manipulate God with a bribe to His servants. His effort failed because God cannot be manipulated.

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:17 ESV)

Our world today seems to thrive on manipulation. This attitude of using manipulation to get what you want has even taken hold in the church. Many Christians have come to believe that if they follow the right formula (a form of paganism), God will give them all their desires. Some believe if they think certain thoughts or speak certain words God must respond to their wish list.  Tempted by such ideas, some begin to use prayer as a means for getting their own way.  They begin to believe that if they just have enough faith, God will be their Santa Claus. 

Some have even fallen into idolatry. They ignore what the Bible teaches about God and assume they know God through their own ideas and experiences. They are continuously remaking God in their own image. Their focus is not on the glory of God, but on their own greed, needs and opinions. This is paganism.

God is in charge, not us. Many may not want to accept this, but GOD WILL NOT BE MANIPULATED! God knows what is best for us, even if we do not agree. We must learn to trust God to give us what is best for us. God is not a means to our end. The principal distinction between Biblical faith in God and paganism is that Biblical convictions are a response to truth and paganism seeks to control God. Scriptural faith aims to satisfy God, while paganism aims to satisfy self. There are many who imagine that God is only glorified when they are granted personal advantages. However, God is truly glorified when we live holy lives that reflect the righteousness and wisdom of Jesus.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)

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