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Sun, Apr 02, 2017

Useful or Beautiful

Inside every relationship there is a struggle between loving the person and loving what the person (or the love) does for us. This clearly enters into our faith and relationship with Jesus. Do we love Jesus, or what Jesus does for us? In this passage Simon, a publicly declared “great” local magician, is overshadowed by Holy Spirit miracles. Simon in turn was in awe of the power of God, and what that power could potentially do FOR him, but not by God himself. Ultimately his love wasn’t for Jesus but for himself. We often treat Jesus, church and one another in this exact way: “What’s in it for me?” However, Jesus, the embodiment of Love, was the opposite. He gave up all of himself; his greatness; his union with the Father in order to become less and be sacrificed for us and our inheritance. In doing this, he reveals our inherent anti-greatness while giving us the gift of his greatness.
Worship Order

Prelude: Jon Foreman - Lord, Save Me From Myself

Call To Worship: Psalm 100:1-5 ESV

Songs: You Are So Good To Me, From The Inside Out, How Deep the Father's Love For Us

Prayer: Resting on God (adapted from The Valley of Vision)

Illustration: Revenge of the Sith - Dark Power

Sermon Title: Useful or Beautiful?

Central Text: Acts 8:5-25 ESV

4.02.17 Slides

IllustratIon: Jim Gaffigan - Myself

Closing: Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

Scripture Readings

Call To Worship: Psalm 100:1-5 ESV
LEADER: 1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.


ALL:  4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  


Prayer: Resting on God (adapted from The Valley of Vision)  
LEADER:  O Most High and Glorious God, The world is before us each day and we are weak and distressed. But in You we are firm as the eternal hills.
ALL: Your arm to support. Strength to stand. Light to see. Your presence alone brings peace.
LEADER:  Let the weeds that grow in our hearts be cut at their roots.  Abide in us, O gracious God and comfort our hearts with the work of Christ.
ALL: His obedience for our lawlessness. His righteousness for our dead works. His suffering for our peace. His Resurrection for new life.
LEADER:  Holy Spirit, Grant us each day to know Your living Word and work in us the image of Christ.
ALL: Thy will be done.


Central Text: Acts 8:5-25 ESV

5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city. 9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practised magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. 14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” 25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.


Closing: Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
LEADER: 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.


ALL: Amen.


Post-Service Text: Acts 8:25 ESV
25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.


Related Scriptures:

Matt 7:21-23
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’


John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.


Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”


Discussion Questions

  1. It took a major “disruption” (Stephen’s death) to send the gospel to the “ends of the earth.” When/How has God disrupted your life but made something good come out of it?
  2. How are we consumers in life, going around “consuming” faith, church, Jesus and one another in order to benefit ourselves?
  3. How do you struggle with Jesus being that added extra (supplement) to your life in order to make your life better instead of Jesus being all of your life, and everything else being that added extra? What is the difference?
  4. Describe the difference between seeing God as “beautiful rather than useful?”
  5. The issue under Simon was his “heart” and “intent,” not his outright behavior. Take time to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your intent in your relationship and even behavior with Him.
  6. Finally, Jesus’ behavior AND intent was sacrificial love. So spend time just appreciating the gift Jesus is and the gift of life he has given you, even forgiveness for our muddled intents.


“The religious see God as useful; gospel-believing Christians see God as beautiful.” - Timothy J. Keller


“The only way to break the hold of a beautiful object on the soul is to show it an object even more beautiful.” - Thomas Chalmers 


Related Sermons

Simon’s Perversion of Signs and Wonders by John Piper

Acts 8:9-24


The Gospel to the City by Timothy J. Keller

Acts 8:1-18

Related Media

 4.02.17 Album
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