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  • Pastor Cindy North, ANU Chaplain

Freedom From a Divided Heart

Chapel Theme: “Knowledge on Fire: Empowering by the Holy Spirit”


“When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken: and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.”



Acts 8: 4-24 NLT

4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. 5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah.

6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did.

7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

9 A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great.

10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.”

11 They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic.

12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized.

13 Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there.

15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power.

19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought!

21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God.

22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

The Monkey Trap

You have probably heard the story of the monkey trap. Farmers in India who were having problems with monkeys destroying their crops, came up with a plan to capture the monkeys and return them to the jungle without hurting them.

They took coconuts and hollowed out a hole just big enough for a monkey to put their hand through. Then they put a banana inside the coconut and tied the coconut to a tree. The monkeys would smell the banana in the coconut and would put their hand through to get the banana but would then find that they could not pull their hand back out while holding the banana because their hand was now a fist and too large to pull back through the hole.

The monkeys would not let go of the banana because this was their great prize and they were not realizing that they had to let go in order to enjoy their freedom. They were trapped against the tree because they could not free themselves from the coconut as long as they held onto the banana.

Two Key people in this story

We want to look back at our story from Acts 8 as we recognize the difference between two key people in this story.

Simon the Sorcerer had enjoyed power and recognition from this village in Samaria because he performed magic that captivated the community. Philip, filled with the Holy Spirit comes to this village and preaches about the resurrection of Christ Jesus along with displaying great signs and wonders. Now the people followed Phillip and believed in Jesus. The story tells us that Simon the sorcerer also believed.

When Peter and John arrive in this village they begin laying hands on people to receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit. As Simon follows them around he realizes this power is great and desires to buy such power for himself. Peter rebukes him for thinking he could buy the Holy Spirit and tells him there is still sin in his heart. Simon the sorcerer still has a divided heart. He is enamored with power and still wants the things the world desires.

The apostle John, however, has truly had a heart change by the Holy Spirit’s empowering in his life. The contrast can be seen from Luke 9: 51-56 when James and John were visiting a Samaritan village with Jesus before his crucifixion. The village did not receive Jesus and James and John were asking whether they should call down fire from heaven to burn up the village. Jesus simply rebuked them and went on toward Jerusalem.

The irony is that now after being filled with the Holy Spirit, John is back in a Samaritan village but this time he is calling on a different kind of fire from heaven, the fire of the Holy Spirit, to come on the hearts of the people.

John now has a single focus of heart as he desires only God’s love to be outpoured on

this village.

ANU Student Testimony -

We have a wonderful testimony from one of our students Rugero Jean Michel from Rwanda who shares with us that when Christ Jesus got ahold of his life and the Holy Spirit empowered him, he desired to only follow the call of God on his life for preaching the gospel. It meant giving up a good job back home (even though he didn’t have the resources to support him going to a university) and waiting for God to show him the next steps.

As Jean Michel contemplated where to go to a university, he was led to come to ANU because of a video posted on YouTube. Through learning of the mission and vision of ANU to teach and disciple students in Christlike living, he was greatly impressed that he must study at ANU.

We are glad for the purity of heart that Jean Michel displays to seek after God’s desires and follow him completely in his life.

You too, can know freedom from a divided heart when you seek freedom from sin in Christ Jesus and seek the further empowering of the Holy Spirit to enable you to live focused only on God’s will for your life.

Closing -

Benediction prayer - Ephesians 3: 20-21

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

May Christ be your peace today. Remember you can contact us through the chaplain

email… for further prayers and discipleship.

You will find the audio-only version HERE.

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