Does One Receive the Holy Spirit Only Through the Prayer of Others?

Daily Scripture reading set #13 for June:

– Genesis, chapters 31
– Psalm, chapter 13
– Matthew 5:33-48
– Acts 8:1-25

It’s crazy to me that the whole controversy in Genesis 31, with Rachel stealing Laban’s “household gods,” makes clear that Laban HAS household gods and cares a great deal for them. And yet, the one true God speaks DIRECTLY to him in verse 24: “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” Does Laban honestly interact with Yahweh himself and still decide to pursue household gods? I suppose we all do this in our own ways.

Psalm 13 is interesting, because it starts with David lamenting God’s apparently having abandoned him, and yet concludes with David saying: “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (vs 6).

The last section of Matthew 5 contains an often-quoted verse that forms the basis for what theologians refer to as “common grace.” “For (the Father) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (vs 45). The sun and the rain, these things aren’t earned or only given to God’s “favorites”… they are, by God’s grace and mercy, given to everyone.

Acts 8 contains another verse that I don’t know what to make of. It’s a nonchalant reference to a group of people who had professed faith in Christ, had been baptized, but were still without the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives: “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (vs 14-16). Does it seem strange to anyone else that these believers had not yet received the Spirit? It’s as if they needed the missing ingredient of the apostles’ prayer, which is a completely new concept to me.

Reading set #14 for June:

– Genesis, chapters 32-33
– Psalm, chapter 14
– Matthew 6:1-15
– Acts 8:26-40

Psalm 14 has another reference to Total Depravity (see previous notes Genesis 6), and one that Paul directly quotes in Romans 3:  “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one” (vs 3).

Today’s reading in Matthew 6 contains two noteworthy items. First, Jesus’ warning in verse 1 is something we should probably paint in huge murals on the walls inside our church buildings:  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.” Second, in verses 14-15 Jesus teaches that a requisite for our own forgiveness is our forgiving of others: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

The account of Phillip and the Ethiopian is of course interesting because Phillip disappears at the conclusion of their conversation, but what stands out to me today is verse 35 of Acts 8: “Then Phillip opened his mouth, and beginning with the Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Phillip begins with the Scripture.  Good call, Phillip.

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