This morning, just before I started my Bible reading, I asked God to show me something new in Acts 8. I've read Acts numerous times, and I wanted to catch something I'd missed before.
I love it when God answers that prayer!
At this point in Acts, the early church has been scattered because of the persecution in Jerusalem. Philip was in Samaria "preaching the word" (v. 4). "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" (v. 6, emphasis mine). The phrase "paid attention" really stood out to me. Immediately, upon reading it, I started questioning who has my attention.
A few verses later, we meet Simon the magician. Luke used the phrase "paid attention" twice in the narrative about Simon. "They all paid attention to [Simon], from the least to the greatest, saying 'This man is the power of God that is called Great.' And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic" (vv. 10-11, emphasis mine).
People paid attention both to Philip and Simon. Both men were doing things that caught people's attention: Philip, "signs and great miracles" (v. 13); Simon, "magic" (v. 11).
The big difference between the men: their messages.
Philip "preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" (v. 12). Simon proclaimed "that he himself was somebody great" (v. 9).
Two men. Two very different messages.
One pointed people to Christ. One pointed people toward himself.
One message gave life. One message was self-serving.
So, today, ask yourself: "Who has my attention?"