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Lessons from Acts 5

Monday, May 30, 2016

Acts 5 is a rich text that mainly tells of two different events that occurred near the beginning of the first century church. First, we see a couple named Ananias and Sapphira who were members of the church. They sold some property and gave some of the money to the church. However, they claimed it was all the money, because they sought the praise of men. They kept back some of the money for themselves. Peter confronted them about this lie and they were killed for their sin and used as an example of the consequences of sin. Then we see that the apostles are arrested (for being the apostles) and freed by an angel and began to preach in the temple. The Jewish council sent men to find them and bring them before the council, intending to kill them. However, a Pharisee named Gamaliel advised them to let it be for now and see what happens.  So they beat the apostles and let them go.

            That is a very brief summarization of this chapter.  I encourage you to read it on your own and study it while reading this post, so you can get the most out of it.

            Lying is wrong.  Yet sometimes we do it, try to normalize it, and justify when it might be okay to do it.  But the reality is that lying is never okay! It hurts our souls.  It can hurt other people and it hurts God. We’re not fooling Him when we lie. He knows the truth.  He’s not ignorant. We might be able to trick everyone else in the world into believing a lie, but never the Lord. He knew Ananias and Sapphira weren’t acting honorably.  He used their disobedience as an opportunity to discourage anyone from lying to Him. It wasn’t wrong for them to keep some of the money, but it was certainly wrong to deceive people about that. Don’t be an Ananias or Sapphira. Think before you act.

            What is interesting to me about this story is what happens after the deaths of this married couple. Acts 5:11-14 tells us that the church continued to grow more and more. The church is never hurt by the truth.  Always remember that. We should have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. We have the Lord on our side if we are faithful to Him!  God does not gain glory from deceit. We shouldn’t try to trick people into believing in Jesus.  We also shouldn’t try to trick people into thinking we are perfect when in fact we aren’t. Be honest. It will be helpful to you, to the kingdom of God, and to those you interact with.

            I am so intrigued by Gamaliel in v. 35-39. He points out to his peers that God is in control. Things that are of men will fail eventually. But things that are of God and supported by Him can never fail. Sometimes we spend too much time worrying about what is happening in the world, and we have doubts about whether or not we are headed in a good direction. God is in control. Perhaps the best thing to do in some cases is to observe for a while, to see if what is happening is supported by God or not. We do not control the world.  There are some things that we will just have to accept and do the best we can. Never forget that God has a plan.  He takes care of His people, those who love and serve Him with their whole heart. Trust Him.  Do not worry about what the politicians or celebrities are doing. Do what you can to glorify God wherever you are and know that He is in control. There are only two kinds of events that occur in the world: things God makes happen, and things God allows to happen. Both have a purpose, and even if we may not know what it is, we need to put our faith in Him.

            I’ll leave you with the closing thought in this chapter, from verse 42, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease preaching and teaching that Jesus is the Christ.” I pray that we have that same attitude and drive to share the gospel.  I also pray that we accept that whatever happens, it can be used as an opportunity to further the good news. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.  I hope it has been helpful to you.

-Matt Arnold

Lessons From Acts 4

Monday, May 23, 2016

In Acts 3 Peter and John miraculously healed a lame man.  They preached the Word of God to those who had witnessed it. At the beginning of Acts 4, the Jewish leaders were unhappy about these events, so they arrested Peter and John. However, that did not stop many of those who had heard the gospel from believing. The next day, Peter and John were put before a council of the Jewish rulers, scribes and priests.  They interrogated them about what they had been doing. When asked about where their authority came from, they answered that it was from Jesus whom they had killed. The men were taken aback by the boldness of the apostles.  They told them to stop preaching Jesus and that they could go. The apostles refused to stop teaching and preaching about Christ.  They left to meet with the saints and pray for more boldness in the face of adversity. At the end of the chapter, we see how such experiences bond a church and allow it to have “everything in common” (v. 32) and be gracious toward one another.

                There are three lessons I want to point out from this chapter, though I would encourage you to study this passage deeply on your own, as each of these lessons could be their own sermon.

                The first lesson here is the authority of Jesus. In Matt.28:18 Jesus stated His supreme authority over everything.  He did so because in Matt.28:17 He sensed that some still doubted Him even upon seeing Him.  In Acts 4:12, we see a statement of Jesus’ authority from His apostles, “… there is salvation in no one else….” I believe this statement with all my heart. Men have tried and failed for centuries to find happiness, salvation, and peace from somewhere or someone besides Jesus. But we know that Jesus alone has the power to save, teach, judge, and exalt. He is the only One who has defeated death.  He did that so we might not fear it and let it control us. Do we believe that Jesus has this power and that He alone has it?

                Peter and John were not afraid to die for Jesus.  They had boldness. In verse 13 we see that these officials were astonished by the boldness of these uneducated men, these commoners. This boldness allowed them to stand there and defend Jesus and His authority before these powerful men. It allowed them to heal strangers and preach to Jews about their need for salvation. Without boldness, Peter and John would not have been taken seriously.  They probably would have given up fairly quickly after running into a few difficulties that came as a result of spreading the gospel. The disciples prayed together for boldness in verses 28-30, so that they could continue to preach and teach because they knew it was going to become harder. Are we being bold in our efforts to spread the good news? Let us pray for boldness in teaching the Word of God!

                The attitude of these men was one of devotion, total commitment. In verse 18, when the Jewish leaders tell them to stop preaching about Jesus, they answered in verse 20, “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (emphasis mine). Do we have that same attitude? For these men, they had no desire to stop teaching about our wonderful Savior. Sometimes I think it’s all we can do to work up the energy or courage to say anything about Jesus to someone else.  But for these men, it would’ve taken every ounce of energy within them to not talk about Him. Are we, as followers of Jesus, or even as someone interested in Jesus, giving Him priority? Are we willing to?

                There are many more lessons to be learned from this chapter.  I urge you to study this rich text more on your own. Let us all be praying for more boldness, devotion, and faith in Jesus and spread of Word of God. He is the one we are striving to please. He is the one who can save.

-Matt Arnold

Lessons From Acts 3

Monday, May 16, 2016

Acts 3 records the healing of the lame man by Peter and John at the temple in Jerusalem, followed by Peter’s sermon to those who witnessed the healing.  Several key points stand in this chapter.

  • Note the extraordinary nature of the healing performed by the apostles.  Acts 3:2 reveals that the man had been lame from birth and had to be carried to the temple.  Verses 7-8 tell us that he was healed immediately, regained full strength and the ability to walk and leap, and recognized that he was healed by the power of God through the apostles.  Verses 9-10 demonstrate that those in attendance were fully aware that a miracle had taken place.  As Jesus Himself had promised His apostles in Acts 1:8, the apostles received the Holy Spirit with power on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and confirmed the gospel teaching of Jesus Christ with signs and wonders.   There was no ambiguity or doubt that a miraculous healing had occurred --- God’s power was displayed with clarity and certainty.
  • Some things are worth more than silver and gold.  The lame man typically begged at the gate of the temple, and was expecting some type of monetary gift from Peter and John.  But the apostles had something of much greater value --- Peter says in verse 6, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you:  In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene --- walk!”    With the evidence of the miraculous healing, Peter then proclaimed the wonderful gospel of Jesus in verses 13-26.  Peter was to the point and clear regarding the condition of the audience ---they had disowned and crucified the Son of God --- but God still offered salvation to any who would have an obedient faith in His Son who was raised up with glory and power.  Yes, salvation through an obedient faith in Jesus Christ is worth more than silver, gold, or any earthly possession.

Ignorance is no excuse!!! In Acts 3:17, Peter states, “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.”  Even though the audience had rejected Jesus out of ignorance, they were accountable for their actions.  God would still offer forgiveness, but only after an obedient faith in His Beloved Son.  This verse emphasizes the importance of acting with faith according to God’s plan --- just as Jesus Himself had stated in John 14:15 --- “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  God has provided the plan through His Son --- and we must do our part to “Study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

-Charlie Ellis

Lessons from Acts 2

Monday, May 09, 2016

Joel 2:28-29- “and it shall come to pass that I will pour out My Spirit…”

In Acts chapter 2 we see the pouring out of the Spirit of the Lord and the kingdom being born with Power from on high. The chapter begins on the day of Pentecost when they were gathered together and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles as they began to speak in tongues. A quick word about speaking in tongues that gets lost in our present age.  People today claim to speak in tongues resulting in what amounts to gibberish in an attempt to “demonstrate their salvation experience."  What real speaking in tongues looks like is what we see here-“people were amazed that they each heard in their own language what they were teaching."  So it would be like me walking around Shanghai and speaking fluent Chinese even though I've never studied the language. This was a means to demonstrate that the words were coming from God and not from men due to the fact that these men didn't know the language and therefore couldn't have known what they were saying even though those that heard them understood every single word. In the midst of this Peter preaches the first gospel sermon to those who stood nearby. He began, where the Jews who were the audience, in the old law explaining the prophesies that spoke of the Christ who was to come. His concluding statement here pricked them to the hearts “this Jesus whom you crucified…” As they heard the Word of God many convicted by the truth shouted out “what must we do” and there the plan of salvation unfolded. They had heard the truth about the Christ, they believed in Him who died unjustly and they reacted by asking for guidance. Peter told them what was left in verse 38- “repent everyone of you and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." They knew in that moment they needed to change, Jesus was the answer and the needed to die to sin in order to be born into eternal life. That day about 3,000 were added to the church. The kingdom was born and those who believed were born into the family of God via baptism. The beginning of the relationship with God is beautifully simple- God wants us and we need Him. This walk then moves to our devotion to learning more about God- who He is, how much He loves us, what all He has done and will do for us.  This led them to a beautiful fellowship of believers who shared and had all things in common. What God's love for us does is it teaches us how much we need one another and the beauty of what His family can do for one another when we are all devoted to His cause.

There are few greater things than the pure love that comes from believers whose hearts are bound together by the cord of Gods love, mercy, and grace they we all desperately desire.  If there is anything we can glean from the birth of the kingdom here in Acts chapter 2 it's that the gospel is simple and that God's kingdom is a wonderful place.

-Mike Estes

Lessons From Acts 1

Monday, April 25, 2016

The New Testament book of Acts is the central pivot on which the New Testament turns.  It gives us, from the Holy Spirit inspired writer, Luke, our only detailed history of the early church.  It leads us through its early growth and trials during its first 30 years of existence.  It is like a bridge in that it connects the first 4 books of the New Testament with the remainder of the New Testament books.

     In the book of Acts, Luke continues where he left off in the book of Luke, writing to Theophilus who was probably a Roman official whom he held in high respect.  He introduces Jesus as having previously risen from the dead to show Himself alive to His apostles by working miracles.  Jesus assured His apostles that they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit which would enable them to preach the gospel to the whole world (Acts 1:1-8).

     Acts 1:8 serves as an outline to the entire book.  Chapters 1-7 tell about the start of the spreading of the gospel of Christ in Jerusalem.  Chapters 8-12 tell about the spread of the gospel of Christ in Judea and Samaria.  Chapters 13-28 tells about the spread of the gospel of Christ to the end of the earth. 

     Jesus ascended to Heaven with His apostles being eye witnesses of it (Acts 1:9-11).  Even though they thought in terms of a physical kingdom, Jesus ascended to receive His spiritual kingdom from God (Dan.7:13-14; Jn.18:36). 

     The apostles returned to Jerusalem to await the fulfillment of the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12-14). 

     The rest of Acts chapter 1 tells about the selection of Matthias as an apostle of Christ to fill the place of Judas Iscariot who had betrayed Christ (v.15-26).

     It is interesting to observe that the book of Acts begins and ends with reference to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3,6;28:31).  The word "kingdom" means sovereignty or rule.  The phrase "kingdom of God" refers to the rule of Christ in His Son, Jesus Christ. 

     There are 4 things necessary for a kingdom to exist:  a king, subjects, law, and territory.  Not even an earthly kingdom could exist without these 4 things.  The king of God's kingdom is God or Christ.  The subjects of God's kingdom are Christians.  The law of God's kingdom is the gospel of Christ.  The territory of the kingdom of God is the whole world or within the hearts of men and women who submit to Christ.

     The kingdom of God exists and will never be destroyed.  Knowing that can help Christians overcome deceit, prejudice, doubt, discouragement, and distractions.

-Scott Vifquain

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