Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21 - Acts 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • After healing the crippled beggar and preaching about Jesus, Peter and John were arrested by the religious leaders. When questioned about their preaching, Peter boldly proclaimed the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and asks if an act of kindness should be considered a crime. Their accusers had no way to respond because the former cripple was standing right there! This is exactly what Jesus said would happen in Mark 13:11
  • In verse 13, we see people amazed at the courage of Peter and John. Why? They were ordinary, uneducated men who were speaking with great boldness and strength. They seemed wise beyond their years. But how? People were aware that the only explanation could be Jesus.
  • Peter and John are released under the stipulation that they never speak the name of Jesus again. They inform the courts that they cannot do such a thing. They have a responsibility to obey God over men. 
  • After being released from the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council (similar to the Supreme Court), the apostles gathered with other Christians to pray for more boldness and for more signs and wonders to be done in Jesus' name. God hears their prayers and the whole building is shaken, and they are all filled with the Holy Spirit, just like in Acts 1. This was a sign of God's presence. 
  • The chapter closes with another snapshot of the early church. We see that they were united and cared about each other as much as themselves, even to the point of sharing their money and possessions. As a result, no one was needy.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Peter and John were bold and unafraid because they knew the resurrection of Jesus to be true. They could not help but speak about what they had seen and heard. They were eyewitnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus and could not keep this hope to themselves. Like them, we need to be as bold as love.
  • In addition to the truth of Jesus' resurrection, they also understood the power of the Holy Spirit.  They understood that it was a tangible gift that convicts, teaches, directs, and guides us in every moment.
  • God hears our prayers. When we pray with boldness, God answers with boldness. He may not shake a building, but, he hears our hearts and is sure to answer.
  • God wants us to view our church as our family and to care about each other, even to the point of  sacrifice. Can you imagine a church where no one went hungry or cold or lonely?

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you believe in the power of the resurrection like Peter and John did? What is keeping you from being bold for God? Lack of confidence? Fear of rejection? Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you with power as these first Christians did and God will give you more boldness. Then look for an opportunity this week to be bold, in love, with love, for Jesus.
  • Do you think of your church as family? What could you do to love them more and be more united with them? Is there anyone who is in need who you could make a sacrifice for?