Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22 - Acts 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 5. 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?)
  • We learned in the last chapter that the believers were sharing all of their possessions, including the profits from their property. Then, along comes Ananias and Sapphira in this chapter. They too sold a piece of property. But, they decided to keep some money back for themselves and take the rest to the disciples. So, God strikes them dead. The reason God did this wasn't because they kept some money. The problem was that they lied! They misrepresented themselves in order to look super spiritual. They pretended to give 100% when they clearly had not. This is why Peter asked them "after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?" 
  • The disciples were performing many miracles and wonders in town. This filled the religious leaders with jealousy, and so they had Peter and John arrested. Amazingly, an angel came in the night and freed them from prison and told them to go and preach about Jesus in the temple! They obeyed. But, the next day the officers arrested them again!  Peter reminded them that they were all eyewitnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and they would never stop speaking about him. So, the Sanhedrin decided to have them whipped and sent them on their way with strict orders not to speak in Jesus' name, knowing that they wouldn't listen. 

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Ever watch the news long enough to feel good about yourself? After watching people on TV arrested for murder, terrorism, rape, money laundering, and so on, we shake our heads and think, "Man, I'd never do that. That's crazy." It's easy to think of all those news stories as the "big" sins. But God reminds us in the story of Ananias and Sapphira that lying is super serious! God hates sin and expects us to live authentic lives. 
  • Ananias and Sapphira also remind us that, ultimately, God is in charge of our life. As an American, you may have the right to life, but it is God who gives us the gift of life. Our life belongs to God and he has the right to take it from us, whether we lied or not.  Every day we spend alive is a gift from God.
  • One wise man in the Sanhedrin had things right: he shared that if the disciples were speaking about Jesus out of human effort, their efforts would fail, and all the followers would soon fall away. But, if Jesus was really of God, nothing would be able to stop them. We are living proof today that this is true. 12 disciples walking with Jesus 2,000 years ago are now responsible for millions of Jesus followers around the globe today. 
  • The early Christians told people about Jesus even if it meant they were tortured or killed for it. Often, we won't share about him because we're afraid of a little embarrassment. We need to have the attitude of the early church and tell people about Jesus no matter what the circumstance.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Ananias and Sapphira die because they lied and tried to appear to be something they're not. Where do you find yourself trying to give a better impression than reality? Commit to a life of authenticity, knowing that God loves you for who you are, so you don't have to be anything different from that.
  • What is stopping you from sharing Jesus with people? Find an opportunity this week to overcome your resistance and say something (it can be short and sweet) about Jesus or your faith, or to invite someone to church this week.