Monday, June 8, 2009

Reading Challenge: Acts 4-5

Welcome back. We continue our Acts Reading Challenge today. Today's reading is from Acts 4-5

Chapter 4:
I think there is so much to learn from this chapter. We see an entirely new countenance on the disciples. They are bold, courageous, and willing to go anywhere to preach Jesus. They believe they have been given a power through Christ that can conqueror anything -- and they have! The difference between them and us is that they actually lived like they believed it. Perhaps my favorite verse in this chapter is vs 13: "13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." I love this reminder that we don't have to be the most educated people in order to be the most godly and anointed people. We simply need to be people who are with Jesus.

Chapter 5:
By far my favorite part of this chapter is when Gamaliel the Pharisee speaks out when everyone is upset about the work and ministry of the apostles. I believe his words can still serve to guide us today. "38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."Wow! What a powerful reminder. If it is from God, nobody can stop it!

What were your thoughts?


  1. So far in our reading we have quite the crime
    intimidation,false imprisionment and fraud.This is Satan's first wave of attack against the Gospel and it's being led by the corrupt religious crowd.I think they were mostly concerned about how this new christianity would affect their pocket-books.Annas and Caiphas were High Priests,but they spent more time in council meetings than at the temple where they were supposed to be doing their priestly duties.
    I love how when the apostles get released from prison by the angel
    of the Lord,they go right back to the temple.If Annas or Caiphas had been where they were supposed to be,doing what they were supposed to be doing, they would have seen and heard the apostles at the dawn prayers and sacrifice service.
    What incredible ego's these men had.Thought they had the apostles figured out;poor, uneducated,working class,followers of a man who was killed like a common criminal...they're idiots! Nobody will'll blow over.They don't even seem concerned when it is discovered that the cell is empty.In arrogance they believe their threats worked, the apostles somehow escaped, ran away and that would be the end of that.Ha ha.I laugh because the sequence of events is comical.How embarrassing it must have been to have had someone tell them...uh..High Priest sirs,..they didn't run away, they are at the temple teaching the people. WHAT??
    Origional sin was Pride.In the garden of Eden-Pride and here Pride tries to rear it's ugly head at the birth of the Church.Satan's weapons and tactics are always the same, so why do we keep falling subject to them?
    Plan-A:Satan tried to use the corrupt religious leaders to thwart the church so it would lose momentum and die. Not working as hoped,may use again later but will move on to...
    Plan-B:Make the church corrupt-ineffective in outreach,sicken till it dies.
    I grew up in the Lutheran church and my early years all I heard was God is Love-God is Love.Well, He is, but He is a lot more too. Ch.5 tells how seriously God views sin.
    Like a mother bear with her cub the Holy Spirit protects the integrity of the early church.He puts the sin(s) of Ananias and Sapphira down in such a dramatic way for trying to keep up with the Barnabas'.
    Lot's of people gave to the church and got no mention.Ananias wanted the recognition like Barnabas got.Sometimes people equate recognition with power and influence.Their egos feed off the attention,but they are sad little people because they have to puff themselves up to appear to be more than they are.
    Ananias is so greedy for attention and favour he even runs ahead of his wife to offer the "gift".If they had lived in Lebanon, perhaps she would have heard of her husband's death,but even when it looks like she is given the chance to repent,she sticks to the lie(out of the mouth comes the intents of the heart)."If you're lyin-you're dyin".So, Plan-B suffered a blow in the first round.
    God always cuts to the heart of the matter.The priests and religious leaders were not obeying and serving God.They were actually working against God.This truth cut them to the heart and they became indignant because of pride.Ananias and Sapphira lied because of pride and it killed them.Their death was a cleansing of sorts and because of this, the church grew.
    When sin is exposed, you can deal with it by repenting or by hardening.
    How do I deal with revealed sin in my heart? I can repent or I might lie to myself, but I can't lie to God.

  2. Take Aways

    Ch.4:29 Even though they had been threatened they continued to ask for boldness to continue the message...
    How many times do we ask instead for the the threats to go away? Instead they asked for continued boldness to proclaim the message!!!

    Ch.5:15 & 41
    v.15 -How many of us speak so much of Christ and so many great things happen b/c we are truly speaking the Message? Do people long to just be in your shadow b/c you have so much of Christ in you? I don't want recognition but I hope that one day I show enough of Christ in me that people strive to be near me...even if in the shadow..

    v.41: Count it worthy to suffer disgrace for His name....I think this is such a foreign concept in the church today...we are always asking that God take the suffering matter what it is...but yet they saw it as an opportunity to live out their life even more for Him!!!

  3. I absolutely agree with you, Laurie. We cannot hide from God. And pride will always have its time, for awhile, but then, in the end, it will be shown for what it is and we, as individuals will have the choice to deal with it, or turn a blind eye. I know we don't see this written about in acts, but there is a huge undercurrent of it among the Pharisees. They see the miracles done in the name of Jesus, through Peter and the disciples, and yet they choose to ignore it, playing it off as if the people will somehow realize that they've been snowballed. This is a great example of their pride.

    I also think that in Ch 5, when Gamaliel makes his statement about the movement being "Of God", I think this too is an example of pride. Though most people see it as one of the pharisees getting lucky and spouting some profound words of wisdom, I almost have to ask if he said this out of his own vanity, believing that if it wasn't something that he and his fellow teachers of the law were teaching, than it was NOT of God and didn't matter. Therefore, the pharisees shouldn't worry about it because the people would wake up, eventually, and realize that this Jesus was nothing more than a fly-by-night-radical prophet.

    I think this goes to show the great length of destruction that pride can cause. We should all fear this and know that only through the life that Jesus can give through the Holy Spirit can we truly live and accomplish great things. Nothing we do of ourselves is worthy of such praise.

    Josh, I think you're spot on about standing in the face of adversity and asking God for more! What a concept. When's the last time we as a Church stepped out in a massive, I mean life changing, leap of faith, based solely on a promise of God. I think the answer to that is..... the book of Acts!!!

    Just like most organizations, the church grew to astounding numbers and after so long became complacent. The problem is... I don't think Jesus ever intended His church to be like every other "Organization". He intended His church to carry on by the example that was shown to us by the Disciples. I, like you, hope someday that people will want to be near me-if only in my shadow, as a result of the amount of Jesus that they see in me.

    This is why I'm excited about this upcoming week's message: the Gospel. I've talked with Erik about some of the content and I'm really anticipating God showing up and knocking some peoples' worlds into chaos! (in a good way, of course)

  4. Great thoughts guys...this is why it is so fun to do have given me a lot to think about regarding these passages

  5. I just love 4:11 where it says Jesus was the stone that had been rejected but now has become the cornerstone.

    We have all been rejected at one time or another. When I hear Jesus called a reject it makes me mad. It also lets me know if people could reject the living God then they are certainly capable of rejecting me. It makes me realize I shouldn't take it so personal when I am rejected. In fact it puts me in good company:)

  6. Shawn, spot on...should we care if we are doing God's will yet people reject us? I say appears the Scriptures teach us that too

  7. Really great stuff, always a priviledge to read such insights !

    "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and begin to recognized them as having been with Jesus."

    This verse grabs me, because if we are with Jesus, then those around us will see that and marvel. It is when we get in the way and they cannot see through us to one we claim to be with.

    "Go your way, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life."

    Next verse that grabs me. Are we telling the whole message of this Life? No short cuts....straight to the point which we find here: " And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."