Thursday, May 10, 2012

260 in 2012 DEVOS - Day 94 - Acts 5: First Youth Service Project, Great Fear & More Persecution

Well it didn’t take long for sin to show itself in the early church. Right after we read of the “sharing of the saints” in 4:32-37, we kick off chapter 5 with a “sins of the saints” incident. So you’ve got Ananias & Sapphira who decide they want to sell some land in order to give money to the Lord – totally good thing. Then, they kept some money for themselves and gave the rest - still good. BUT – they made it LOOK like they gave it all – NOT good. This was deception and Peter said to Ananias that he had “lied to the Holy Spirit.” As a result, the first youth ministry in the church was started: Carrying out dead people! (rings of Monty Python’s “Bring out your dead”…) Anyway, so in toodles Sapphira a few hours later, Peter confronts her as well, and yep, she drops dead! And it says that “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.” I’ll bet!

In spite of all this, the apostles keep performing all these miraculous signs and teaching Jesus. The religious peeps become jealous and so again they arrest the disciples and throw them in jail. But this time an angel of the Lord opens the doors, releases them and basically tells them to get back out there and share Christ! This REALLY upsets the religious peeps: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name…………yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood." You gotta’ love the boldness of the Holy Spirit in their reply: "We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.” Let me translate – yep YOU ARE guilty! Ok - now they are FURIOUS with the disciples.
Insert wisdom from Gamaliel – who basically says look, let them be, “For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." They buy his speech, but still beat the disciples before their release and tell them (for the third time in 2 chapters) to stop talking about Jesus! And the disciples reaction? Whoohoo - they beat us up for telling others about Jesus, lets keep it up! (ok….. a Mr Bill paraphrase)

*Sin is horrible. And sin in the church is horrible. I am thankful for God’s amazing grace & forgiveness but that should never cause us to wink at our sin. God doesn’t, it kills Him (pun intended). Ananias & Sapphira were guilty of trying to look better than God knew they were. Ever done that? Yeah, the youth should be carrying me out too! Let’s stop trying to look so good and be more concerned about our heart, God certainly is. We need to have a holy “Fear” toward sin.
*Have you ever been discouraged about sharing Christ with someone? Been rejected, ignored, made fun of or told to stop? I regularly take students to the mall to share Christ with people. It’s not my favorite way of sharing Jesus, but it is A WAY. We’ve been stopped numerous times by mall security (even escorted out at Memorial City once). Each time they’ve asked what we were doing and each time we’ve shared the gospel with them. And each time they’ve said that although they couldn’t keep us from sharing our faith, that it didn’t mean they wouldn’t be stopping us again. One mall cop even told us to keep it up! Whenever the Gospel is shared, some will be hostile, some will be indifferent and others will believe. For the sake of those who will believe, let’s be active in sharing our faith and not let Satan discourage us! What might happen to all those students who heard of Christ at the mall if we had just stopped talking about Jesus?!~!

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