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Archive for August, 2012

Reading through Acts- Day 12

August 31st, 2012

Acts 5:12-16- Continued Growth

‘No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.’

It’s perhaps not surprising that people were fearful of joining the church after what happened to Ananias and Sapphira! However, astonishingly, the church continued to grow. Jesus had promised that signs and wonders would accompany their witness – and that’s certainly what we see throughout the book of Acts. As you read today’s extraordinary passage, allow God to stir faith in you that his miraculous power is just as available to us today!

Read: Acts 5:12-16

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

  • What makes Christianity attractive? It’s easy to be drawn to churches because of programs, good speakers, size, facilities, or the quality of the kids’ work. However, people were drawn to the first church by the demonstration of God’s power, their generosity and their unity.
  • These miracles and the constant adding in of new believers didn’t happen in a vacuum. This was a church which persevered in prayer. If you want to see more of God’s power at work in the church, are you willing to seek him until he comes?

 

Further study/ action:

We’re gathering together to pray on the 18th, 19th, 20th September (8-9.30pm). Why not make it a priority to be there?

 

These notes are adapted from an original version that was first written for Closer to God Jul – Sept 2012 and are © 2012 Scripture Union and used with permission.

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Reading through Acts- Day 11

August 30th, 2012

 

Acts 5:1-11- Being authentic

 ‘Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you
received for the land? … What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”’

The choice to be inauthentic and to pretend to be what we are not happens everywhere. Sadly, it even happens in the church. In today’s passage we’re confronted with an ultimate example of the destructiveness that it can lead to.

Read: Acts 5:1-11

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- What do you think motivated both Ananias and Sapphira to deceive
Peter?

- Can you spot any of these same motivations at play in your life?

- Why do you think God responded as he did?

- We all have moments of seeing the truth about ourselves with
clarity. Such a moment came for Sapphira and she wasted it. Take the time to
look at your own life and confess your sin to God.

 

Further study / action:

Memory verse: ‘If we confess our sins, he us faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9)

 

These notes are adapted from an original version that was first written for Closer to God Jul – Sept 2012 and are © 2012 Scripture Union and used with permission.

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Reading through Acts- Day 10

August 29th, 2012

Acts 4:32- 37- How to use your possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had… there were no needy persons among them.

Jesus said ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matt 6:21). He knew the power that money and possessions had over people and how unwilling they were to give these things up. However, his early followers knew an astonishing freedom from the love of money. Their new found trust in Jesus had transformed how they felt towards their possessions. As you read the example that the early church set, in such extravagant generosity, let God challenge you again about your attitude towards your possessions

Read Acts 4:32-37

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- what do you think Luke means when he writes ‘all the believers were one in heart and mind’?

- Why do you think the early believers were so free with their possessions?

- Who do they give their money to?

 

Further Study

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Paul encourages the Corinthians to follow in the footsteps of the church in Jerusalem.

- Read this passage

- What reasons does he give them to give generously?

- How is God calling you to ‘sow generously’ at the moment?

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Reading through Acts- Day 9

August 28th, 2012

Acts 4:23-31- How to respond to opposition

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.

Put in prison. Threatened by the authorities.  Banned from talking about Jesus. What is the apostles’ response? Go underground? Flee the city? Cry in a corner? No. They get together and pray. And what a prayer!

Read Acts 4:23-31

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- Notice how they start their prayer: Why do they address God like this? Why do they quote psalm 2 to God?

- How do they describe what happened to Jesus? Why?

- What do they ask God for?

- What is the outcome of this prayer meeting- in the meeting? After the meeting?

 

Further Study

Prayer is never easy and it is a wonderful thing that God has given us so many insights into how his people prayed in the Bible.

Look through some prayers in the Bible and pray them back to God. Here’s a few to kick you off:

- Nehemiah 1:5-11

- John 17:20-25

- Romans 11:33-36

- Ephesians 3:17-19

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Reading through Acts- Day 8

August 27th, 2012

Acts 4:1-22- Opposition

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

It was only a matter of time before the apostles’ boldness got them into trouble with the authorities. If we share the gospel faithfully, we will meet resistance and we must be ready for it. Look at how Peter and John deal with the opposition they face and pray that the Holy Spirit would fill you to be so bold as we speak ‘about what we have seen or heard.’

Read Acts 4:1-22

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- What is it about Peter’s speech that disturbs the people? What disturbs people today about the Christian message?

- What is the explanation for Peter and John’s astonishing courage? (v 13)

- In what sense could Peter and John ‘not help speaking’ (v 20)? Pray that verse 20 would become a truthful statement of your eagerness to tell people about Jesus

 

Further Study

We often think of being ‘filled with the Spirit’ as something that happens in a Christian meeting or while we are praying. The implication being that, to be filled, we need to wait on God for an isolated experience.

However, when this phrase is used in the New Testament it is often used of people, as they are acting in faith and boldness (like in v 8). The implication being that we get filled with the Spirit as we step out in faith.

Use Bible Gateway to research the uses of the phrase ‘filled with the Spirit’ in Luke and Acts and note how many times it is directly linked to faith filled (usually evangelistic) action.

Do you want to be filled with the Spirit? Go and do some things that you simply cannot succeed in without the Spirit’s empowering!

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Reading through Acts- Day 7

August 26th, 2012

Acts 3:11-26- Peter explains himself

13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Once again Peter takes the opportunity to boldly proclaim the good news about Jesus. There is a time for seeker friendly, softly softly, evangelism, but for Peter this was not that time! In fact, its hard to imagine how he could have been any more confrontational! Let Peter’s urgency and directness challenge you as you seek to bring the good news to your world.

Read Acts 3:11-26

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- Why do you think Peter is so direct and confrontational in his message? Why is it so successful (see 4:4)?

- what practically does Peter encourage his hearers to do in response to his message?

- Notice how Peter links the gospel message into the story of history, past, present and future. We are not wrapped up in a new thing or a passing phase, but we stand in the promises of Abraham, awaiting Jesus’ return.

Further Study

As we share the good news of Jesus with our friends, we should always remember that the gospel demands a response. What response are we looking for? Compare the different responses that the apostles’ call for on the back of their gospel presentations and pray that we might see more people responding like this as we share the gospel boldly:

- Acts 2:38-40

- Acts 3:19

- Acts 16:31

- Acts 17:30

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Reading through Acts- Day 6

August 25th, 2012

Acts 3:1-10- An amazing miracle

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

The focus is only momentarily on the church community though. Just like Jesus, the Spirit filled apostles go out to make a tangible (and miraculous) difference in the lives of those outside the church. Let God fill you with faith that you can be involved in miracles like this that cause ‘all the people’ to be ‘filled with wonder and amazement’.

Read Acts 3:1-10

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- Why do you think Peter and John are so bold and full of faith here? How can we get to a place of such boldness?

- What is the beggar’s immediate response to being healed? What is the response of the city? Do we always respond in the same way to God’s blessing?

- ‘What I have I give to you?’ God’s power was something they had/possessed/owned. How is this true for us as well?

 

Further Study

Peter and John do absolutely no praying here. They simply tell the beggar to get up in the name of Jesus. Look through the gospels (maybe start with Luke) and notice how Jesus ‘prays’ for the sick.

- What kind of things does he say?

- What does he not say?

Let Jesus and his apostles’ faith and boldness in healing the sick challenge you. Remember, we have the same authority and have been given the same Holy Spirit!

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Reading through Acts- Day 5

August 24th, 2012

Acts 2:42-47- Church: the prototype

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The Holy Spirit propels Christians into evangelism, but He also leads us into forming loving, powerful, growing communities. The church is not a late invention that came along with gothic architecture and bell ringing. It is what happens when people, filled with the Spirit, seek to fulfil the Great Commission.

Read Acts 2:42-47

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- what were the most noticeable features of this church?

- which of these features can you identify at Churchcentral? What are we lacking?

- Ask God what you can do to help our church be more like this one and that we would know what is like for The Lord to add to our number daily.

 

Further Study

In Romans 12:4-8, Paul describes how the church should work. Read the passage and let God challenge about your part in the body.

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Reading through Acts- Day 4

August 23rd, 2012

Acts 2:14-41- The gospel + The Spirit = a city transformed

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

So the Spirit has come. The gospel is preached. 3,000 people get saved. What a start to the Christian church! Let God challenge you as you see Peter’s boldness, the effectiveness of the gospel and the birth of the church.

Read Acts 2:14-41

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- in verses 22-24, Peter summarises Jesus’ life and death. What does he mention? Why does he focus on these things?

- How do the people respond?

- What does Peter tell them to do?

- Pray that people would be cut to the heart when you share the gospel. As you pray let God speak to you about people he wants you to tell about Jesus and how you can do that.

 

Further Study

Notice again the difference the Spirit makes. Compare the disciples (especially Peter) to what they were like just weeks (even days) before:

- Luke 11:16

- Matthew 26:69-75

-  John 21:1-3

- Acts 1:12-26

These men were not superheroes, they were simply full of the Holy Spirit. If God can do that with them, what can he do with you?

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Reading through Acts- Day 3

August 22nd, 2012

Acts 2:1-13- the coming of the Spirit

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

And (surprise, surprise!) it happens just like Jesus said it would. The Spirit comes. In power. This was the day that had been prophesied for 100s of years- the Spirit finally poured out. From this point on, everything changed. As a result we have the opportunity to have a closer, more intimate, more exciting relationship with God than any believer who lived before this time. As you read about this first outpouring, thank God for His wonderful Holy Spirit, without whom we would be utterly sunk.

Read Acts 2:1-13

Questions to consider/ Things to do:

- How is the Holy Spirit received? Why fire? Why wind?

- What are the first things that the Holy Spirit filled believers do? If these were the Spirit’s priorities then, how can we make these things are priorities today?

- Ask for more of the Spirit’s power in your life. Wait for Him to give you gifts, to speak to you and to envigorate you to introduce people to Jesus.

 

Further Study

Jesus’ followers had already believed in him (Matt 16:15-16, John 20:28) and they had already known something of the Spirit’s power (Luke 10:17, John 20:22) but they did not get baptised in the Spirit until Acts 2.

Look up other accounts of people being baptised in the Spirit. What do you notice?

- Acts 8:9-19

- Acts 9:17-19

- Acts 10:44-48

- Acts 19:1-6

Have you been baptised with the Holy Spirit? If not, ask God for the gift of the Spirit today. There is only one requirement and it is found in John 7:37-39.

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