Monday, April 12, 2010 Acts 5
Today’s focus is the deception of Ananias and Sapphira (1-11). What was their sin? What would they have gained by lying about the money? How do their actions compare to the actions in 32-37? It is easy to think of God as loving and forgiving, and overlook the equally important truth of God’s holiness. God has not changed (Malachi 3:6), and hates sin as much as ever. Are there areas of your life where you have professed to giving all, yet knowingly held some back for yourself? Dishonesty, greed, and envy are destructive to each of us. Have you ever experienced the “fear of the Lord”? How has that influenced your life? Pray with Psalm 51:9-12 as your guide.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 Acts 6
What is the initial problem, and how do the apostles resolve it (2-7)? It seems like the “perfect church” will only occur when Christ and his followers are united at his second coming. How can we make our church better? We don’t have to be perfect to advance Christ’s mission, but must be united. How do we spread out our church’s work among our members? No part is insignificant; ask God about your next assignment. In 8-15, Stephen is arrested. How does the opposition to Stephen compare to the opposition the apostles faced (5:27-28)? What lies behind the accusations against Stephen (see 5:21-24 and John 2:13-21)? Stephen was a man full of “God’s grace and power.” What two adjectives could describe your spiritual life? How might God’s grace and power change your life?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 Acts 7:1-34
What does Stephen’s response to the Sanhedrin reveal about his respect for the Mosaic law? Why do you think he delivered a history lesson about Moses? What parallels does he make between Moses and Jesus? The Sanhedrin knew their history every bit as well as Stephen, so how do you account for their radically different response to Jesus? What do you need, besides knowledge, to know Jesus? Stephen’s speech certainly tells us of the importance of the Old Testament. Is the Old Testament a close friend to you, or a stranger? Spend time in the Old Testament learning the history of our faith.
Thursday, April 15, 2010 Acts 7:35-60
Notice the difference between Stephen’s bold response and Jesus’ quiet response before the Sanhedrin. Why were they so different? How can we know when to speak boldly and when to be quiet? Why were Stephen’s listeners enraged? What does that reveal about the Sanhedrin? Peter’s speech led to mass conversion (chapter 2), while Stephen’s led to his death. As Stephen died, he spoke words like Jesus’ words on the cross (Luke 23:34). How does 59-60 prove the description of Stephen in 6:8? What is the worst thing you’ve endured for your faith? Can you see now how God used it for good? Thank God for those who were persecuted; heroes of our faith.
Friday, April 16, 2010 Acts 8
Persecution forced believers out of their homes in Jerusalem and into other places to share the good news. Watch how God prepares the way for his message, and the human initiative by his followers. Today’s focus is 26-40. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading Isaiah 53:32-33. Philip took advantage of this opportunity to explain the good news. In 29-35, Philip did three things: he followed the Spirit’s leading; he began the discussion where the man was (Isaiah 53); and he explained how Jesus Christ fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. He took a personal interest. It seems that all evangelism involves intimacy. Do you know the Bible well enough to answer that man’s questions? How can you grow in your faith and knowledge so that you will be prepared for surprise opportunities? Pray that you will hear God’s calling; he has already equipped you for your assignment.
Saturday, April 17, 2010 Acts 9
The focus today is 1-17. While the church was growing, a Pharisee named Saul tried to destroy it. Saul traveled 150 miles to Damascus in order to expand his persecution of Christians. What does that tell you about Saul? Is Saul someone you’d have believed was beyond God’s reach? Or do you wonder why God would have wanted him as a part of his team? If you had been one of Saul’s companions, how would you describe what happened in 3-9? How do you think Saul felt when confronted by Jesus (4-6)? How would you have felt in Ananias’ place (13-14)? What is significant about how Ananias addresses Saul (17-19)? How did God get your attention? Was it in a dramatic, or quiet, way? Has there been an Ananias in your life? What changes has knowing Jesus brought into your life?
Sunday, April 18, 2010 Psalm 121
What a wonderful Psalm of assurance and hope! God is always watching over his people, and listening to their needs. We are safe! We never outgrow our need for knowing of God’s untiring watch over our lives. Spend time in prayer thanking God for his faithfulness and love. Read this Psalm as if it were your prayer for the day.