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Bible Pathways - Nov. 10, 2008


November 10

Acts 4

Highlights In Today's Reading:

As believers in Christ increased (4:4, 5:14, 6:1,7), persecution of "Christ Followers" increased as Peter and John taught the people (4:1-4), the Apostles (5:18), and Stephen (6:11-14) are arrested. Healings and miracles are seen (5:12-16) as the Holy Spirit is working, especially as Peter and John (4:21), and the Apostles, miraculously (5:17-21), are released. Don't miss the lie to the Holy Spirit and the judgment on this sin (5:1-11).

One of the remarkable characteristics of this first church of Jerusalem was the spirit of oneness that manifested itself as each one sacrificed material resources. Wealthy believers sold their land or houses and brought the money to be used for the Lord's ministry and the common welfare. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the Apostles' feet (5:1-2).

The program of sharing wealth in the early church was purely a voluntary one and not compulsory. While the land remained in Ananias' possession, it was his alone to dispose of if he chose to do so; and even after he had sold it, the money was his to do with as he pleased. All was voluntary.

It appears that Ananias had a desire to receive praise by emulating Barnabas, the man of Cyprus, who having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles' feet (4:37). The Book of Acts shows us that, from the very beginning, the church was not free from hypocrites.

Ananias' greatest sin was not keeping back part of the money, but being a hypocrite pretending to be as sacrificial as Barnabas and others in surrendering all their possessions. Ananias anticipated receiving recognition to which he was not entitled. Satan had filled his heart with the desire of gaining a reputation as a generous and self-sacrificing giver without it costing him too much.

Today there can be found an Ananias and Sapphira who outwardly embrace the Christian faith and unite with the Church; yet their lives are only an outward effort to please God with an inward desire to still satisfy self. The majority of their time and money is devoted to self and the world, and the Holy Spirit knows the difference.

The Book of Acts reveals that God is not satisfied with every gift to the Church, not even when it appears to be sacrificial.

Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? . . . thou hast . . . lied . . . unto God (5:3-4).

Thought for Today:

Many use hypocrites as an excuse for not attending church, but Jesus said: Let both (the wheat and the tares) grow together (Matthew 13:30). God knows which one we are.

Word Studies:

5:2 being privy to it =b> knowing of it, she helped plan the deception; 6:11 suborned =b> influenced to do wrong, bribed.

Cross References:

For Acts 4:11: See Psalm 118:22. Acts 4:25-26: See Psalm 2:1-2.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Radio Sri Lanka International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Ernest & Frances Hansen • Staff: George Kopchak • Government Officials: Gov. Rod Blagojevich (IL), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA), and Rep. Silvestre Reyes (TX) • Country: Monaco (32,000) in southeastern France • Major languages: French and English • No open evangelism permitted • 90% Roman Catholic; 7% Protestant; 1% Eastern Orthodox • Prayer Suggestion: Confess any sins in your life so that your prayers can be heard (Psa. 66:18-19).

Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 4:5

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