Acts chapters 1 – 5

Over the last few months I have been studying the Acts of the Apostles. I thought it might be helpful if I were to pick out the most important things I learned from each day’s study. To make it less daunting, I’m going to do this over the course of the next week.

Over the last few months I have been studying the Acts of the Apostles. I thought it might be helpful if I were to pick out the most important things I learned from each day’s study. To make it less daunting, I’m going to do this over the course of the next week.

Acts 1: 12 – 26

If God has given us the privilege of doing something for him, we don’t need to know anything beyond that. The Holy Spirit will give us what we need to carry out the task.

Acts 2: 1 – 13

The disciples were praying because, having lived with Jesus, having been used to his guidance, they desperately wanted to know what to do next. Prayer is how Jesus can talk to us – provided we listen as well as talk. And if there’s one important lesson for me to learn from today’s reading, it is that God can and will answer prayers for guidance.

Heavenly Father

Thank you that through Jesus I can approach you in prayer. Please help me to listen more than I speak, and to take to heart what you tell me.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Acts 2: 14 – 21

God loves it when we ask to serve him; he loves to equip us with the gifts we need. But most wonderful of all, he just loves us for who we are.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me!

Acts 2: 22 – 41

We all fall short. It’s part of our human nature. God doesn’t hate us for it, but he does want us to work as hard as we can to overcome our sin. And that is because sin harms us, and harms those around us. God loves us; he doesn’t want us harmed, and he doesn’t want us to harm others. Once we have repented, we need to live in his love. We need to follow Jesus. We need to obey his command, ‘Love each other.’

Acts 2: 42 – 47

What are we going to have in heaven? Shared delight. Shared praise of God. The constant awareness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, shared with everybody else.

It’s going to be different from this life, that’s for sure.

Maybe communal life offers a way to prepare ourselves for heaven? Dealing with human sin can only be done by love. The effort we will have to put into achieving a community life will make us readier to experience God’s love in heaven. All the worship we give in this life will make open our hearts to praise God.

Acts 3: 1 – 16

This (the healing of the beggar at the gate called Beautiful described in Acts 3: 1 – 16) was one of the ‘wonders and signs’ mentioned in yesterday’s passage. The purpose of this healing was to witness to Jesus, to increase the faith of believers and to build up the numbers of the church. From what I have read and experienced, this is often why God heals people.

Acts 3: 11 – 26

Despite our flaws, God loves all humanity. He wants to deal with our flaws both at the level of the individual and at the level of society.

This passage in Acts tells us how he is doing this. He has sent Jesus to us to heal us and to bring us life. We must allow Jesus to heal us of that sin that cripples us. Peter tells the Israelites who witnessed this healing: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out”.

Acts 4: 1 – 22

Most of the Sanhedrin were bitterly opposed to Jesus and his teaching. However, even they couldn’t deny the truth that these men had been with Jesus.

“But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.”

The evidence was there. A man that they’d all seen lame – he had sat every day at one of the gates to the temple, and they would all have walked past him day after day – and now he’s healed.

“Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.”

I find this one of the most compelling pieces of evidence in the whole bible. This is either true or it’s a complete fabrication.

Acts 4: 23 – 31

We need, today, to be aware that prayer is mostly about us learning from God what his will is for us. It is about trying to allow ourselves to be aligned with his plan through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 4: 32 – 37

And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them.

The key to living like this seems to be that we must continuously experience God’s love. To do that we need to pray, to seek to understand what God wants us to do, to step out in faith and try to do what he’s telling us. In short, we need to practise experiencing the love and leading of God.

Acts 5: 1 – 11

Heavenly Father

I find it difficult to believe that every word of the bible is literally true. If I am wrong about this, please forgive me and set me right. I trust you and accept that your will for me is sovereign.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Acts 5: 12 – 21

Does miraculous healing in the name of Jesus take place today?

Do we see growth in church numbers?

Are there any credible reports of God intervening through angels in the present day?

Are we telling people about new life in Jesus?

If these things aren’t happening in my church, why not?

What should I do about it?

What is God’s will for his church today?

I don’t pretend to have reliable answers for any of these questions, but I certainly think we should be asking them, asking them of ourselves, asking them of each other and, above all, asking them of God in prayer.

 Acts 5: 21 – 42

After the apostles’ testimony, most of the Sanhedrin are outraged and want to put the apostles to death, but Gamaliel, a well-respected Pharisee, intervenes. He reminds them of some history, giving two examples where men claiming to be significant had attempted armed insurrection and failed. He points out, “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.’

Once upon a time, I thought that was wise counsel. Now I see it as being mistaken and woefully inadequate.

Gamaliel knew that Jesus had performed healings and miracles; everybody in Jerusalem knew that. Now the apostles were claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, and that they were witnesses. Furthermore, Gamaliel knew they were healing the sick.

Gamaliel knew there was evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. Why didn’t he enquire further? Why didn’t he use his status as someone “honoured by all the people” to urge his colleagues to investigate matters with open minds and be prepared to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord?

Gamaliel’s words are human wisdom. What a contrast with God’s wisdom!

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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