21 Days of Devotion
Read Acts 4:1-5:11
The Gospel continues to be proclaimed and the early church continues to grow. It experiences Spirit-empowered unity and demonstrations of God’s power, especially through miraculous healings. But it is at this point that serious threats to the church begin to emerge from both the outside and the inside. From the outside, the Jewish leaders oppose and censor the church. From the inside, the deceptions of Ananias and Sapphira threaten to undermine the integrity of the fellowship. But God is faithful. He responds by answering the prayers of the believers for boldness and by bringing judgement on Ananias and Sapphira, a “discipline unto death.” In what ways are we threatened by intimidation from outside the church today? Where can we, like them, find strength to stand firm? And, perhaps even more important, what behaviors of ours inside the church threaten to undermine the integrity of our fellowship? This passage presents us with a clear occasion to pause and to pray, to reflect and to repent.
“The first and great work of a Christian is about his heart. There it is that God dwells by his Spirit, in his saints; and there it is that sin and Satan reign, in the ungodly. The great duties and the great sins are those of the heart. There is the root of good and evil: the tongue and life are but the fruits and expressions of that which dwells within.”
– Richard Baxter
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter Volume II