Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Acts 5:17-21 - Are you sharing the whole message?

Scripture: Acts 5:17-21

Summary: The disciples had been preaching and healing and it was making the people in charge jealous. They arrested the apostles and put them in prison. But that night the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and told them to preach in the temple. So they went at daybreak to teach in the temple.

Thoughts:  The angels instructions to the disciples were: "Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life." Even though they had been thrown into prison for preaching already, they went to the temple and began preaching again. And the angel was very clear that they were to teach the whole message. What does this mean? Well, I think that they were being called to tell the entire story of Jesus Christ, his life, his works, his words, his death, and his resurrection. Too often when we tell people what it means to be a Christian, we don't deliver the whole message. We don't tell them how hard it can be to follow Christ. We don't tell them that they might end up in jail, or worse. But even this is not the whole message. Because the most important part is that God is with us. We are not alone. We are not being called to do God's work on our own. We not only have other Christians to help us but we have the Holy Spirit with us. Are we telling people the whole message about this life?

Prayer: Speak through me as I attempt, with my insufficient words, to share with others the message about life with Jesus Christ. Help me to share the whole message of his witness. Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Acts 5:12-16 - healed by a shadow?

Scripture: Acts 5:12-16

Summary: There were many signs and wonders done among the people by the apostles. The people held them in high esteem and many believers were added to the Lord. They carried the sick into the street in order that Peter's shadow might fall on them as he came by. Many from surrounding towns brought their sick and all were cured.

Thoughts: There are lots of references to great numbers in this scripture. Many signs and wonders, great numbers of believers added, and a great number of people from surrounding towns. And at the end of all of this, the scripture says "and they were all cured."  All of them were cured. Not just those who believed. Not just the lucky few who were noticed by the apostles. But all of them. To the point that even the sick people who laid in the shadow of an apostle were healed! This is an amazing story! And it's only a short story in many chapters of amazing stories in Acts. What if each of us believed as these people obviously did? What if we were willing to put ourselves out there like the apostles did? What miracles could we perform in the name of Jesus Christ? And so I find myself wondering, if Peter could heal people with his shadow, what can I do if I really put my mind to it?

Prayer: God of power and amazing miracles, help me to see the people in the shadows around me who need healing. Help me to use your power to change their lives by loving them as they are and lifting them up out of the shadows and into the sunlight. Amen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Acts 5:1-11 - Giving Until it Hurts?

Scripture: Acts 5:1-11

Summary: A couple, Ananias and Sapphira, sold a piece of property. They decided to keep some of the money for themselves. They brought the rest of it to Peter to share with the church, pretending that it was all that they had received for the land. Peter asked him why he was lying, that he could have kept part of the money without lying about it. He said "You did not lie to us but to God!" Then Ananais fell down and died. When Sapphira came in and told Peter the same thing, she also died.

Thoughts: I have always wanted to use this scripture to preach from during a stewardship campaign. Give everything you can to the church or you will die! I suppose, though, that it is a little extreme. I think that the real purpose of this scripture is to get people thinking about honesty. The problem with Ananais and Sapphira is not that they did not give all of their money to the church. The problem is that they wanted everyone to believe that they had given all of the proceeds but kept some for themselves. How do we approach giving to the church? Do we give whatever is left over at the end of the month? Or do we determine ahead of time how much we want to give and give it at the beginning of the month? I confess that I have too often followed the first option, giving only what remains at the end of the month. It's easy to use the excuse that we have to make sure that we can make the house payment and pay the electric bill. But there are many things that I get each month that I don't really have to have. What would it take for you to give generously to the church at the beginning of the month? What is God calling you to give?

Prayer: God, give me the courage to take a leap of faith and give generously to my faith community. I want to be a part of this congregation and I have pledged to support it with my prayers, my presence, my gifts, my service and my witness. Help me to do so generously! Amen.