Today you should read: Acts 5:1-11
The Cost of Hypocrisy
What is a hypocrite? The dictionary defines a hypocrite as a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess – a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.
As you may know, this word comes from a Greek word hypokrit, which was a stage actor. Someone who was pretending to be something they were not. That’s exactly what happened in Acts 5 with a man named Ananias and Sapphira his wife.
Everyone in the early church agreed to sell their possessions and pool all of their resources so that each one might be equal. Ananias and Sapphira, a part of that congregation agreed as well. But after they sold their things, they kept part of the money. It was theirs to keep of course – but they were hypocrites – they lead everyone to believe that they were bringing the whole amount. Peter said that Satan filled their hearts and they lied to the Holy Spirit. That never works! In that early church they dropped dead – both of them! I wonder how our lives would change if that happened at our church? Verse 11 says that great fear gripped the entire church. I bet! That’s the understatement of the year!
I wonder how you and I act like that: how are we hypocrites? What are the ways in which we say one thing and do another? How do we lead people to believe something about us that simply isn’t true in order to be accepted or to have the praise of man? Have we even gotten to the place that we’ve convinced ourselves that something is OK when we KNOW that God says it isn’t?
The most important thing is to have a pure heart. The opposite of being a hypocrite is to have integrity. Integrity is truly being what you say you are. There’s protection and peace in that!
What needs to change in your life this week? In what ways are you living a life of hypocrisy? How can you begin to live with integrity?
By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor
Today you should read: Acts 4:23-37
In the ESV translation of our passage today, verses 23-31 has the heading “The Believers Pray for Boldness.” As I was reading the passage, I noticed that verse 31 is what puts this boldness in its proper context: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
This is an amazing summary verse of the early church: their prayers literally shook the physical location that they were in, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and then it says they were boldly sharing the gospel. Boldness in sharing the gospel isn’t just something that is manufactured; it comes from a group of believers who are passionate about seeking God in prayer and who are filled with the Spirit.
God has been gracious to Center Point over the years, as we have seen many people come to know Jesus and be discipled and growing in their faith. I would say we are certainly ahead of many other churches when we think about this, but what if God wants to do even more through our church? What if God wants us to seek Him even stronger in prayer and personally and corporately seek to be filled with the Spirit so that we can more effectively be a bold witness to the gospel to a dark world?
This unity around the mission led to the needs of everyone in the church being met (32-37). They were so focused on the mission, so filled with the Spirit, that they understood that they were a family that needed to care for each other. What a contrasting light in a world of self-centered darkness!
Over and over in the book of Acts it says that God multiplied the church and added to their number every day. What if God wants to do the same thing through His churches today? What if God wants to do the same thing through us?
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice
Today you should read: Acts 4:1-22
The other day, one of my four kids got in trouble with something that they had previously done in the past and when caught, they gave me the puppy dog eyes & crocodile tears while saying “I can’t but help to do that.” I’m reminded of that incident reading Acts 4:1-22. Peter, John and the rest of the early church are just in the beginning stages of persecution. Armed with the Holy Spirit & the Great Commission, they’re really trying to figure all of this stuff out while being faithful to their Lord Jesus Christ.
That we know of, this was one of the first arrests of the early church after Pentecost. It says in verse 2 that they were annoying people because of their teaching of the resurrection. Of course, John and Peter just look at it as another opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the council who arrested them were amazed at their knowledge and passion because they were just common, uneducated people. However, this leads to my original story in the beginning. After being threatened again to quit sharing this “annoying” message of good news of salvation for all people, Peter and John respond by saying “Sorry, but we can’t but help to share of what we’ve seen and heard” (v. 20). I can’t but help to share this Gospel message. No matter the consequence, the threat, the danger… I have to share this still.” This wasn’t a struggle or excuse like my discipline situation with a child but a truth out of love and awe bubbling over their hearts and lives. They knew the urgency and ramifications of this truth and they couldn’t keep it to themselves. The exact opposite of the all so common saying today, “I just keep my faith more private.”
What if we had this same heart and attitude with the Gospel message? That we can’t but help to share it with others? That it wasn’t a source of fear or we quit making excuses about why we are not sharing it. We can’t but help to!
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor
Today you should read: Acts 3:1-26
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you have nothing to offer? Every once in a while, I am put in situations that require some handiwork, specifically with cars or house projects. Let me make this clear on the front end: I’m probably the least handy guy I know. I like completing hands-on projects and feeling handy, but I never really grew up doing those things. If you asked me to help change your oil or to help you build a piece of furniture, I would absolutely be consulting Google first, and then probably still have issues getting it done efficiently. The point is that I sometimes feel helpless and useless. What could I offer to people that need help with these projects?
A somewhat similar instance happens to Peter and John in this passage. Here we have a lame beggar who is set in the gate of the temple so that he can ask for alms (charitable donations) so that he may continue to meet his basic needs like food and water. In response to this, Peter says “I don’t have money to give to you, but I will wholeheartedly give you what I have. In Jesus name, walk!” (paraphrasing verse 6). And the man was immediately healed!
Now, a lot of us may not be spiritually gifted in healing, but we can still learn a lot from Peter’s example. Where can you put your gifts and talents to be a blessing to others? If you don’t feel like your gifting would allow you to volunteer with the worship team, in what ways can you still bless the church? The college ministry? Students? Kids? As Peter states in verse 12, it is not by our own power or righteousness that blessings and miracles happen, so be willing to allow God to use you. It may be in a way that is unexpected and ultimately greater.
By: Tyler Monroe — Worship Ministries Intern