May 28, 2023
Message Big Idea
The early Church faced great external opposition which sought to stifle it at every turn. However, it was internal failure which placed the movement at greatest risk! The troubling account of Ananias and Sapphira reminds us of the constant duplicity within the human heart. It can lead us to discount the threat of spiritual attack, minimize God’s holiness, and ultimately fail at stewarding God’s blessing. Thus, we must always be conscience of God’s holiness, watching over our own hearts so that we may, according to God’s grace, become people of true integrity
- Describe a time when the plans you made were completely derailed. What derailed them? Was it a big or small disruption? Was it preventable or unpredictable? How did you respond?
- Read Acts 5:1-42
- Discuss/highlight the parts of this passage which intrigued you most? What stood out? Why?
- Share/reflect on key highlights or takeaways from the previous Sunday’s message (Key Points on next page). What jumped out at you as impactful and/or made you want to know more?
- In direct contrast with Joseph aka Barnabas (v.4:36), Ananias and Sapphira act for reputation and renown, not fully committing to generosity for generosity’s sake. Is their strategy surprising within a secular cultural context? What ‘sin’ did they commit by the world’s standards? (hint: it’s only cheating if you get caught)
- What’s surprising about their behavior by the Church’s standards? What does it indicate about their hearts? What kind of threat did it pose to the early Church?
- Read Leviticus 10:1-5 concerning the death of Nadab and Abihu. Do you notice any similarities between this OT event and the death of Ananias and Sapphira? What do they have in common? What is different?
- With both passages in view, how should we understand God’s holiness and the purity with which we are called to live as temples of the Holy Spirit? How serious should we take God’s holiness? Have you minimized God’s holiness?
- In what ways have your actions been tainted by the duplicitous nature of your heart? Do you perform good works while also seeking reputation? Do you act deceptively in some capacity? Spend some time in self-examination followed by a time of repentance and confession.
- What are some practices you can adopt this week that guard your heart, head, and hands from impure motives? Have you tried silent meditation on God’s holiness? Do you have accountability to help watch over your own heart? Can you approach God in asking to be a person of true integrity? How often do you thank God for the depths of His grace?
Live It Out
What one truth from this passage would you like to take to heart and act upon? How will this affect you?
Who will you share this with this week?
Throughout the summer, this section will consist of four areas which will help prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s sermon: a scriptural read ahead, a commentary on the passage, a reflective exercise, and a weekly practice.
- Scriptural Read Ahead: Acts 6
- Acts 6 Commentary: Matthew Henry’s Commentary (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Act/Act_006.cfm)
(Note, commentaries are not without error. Prudent commentary use will lead one to have confidence where consensus exists across commentators while holding loosely where disagreement arises.)
- Reflective Exercise: Consider the division of labor within NorthBridge and your place within it. Reflect upon your strengths and your current role. How well do they fit? How well do they complement others’ gifts?
Weekly Practice: Take a moment this week to observe a brother or sister’s faithful service within the church. Send them an encouraging note, expressing thankfulness for how they use their gifts to advance God’s kingdom.
Sunday’s Sermons Key Points:
What can derail the work of God?
- Ignoring the duplicity of the human heart
- Discounting the reality of spiritual attack
- Minimizing the holiness of God