February 29, Monday

markEditor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from February 29 to March 6 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F.  Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 5:1-6

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. [1]

I realize that this passage is probably not the easiest one to start your Monday with, since very rarely do we like to look at difficult subjects like God’s judgment.  But the obvious question here is this: “Why did God deal so severely with Ananias and Sapphira?”   In short, the answer could be found in what follows.

There were two ideals that the Holy Spirit empowered the early believers to fulfill.  The first was a fulfillment of the Greek ideal of friendship.  For the Greeks, true friendship meant holding everything in common and to be of one mind.  Aristotle has been reputed to having defined friendship as “two bodies with one soul.”   This ideal became a reality in the life of the early church, and for that reason, it attracted those looking for authentic friendship.

The second ideal that was fulfilled by the early church was the Old Testament promise that in a society that followed the commands of God, God would bless them by eradicating poverty.  Again, the early church realized this ideal and drew those who were looking for a just and fair society.  It’s no wonder that Christianity had such an overwhelming power of attraction in the book of Acts.

Ultimately, this explains why God dealt so severely with Ananias and Sapphira.  What seems unfair to us and overly severe is perfect and righteous in the hands of God.  For this special period of time where Christianity was just taking root, it was imperative that the church be established in purity.  Unfortunately, Ananias and Sapphira were in the wrong place at the wrong time; but because of the fate of this couple, no pretenders, or those with a half-hearted commitment or mixed motives dared to join the group of disciples.  Amazingly, later in the chapter, we see an unexpected result of God’s judgment—a multitude of new believers were added to the church.  The warning and the lesson to be taken from this story this: the purity of the church is vitally important and well worth guarding, if we are to be light in our world. 

Prayer

Lord, we pray for the church today—both our local church and the universal body.  Help us to desire purity and power in our congregations so that we might serve as Your witnesses in a darkened world.  We pray for the pouring out of Your Spirit and true revival to sweep through the hearts of believers across our cities, nation, and world.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Acts 5:1–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 8

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Lunch Break Study

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. [1]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does it mean for Christians to be the salt of the earth?
  2. Why are Christians the light of the world?

Notes:

  1. The duty of the Christian in the world is two-fold: First, as salt of the earth, we are called to arrest and prevent the moral decay and corruption of the world.  The main purpose of salt in the days before refrigeration was its utility as a preservative and a disinfectant.  If you cure a piece of meat properly with salt, it will stay good for a long time.  If you rub salt in a wound, it will keep it from being infected.  In this way, Christians are meant to permeate the whole of society so that even though we are few, we hold the world accountable to what is true, just, fair, and good.
  2. Second, we are the light of the world because the light of Christ dwells within us. We not only play a preventive role against decay and corruption, Christians are the only ones that can bring light into the darkness, life to the dead, and real change in the heart. The church is only as bright as the indwelling presence of Christ and the fullness of His Holy Spirit in each believer.  As a biblical metaphor, light encompasses more than the idea of truth but it is not less than that.  And in Luke’s account of this subject of light, Jesus tells Christians, “Be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt. 5:13–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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Evening Reflection

How have you been a witness for Christ today?  When is the last time you prayed for a non-believer or shared the gospel with someone who was seeking?  As we approach Easter Sunday in a few weeks, pray that God would give you opportunities to share your faith and invite someone to church.

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