Archives for posts with tag: Bible study

Pivotal bulletin copy

Note: the following is an example of the devotionals I’m writing for our Pivotal series (a study of Acts). For more, please go here.

I have so many unanswered questions related to the Ananias and Sapphira story in Acts 5 but there is one thing that is certain about it–they died for conspiring together and lying to God.

I am also fairly certain that while Peter was completely aware of the fate awaiting Sapphira, he may have been as surprised as everyone else when Ananias fell dead in the middle of his speech.

There is a part of us that wants to cry “unfair” when we read this story. I’m not going to deny it: I feel sorry for this couple. The story doesn’t tell us how old they were or if they had any children. Luke doesn’t even care to mention the price of the piece of property they sold.

Not that it matters that much. In the end, their capital offense was to conspire to lie against God. Peter stated it a little differently to Sapphira. He said they put the Holy Spirit to the test. Maybe that gives us a clue. Could this couple be defying God? I mean, “Let’s see what kind of a god he is before we can truly believe,” type of defiance? Did they purposefully try to mock God? “These people think they know everything. Let’s fool them,” type of mockery?

You see what I am doing? I am still trying to find an offense that is bad enough to bring such swift and irreversible penalty to bear on these poor souls. Why? Because in my own subdued, defiant way, I refuse to accept that lying to God is a punishable offense, let alone a capital one. And there is more: every day there are Christians blatantly lying to God and they have yet to see the dirty feet of the grave diggers saying, “Next?” This seems to confirm that lying to God is not such a big deal. Or does it?

Recently, a famous website exposed the lies of so many people who sought to engage in marital infidelity without fear of being discovered. Well, thousands had their names revealed, including a handful of well known Christian leaders. They lied to their spouses, but they lied to God first. But they didn’t drop dead in front of their computers, though one evangelical leader tragically took his own life.

Children tell their parents they were doing homework at their friend’s house when they were out partying and engaging in illegal activities. Adults engage in online pornography while telling their spouses they are watching reruns of Friends. Our brave new world has given us all the tools we need to lie with impunity, or so we think.

So the question really is: “Why are we still alive?” Or even close to home: “Why am I alive?” And the answer may be simply related to the fact that we no longer have someone with the prophetic and apostolic authority of Peter to spot our sins!

But we should not make the mistake of thinking that our life extension here means that we somehow beat the system, for there will be a day of reckoning and we better be prepared for it. As Peter himself said in another place: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

May we also be overcome with a healthy sense of fear of God (Acts 5:5) as we consider how we are living today.

Questions to ponder:

1. Why do you think Luke singled out one sin (lying) to write about in this early stage of the history of the Church?

2. List the types of injuries that occur when people decide to lie blatantly about something they did.

3. What is the biblical solution for the habit of lying?

Pastor Ivanildo Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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Care2Share Blog

I am a stickler for picking the right words and using them intentionally. Therefore, when I hear somebody twisting my words or intentionally taking them out of context, I can easily skip my dinner over it – and go to sleep mad.

I used to be a part of a church that had a program called “Evangelism Explosion.” Every Thursday evening a small team of us went out into the homes of people to share the Good News of the Gospel with them. One night, as the few of us sat and prayed in the parking lot before we left, I noticed a large group of women entering the church for a Bible study. On Sunday, as I taught a class in church, I told that story and made the comment that I wished there were as many people going out of the building to share their faith as there were going into the building for Bible study.

The very next day I got a phone call from the lady in charge of the women’s Bible study. She wanted to meet with me. She had heard from a person, who was not at the class when I taught, that “Pastor Ivanildo is against the women’s Bible studies at the church.”

I missed my dinner that day.

This story only illustrates the nature of the battle we must fight when we attempt to elevate the value of witnessing our faith. You would think that would be a no brainer, but you would be wrong. It takes ten times the effort to keep the mandate to evangelize in front of our people as it does just about any other activity in the church. Why is it so much easier to get people to serve in the nursery, teach Sunday School, attend a Bible study, etc., than to verbalize their faith with Christ’s other friends?

The answer to this question is multifaceted. Many Christians don’t seem to care whether people are going to hell or not. Others are so scared they dare not open their mouths. Some are afraid of rejection. A good number, perhaps, need to be saved before they can share the good news of salvation with others. It is not a mere coincidence that the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said that “One of the first jobs of the preacher is to convert the Christians.”

But I would like to believe that the vast majority, perhaps, don’t do it because a) they simply don’t know how to do it; b) they are confused about what “evangelism” means, thinking somehow that they must do the persuasive work and “close the deal,” when indeed they are called first to sow the seed of the gospel; c) they are not held accountable, which means they are perfectly fine with living a Christian life that does not require verbalizing their faith.

At Grace Church we are trying to address all of the above by promoting a culture where sharing faith is just second nature to a follower of Christ. That’s the main reason we started this series we’re calling “Care 2 Share.” The ideas that are being shared have the potential to radically change the way you see yourself in relation to the world.

This Sunday we will talk about the need to understand people who are still outside of Christ. We will be challenged to get to know our neighbors and connect with them in meaningful ways with the purpose of sharing the gospel with them. Among other things, you will hear me say:

“Now, if you are here and you consider yourself a follower, you have a decision to make. Do you want to engage in this mandate God has given Grace Church? Are you willing to do more than just talk about it? I say this because as I said last Sunday, this will be our main thing. We will pursue this mission with the same passion and determination of those early disciples who when Jesus looked at them and said, ‘Follow me!’ immediately left everything and followed Him. And He said, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ And He did just that.

You will get tired of hearing me talking about our mandate. You will get somewhat uncomfortable if you are not engaging in some aspect of our mandate to bring men, women, and children to Jesus and help them grow in their faith so they can reach others. You will think I sound like a broken record. You will talk to your friends as if your pastor got struck by a new disease called “evangelitis.” You will wish that you could just have a three point sermon where you felt good about yourself and was never asked to do anything. You will even feel like you are back in school because you now have homework to do during a week. Whoever heard of a church that gives homework?

So you have a decision to make: are you in or are you out? And I hope you will decide to be “in” because this will be an exciting journey. You will see God use you in some amazing ways as you live your life intentionally before your friends who might still be outside of Christ. You will experience Christ in a new and exciting way and you will see people come to the knowledge of this Messiah we love so much. And that, my friends, is one of the most exciting things we will experience this side of eternity!”

Please be in prayer for this Sunday and make every effort not to miss it. It will be powerful.  And if you quote me, please think about the dinner I might have to miss… 🙂

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade