My Sunday morning Bible study is taking a fresh look at Peter and how his life often mirrors our own at various times in life. This week we are looking at the power of God that filled Peter’s life, and how that made a difference.
Pilate’s wife warned him not to mess with Jesus (Matthew 27:19). The guards who stood at the tomb didn’t really know what happened that night (Matthew 28:11-15) but were paid to give false testimony. Right at seven weeks after these amazing events, the next Jewish feast had arrived. We find the disciples gathered in an upper room praying. They saw Jesus ascend to heaven but had not yet received what Jesus had promised, the Spirit, power, and they did not even know what to look for. Would they even recognize it when it came?
Inspired Words: Acts 2:1-40 (primarily Acts 2:1-14)
On the streets below the room where the believers are gathered, Jerusalem is busy. Jewish pilgrims from all over the world have come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. The believers have been in prayer (Acts 1:14), as instructed by Jesus, and waiting to see what he promised (Acts 1:8). Suddenly, a roaring wind fills the house and tongues of fire fall on each person. The visitation is unmistakable, and the promised power has arrived.
Peter is filled with words to explain the amazing event. A miracle occurs as visitors in town for the feast hear the good news about Jesus in their native tongue (Acts 2:11). They are touched by the message and confused by the messengers (Acts 2:12-13). Then Peter takes the lead. He stands up and preaches the world’s first post-ascension sermon (Acts 2:14). He steps into the role he will fill for the rest of his life: a vocal leader of the Jesus movement.
- Peter’s regrets and failures are nowhere evident in Acts 2. It’s as though they never happened. He has “moved on” and gotten busy doing what God called him to do. Is anything from your past hindering your ability to be completely available to God?
- If so, how do you think God would want you to deal with it? Why is it so hard sometimes to move on?
Daring Faith: Acts 3:1-26 (primarily Acts 3:1-10)
Peter and John encounter a familiar scene on their way to the temple to pray. A crippled man is being carried to the gate so he can beg for alms from people (Acts 3:2). Today is different than most other days; the disciples are now filled with boldness in their faith, like they never experienced while Jesus walked in the flesh. They look the man in the eyes and offer him something far better than silver or gold. Peter grabs his hand, pulls him to his feet before seeing any evidence of healing, and tells him to walk (Acts 3:7). Only then do the man’s ankles and legs grow strong. He walks, jumps, and praises God vocally and visibly.
It’s a very public miracle. People who have know this man for years are amazed at the sight. They are filled with wonder and awe, and Peter sees another opportunity. Again, he begins to preach.
- People all around you are hurting physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. How much of your reputation or your dignity would you be willing to risk to help them?
- How much faith do you have that your intervention can change their lives?
- Peter seized an opportunity to display the glory of Jesus. How diligently do you look for those kinds of opportunities?
- What is one act of faith you can do this week to help someone who’s hurting?
Courageous Leadership: Acts 5:1-10
Many believers are selling their possessions, pooling their resources, and sharing with each other so that no one would have any needs. It’s a remarkable reflection of the love of Christ in their lives. Though the generosity isn’t required of anyone, it’s a natural response to the Spirit’s presence.
But there are always those who try to see how little they can get by with. In this case, it’s a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira who boast greater generosity than they actually have. They secretly keep a portion of a land sale for themselves (Acts 5:1-2).
But there are no secrets with the Holy Spirit, and there is no room for a lack of integrity. The couple has lied to God, to Peter and the other leaders, and to the fellowship of believers (Acts 5:4). Unlike many later church leaders who would ignore the deception as a personal issue, Peter confronts the couple. When he bluntly exposes Ananias’ lie, the deceiver falls down dead (Acts 5:5). Later, his wife does the same when she is confronted (Acts 5:10). In these first days of the new church, integrity seems to be a vital issue both to the Spirit and to Peter.
- To what degree do you think the church today is known for its integrity?
- Do you think the Spirit does (or will) have as harsh a response to deception as he did with Ananias and Sapphira? Why or why not?
- How meticulous are you about your own integrity?
- Do you present yourself as more generous, loving, or honest than you really are? If so, why?