Consistent faith: Devotional Commentary for July 18-24
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
12At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico.
13But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.
14And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,
15to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.
16Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
The church continued to grow both in size and in perseverance in spite of intense persecution. Its challenges were not a few, yet it flourished. Members such as Barnabas encouraged the congregation while the situation with Ananias and Sapphira spread fear throughout the church, the city, and surrounding communities. People witnessed God's Grace as well as His Judgment in plain view.
The witness of the risen Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit continued to move through the growing body of believers. God's Power was constantly revealed through the words and actions of the Apostles. The Disciples continued to bring about miracles, signs, and wonders in the Name of Jesus Christ and by His Power. They healed the sick and those who were in bondage were set free. The Disciples were engaged in a diligent ministry of preaching the Word and fervent prayer.
They had one major thing that kept them together with the members of the church: their common faith in Christ. They worshipped and served the Lord in one accord. They congregated at a section of the Temple's outer court known as Solomon's portico or Solomon's porch.
In the meantime, the impact of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira was deeply felt by members of the church and the people of the city and its surroundings. Everyone slipped into the grips of tremendous fear. Both believers and unbelievers alike were witnesses to the shocking outcome of the futile attempt by Ananias and Sapphira to deceive the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, the testimony of God's boundless blessings on the church was on open display. People were able to observe both developments: God's Grace and His Judgment over sin. It was a time of mixed sentiments.
Certainly, both believers and unbelievers alike were equally stunned by these events. Some were attracted to the church while others were fearful of what they saw. Nevertheless, the people regarded the Disciples with utmost respect. They saw God's Power at work in them.
Some of the people pondered, would things continue this way? Would one perish if one does something wrong? Confused by such unsettling thoughts, some declined from joining the church while others were added to the congregation continuously. The church grew by leaps and bounds. The Holy Spirit continued to add multitudes of new believers to the church.
The Holy Spirit endowed the Apostles with gifts and powers that enabled each one to bring about healing and other miracles, signs, and wonders. The people were moved. The people were impressed. The people recognized that, and continued to bring their sick to Peter for healing. They brought them in droves on cots and stretchers and laid the sick on streets and roadsides to catch Peter's shadow as he passed by. The people believed that Peter's shadow was sufficiently empowered to bestow God's healing upon the sick. Multitudes came from the city and its surroundings because God blessed and preserved His church and satan's harassment of God's children failed.
We have repeatedly remarked how deeply the church was impacted by the behaviors of its members. Barnabas as well as Ananias and Sapphira being the chief examples, the manner in which members conducted themselves was influenced by one of two powers in operation in the heart of each individual. Barnabas was moved by the Holy Spirit to nurture the church through giving and encouragement. But Ananias and his wife served Satan and became agents of evil. They were deceitful, dishonest, and hypocrites.
The church continued to grow nevertheless, in spite of the suffering it had to endure. Satan never relented from battering the body of Christ through persecution and subterfuge. But he failed to achieve his evil ends. His agents were judged and removed from the scene by God, the sovereign Lord.
Satan would have loved to devour the beloved of God. But he was kept at bay. The servants of the Lord prevailed over evil as the Holy Spirit continued to nurture the redeemed of God. He Who is in us is greater than that which is outside of us. So we have nothing or no one to fear except God the Almighty Who has the exclusive Authority and Power to judge or redeem, to kill or save.
Unfortunately, we often find ourselves startled by the evil satan perpetrates against the Body of Christ. We should not be. We know that Christ had overcome the world and that we should be of good cheer. Nevertheless, we are still terrified even though Ananias is removed and Barnabas continues to flourish. No one can separate us from the Love of our Father. The storm may rage and the lion might roam and roar, but those who belong to Christ are preserved in the safe keeping of God the Almighty. He is our Haven of rest. He is our Refuge. He is our fortress. He is our Rock. Jesus has committed us into the safe keeping of our caring Father. We are safe under His Wings.