With Christmas just around the corner, the yearly battle is about to begin. Cultivating gratitude is key to a happy life.
In one corner, our wants and desires, ready to punch away the desperate needs of others. In the other corner, the deep awareness that even if we get everything we think we want, it won’t really satisfy us.
And this battle only intensifies if you have kids. As you know, kids naturally gravitate toward thinking they need more and more and more stuff to find happiness.
And if we’re honest, so do we.
Materialism swept through our culture like a rushing river. As a result, it’s tempting to believe that the endless pursuit of stuff will fill our hearts and make us happy. But more toys and technology will not give us meaning, purpose, or contentment.
Learning to Live with Gratitude
Sometimes, we need help to swim against the current of materialism and dwell on gratitude instead. So, here’s a short study on Acts 2:42-47 to do on your own or with family or friends.
Day 1 – God’s Design for the Church in Acts 2:42-47
In Acts 2, the brand-new church was like a newborn baby; it needed love and spiritual nourishment. So, the church gathered, day in and day out, at the feet of the apostles—the men who had been with Jesus.
As the apostles taught the new Christians about how Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Law and many Old Testament prophecies, they also taught them how to live. Peter, John, and the others explained that the new church was supposed to show the world who Jesus was and what He was like (John 13:35). They had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13) and with Him the power they needed to obey Jesus’ command to spread the church from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
As a response to God’s grace through Jesus and from the outflow of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, the 3,000+ new believers sold everything and laid every penny at the apostles’ feet. Not out of obligation, but in a spirit of cultivating gratitude. Not to receive God’s blessing but because they had already received everything they needed in Jesus (2 Pet. 1:3).
Think About It
Read Acts 2:42-47 below and answer the questions below.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
How would you define the first group of Christ-followers?
What did they do, and what did they value?
Do you think God was pleased with these believers? Why or why not?
What was the result of their focus on learning, praying, and sharing?
Day 2 – What does Acts 2:42-47 mean?
Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant (Matt. 5:17-18) and began the New Covenant (Luke 22:20; Heb. 8:6-8). As Christians, we are members of Jesus’ body (1 Cor. 12:12-27). Consequentially, our love for one another should shine like a light to nonbelievers (John 13:34-35). In love, we should willingly share our money and resources with other members of Christ’s Body who are in need. Think about it: what would the non-believing world think if Christians purposely carved out a significant portion of our incomes to share with the poor, and so much so that poverty ceased to exist in the church (see our blog on Lev. 23:22)?
As we try figure out what Acts 2:42-47 means for us, the following questions can help us learn about God’s purpose for this passage and what Timeless Truth we can apply to our lives today.
What does this passage say about God? People?
How do these verses help us understand the purpose of the church?
In your own words, write the Timeless Truth in Acts 2:44-45.
Day 3 – Cultivating Gratitude at Christmas
Certainly, the Bible shares God’s wisdom and shows us what a truly happy life looks like. In Acts 2:42-47, a happy life is a generous life. So, let’s figure out how to put generosity into action this holiday season.
As you think about how to apply Acts 2:42-47, here are a few questions to think about:
What does God think about the poor? What do you think about the poor?
Search your heart. Do you care for the poor look like God cares for the poor?
How can caring for the extreme poor change your spending habits this Christmas?
Now, take a few minutes with your family or friends to talk about a time when God provided for your needs in an amazing way. Then, think of a creative way to remember God’s provision. For example, you can write a poem or draw a picture and display it in a frame. Or you can record a video explaining what happened. Then, each Christmas, take time as a family to thank God for His faithfulness!
As you work on cultivating gratitude, you can write a prayer asking God to meet the needs of the extreme poor this Christmas. Please pray also for protection and healing among the needy. To find current prayer requests from the field, visit our Prayer Wall. In addition, if you would like to receive prayer requests from some of the poorest communities in the world, sign up here!