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?" (Acts 5:3)
The early church was of one heart and one soul. Everything they had was in common, and great grace was upon them all...."There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet." (4:34) The apostles then distributed to anyone among them who had a need. What a beautiful example to all who saw them live and worship in harmony to those outside the church body! Scripture tells us that all the Christians were filled with boldness to speak the truth of Jesus's resurrection.
This is God's example to us of how we ought to be with our sisters and brothers in Christ. How do you observe today's church, the body of Christ?
God had charged the new Christians with the Great Commission—to tell the world about Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20). And to do this, there needed to be harmony among them. They had been empowered, in the second chapter of Acts, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the ability to speak in every known tongue to preach the gospel. These believers were generous and were giving their all to further God's kingdom with generosity. A shocking lesson was learned by a man and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, who had withheld a portion of proceeds for themselves, and then lied about it. Both were immediately struck dead for lying to God, and great fear filled all who witnessed this, including those outside the church. God calls for purity within the church, to have the blessing and presence of the Holy Spirit among us.
During World War II, all of the work, products and the commitment of our nation went toward the war effort. Then came the age of consumerism, which we can say rules the world today. Instant gratification comes with the ability to buy anything we want, even without leaving our homes, and in two days or less we have the item or service we desire. And if we buy on credit, even the payment is delayed until later. Because this causes most of us to live beyond our means, being generous seems difficult.
God has called us to be generous to each other, and to meet one another's needs. He has said that this is the most important commandment, next to loving God with all our heart, soul and mind.
- Matt. 6:24: Stop living selfishly,
- Luke 14:27: Give up all to follow Him.
- Don't be a hypocrite in looking holy.
- Focus on how God sees you. Don't worry about what others think of you.
- Be humble and study the Word.
Put your Faith in Action: Where do you need more honesty and openness in your life? Apply James 5:16 to your life this week.
* Listen to the audio message on SoundCloud.
* Read and study Acts 4:32 to 5:11.
* Join us next Sunday at 9 or 10:45 a.m. at Antelope Springs Church.