Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Acts of God

Here are a few outtakes from my sermon this past Sunday morning (Feb. 27) from Acts 4:32-5:12. The sermon title was Putting Possessions in Their Place.

"This word from God (Acts 4:32-5:12) is about the church’s ideal relationship with material things (4:32-35), a Christian exemplifying this in practical terms (he’s ‘the real deal’ - 4:36-37) and two Christians who make a bad deal with the devil regarding money - and die as a result (5:1-12)."

“Wherever there’s money – yes, right here in church - both God and Satan are there/here. Rest assured, Satan knows precisely where to tempt us – in our heart and with our wallet.”

“Though the church had just been filled with the Holy Spirit (4:31), that didn’t exempt it from temptation and failure in terms of sin, as was the case with Ananias and Sapphira.” Being filled with the Spirit of God doesn’t make you invulnerable.”

“The love of money can get you into a world of evil – much of which you had not planned on getting into – and will have the devil of a time getting out of – if you can at all!”

“Being a believer in the resurrected Jesus is about many things, but here the point is clear: being a believer is about being sensitive to the needs of others and doing what you can about those needs. Never forget, the cross of Christ is formed and found where your God-given resources and abilities intersect with the needs of others.”

“Ananias and Sapphira would tell you now: being a selfish as a Christian hurts you, threatens to cripple the whole church and makes you sin directly against God. A selfish believer is a Christian seeking recognition, rationalizing the separation of believing and behaving and is unwittingly opening their heart up to the devil to do whatever he will wit them.”

“Ananias and Sapphira were the first pretenders we have record of in the church. They wanted to be known in the church as one thing (i.e. - generous believers like Barnabas), but they wanted that recognition at a cut rate price. They wanted church to be all gain and no pain. And God made his mind obvious as to such thinking: no way!”

"What can you do two actively guard against becoming a selfish Christian? Two things: refuse to seek recognition and take a good look at how you’re living. Double-check your motives and ask yourself who are you trying to bless. Also ask yourself if you’re being truly honest to God about the way you’re living and refuse to lie to yourself, to others and to God.”

"Ananias and Sapphira are not remembered today for being the first two Christians to die and inherit the kingdom – as they could have been. Ananias and Sapphira are remembered today for being the first two Christians who died in the midst, and because, of denying the living out their commitment to the Lord and his people.”

“This passage says there were great things happening in this church – great power, great grace and great fear. Every church needs those same three things in some form or another from God in abundance.”

“The evidence of a Spirit-filled church is its unity. The evidence of a church’s unity is its generosity. And the evidence of its generosity is it’s care for the poor (4:32-37).”

“The evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in a believer is a selfless, giving life lived out in the presence, and for the deliberate blessing, of other believers, his church.”