Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love or Favoritism? Part VIII

“Love never fails…”     1 Cor. 13:8
God is love!
He loves everyone……….NO favoritism!
He sent His Son, Jesus to die for every person who was ever born on this planet.
God loves each one of us in spite of our outward appearance, education or lack of.  He is NOT moved by emotions to love us.
We are an extension of Christ on this earth.  It is our responsibility to assist, lift up and inspire each other.
The Bible has many examples of seemingly spiritual people who fell into Satan’s trap of sinning against their ‘brother’ for the sake of selfishness.
A person does not have to look very hard to see people practicing all manner of lies, slander, jealousy, manipulation and harmful behavior towards one another.
Christian love does not seek its own way.
Christian love is a self-sacrificing love that puts the well-being of others first.  Love looks at the heart not the outer appearance.
We are called upon to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. A person can profess correct doctrine, put on a great show of pretense, say they love and still lose their soul if they lack the spirit of self-sacrificing brotherly love.
In conclusion on’ love or favoritism’, I believe our actions also reveal what is hidden in our hearts.  We can say we love yet treat others rudely, control and manipulate all for our own selfishness.   Jealousy rules man more than they want to acknowledge.  
Emotions do dictate how we treat others!
I believe everyone is worth knowing!
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”.     1 Cor. 13:1-7   NIV

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Love or Favoritism? Part VII

“….that all of them may be One, Father just as You are in Me and I am in You…”   John 17:21  NIV
Jesus’ prayer for us is to be One with Him as He is One with God.
‘As’ is defined: “equally, to the same amount or degree, in the same matter…”
With the enlightenment of this definition for the word ‘as’ this prayer becomes a more powerful realization.   Jesus’ prayer for us is to be exactly, in the same matter, one and the same, united with God as He is.   One!
We can walk in the same proportion, in the same degree, in the like manner, in one accord just as Jesus did while on earth.  We have the same Holy Spirit living in us.
With all that said, the bottom line is; when we are rude, unloving, jealous, and angry or ignore one another we are doing this unto Jesus who lives in them.
Matt. 25:45 “..I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me….”   (NIV)

Love or Favoritism? Part VI

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment.    And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matt 22:36-40

What does it really mean to ‘love thy neighbor’?

When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we grow to recognize that everyone is created in His image.

Loving others is not as hard as it seems.  It simply means respecting others and regarding their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own.

We learned about unselfish giving and love through the example of the early church with Ananias and Sapphira.  The church attendees were selling their possessions and giving all they had to ensure everyone’s daily needs were meet.

Agape love in action!

Could it be that the way we love others is through a relationship with Christ and being more like Him?

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   John 13:35  NIV

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love or Favoritism Part V

Christian love………what does it mean to you?
Is it about a warm fuzzy feeling?
In Matt. 22:37 Jesus said, “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…..”  (NIV)
Jesus also said, “…in everything do to others, what you would have them do to you…”   Matt. 7:12 (NIV)
Christian love is giving to others those things you would want them to give you.
When the King James translators used the Greek word ‘agape’ (God’s love), in addition to using the English word ‘love’, they also used the English word “charity” to transliterate it.   This was meant to reinforce the concept that ‘agape’ is a selfless, giving love.
God’s love is unselfish and unconditional.
Christian love is to be unselfish and unconditional.
Christian love is respect for others.
Christian love is a lifestyle, not a feeling.
 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.   For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”   These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”    Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.”             Romans 13:8-10  NLT

Monday, March 28, 2011

Love or Favoritism? Part IV

Church should be a place for ministering to one another and building each other up.
How can we minister to others when we ignore them, have jealousy issues, walk in arrogance or a haughty spirit?
How many people have we missed the opportunity to minister the love of Christ to because we were too busy with our cliques?
We have missed the blessing of knowing others and showing the love of Christ because………………..?  (allow the Holy Spirit to fill in the answer for you).
How many people have left Church because they could not find someone loving enough to put themselves and their cliques aside for the edification of the body of Christ?
Jesus was the perfect example during His earthly ministry.  There were hundreds -----thousands who followed Him.   His miracles were to the obscured ones-----the marginal ones.  He chose to dine at the homes where others would not consider them to be on His level.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!                                                      If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that.                                                                                                                      If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that.                                                                                                                       If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.”   Luke 6:31-34  Message Bible

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love or Favoritism? Part III

“Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”  Matt. 25:40  Message Bible

I was standing next to a person when a church leader rushed over to hug on them.  As the leader walked away, I’m sure the Holy Spirit convicted them, they turned around walked back towards me, reached out to shake hands with me while saying, “You do know, they needed to be loved on more than you did?”    My response was, “no worries, I am use to it.”

My Bible says that God loves us all, no exceptions, no favorites, He loves us all equally.  So why is it that ‘we’ don’t love one another or at least acknowledge each other?

Is it really love or favoritism?

We say we love but our actions prove us to be truthful or liars?  

We like some, love a few and ignore all others!

Recently I witnessed a similar situation in a church I was at.  An individual was shaking hands with a church leader and, the leader walked away while this person was talking to them.   It was obvious the leader was not interested in anything this person had to say.  

It seems that it is bad enough when attendee’s at church ignore one another but when church leadership cannot be bothered by their attendee’s, my question is, “Why go?”

People can be treated that way any place they go out there in the world.  In fact most people can be treated better in the world than in church.  Why?

Could it be arrogance, jealousy, a haughty spirit or just plan favoritism?

We expect that from the world but from the church, where people should be accepted and loved with the ‘love of Christ.”   Guess it proves that Church has become more and more like the world.  

I once heard a person say, “they know what to expect from sinners, those outside the church, but was surprised by the way they were treated by those in the church…guess the church is still full of hypocrites.”   Sadly, they walked away from church and want nothing to do with Christianity. 

We all know, we cannot allow ‘hypocrites’ to stand in the way of our relationship with Jesus, but sometimes the pain of rejection can be unbearable.   Satan knows just how to inflict pain and rejection is one of his greatest tools.

People’s actions speak louder than their words!

Church will only be as good as we are because……...we are the Church.  Unfortunately, we have allowed Church to become focused on the personality of leadership: man. 

If church really was about God, His love, His mercy and grace it would flow freely within the Church and pour out into our city and world.

Today, Church has become cultic.   It has become a place to go for like-minded socialization.  A clique!

A place where there is no change………no growth……no conviction!

“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’   After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’   So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.   For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”   Luke 14:21-24  NLT

Saturday, March 26, 2011

True Love or Favoritism? Part II

 "……… 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was Me—you failed to do it to Me….”   Matt. 25:45   Message Bible
The Church is supposed to represent Christ to our neighbors, city, friends, family and world.  The Church is made up of people like you and me.  What is our excuse or justification for failing to love one another unconditionally? 
Really, the truth is, it is not about unconditional love, it is about favoritism.  It has nothing to do with love.  It is all about having favorites and what you can do for me.

We all know a lot of people who have been hurt by the church because they were being ignored, treated less than of value, judged by appearance, poor, uneducated and not considered important enough to know.

Most of us have experienced poor treatment by church leadership and attendees at one time or another.   I have stood next to someone when a person would walk up and hug on them, talk with them and walk away without even acknowledging me.  This has happened so many times; that I quit counting and decided to use this experience to learn what favoritism is vs true agape love. 
It teaches us that man can say they love but their actions speak louder than their words.   We say we love but our actions reveal the truth about who we are in Christ: we either walk in His love or fleshly love (favoritism).
The Scripture in John 13:35 say’s it best: "By this, all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
True Christian love is a verb.  It puts action behind the word.

“Many a man proclaims his own loving-kindness and goodness, but a faithful man who can find?”   Prov.20:6  Amp

Friday, March 25, 2011

True Love or Favoritism? Part I

True Love or Favoritism? Part I

"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'   "Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward." (Matt 25:45-46)

The dictionary defines fellowship as "friendly association with others; companionship".  Christian fellowship involves friendly association with other christians. 

What is at the heart of christian love?  Jesus said, "By this, all will know that you are my disciples, if  you have love for one another." (John 13:35)

John wrote, "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.  He who does not love his brother abides in death." (1 John 3:14)  And "by this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments."  (1 John 5:2-3)

Genuine friendship loves for love's sake, not just for what it can get in return.  True friendship is both challenging and exciting.  It risks, it overlooks faults, and loves unconditionally, but it also involves being truthful, even though it may hurt.

Genuine friendship, also called "agape love", comes from God.  Jesus calls us his friend and laid down his life for us (John 15).

How can we sing "I Am A Friend of God" and expect the benefits of that friendship when we cannot even be friends to one another.

We say we love God, but fail to pass the the love of God on to others, much less reflect that love through our actions.  We can say we love, but our actions speak louder than our words.

All the talk about Christianity and God's Love makes me step back and wonder where can a person find this to be true?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Matthew 25:37-46 (The Message)

Matthew 25:37-46 (The Message)

 37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
 41-43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

   I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
   I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
   I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
   Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
 44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
 45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'
 46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira Lying Part V

Ananias and Sapphira   Lying    Part V

Acts 5:3 "Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that satan has so filled your heart that you lied..."

Satan has no power to fill a person's heart without their consent; without their cooperation.

The works and power of satan in this story depended the man allowing satan into his heart.  So it was satan's work, formed in the heart of man, who was not determined to keep satan out of the matter.

Every sin can be attributed to both satan and the person.  Satan is the deceiver, but it is not unavoidable to be deceived.  Satan sets the trap, but it is up to each person to decide to walk into it or walk away.  There is no work of satan against man that reduces or eliminates man's responsibility.  It is a choice!

There is no temptation that satan can set up against you that God cannot help you if you will only ask, trust and obey God!  The truth is empowered by God's Word.  Forgiveness and Repentance is offered and the strength to resist temptation moment by moment.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted  beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

The battlefield is in our heart.  Satan seeks a home within each person's heart so he can do the work of corruption.  God said to Cain, "sin lies at your door" (Gen. 4:7 KJV) and this is why Peter rebuked Ananias and Sapphira for allowing the work of satan; to corrupt their heart and the church.  It was justified in order to save God's church!

"and do not give the devil an opportunity" (Eph. 4:27 NASB)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira Lying Part IV

Ananias and Sapphira - Lying - Part IV

Acts 5:11 "And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many heard these things."

Did you notice what the Bible says about how people reacted to the death of Ananias and Sapphira?  The punishment of this dishonest couple made people take note of it and they were filled with fear.

Did the severe punishment of this couple hamper the work of the church?  No!  Acts 5:14 states, "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."

Maybe man should stop fearing man and start fearing God!  We are here to please God and bring Him Glory, not man nor our egos.  The way the Lord dealt with Ananias and Sapphira could be called the first recorded case of church discipline recorded in the Bible.  It may not have been met with the approval of every member of the church, but it was the right thing to do, just as the Lord expects the church today to deal appropriately with those that continue to walk in a disorderly manner.

6 "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us."  (II Thessalonians 3:6)
14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer."  (II Thessalonians 3:14-15)

One of the great dangers to our spiritual existence is a failure to fear God!  It has become very easy, almost routine, to adopt a casual attitude toward God that has no element of "fear and trembling".  The world compels us to fall in line with the culture around us; to develop a lazy, ritualistic approach to religion, not take spiritual things seriously and to dismiss the possibility of suffering consequences from our sin.

If the story of Ananias and Sapphira does not strengthen my reverance for God, I have missed the point.  The courage to pursue God cannot be effectively applied in the absence of this fear.  Our hearts should be so trained that we are able to consistently say "teach me Your way O Lord; make my heart to fear Your Name." (Psalm 86:11)

It is a serious thing to lie to God.  It should strike us with deep fear to even consider any plan that would offend God in any way.

God still hates a lying tongue and His standard for telling the truth is still very high:  "Therefore, each of you must put away lying and speak truthfully to his neighbor (Prov. 6:17; Eph. 4:25). 

The lie Ananias and Sapphira told cost them their lives if we lie, it will cost us our souls (Rev. 21:8).

6 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:6 NIV)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Lying Part III

Ananias and Sapphira:    Lying     Part III
“The Lord detests lying lips….” Prov. 12:22
“Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit….”     Acts 5:3  NLT
When Peter asked Ananias these questions he was putting the responsibility of this matter upon him.  Ananias agreed to this plan in his heart and as the headship of his home his decision to act upon it brought instant death.
Notice Peter never said Satan made him take the action he did.   Satan filled his heart and Ananias made the decision to take action. 
The Bible does say the heart is deceitful so we have to be careful how we identify what is going on in our hearts and mind.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”     Jer. 17:9   KJV
If Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie, could he really be held accountable for the lie he told?   This story, reminds me of what happened in the case of Judas:  “then entered Satan into Judas….” (Luke 22:3).   The truth is in both cases of Judas and Ananias; they were responsible for not stopping the devil’s entrance and allowed him to dwell in their hearts. 
 They could have “closed the door” to Satan’s temptation to lie by saying, “NO”.
Remember it is not a sin to be tempted.  Sin takes place when a person “is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed….”  (Js 1:14).   It is true that Satan tempted Ananias and Sapphira, but they committed sin when they fulfilled their own lusts.
When Gehazi practiced deception and lied to Elisha, he was stricken with leprosy (2 Kings 5:25-27).   Rather than get leprosy, however Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead.   While some might consider that as overly severe action, we must count it as appropriate punishment because God of infinite wisdom always does what is right.
God’s problem with Ananias and Sapphira was not that they kept part of the money.  His problem was their hypocrisy and dishonesty.  God cannot compromise with evil and His response on this occasion was a clear statement of that.
What people do not realize is that God is absolutely pure.  He is light “and in Him there is no darkness at all”  (1 John 1:5)
Ananias and Sapphira’s lie was bigger than it seemed.  It challenged the very perfection ----purity of God and it cost them their lives.
Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”   Rev. 22:11  NLT

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Lying Part II

“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
      but their heart isn't in it. 

   They act like they're worshiping me,
      but they don't mean it.
   They just use me as a cover
      for teaching whatever suits their fancy."    Matt. 15:8-9    Message Bible
In Acts 4:33 we read, “Abundant grace was upon them all”.  People’s generous giving reflected their gratitude for the grace God had bestowed upon them.
He had sacrificed His only Son so that they may have everlasting life.   They were more than willing to sacrifice their worldly possessions so that others might have they daily needs met.
Their selflessness brought glory to God and respect for the Church.
However, Ananias and Sapphira were trying to gain respect and glory for themselves, while trying to with hold on their “sacrifice”.  They had “trampled underfoot the Son of God and insulted the Spirit of Grace.”  (Heb. 10:29)
Their lie was not trivial matter.  It was a declaration of defilement upon the abundant grace of God.   Their lie was as big as the insult felt by God’s Spirit.
When Peter asked Ananias (Acts 5:3) “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie…”  he was not questioning Satan’s purpose.   We know what his purpose is.  (John 10:10a).    
He was searching their motive for allowing Satan into their hearts.
What did they want so badly that it was worth opening their heart to Satan?
When we make room for Satan he is not satisfied to occupy a small corner of our heart.   He wants the whole heart!   He “filled” their hearts.  (Acts 5:3)
Obviously, the heart that Satan fills has no room for God.  They foolishly sacrificed their soul to gain a little money, recognition and glory.
This lie squeezed out what little bit of God they had in their hearts.
Part of Satan’s deception is to get us to believe we are not hurting anyone or anything by telling a little lie.
The ‘lie’ Ananias believed from Satan, was that prestige was highly important in life.
Ananias and Sapphira spoke only ‘half’ of the truth by making themselves out to be more generous than they really were.    God punished them by death on the spot.
A small compromise can cost you everything!
Peter makes it very clear that Ananias did not have to follow the course he did.   He was in full control of every decision.  It was his choice!
“Those who win the victory will receive this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
But cowards, those who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who sin sexually, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur…..."      Rev. 21:7-8          New Century Version

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Lying Part I

Ananias and Sapphira:    Lying           Part I

Their perverted hearts plot evil,
      and they constantly stir up trouble.
 But they will be destroyed suddenly,
      broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing.

There are six things the Lord hates—
      no, seven things he detests:
  haughty eyes,
      a lying tongue,
      hands that kill the innocent,
 a heart that plots evil,
      feet that race to do wrong,
 a false witness who pours out lies,
      a person who sows discord in a family.”   Prov. 6:14-19  NLT

Any lie is serious, we are never more like Satan than when we lie and rebel.   Satan is the Father of all lies!

Lying reveals the darkness in our heart.

Matt. 12:34 tells us that “out of the heart the mouth speaks”.

It is serious to lie to a judge, but it is extremely serious to lie to God.

Have you ever lied to God?

Made Him a promise you did not keep?

Pretending in church is lying!

In Acts 5:3 Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit…..”
Then he goes on to say in verse 4, “…You have not lied to men but to God.”
And in verse 5 it reads, “When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.”

The last words Ananias ever heard were: “…you lied to God.”   Lying is dangerous!

Does God consider telling lie a big sin?

All sin is big to God.  Sin is sin in God’s eyes.

Since God knows everything, he already knew Ananias was going to lie.  He clearly states in His Word He will NOT be mocked.   (Gal.6:7)

How many times have you pretended to give money or time to God, but did not give what you led others to believe you gave?

How often have you told people what a servant you are but you never really do anything?

Sin in the life of a believer is more serious than sin in the life of an unbeliever.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.    1 John 1:9

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ananias and Sapphire: Defiled Headship Part III

Ananias and Sapphira:    Defiled Headship         Part III

The fleshly desire for praise and adoration Ananias and Sapphira craved can affect a marriage relationship in another way.   It causes each partner to vie selfishly for supremacy and seek more for one’s self from the relationship.   One gives of themselves with the intention to get something in return, and they usually keep track of how much they get or lack thereof.    If one thinks they are coming out on the short end, they will fight and complain until they get what they want or think they deserve.
Usually, one or both partners is keeping score of who gives in the most, who gets the most attention, who shows the most appreciation, or some other trivial matter.  The need for one partner to come out looking better than the other causes his/her-self to mask their inner person and this entrenches him/her more firmly into their vile hypocrisy.
Ananias and Sapphira may have agreed together in their deceitful plan, but they never admitted the sinfulness of it to one another or to God. When a husband and wife become partners in pretense, it will eventually destroy them.
Three hours later, after Ananias died, Sapphira came in looking for her husband and Peter gave her an opportunity to be honest.  “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”  (Acts 5:8)   She chose to concur with the same lie her husband initiated.   Without a moment’s hesitation she answered, “Yes, that was the price.”   Peter then declared that she would be punished with the same fate as her husband.
This story is a powerful illustration of God’s divine discipline.  It reveals how strongly He feels about hypocrisy in His Church and He wanted it known for all time.
God will not be mocked nor will He allow it to continue.  He will do whatever it takes to prepare His Church for the return of His Son Jesus.
Are you ready?
Is there any area of your life-----your heart that is not right before God?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Defiled Headship Part II

Ananias and Sapphira:   Defiled Headship  Part II

Ananias and Sapphira designed a scheme to keep some of the money and take the remaining portion and lay it at the feet of the Apostle.
They would not necessarily say they were giving all the money they would just let everyone assume that. Then they would have the instant acclaim as super-spiritual, self-sacrificing Believers who had surrendered everything to God.
What went wrong with their plan?    Peter, with divine discernment, attributed their scheme to Satan and called it lying to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:3)   He explained that they were under no obligation to sell their property and give the money to the church, but they were obligated to be honest.
Their sin was wrapped in dishonesty, deceit, hypocrisy, and presenting a false image of themselves. Peter told them, “you have not lied to men, but to God.”  (Acts 5:4)
Ananias and Sapphira exhibited a fabulous togetherness in their deceptive scheme, their hypocrisy could not help but have affected their marriage.
When appearance is more important to us than reality, we will manipulate the impression we want others to see.
We are careful to hide most of the emotions of the flesh and addictions from others, but behind the front door of our homes, we let our anger, abuse, addictions, slothfulness, pride, unkindness, bitterness, selfishness and childish behavior run rampant.   And as a result many Christian homes are consumed with stress, fear, control, manipulation and strife.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”    Gal. 5:16-26   NLT

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Defiled Headship Part 1

Ananias and Sapphira:      Defiled Headship      Part 1 
Ananias and Sapphira lived in the days of the church’s greatest purity and power.
These Christians were knit together in the bonds of God’s love.  They knew they belonged to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Acts 4:32 reads, “All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”
This Scripture states they were of one heart and one soul.  The soul is the conscious life force in man, his personality, consisting of his mind, will, and emotions.  This is the level on which a person thinks, feels, and makes choices.
These Christians in the early church thought alike, they had deep feelings for each other and they made decisions that showed their mutual concern and care.
They did not sit through church pretending to be someone they are not, then go home and forget about the needs of others and slip back into their hidden sins.
Their love for one another went so far as to give their money and possession knowing everything they had was from God and not theirs exclusively.
They willingly sacrificed their own comfort for the good of everyone.
The result of this unselfish spirit was great power and blessings upon the church.  In John 13:35 Jesus said that this kind of love would be the mark of true discipleship.
But……Ananias and Sapphira wanted more.  They wanted to be more acclaimed, they wanted to be the center of attention, they wanted others to think they were super-spiritual----they needed to be recognized.  They wanted people to know they were more than just ordinary members, they were special.   They craved the praise of men.  
This is where trouble began when their fleshly pride took over.  Coveting the praise of man was evident enough to see they were operating in the realm of the flesh rather than the Spirit of God.
This becomes even more evident to us when we learn their confidence was more in their bank account, rather than God.  They could not bear to do what the others were doing----giving all their money totally to God and solely trust Him to meet their needs.   Their desire for praise and their confidence in material things expressed their fleshliness.
The dilemma was: “how could they get the praise they craved from the congregation without giving all the money?”
Answer:  Lie and Fake it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Discipline Part II

Ananias and Sapphira:     Discipline         part II

God will provide a way out of distress and disaster.  It is called repentance and obedience!
“Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart’”  (Joel 2:12).   The Holy Spirit admonishes: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion….” (Heb. 3:7-8).  God is speaking!  That means He is still with us and has not forsaken us.  He is saying, “Return to me now.”  Not tomorrow, or next week, but now!  We must return and repent now.  Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 6:2, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
There is only one way of coming back into favor with God.  Most people today do not like to hear about sin or repentance.  They want God’s favor without repentance.
The only way back is through repentance.  God revealed this to Solomon in 2 Chr. 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  
The law of repentance is still operative today!   Anyone who takes hold of this promise and repents will receive forgiveness and restoration with Jesus Christ.
“Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.  Rend your heart and not your garments.’”   To ‘rend’ or ‘tear’ our heart means “Listen,  Trust,  Obey,  and  Turn!   
Do the will of God with a soft heart.  Forsake all rebellion against truth and forsake worldly passions, ungodliness, all falsehood and lies.  Instead of tearing our garments, we must tear our stony hearts, making them soft and responsive.
In Zec. 7:12-13 we are told, “They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets.  So the Lord Almighty was very angry. ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
We can never come into the favor of God without repentance, without a soft heart, without listening, without obeying and believing the Word of God.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Discipline Part I

Ananias and Sapphira:  Discipline         Part I

Hebrews 12:4-11 (Amplified Bible)
4You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood.
    5And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him;
    6For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.
    7You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline?
    8Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God's children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all].
    9Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live?
    10For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.
    11For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness--in conformity to God's will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].

The sad story of Ananias and Sapphira is not some obscure story from the OT where a violation of the Mosaic Law occurred.   This happened in the NT church to professing believers in Jesus Christ.   They sat under powerful preaching and teaching by those who had been with Jesus for three years and who were filled with the Holy Spirit.
But they proved to be tares among the wheat and their story is a reminder to us today that God looks at our hearts not our outward professions, that He hates sin and will punish it, and that He is concerned for the purity of His Church.
1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  
The Lord demands a total change of our mind, will and emotions. He will not accept a mere form of godliness, nor will he accept mere weeping and wailing.   Some people can easily cry; it is simply the way they are made, but mere crying is not repentance.
Peter did not call down judgment from God, he merely exposed Ananias and Sapphira’s hypocrisy by the insight God gave him.
It was the disciplinary hand of God that struck Ananias and Sapphira.
God does not accept a little external, superficial repentance.  He demands a heartfelt repentance.  One that is sincere and will render a true change in our heart, mind, will and emotions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Show Christians: Hypocrisy Part II

Ananias and Sapphira:   Show Christians: hypocrisy      Part II
Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.”  Prov. 26:26  KJV

The great revival was on the move, hundreds and hundreds were being saved.

Satan did not like this!  He had to try to stop the church with intimidation and persecution.  When he could not stop it from the outside, he had to stop it from within.

If he could not conquer the church, he would have to try to corrupt it!

Jesus said in Matt. 15:8, “These people honor me with their lips,
   but their hearts are far from me.”  (NIV)

Remember the old adage:    
“you can fool……. some of the people all the time….
                          All the people some of the time…..
                         But you can’t fool…. All the people all the time!”

Those around us, in our homes, at work and neighborhood…..they know the truth of who we really are.

Our actions speak louder than our words.   They will see the hypocrisy in our lives and it will destroy our witness for Jesus Christ.

We cannot fool God at anytime.  He sees what we do in secret, our deception, our denial, our motives, our lies, our dishonesty….He knows our heart.     
In the gospels, Jesus was very compassionate and patient in dealing with those who fell into sin….but was harsh with the religious hypocrites.

The loving and caring Lamb can also be the Lion of Judah!

Jesus took a whip and drove the hypocrites out of the temple.  He was the Lion of Judah, when it came to cleaning “His Father’s” house.  (Matt. 21:12-13)

He called the hypocrites a brood of vipers----snakes!  He said, “you are like a whitewashed tomb, looks good outside”…..but filled with dead, stinking corruption……I know your wicked thought life and motives.

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and everything impure.

  Just so, you also outwardly seem to people to be just and upright but inside you are full of pretense and lawlessness and iniquity. “  Matt. 23:27-28    
Religious hypocrisy is odious to the nostrils of God!

The sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira served to purify and warn the Church.  Their death certainly impressed upon the church and the world the danger of hypocrisy.

Jesus knew that religious hypocrisy would be one of the most insidious and deadliest enemies to the purity of His Church.

“……Jesus' primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, "Watch yourselves carefully so you don't get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness.
 You can't keep your true self hidden forever; before long you'll be exposed.

You can't hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can't whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day's coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”  Luke 1:1-3  Message Bible

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ananias and Sapphira: Show Christians: Hypocrisy

Ananias and Sapphira:  Show Christians: hypocrisy
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”   Matt. 23:28   NKJV

Phony spirituality is contagious!  It spreads quickly!

Usually when one Christian sees another getting away with something, they find it easier to try it themselves or justify their actions and words.

For every person who operates in the power of their flesh, rather than the Spirit of God, for every person who lives for the praise of man rather than the glory of God, the effectiveness of the Church is reduced so much more.

If God had permitted Ananias and Sapphira to continue their charade, it would have destroyed the witness of the Church.  He had to act decisively.

Unfortunately, over the years, Show Christians have defiled and diluted the witness of the Church, and has far removed the uniqueness of Christianity.   It is very possible that we may even find it difficult to recognize our hypocrisy.

We understand hypocrisy to be a deliberate and conscious effort to deceive, as it was with Ananias and Sapphira.

It may be that we have simply fallen into the unconscious habit of protecting our saintly image, covering our carnality, keeping people from knowing what is going on in our hearts and in our homes.  That is easier than committing ourselves totally to Christ and letting Him live through us to make the changes He desires to make.

This form of hypocrisy has become a way of life in the Church today, and may be the reason we are not making any great impact on our cities, states, family, friends===our godless world.

The lingering question remains:  Which is more important to us----to maintain the appearance of spirituality or to be genuinely what God wants us to be, no matter the cost or loss?

We all know that cultivating the ‘image’ alone leads to death…..death spiritually …..death to our witness……death to our church…..and death to growth in relationships.

Are there any situations in your life that you know are not right before God?

Any hidden sins?    It is a heart matter.

If Jesus were to come this very second, would your heart be ready for His examination?

God can use honest, open people who will be a light for Him in a dark world.   When we are open to Him, He will produce in us the life and light of Jesus which means an abundant life, joy, peace and favor.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9  NKJV