Acts 5

Acts 5 is a very sad story of Ananias and Sapphira – people who were part of the followers and property owners who “sold a piece of property” to give to the church.  That was a very noble thing to do.  The problem was that Ananias “with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds”.  When questioned he claimed to have given it all but it was a “lie to the Holy Spirit” and not just the apostles.  Ananias did a good thing but because he lied and was untruthful – he actually lied to the Holy Spirit and is told “you have not lied to men but to God”.  I’m afraid a lot of us might consider this a little white lie.  He did a good thing – gave money to the body of Christ Followers – but he didn’t tell the whole truth.  And what we often lose sight of is that our lies or sins that may seem small or insignificant – well they are not such to God.  When we choose to do wrong – the definition of sin – we are not just impacting people in our patch – but are really missing the mark with God and the Holy Spirit.  And we won’t get away with it.  We may be able to fool those around us but God knows all.  He knows our motives – He knows the facts – He knows the truth.  We can’t pull anything with Him.  Yet we try and we deceive ourselves that the little look inappropriately at another person, or stealing a few minutes from our workplace, or taking something that doesn’t belong to us but no one will miss – those things don’t really count.  Check out what happens when Ananias hears from Peter the reality of what he had done: “When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last”.  That is a serious consequence.  Sapphira is given a chance to rectify the story but tells the exact same white lie and has the exact same outcome.  God is not going to be mocked.  There are consequences for our choices and a price to pay for sinful behavior.

The people responded in two ways: “great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things…..and more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women”.  It isn’t hard to imagine why people would be afraid and why their fear would cause them to seek and find the Lord.  Meanwhile the religious leaders are jealous and afraid of losing control, so they “arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison”. They were not going to let their little kingdom escape so they lock the apostles up to shut them up.  God has a different plan and an “angel of the Lord opened the prison doors” and set them free.  They don’t run and hide but immediately return to the temple to continue teaching.  When questioned by the leaders they tell them why: “We must obey God rather than men”.  There is the mantra that should describe our lives – we obey God no matter what any man tells us to do.  We serve the God of the universe and should never back down from obedience to Him.  The leaders want these guys dead but as they meet privately to determine their fate, a wise man named Gamaliel offers these wise words: “if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them”.  So they listen and beat them and again charged them not to speak which the apostles completely ignore.  They were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name… they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”  Are you that sold out for Jesus?  Will you endure the reaction of people in your patch and stand firm in your resolve to obey Him no matter what the cost?  That may mean standing out as different.  It may mean losing friends and enduring some suffering.  But that is the example the apostles set for us – to follow in obedience at all costs and leave the details to the Lord.  It is His battle not ours! 

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