Good morning Father, Son and Spirit; speak to me God, your servant is listening..
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 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? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.” Acts 5:1-6
“Lying is a terrible vice. It testifies that one despises God, but fears man.” Michel de Montaigne”
Acts chapter 5 begins with the story of Ananias and Sapphira. In it Peter, who had so recently experienced the forgiving and restoring grace of God after his denial of Jesus in the high priests palace, in turn speaks un-gracious words of death of the couple. Try how we may, we cannot imagine Christ acting towards sinners as Peter here is represented as doing.
The selling and giving of goods to the community of the early church was voluntary. The piece of land belonged to Ananias: he could keep it or sell it as he pleased. When he sold it the money he got from it was his to use as he chose. Ananais and Sapphira retained part of the sale price for their private use, as they had every right to do, but he lied and stated the balance he gave to the church as the total purchase price that he received from the sale. He tried to lie and deceive them into thinking he was “All in” and had done an extremely pious act. A higher standardof character and honesty must prevail among the followers of Christ. Ananais, in an effort to gain a reputation for greater generosity than he had actually earned, tried to deceive the believing community. However, in trying to deceive the community he was really trying to deceive the Holy Spirit, whose life-giving power had created, flowed through, and maintained the community. If he had told a lie told to Peter on a separate private transaction, though it would be a sin, may not have been as condemning. But this act, whether Ananias knew it or not, was a lie told to God, something prompted as Peter said, by “Satan filling his heart” and he became an adversary to God and humanity.
The desire to gain a higher reputation than one is due for generosity, an act of humility, service, or some other virtuous act is not so uncommon among us that anyone of us can take a self-righteous attitude toward Ananais. Instead I believe from this story, we are called to deep self-reflection on how we may have or are currently lying, deceiving or exagerating to our community of faith, or more importantly ourselves personally about our level of generosity, tithing, giving, time spent in The Word and prayer, and our surrender to Christ. What ways are we building ourselves up in our minds and the minds of others of our level of generosity and obedience to build up or maintain a reputation, while in reality with are exagerating, with holding, and deceiving others, deceiving ourselves, and more importantly trying to deceive God and the Holy Spirit. Like Ananais, we say we are “al in” with Christ when in reality in our heart we know are withholding gifts and areas of our life from God. We too are lying to God.
Satan filled Ananais’s heart with a desire to be well thought of and known, a high reputation, a person of position, and to be thought of as special and important in the great movement of the Holy Spirit and movement in the church. His deception however was one that tried to cause the movement of the Holy Spirit in the church to stumble. How often do we see a movement of the church that is growing, revival and power of God being seen and present, be hindered or derailed by pride and deceit of a member.
We are reading and praying through the New Testament now seeking direction, vision and the revival of a movement of God. Take time today to pray into the honesty of your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways you are deceiving, others, yourself, and God. Don’t lie to yourself and take 30 seconds to glance at your soul then carry on your day and pretend you gave it your all. We are covenanting to read a chapter of Scripture each day and spend real time in prayer and reflection on the chapter over our lives and our church. At my churches I asked that we fast on Tuesdays and spend the lunch hour in prayer. Your church may have other disciplines you are going through together. Are you fully engaging in this time of the Word and prayer or are you deceiving yourself in you level of participation? If we want to see a movement of God, we need to be all in, not withholding anything. What is your true level of generosity and giving, not only financial, but time in service and opening your home to ministry.
My family, I pray this morning you take time in prayer to look at ways you are deceiving, exaggerating, and rationalizing the true level of of your obedience to Christ. I pray you will truly have a “Come to Jesus” moment of the clear assessment of your “all in,” withholding nothin in your life from the Lordship of Jesus. I pray then you will have a time of seeking forgiveness and recommitting your life to Christ. In Jesus. name.Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!
For those near me, I am here if you need to talk about anything in your faith. For those who are not, seek out those who will listen to you and respond in the love and truth of Christ.
Your participation these daily reflections is important to me and others who read them. As we read our daily readings together, please share your reflections to my post or others from the chapter we are reading in the comments box below to bless myself and others.
Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower
One Direction Community
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