Make Every Day Count! Part 5
Even after their first taste of persecution and prison food, the message of the resurrection of Jesus continued to spread rapidly throughout Jerusalem, as Spirit-empowered believers shared the gospel with a spiritually lost and lonely people.
The church was making a difference in the lives of untold thousands, and Satan wasn’t going to stand for it. He wanted to see the church divided, disgraced and destroyed. In chapter 4, he tried to destroy the church from without through persecution. But in chapter 5, he’ll try to destroy it from within through hypocrisy.
In Acts 5, like the other chapters before it, offers us an insight into the priorities and principles that guided the early church. Because of what they believed and how they behaved, this grass-roots movement propelled by tax collectors, fishermen, and soccer moms, exploded into a world-changing force for Jesus. Like them, you and I were made to make every day count. When we follow in their footsteps, believing and behaving like them, we have the potential to make a real difference in the world.
Last week, in Acts 4, we learned that the apostles were fearless with persecution, faithful with prayer, and free with possessions. In Acts 5 we find a very simple message “do good!” It is always good to do good but the narrative gives us a few simple qualifiers about doing good we should do it abundantly, adventurously, and authentically and that is where the story begins today!
- Do Good Authentically….
In Acts 4 we saw that many wealthy Christians were donating money, land and whatever they had to make sure the church could do its job. The people were happy to do it and saw fruit in their giving. A couple, Ananias and Sapphira must have seen what was going on and maybe they got jealous of all the praise and appreciation being lavished on these generous donors. One of them remembered a piece of property that had probably been in the family a while and they decided together to sell it, give the money to church and maybe they’d get a foyer named after them or something.
Now, I don’t know exactly why they did it, but the Bible says….
He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
When he presented his offering to Peter, he responded by asking a few questions…
Question 1 – Acts 5:3
“Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.
So much for the cover-up. Peter’s phrase for “kept” actually means “misappropriate.” The Holy Spirit won’t be lied to, He revealed to Peter the truth.
Question 2 – Acts 5:4a
The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished.
They could have done anything with the money instead, like Lucifer in his fall, they wanted the glory for themselves
Question 3 – Acts 5:4b
“…After selling it, the money was also yours to give away.”
At any point the couple could have changed their minds or altered their pledge. The sin wasn’t in keeping a portion of the proceeds, but in pretending they gave it all.
Question 4 – Acts 5:4c
“How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
This wasn’t an impulsive stumble, but a calculated, premeditated swindle.
Once all the questions were asked an answered, God delivered the verdict…
As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified.
The message… doing good for the wrong reasons, isn’t good. Jesus had a word for such behavior… hypocrisy. The Greek word for hypocrite originally referred to a stage actor…someone who wore a mask and pretended to someone he wasn’t.
Jesus wants us to do good deeds, even good deeds in public…
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (NKJV)
…. as long as God is the one who gets the credit. When we pretend to be someone we’re not and do good to get the praise and glory for ourselves, we embarrass God and give a black-eye to the church.
Hypocrisy turns people away from God. When an outsider enters into a church they can, in time, sense the hypocrisy, I know we are all always growing but intentional hypocrisy does so much damage….Matthew 6:1 in the Message paraphrase states it this way…
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
Don’t make a theater production out of your faith…do good, but do it authentically.
- Do Good Abundantly….
As the story of this new church continues we see the Holy Spirit’s power and love pouring out of them in abundance….they couldn’t help themselves but share what had been poured into them.
The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. 14 Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. 15 As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. 16 Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.
I don’t know about you, but I want to see this happen more and more. Are we seeing people healed, delivered, get great jobs, have open doors….yes, but not as many as I want to see…but to me it is just as important is that every day, while I am waiting and expecting for more miracles…I am looking for what God is doing around me and getting in the middle of that! Everyday, God brings someone across my path that needs encouraged, needs to understand God’s love for them, needs prayer, needs to know the way God sees them…
You and I have been blessed with the greatest relationship in the world, we have been blessed with a freedom and joy that the world doesn’t have…we have been blessed with the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit residing in us…we can’t be selfish, prideful, or shy, but as the Lord presents the people and/or problem, we need to be ready, always to minister…never holding back….you and I are called to be salt and light by Jesus
George Barna, of the Barna Research Group found this to be the truth…
“Churches that make a difference see themselves as vital to the health and well-being of their communities. They believe that their communities, with all of their aspirations and challenges, cannot be truly healthy without the church’s involvement. It is only when the church is mixed into the very life and conversation of the city that it can be an effective force for change.”
Do good authentically. Do good abundantly. And finally….
- Do Good Adventurously.
It probably won’t come as a surprise, but wouldn’t you know it—as soon as the high priest and all his Sadducee associates see the impact the apostles are having in Jerusalem, they get jealous and the apostles get arrested… again. Sometimes the old saying is true… “no good deed goes unpunished.”
The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, 20 “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”
No matter what they did, the Lord was with them each step of the way, battling for them and showing the world, the flesh, and the devil they had no power over a people sold out to the Lord
No matter what kind of opposition the early church faced, they would never quit, never stop, never back down. They weren’t afraid of persecution, because they knew who was really in control. The lives of the apostles read like one hair-raising adventure story after another. The apostle Paul, for instance, once survived a murder plot by the Jews (Acts 9). He was stoned to death, dragged outside the city, and then left there. Later he got up and walked to another city (Acts 14). Having managed to get the entire city of Jerusalem into an uproar, he was physically removed from the temple and then threatened with flogging by Roman soldiers, but God protected him (Acts 21). He was shipwrecked not once, but three times.
You see as we choose to make every day count, God will go ahead of us and win battles for us. As people see us as being authentic, being real they will want to know, how we can be the way we are….as they see our hearts to share the greatest story ever told and every bit of love, joy, and peace that has been put in us they will want to know what we know, don’t get hung up on the miracles they will come but if you are focused on the miracles you will never get started…this will lead you into the greatest adventure of a lifetime
Make every day count…start today…be real, be a blessing, start your lifetime adventure today
Communion 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.
31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.