Good morning church family! Before we begin, I wanted to let you know that even though Clark County has dropped back down to level 2 – the orange level, we are not going to begin conducting services back in our church building at this time. With the fairs going on and Dr. Fauci’s concern with the state of Ohio, we feel it would be best to stay closed. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully.
As I’ve mentioned before, we need to remain fluid and flexible during these very unsettling times. Thank you for your patience. I know there are mixed feelings among you, whether we should be open, whether we should be closed, and I understand and respect that. So please hold me and those making the decisions in prayer, as well as all of your leadership team. And as I mentioned last week, I will still be in the office on Wednesdays.
Finally, just a quick reminder that today is communion Sunday so please make sure you have some bread and juice or crackers so you can participate at the end of this message.
This week we are starting on chapter 5 in the Acts of the Apostles. Last week we briefly discussed Peter’s second sermon which he gave immediately after his healing of the lame man. Peter realized he had a captive audience due to the healing that had just occurred so he thought it would be a great time once again to share the gospel with all those who had gathered around. We learned that this resulted in both he and John being arrested and thrown in jail overnight. The next day they appeared before the Jewish Council, also known as the Sanhedrin, and were commanded to not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter’s response was – which is right in God’s eyes, to listen to you, or to Him? We can’t help but speak and teach in His Name after what we’ve seen and heard.
Now chapter 5 begins with a very interesting story. Let’s look at verses 1-11. “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”
“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”
And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”
Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.”
Let us pray: Holy God, thank You for Your Word. For the psalms, proverbs, parables, historical narratives and everything else we find in between. Help us to learn what you desire from this particular chapter and story. And may You be glorified in the process. In the Name of Jesus, we ask and pray.
Before I say anything else, first let’s make it clear that even with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we as believers are not immune to the temptations of Satan – we fall privy to them much more often than we even realize. But because of the work Christ did on the cross for us, sin no longer has any power over us. We can learn how to resist temptation – how to say no to Satan.
Now I don’t know how all of you feel about this punishment, but it seems pretty darn harsh to me. Which reminds me of the parable told by Jesus in Luke 12 called the Parable of the Rich Fool which once again, results in a very harsh punishment — death. In that parable Jesus is warning against greed. The rich man had such a surplus of extra grain that he decided to tear down his barns to build bigger ones to store the grain. Then he was going to take the rest of his life easy and eat, drink and be merry. Jesus’s response was: ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’”
This situation that occurred with this couple in chapter 5 was a very important situation that set a precedent for the early believers. Peter’s wording in this passage indicates that the sin was not stinginess or holding back part of the money. Rather, it was their dishonesty, their lying. This act was judged harshly because dishonesty, greed and coveting are destructive in a church, preventing the Holy Spirit from working effectively. Consequently, this sin cost them their lives.
I think in our scripture for today, there are 2 huge takeaways. Number one, when we sin – we are sinning against God, not people. Of course, that works both ways. When someone sins against us, they are sinning against God. Personally, I think a lot of times we forget this. The truth is that in the end, it’s always God we are sinning against!
I wonder if we would sin less if we were always consciously aware that all sin is against God. On the flip side of that, however, I also think we forget all to easily who our real enemy is. Just as we are ultimately sinning against God – ultimately Satan is always the enemy – not the person who sinned against us. It would be wise for us to remember these 2 important truths. Perhaps remembering that Satan is always the enemy may even help make it easier to love our enemies!
And as you all know, that’s one of the primary ways Christians are to be set apart from everyone else. We are called to love our enemies. “If we love those who love us, where’s the reward in that, are not even the tax collectors doing that” as Jesus asks in Matthew 5:46? There is no reward in loving those who love us. However, to love those who persecute us, to pray for those who persecute us, is another matter entirely. Talk about shining the light of Christ!! Now just as an aside here, that does not mean God endorses abuse. God most definitely does not. I just want to be clear about that.
The second takeaway is that we often rank sin. Perhaps one of the greatest deceptions of our time is that serious sin is rarely committed by most of us. That it’s only very wicked people who usually commit sin. And many people assess their own moral standing with such thoughts as “I’m basically a good person,” or “I haven’t murdered anybody for Pete’s sake.” I know I have certainly made comments of that nature before.
Of course, murder and rape would be at the top of the sin list for most of us. Of less importance is anger, (but remember Jesus compared anger with murder), lust, (and Jesus compared lust with committing adultery), gossip, using profane language, slander, gluttony, having a mean-spirited thought, bitterness, complaining (aka whining – I can do a real number with that one – just ask my accountability group)!
The Bible tells us “For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. Thus, in walking with the Lord, it’s important for us to humble ourselves and seek the truth. This requires looking deeply within – which is never easy to do! Charles Spurgeon once said, “Christ offends men because His gospel is intolerant of sin.” Fortunately for us, God doesn’t leave us in the dark about what He considers sin. You can find passages about sin all over the Bible and as I was researching this message, I saw in several places that there are actually 667 sins listed in scripture. Now I don’t know if that’s accurate, but Wow! Oh my gosh! Here are some bible verses that include a list of sins to be mindful of: 1 Cor 6:9-10, Eph. 5:3-6, Rev. 22:12-16. I encourage you to read them later.
I do, however, want to read Galatians 5:19-21 from the NLT to you. Paul states this: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 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.”
And also, Matthew 25:41-46. This is a very well-known passage of scripture. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Now in this last scripture, it’s basically a matter of not serving those in need. I may not have considered that sin prior to growing closer to God, but apparently He does.
Again, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1John 1:7). We are so blessed in that for those of us who love our Lord, who seek to be more like Him, who trust in Him and serve Him, who have confessed our sins to Him and repented, He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. After all church family that is the good news of the gospel. What Christ did for us on the cross to restore us to the Father.
That is what we are reminded of each time we participate in the sacred and Holy Sacrament of Communion. We are reminded of the suffering and death of Jesus, our Savior. Let us pause to both confess our sins and consider His great sacrifice on our behalf.
Jesus was eager to celebrate the Last Supper with His disciples. And He is eager to celebrate it with us as well! Remember He is present with you right now in the comfort of your own home.
On the night in which He gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said: Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples and said: Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remember of me.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered around our tables in our homes and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father now and forever. Amen.
Let us pray….
We praise you Holy God for your goodness, your love, your mercy, and your grace. May we leave the communion table today filled with your Holy Spirit. May we honor Him by following Him through our obedience. Thank you for the incredible gift of the Lord’s Supper.
Thank you for all the ways you move in our lives. Thank you for keeping us safe and protected from the virus and for keeping our loved ones safe too. We ask for it to be eradicated never to return.
Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. And all of God’s people said: Amen.
The Body of Christ broken for you. The Blood of Christ shed for you. Amen.
I love you! I miss you! Have a wonderful week and stay healthy! Until next time brothers and sisters……God bless you and keep you!