ACTS – The Acts of God
We all have an inner desire to be like those we and others admire. Maybe they are rock stars in the faith, great musicians or instrumentalists. Maybe it is someone who has the gift of generosity. Maybe this person you and others admire has given a huge donation to the church. So, you donate something big with a desire to be admired, too. Whoa, STOP!
God doesn’t like that motivation. He never has and never will. The only motivation that is acceptable to God is our heart’s desire to honor Him…ONLY.
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” wrote Shakespeare. “They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
Remember those familiar words from English Lit 101? Shakespeare was right: We have many roles to play in life as from time to time we relate to various people and confront different circumstances. The important thing is that we let God write the script, choose the cast, and direct the action. If we disregard Him and try to produce the drama ourselves, the story will have a tragic ending.
That’s what ruined Cain, the first human baby born on the stage of Planet Earth: He ignored God’s script, “did his own thing,” and made a mess out of it.
Here’s what happened to the first family God created…
1 Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!”
2 Then she had another baby, Abel. Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer.
3-5 Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.
6-7 God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”
God rejected Cain and his sacrifice. Cain wasn’t rejected because of his offering, but his offering was rejected because of Cain: His heart wasn’t right with God. It was “by faith” that Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain (Heb. 11:4), which means that he had faith in God and was right with God.
Abel brought the best that he had and truly sought to please God, but Cain didn’t have that attitude of faith. Cain controlled what he gave. HUGE difference!
At the end of yesterday’s passage in Acts 4 we learn that a man, Barnabas, sold a field that he owned, brought the money and made an offering of it to the apostles. There was probably a bit of praising going on for this act of generosity and pleasing God.
On the heels of that gift, we come to a new situation where a couple in God’s new church decides to emulate Barnabas who has been generous in giving. However, they secretly hold back what they say they are giving. To say Ananias and Sapphira have a “heart condition” is an understatement!
See what happens when our hearts are not in the right place with God. And Who are we kidding…God knows our hearts!
Acts 5, The Message
Ananias and Sapphira
5 1-2 But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.
3-4 Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”
5-6 Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. That put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.
7-8 Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in. Peter said, “Tell me, were you given this price for your field?”
“Yes,” she said, “that price.”
9-10 Peter responded, “What’s going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you’re next.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
11 By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.
What do we learn?
–Examine our hearts.
–Don’t mess with God Who knows our hearts.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You have given many instances and examples with this story the most notable in Your Word about what you are longing to have from us…honest and true hearts. You search the world over for those whose hearts are completely yours. You love a cheerful giver whose heart’s desire is to only please You. Yes, you have taught us well. Help us to examine our own hearts before any action is taken. Help us to be honest with ourselves before coming to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen