Monday, May 29, 2017

may my half be half, and my whole be whole

The Word for today:
Acts 5:17-42
mark this: (Acts 5:1-11)
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 men 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. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Ananias and his wife Sapphira bought a field. Then they did an amazingly generous thing: they gave a big chunk of the proceeds (perhaps half!) to God! That's tithe times five!
And for this they were struck dead?
No, they were not struck down for their generous giving. They were struck down for lying, for saying that they'd given their all to God when they'd only given half of their all.
This does not mean that a believer in Christ can lose his salvation. Physical death is sometimes a judgment for a child of God; there is a sin unto death (1 John 5:16). But the child of God is not condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:31-32). I am pretty confident that you'll see Ananias and Sapphira in heaven someday.
The holiness of God was set forth at the beginning of the age of grace by this incident concerning Ananias and Sapphira, just as the holiness of God was set forth at the beginning of the age of law by an incident concerning Nadab and Abihu. (See Leviticus 10)
I consider Ananias, Sapphira, Nadab, and Abihu to be brothers and sister of mine, who happened to be around when the holy character of God needed to pronounce an example.
They took the heat for screw-ups like me, in order that we wouldn’t so soon forget that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10)
So, let's learn from their example, and from the words of Jesus:
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No,' 'No.' Anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)
Let's live on the level with God. Don't let your praying and your saying get way out ahead of your living.
And let's be more cognizant of the promises we make in songs such as this:
"Lord I give you my heart, I give you my soul, I live for you alone.
Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake…"
Yes, it's a heartfelt statement of intention when we sing such songs, and no one is purposefully lying to the Holy Spirit, but if ever a congregation were to sing--
"Lord, we gave half-a-heart in years before,
But in two-thousand-seventeen, we'll try to give more"--
their refreshingly non-pious straight-shooting honesty just might put a fleeting smile on a straight-shooting Father's face!
Therefore, in order to bring some good out of the harsh examples made of Nadab, Abihu, Ananias, and Sapphira, I propose that this modest-but-honest song be sung--and lived out--in our churches:
May my yes be yes,
and my no be no.
May my half be half,
and my whole be whole.

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