A Wife’s Consent

Acts 5: 1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

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.”

10 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.11 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.

Ananias. A man who, with his wife Sapphira, believed the Good News of Jesus Christ and were part of the early church. Perhaps they were included in the 5,000+ who heard Peter preach the gospel after Pentecost? Perhaps they hadn’t yet received water baptism before he and John were brought before the council, arrested and put in prison? Perhaps they hadn’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by fire? Perhaps their story would have been different if they had?

Perhaps.

But those chapters were never written.

Immediately after Ananias & Sapphira’s brief introduction in chapter 5 verse 1 of the book of Acts, we realize that Ananias was greedy for acknowledgement & affirmation. Upon the sale of his property, he also became greedy for the cash he earned. As Peter explained to him, it was HIS land to keep or sell.  It was HIS money to keep or give away. But he made a decision in his heart which would cost him his life- and the life of his wife.

He chose to fear man instead of fearing God.

Ananias wanted to appear generous, like his fellow believer, Joseph, who had sold a field he owned and given ALL the money to the apostles so that they could distribute it to those in need (Acts 4:36-37). Ananias wasn’t prompted by the Holy Spirit to sell his land. Ananias was prompted by Satan to be like Joseph. He has tempted by the lust of the eyes, flesh and pride of life. A thought captured his mind; sell the land, give some of the money to church leaders, and appear “righteous” like Joseph. Panic invaded his emotions; what if I need some of the money to provide for me and my family?! He made a willful choice; seek approval & affirmation from the apostles by giving part of the profit to the church and keep the rest.

Then he obtained his wife’s consent!!!!

Sapphira made the fatal decision to fear man instead of fearing God. Whether she was afraid to tell her husband “no” because of religious customs or societal pressure, she chose to fear his wrath, rejection, or withdrawal of provision instead of fearing God. She gave consent to lie- to him, and herself.

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They lied to the Holy Spirit!

They lied to the church!

Both sinned.

Both fell short of the glory of God.

Both died suddenly.

Both were an example to the believers.

If only they were the one couple in church history who sought acknowledgement and affirmation from religious leaders. If only they were the only husband and wife duo who wanted to appear generous, but were actually greedy.

If only….

Men still scheme and devise plans to look righteous. Women still give consent to lies. They may not die a physical death in front of others, but death comes non-the-less. Decay follows as Satan slithers his way through families and causes disunity amongst believers.

What are we to do, then?

Scripture is clear: confront the sin. If a man or woman fails to confess, the young men need to get up, wrap them in a sheet and bury them! (see also Matthew 18: 15-20) The church in America has become experts in sweeping sin under the rug. God is not fooled. May the Holy Spirit fall on the bride of Christ with all-consuming fire, causing us to confess, repent, and once more fear God. Only then can we be equipped to preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation so that others will believe & accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and go, make disciples.

Wait for Him

John 6:16-21

New Living Translation (NLT)

16 That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. 18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. 19 They had rowed three or four miles[a] when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here![b]” 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

Patience is often missing from my fruit bowl. I prefer things in life to be done quickly. I don’t like to invest a lot of time in completing a task. I don’t like waiting around for people. I don’t like taking long road trips at night. I like to reach my destination immediately.

The disciples had just witnessed a miracle: Jesus fed 5,000 men! Afterwards, the Lord “slipped away …by himself” (verse 15) because He knew the people wanted Him to rule and reign based on their expectations of a king. So the 12 sat along the shore of the Sea of Galilee to wait for Him.

But it started to get dark.

So they decided to leave, without Him.

IMG_6986They hopped into the boat and began their journey across the sea. Rowing against gusting winds and surging waves, they endured a violent storm that suddenly emerged. After several miles of striving to reach their destination alone they looked out and saw Jesus- walking on the water! The men were terrified. Jesus spoke. Their fear ceased. The Lord climbed into the boat and they arrived at their destination immediately.

Apparently, patience was missing from the disciples’ fruit bowl too. They were probably tired from a long workday. After all, they had been busy serving people fish and bread and cleaning up all the leftovers. They had a long commute to get to their next place of ministry. It was getting dark. They didn’t have lights on their boat. They didn’t have GPS. They had to row for several miles to get to their hotel. They wanted to order room service. They needed to check ESPN/Facebook/email before going to bed.

So they came to a logical conclusion: let’s just go….without Jesus.

We do the same thing.

We watch the crowd receive a miraculous abundance of fish and bread. We serve others as Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God. Afterwards, we sit at the seashore and wait for the Savior to arrive. We’re tired. We’re ready to get to our destination, NOW. We just want to relax and rest. But it gets dark. So we decide to get in the boat by ourselves. We row, and row, and row. Suddenly, we are overcome by hurricane force winds and waves. We are terrified. Perhaps we should just keep our head down and think about how to go around the storm? Perhaps we should just muster up more strength to row against the harsh conditions? Perhaps we should just throw the rest of our boat mates overboard to lighten the load? Or, perhaps we should just stop… ….and look up.

What’s that? It’s Jesus! Walking on the water. He’s coming towards us! He’s getting in the boat. He commands fear to leave. He is with us.

 

 

My fellow disciple,

Wait for Him.

Don’t get in the boat unless He is with you.

Don’t be afraid…you’ll reach your destination.

Like a lion

1 Peter 5:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

IMG_0334Recently, while watching a BBC documentary with our son, I cringed as a scene between predator and prey unfolded before us. A wolf lunged at a herd of caribou, which immediately fled the impending danger. Amidst the chaos of the chase, a young caribou was separated from his mother and became isolated from the herd. For more than a mile, he outran the enemy. Cheering the juvenile on, our son yelled “VICTORY!” as the youngling gained some distance from the hungry wolf. A moment later, however, he tripped over a stone and stumbled to the ground. The fall proved fatal. “Stupid wolf!” our son cried, as he was overtaken by emotion.

Like that young caribou, we all like sheep have run astray (Isaiah 53:6). We leave the protection of our Shepherd and the safety of the sheepfold. By relying on our own strength, we attempt to flee from danger. We become exhausted. We stumble. We fall. We are overcome. We cry, “stupid wolf!” – blaming the enemy for our suffering. But the truth is, sometimes our instinct (sin nature), compels us to run away from God instead of to Him. Pride prevents us from clothing ourselves with humility. We rebel against God, and He opposes us.

Stupid God?

Uh. NO.

Stubborn sheep.

But I have good news!!! Stupid sheep can know the truth, and be set free from stubbornness. As a recovering stubborn sheep, allow me to share a few things that I’ve learned in the sheepfold:

  • God cares for His sheep (Isaiah 40:11).
  • When we are young sheep, we must submit to older sheep – for we have much to learn from their example in the faith. (1 Peter 1:5)
  • We are safer in the sheepfold than when we isolate ourselves. Isolated sheep are easy prey. (Ezekial 34:5)
  • When we are afraid, yet choose to run into the mighty hands of God, we can cast all our anxiety on Him. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
  • We have an enemy, who walks about like a lion, seeking to devour us. But we don’t need to be afraid because our God IS A LION (see Revelation 5:5)
  • We must be alert and watch out for the wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)
  • When we seek God for rescue no evil will conquer us, we won’t trip on a stone, and we will crush fierce lions under our feet! (Psalm 91).