Acts Series #9
Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
Evil Lurking at Eden's Gate
Now I will tell you upfront today that we are going to talk about money and possessions and we don't LIKE that but I have to teach what is in the passage.
We are approaching the book of Acts as a Church trying to learn from the Lord as a 21st Century church looking back to the 1st Century … So … we KNOW from Jesus that
You cannot Serve TWO MASTERS
Jesus is Lord OF ALL or NOT AT ALL.
In the Beginning …
God created heaven and earth and everything in it and it was GOOD
He made Man and Woman and put them in the center of the garden and told them to enjoy it, manage it, have dominion over it
He told man, eat ANY TREE in the garden but NOT the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil …
He made Eve and brought her to Adam
But there is Evil Lurking at the Gates of Eden
Chapter 3 of Genesis begins… now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord had made
There is evil lurking at the Gates of Eden
In Acts 1 Jesus promises the coming of the Spirit in power and commissions his people to be witnesses.
In chapter 2 God pours out his Spirit and 3000 new souls come to Christ and the church is birthed
In chapter 3 God shows his power through the life of a simple crippled man
In Chapter 4 truth is proclaimed and God's people are favored
Yet there is EVIL lurking at the gates of Eden
Evil lurking at the door of the church
That evil is in the form of Temptation to be in control
It is a question of Ownership versus Stewardship
I see three options in our attitude about things and possessions.
Do your things own YOU
Do YOU own your things?
Does GOD own all things and you simple Manage them
1. When YOU Own or are OWNED by Your Possessions
Will Rogers said - too many people spend money they don't have to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like
A. Greed & Jealousy
We want to run everything, be known by everyone, and do as little as possible
Leftovers are such humble things,
We would not serve them to a guest,
And yet we serve them to our Lord
Who deserves the very best.
We give to Him leftover time,
Stray minutes here and there,
Leftover cash we give to Him,
Such few coins as we can spare.
We give our youth unto the world,
To hatred, lust and strife;
Then in declining years we give
To Him the remnant of our life. -Author Unknown
1. The issue here was NOT that they kept part of the sale of their property … the issue was that they sought notoriety, prestige, praise from men and then they lied to make it greater
2. their gift would have been unacceptable even if they hadn't lied, because their attitude was unacceptable - think of CAIN and Able
3. the largest attempt at deceit was NOT that they sold for a larger amount but the attempt to prove themselves to be more SPIRITUAL than they were
C. Death or Destruction
1. disobedience always brings a "death" in the relationship
2. when we are owned by our things, or we OWN them with our demand of control, it is destructive to every relationship around us. We hurt ourselves and those around us to maintain control or satisfy the demands upon us
3. Trust is broken
4. when we are struggling to maintain control and ownership … so many things can get in our way or damage our dreams and we allow nothing to get too close, like a dog trying to keep everyone away from his bowl
Sapphira's name in Aramaic means beautiful - some things that appear beautiful can be deadly
5. Peter pointed out the important thing - when we are owned or own our things and are deceptive, stingy, greedy, jealous, we are NOT out of relationship with man, we are out of relationship with God.
6. While yes a church can be hurt by the faulty giving of it's people, greater issue is the broken relationship with God. You are NOT hurting the church, you are hurting your relationship with the Head of the church, the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, as you grieve the Spirit of God living in you. V3 how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit
Recognize the Spiritual Warfare -
DO NOT trivialize the Spiritual Warfare
Eph 6 - we do NOT struggle against flesh and blood
When we struggle with ownership over things, with giving up control to God who owns
Why does God use our gifts and our finances in his eternal purposes?
They are an indicator of whether God has all of us or whether we are holding back from him
It shows if we are ready for supervision over things with eternal results
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 so if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 and if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, "you are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight
We are STEWARDS, MANAGERS, of what God owns
How silly would it be for a Sheep to say "look at this beautiful pasture, it belongs to me." "I can go anywhere I want, this is my land"
No, he is simply the property of his loving shepherd
Ps 95:4-7 in his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; 7 For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
2. When God Owns Your Possessions
God owns everything
He told his people in Lev 25:23 - that they couldn't sell any land permanently because … the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants
1 Cor 4:2 - now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful
in our gifts to the Lord through our tithes and through our offerings we show ourselves faithful to the commands of God and make ourselves available for greater ministry, greater trust with eternal things
stewardardship - Websters Def - conducting, surpervising, or managing of something entrusted to one's care
There is great FREEDOM when we relinquish ownership of our lives and things to the Lord.
When we don't HOLD ON too CLOSELY to anything we have
Hold on to your integrity,
Hold on to your Faithfulness
Hold on to you working OUT of your salvation
Everything else, hold loosely and with an attitude of stewardship or management
Everyone had what they needed - why? Because people gave - more than a tithe they gave offerings of sacrifice
They saw a need and met it
1 John 3:17 - if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth
this generosity was NOT required it was out of a leading of the Holy Spirit to respond to a need
We know of the early Jerusalem church that they continued to follow Jewish ways and traditions and so we can know that they would have continued to tithe,
So the needs of the body continued to be met
They did NOT own their property, they managed their property
1. Giving is honest because you want to give,
2. Giving is honest because you recognize God is in control and want to honor and obey him
3. Giving is honest because you give to advance the Kingdom and meet a need, NOT to gain notoriety or check a spiritual box
2 Cor 8, 9
C. Life and Power in the Church
GREAT POWER … much grace
No needy persons
D. The Beat Goes On
1. Son of Encouragement Barnabas
a. those in need were encouraged because someone loved and cared
b. those who could help were encouraged, challenged to do the same as they were able
There is Evil crouching at the door
Psalm 78:32 says In spite of this … they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe
Though Evil crouched at the door, God's continued blessing and favor waited inside his provision and commands inside the relationship created in Christ Jesus
Adam and Eve didn't HAVE to give in to Satan
Ananias and Saphira didn't have to give in to Satan
We don't to fight that battle either
God's favor waits obedience
James 4:7 - Submit yourself then to God, resist the devil and he will flee
What is the perspective we need when it comes to giving, owning, managing?
Deut. 10:14 to the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15Yet the Lord set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you … 16Circumcize your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.
God doesn't want control over all because he wants your bribes to do for you what you want, he just wants YOU and a loving relationship with you
Why don't you return control to him,
Do you believe he created everything
Do you believe he keeps everything going, the sun, moon, and stars
Does he give you every breath?
Do you trust him with your Eternal Soul?
Do you trust him with your life?
Can you trust him with your wallet?
Can you trust him with your dayplanner?
Can you trust him?
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of his Word
What a glory he sheds on our way
While we do his good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey
Trust and Obey
For their's no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey
Evil Lurks in the shadows at the Gates of Eden
But God stands plainly in the open with Arms wide waiting to bless those who come to him, dwell with him, follow him