Sermon in a nutshell: Act 5:1-11 “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord?”

Sermon in a nutshell: Act 5:1-11 “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord?”
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we want to do God’s works and we want to give more to the Lord. If we are not filled with the Spirit, we are thinking only about ourselves. When the Rev. Oglesby started our church with 240 people, he was 82 years old. Without any concern, he walked around and talked to people in this area. He was filled with the spirit and his passion was contagious. To follow in his footsteps, I walked around college campuses in this town.
However, I need to be careful not to imitate Rev. Oglesby’s activities without having a genuine passion and love for people. That is the lesson that I learned from the scripture and want to share with you.
In the Bible we learned that Barnabas sold his field and gave it to the apostles for their ministries. Barnabas was praised by the apostles and respected by the people. He was truly touched by the love of God and he wanted to give what he had back to the Lord. This was true commitment and a genuine heart.
When a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, saw this, they also sold a piece of property. Why did they do that? They envied the respect that Barnabas had earned. They wanted the same reputation that Barnabas had. However, their hearts were not genuine. Ananias wanted the fame but he did not want to sacrifice his possessions. So, with his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself and brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
However, Peter knew that he had sold the property and had brought only a part of the proceeds. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” Do you know what Peter’s point was?
Ananias was not honest. That was Peter’s point. Ananias could have said to Peter that he had only brought a part of the proceeds, for example, half of it. It would have been a great contribution if he had brought only half of it or one tenth of it. People would still have praised him for his contribution. Then why did he lie? He did not want to make a full commitment but he coveted the attention that Barnabas had. He did not want to be the second man in the congregation. He was competing with Barnabas. However, he was not willing to give all that he had as Barnabas had.
If we do not have the willingness to serve God, that is fine with God. We do not require babies to provide bread to their family. Their job is to eat, smile, and grow. We only require grownups to pay taxes and support families. In the spiritual world, the same principle applies. If you are spiritually young, you can just come to church and enjoy all the services that others are providing. Only when you grow up, people will ask you to serve here and there. Only when you grow up, the church will ask for your money and your pledge. So, it is perfectly fine for us to say that we are not ready to give or to serve as long as we are honest with the fact that we are, spiritually, babies. The problem occurs when we pretend that we are mature. Without a genuine love of God, if we start serving and giving, we want credit and recognition for those contributions. That was what Ananias and Sapphira did.
Last Sunday, I shared with you the reason why I did not do the pledge drive. I do not want to drive people crazy. If I do, people will deceive God in the way that Ananias and Sapphira did. I want all of us to be honest. Those who are spiritually mature would give more than one tenth of their income. Those who are still growing would say, “Sorry God! I want to spend more of my money for me.” Those who are still babies in their spiritual journey would say, “ The Church is always talking about money!”
Actually, the church is always talking about ministries and missions, which need money. When we feed hungry people, we need money. When we have a great choir and orchestra, we need money to keep the director and accompanist. When we serve youth members, we need money for the youth director’s salary. So, we talk about ministries that happen to need money. So, I want you to focus on the ministries and share stories about them. Otherwise, we will be deceived by Satan and become hypocrites like Ananias and Sapphira.
The sad ending of this story is that the wife also deceived the Spirit as the husband did. Peter asked Sapphira, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Why did she tell a lie? God created women to be helpers of men. That means when men lie, women should correct us! Otherwise, both of us die! When we belittle God, God will be glorified in God’s way. When we glorify God, God will bless us in God’s way.
That is what I always think about. I do not want to pretend that I am generous. When I am stingy, I will say that I am stingy. I do not want to disguise my weakness and deceive people and God. The Rev. Oglesby gave all he had because he had a genuine love for God and people. I want to follow his steps but I do not want to pretend that I am following his steps. When I cannot do it, I will say that I am not ready and I am not willing to do that. As long as we are honest in front of God, our heavenly Father will wait for us and nurture us. Let us be transparent and be honest before God. Let us tell Him who we are and what we are thinking. The One who sees the center of our hearts will accept us as we are. God will bless our church and ministries when we are genuinely humble and ask for God’s Grace.
1. When have you been tempted to look greater than you really are?
2. What joy do you feel in giving? What makes you really excited about giving?

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About biblepreacher

United Methodist Church Pastor. My wife, Hysung Hong Lee, is also a UMC pastor and my children are all grown and have their independent life. We have now empty nest. I and my wife are collecting some mission eggs now in that nest!
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