Today we're going to talk about "Losing the Wind," part 9 of a ten-part series called - Catch the Wind
Have you ever put a piece of metal in a microwave oven by accident? A microwave oven doesn't like it, does it. This summer a 26 year old British woman, Becky Nyang, was outdoors in a thunderstorm and she was struck by lightning. She had a pierced tongue with a metal stud in her tongue. Have you seen these people with studs in their tongue? I don't know why they do that. I'd like to know some day. Or maybe I wouldn't like to know. I don't know. But anyway, this blue dazzling bolt of lightning hit Beckey and the stud. It didn't kill her, but her mouth was fried. I felt so sorry for her. It badly blistered her lips and her tongue. They were all messed up. (The Week, August 1, 2003
Two thousand years ago something similar happened to a married couple by the name of Ananias and Sapphira. The early church was five thousand strong. They had caught the wind and it propelled them forward like a rocket. The believers shared their possessions with each other. Look at Acts 4:34, 35. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, You know, when you catch the wind you catch the spirit of unselfishness and generosity. The early church was a giving church. Saved people give largely of their savings. They gave their means to the church. They put everything at the apostles feet.
What does the "Apostles Feet" represent? Well, that's about as close as they could get to the church. It was the church! That's where they brought it. They had no building, no structure set up so the feet of Peter was as close as they could come to giving it to the church.
There was a problem. These newly baptized people were coming in. These five thousand were soon out of work. Many of them had lost their homes because of zealous Jews who wanted to put the kibosh (close it down) on the early Christian church and stop it. And so it quickly became necessary for the new converts to help each other. Many of them sold their homes, they sold there lands and they tried to keep everybody afloat. So everybody that could, pitched in to help them.
Look at Acts 5:1. Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. Praise the Lord for Ananias and Sapphira! Aren't they wonderful? They sold a piece of property and he gave it to the Lord, to the church. They brought it to the disciples' feet. Ananias means "Gracious." And the name, Sapphira means "Beautiful." Here was this gracious man and this beautiful woman that sold a piece of land and gave it to the Lord. What they did was wonderful. They had caught the wind! They both decided to sell their acreage and give it to the church. I wish they were members of our church, don't you? Any stewardship director or finance chairman would be happy with their gift. So far so good!
"But," says the King James Version. The "Buts" of life are the great fulcrums upon which pivot the changes in our life. Life in the early church had been pure and wholesome like the garden of Eden. But once again a snake infected a husband and wife with the sin of greed. The "gracious" man did not act very graciously. And the actions of the "beautiful" woman were anything but beautiful.
They tripped over the root of all evil, the love of money. Judas stumbled and fell over that root. So did Achan and Gehazi. Have you ever tripped over a root? I was on the Appalachian Trail one day, carrying my heavy backpack and I happened to trip over a root. And I want to tell you, I went down hard. I will never forget that. But they tripped over a bigger root, the root of all evil, the love of money.
The Bible says, "But"... I think maybe they were expecting like a $100,000 for the land but when it sold they received maybe let's say a $125,000. They quickly got together and Ananias said to Sapphira, "The church is not expecting all that extra, they don't know." She said, "You're right. What shall we do with it?" And so they had a scheme. And I will tell you, God had given them, a windfall. Why does God bless us with extra bonuses and unexpected windfalls? Is it so we can go spend it on ourselves? Well, maybe not. Have you ever gotten a windfall? It is so you can spend it on yourself? Is it so you can help out with the needs of the church? That's what's going on here. If your rental income is beginning to do well, your company is making a good profit, maybe God is blessing you so you can help somebody else. Maybe he's blessing you so you can lay your blessing at the disciples' feet.
Look at Acts 5:2. With his wife's full knowledge... She knew. There had been a family council. The husband and wife had gotten together and they had both agreed on this secret plan to hold back part sale of this land. When you make a pledge to the church, Who are you really making a pledge to? You're making that pledge to God.
But you say, "I've never made a pledge to the church." Well, I think you have. There's not a person that has ever been baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church but what wasn't taken through what's called, "the Baptismal Vows." Do you know what that is? It's a pledge: "I'm not going to drink beer. I'm going to attend church. I'm going to read my Bible." That's part of the Baptismal Vow that you will read your Bible. A part of the Baptismal Vow is that you're going to attend church, you're going to pay your tithe, you're going to give an offering. You have made a vow. Never let anything prevent you from keeping your vow to God.
Acts 5:2, With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. He covetously withheld a part for himself. Now, when you get that extra windfall, don't think of all those gadgets that you could buy. Don't think, "Well, what could I do with this?" No, that's not the purpose of it. Share it with the Lord and His needs.
Did the early church have needs? Yes! Does our church have needs? Did Ananias and Sapphira have needs? Yes, they did. God would have more than supplied Ananias and Sapphira with plenty to meet their needs.
EG White says in Acts of the Apostles, p. 72 that they wanted to give a small and partial gift to get in on the church's food program. Actually they kept back a large share of the sale for themselves. They could live from the common church reserve and at the same time be respected by their brethren while they still had a secret stash of cash. They wanted religion without sacrifice or commitment. Its amazing how some spend money lavishly in self gratification and then give a stinted offering to God. No one would know. Folk would think better of them than they actually were. The plan was flawless. But God knows everything about us.
Acts 5:3. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart. Is it possible that the devil can fill our heart? It is possible, isn't it. Has he filled your heart? And, when he does it, it will always lead you to death. Now you might say, "The devil hasn't filled my heart. The Devil doesn't give me any ideas that I follow. Especially in finances, the devil doesn't tempt me." Has the Devil told you, "You are too poor to tithe? You're too poor to give an offering. You can't tithe." And yet you go down to the Olive Garden and the amount of the tip is 15%. You can afford that.
Don't listen to the devil. If you do you will die. Spiritually dead now and physically dead some day soon.
Acts 5:3ff. "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." Ananias had lied. Apparently he had told Peter that he was going to donate the entire proceeds of his land to the church. "I will sell it and you will get the money." He did not keep his word. So he lied to Peter, but even more so he lied to the Holy Spirit! Is that possible to lie to God? Not really. God knows everything. Can you lie to someone who knows everything? God knows everything, but he lied to God, he tried to lie to God.
Acts 5:4. "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 to men but to God."
Here follows a wonderful proof that the Holy Spirit is actually God. Now, you know there are some people that think the Holy Spirit is not God. Verse 3 says Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Verse 4 says he lied to God. In other words, the person he lied to was God, The Holy Spirit is God. Don't ever doubt that the Holy Spirit is fully God. We serve God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Acts 5:5a. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. Maybe it was a heart attack. Perhaps the shock to his system was so great it stopped his heart. Anyway, God killed him. Ananias did not have a metal stud in his tongue but he had lying lips. God's wrath took his life. This is exceptionally extreme church discipline, isn't it. That was not just disfellowshipping. I Peter 4:17 says, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and it begins with us. He died so fast that a while later, the priests and rulers accused the disciples of murdering Ananias and Sapphira.
Ananias immediately drew his first and final paycheck for the wages of sin. You know, he never had a chance to repent. Sometimes things happen so fast, we do not have that chance. Proverbs 6:13-15 speaks about liars and finally he says, he will suddenly be destroyed. That's what happened to Ananias.
How did God kill him? Maybe God withdrew the gift of life from him. I don't know, but this greedy miser was gone. Heaven doesn't have room for people like that.
The last words Ananias ever heard were: "You have lied to God." Lying is dangerous! Does God consider lying a big sin? Yes, it is a major sin. Jesus said he was the Way and the Truth and the Life. We need to be truthful, don't we. Let's be more like Jesus!
Acts 5:5b. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. I would be afraid too. What If God acted this way today? Every time you told a lie, a big bolt of lightning came out of the blue and you were vaporized. Has it ever happened before? God had done it before when He struck down Uzzah, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jeroboam, Nadab and Abihu. Eventually all sinners will be struck down forever.
If you and your wife are tempted to withhold part of the tithe or liberal offering, and you decide to keep it back for yourselves, will you avoid the discipline Ananias and Sapphira received? They lost not only their present life, but they lost their eternal life. They lost a lot, didn't they.
And so, Ananias died. I want you to think about something here. Those of you who think seriously about this, Ananias were part of the early church. They were baptized just like all the others. They had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit like everybody else. Is it possible to have the Holy Spirit and lose the Holy Spirit? Yes, it is. Can a saved person become lost? Obviously he can. They were Christians, but they lost their Christianity. At first they had caught the Wind, but now they lost the Wind. So, you who think that "Once saved, always saved" that's not true, because Ananias and Sapphira had the Holy Spirit at one time but they lost it. Why did he lose the wind? Apparently because of their lie, because of their greed, because of their love of money.
It is interesting that the young church was less that a week old and already had hypocrites in it. It doesn't take long to have hypocrite does it. If God disciplined like that today I think we would have a lot less hypocrisy in the church.
Acts 5:7. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. She had been a widow for three hours and did not know it. She came in. She probably thought "Now we've given this large gift to the church. Everybody is going to be so proud of us. This is going to be so neat. I expect they'll applaud when I walk in. They'll give me a plaque or an award when I come in."
Acts 5:8. Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." She wanted praise; Peter wanted honesty. She looked Peter straight in the face, she gave him a bold faced lie! The Angels were saddened, but I imagine the Devil smiled. It's too bad.
Acts 5:9, 10. Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
This was one of the fastest funerals of Bible times. Both were struck down by the wrath of God. Like the woman with the tongue stud both Ananias and Sapphira had metal in the wrong place. Their metal should have been at the disciples feet but some of it was still in their pockets and it killed them both.
It looks to me that Ananias' covetous greedy nature had rubbed off on his wife. You know, you could cause your husband or your wife to be lost or to be saved. Your influence could determine where your spouse spends eternity.
Acts 5:11. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
Here is a famous word: Church. Ecclesia in the Greek, the called out ones. We are called out of the world. Different from the world. Called away from worldly liars. God's true church stands apart from the mixed multitude who desire to give a partial commitment to God's cause. It is all or nothing. There is no such thing as a halfway Christian anymore than there is a halfway wife or husband. You can't be a halfway Christian. That's what they wanted.
Let's pray that Jesus Christ will come unto our heart in a very special way, and remove our tendency to be like Ananias and Sapphira. Let's give our all to God. Let's live a life and our talents and our all to Jesus. Let's live a life to honor Jesus, and let's not lose the Wind. Let's catch the Wind and let the Wind carry us to new heights. In the world today we are experiencing the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. I believe the latter rain is beginning to fall upon the world. Let us catch the Wind, and let's receive the power of God in our life. And let's g out and carry the Gospel to the world so Jesus can come and take us home.
Hymn of Praise: #34, Wake the Song Scripture: Acts 5:1-4 Hymn of Response: #624, I Want Jesus to Walk With Me 030913#540
Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index
Return to McDonald Road SDA Church Home Page
McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and
last updated 9/14/2003 by Bob Beckett.