Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do You Swear To Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, So Help You God?

As I studied Acts 5 yesterday there were 2 different topics of focus. The 2nd was the apostles being beaten in the Sanhedrin and what I grasped onto was verse 41, "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for The Name." Wow. This is the line of thinking I need to hold onto. Most times in the heat of the beatings I forget that the war isn't against flesh, but it is spiritual warfare. I forget that if I wasn't a threat, it would be smooth sailing under the enemies radar and the evil one would have no reason to take me down. After I crash and burn it does take me a while to regain confidence to go back to the fly zone, where I'll be open to take the hits. I guess I do exactly what satan hopes. Lose my air under my wings, learn his lesson to stay low, unnoticeable, reaching no one. I need to remember to rejoice in the hurts that I've been worthy of the suffering for His Namesake.

The 1st part of Acts starts out with a reality check. In fact, I read this to the kids yesterday morning for our devotional, just to start the day with a little fear of God in their pants.

This was the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. If you haven't read it, you can read it here.
Short version=they sold their land, gave the money to the apostles, represented they gave the full amount but didn't, they lied, they died.

First of all, Ananias and his wife did not have to give the money. It was their land they sold. The Bible doesn't say why they decided to give the money. If they were convicted by God to give it all but didn't have the faith to let it all go, or were too greedy to let it all go. Or maybe they just wanted to appear to be super generous, to "fit in with the rich kids" kind of mentality. Whatever the reasoning that started all this, it was wrong.

Jesus and God showed kindness to the sinners who weren't fake. To the ones who professed their sins and were sickened by them. How many times did David cry out that he hated his sins yet he did them anyway? Yet David was a man referred to as a man after God's own heart. And oppositely, Jesus condemned the pharisees for their hypocrisy and deceitful lives. All our hearts are deceitful and have sin hidden in them, and if we will cry out to the Lord, "Don't let me be a Pharisees, help me be pure and true." The Holy Spirit will guide us.
When I was writing notes in my journal, I first wrote, "They didn't give the whole truth, they shed light to make themselves look better." Really? It was hard for me to even write the fact that they had lied. The word alone just seems so intentional, so ugly, so wrong. We've all heard of white lies, half truths, withholding all the facts, protecting others from the truth. I've even had to train my kids in politeness that if they don't like the food, don't be rude just say thank you. I think we are conditioned in this everything is politically correct society that the whole truth is not ok.

I don't think that the moral of this story was that if you lie you die. This was not a lie to protect themselves in a moment of weakness. They both premeditated the lying. And it would appear that there was no conviction or quilt for doing so. How does one get to the point of not feeling sick over a sin? By it being familiar, a repeated offense, common. I personally feel that the sin had rooted itself in their lives and God had had enough.

What if God dealt with us today as he did the church back then? I think there would be the greatest revival in history taking place. What about us personally? Would you have been struck down by God this last month? Last week? This morning?

I imagine that the honestly and purity of the early church would put all of us to shame today. I personally find it difficult to hear only messages that our God is a loving, merciful, forgiving God. Yes He is all that. But just as a parent must discipline a child else they run a muck, God has a judgemental side to Him. He will draw the line. He was silent for 400 years before Jesus' birth. We cannot sin as a nation, as a community, as a family, as a friend, as a wife or mom without there being consequences eventually somewhere.

David prayed for protection against presumptuous sin. Has there been a time when you felt deeply convicted on something to flee yet you continued on the path of sin? It's dangerous ground to be on.

Are we living the double lives of the Pharisees? Professing that we serve God yet our time, money and talents show otherwise? Do you give the impression that you live for God, yet do not willingly give all areas to him? Serve at church, yet rebel against your husband at home? Lead women's ministries yet gossip on the phone? Put on the smile for everyone you know, yet are filled with bitterness in the dark? This day and age is the time of the hidden sins of the heart. Pornography by Internet. Abortion in a big city where no one knows your name. Cheating on taxes. Gambling online. Our lives are not on display as they used to be. Only the lives that we want others to see in the form of emails, blogs etc are.

The dying of Ananias and Sapphira had a cleansing effect on the church, there was a great revival and many came to the Lord. The church today is becoming so tolerant of everyone that it is allowing what is unclean to penetrate the heart of the church and poison the purity. When we have a pure, open heart can we accomplish great things for God. It starts in the home behind closed doors, then spreads to the ends of the earth.

Lord I want more of you in my heart so there is less room for the enemy. I want to be open and transparent in my life and in my heart with all my sins. May my life be true. Fill me today with your Holy Spirit.

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