Read Acts 4
Faithfulness in persecution (Acts 4:1-12). Disciples warned not to preach (4:13-18). How to combat threats (4:19-20,23-31; 5:29-32). Death by lying to Holy Spirit (5:1-11). Prayer, and . . . the ministry of the Word (6:4). A deacon full of faith and the Holy Spirit (6:1-6).
One of the remarkable characteristics of this first church of Jerusalem was the spirit of oneness that was manifested as each one sacrificed material resources. Wealthy believers sold their land or houses and brought the money to be used for the Lord's ministry and the needs of believers. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the Apostles' feet (Acts 5:1-2).
The program of sharing wealth in the early church was purely a voluntary one and not compulsory. While the land remained in Ananias' possession, it was his alone to dispose of if he chose to do so; and even after he had sold it, the money was his to do with as he pleased. All was voluntary.
It appears that Ananias had a desire to receive praise by imitating Barnabas, the man of Cyprus who, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles' feet (4:37). The Book of Acts shows us that, from the very beginning, the church was not free from hypocrites.
Ananias' greatest sin was not in keeping back part of the money, but in being a hypocrite — pretending to be as sacrificial as Barnabas and others who had surrendered all the money from the possessions they had sold. Ananias anticipated receiving recognition to which he was not entitled. Satan had filled his heart with the desire of gaining a reputation as a generous and self-sacrificing giver, but Ananias did not want it to cost him too much.
Many today are a lot like Ananias and Sapphira. Outwardly, they seem to embrace the Christian faith, unite with the Church, and make an effort to please God; but inwardly, they still desire to please self. The majority of their time and money is devoted to self and the world, and the Holy Spirit knows the difference.
The Book of Acts reveals that God is not satisfied with every gift to the Church, not even when it appears to be sacrificial.
Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God (Acts 5:3-4).
Thought for Today:
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity (Titus 2:7).
For Acts 4:11: See Ps. 118:22. Acts 4:25-26: See Ps. 2:1-2.
5:2 being privy to it, knowing of it, she helped plan the deception; 6:11 suborned, influenced to do wrong, bribed.
Pray for International Broadcasts sponsored by Thursday Morning Prayer • Staff: Mary Kay Wagner • Government Officials: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA), Rep. Silvestre Reyes (TX), and Rep. Bill Johnson (OH) • Country: Egypt (66 million) in northeastern Africa • Major languages: Arabic and English • Christians are not permitted to evangelize Muslims • 87.5% Muslim; 12% Christian; .5% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Pray that God will teach you His ways and transform your life by His Word (Is. 2:3).
Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 6:12