Summary: No campfire is complete without them. They send chills up our spines and keep us awake at night. Ghost Stories. But we don’t have to afraid of THE Ghost!
Pt. 1 - Digger
Open with Campfire Scene - (Lights Dim)
Before we jump in I need to lay out a couple of foundational statements. As we examine "Ghost Stories" this month. I need to tell you . . .
1. The stories we will read often seem so different from our experiences today. I would submit that is the case simply because so often we don’t involve the Holy Spirit. We want the results of the accounts we read but without the power of the Holy Spirit involved in our situation. The early believer was absolutely aware and dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit to make it in daily life so they involved Him.
2. The supernatural was natural to them! However, we are so unaccustomed, uncomfortable and have so little dependence on Him that the supernatural now seems odd, weird or even scary. Infrequency has produced fear. That is our fault not God's. We don't expect it or participate in it!
So, before we go any further I want you to understand that we need to become desperate and totally dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives rather than just for good church services! (SLIDES 2&3) We have become scared of Him when the truth is in this day and age we should be more scared without Him. Why are we willing accept healing from God, but won’t accept help?
So, now back to the account we talked about at the campfire.
I remember hearing this account when I was young and being scared of the Holy Spirit. Especially because the version I heard and read says in Verse 11. . . Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.
I understood the fear part. I was gripped with fear when I heard it. I will come back to that verse but I want to dive in a little and see that there are some truths we need to learn and that the fear I read about is better translated respect or reverence.
The first thing I want us to notice is that regardless if you adhere to the idea that Ananias and his wife were believers or outsiders just trying to impress those in the body the fact is, they were involved in deception. In fact, listen to how Scripture says this went down . . . But then a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold some property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back some of the money for himself and brought the remainder and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Peter asked, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you should lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the money you got for the land? As long as it remained unsold, wasn’t it your own? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? So how could you have thought of doing what you did? You didn’t lie only to men, but also to God!”
They intentionally attempted to deceive men and worse God. Peter makes it clear the money wasn't the issue. The truth was.
As a side note I think it is very ironic and interesting that Anaias means - “Jehovah has been gracious." This makes the intentional deception even worse to me. He experiences the gracious nature of God, he is blessed and then sins against God and the meaning of his own name and because he and his wife were greedy.
So, the issue here is deception. Has anyone else seen what I think is a hilarious commercial of the woman driving in the car pool and one of her coworkers gets the text that the meeting they are going to has started. Her response is text back "Dear Sharon . . . don't mess with my discount!"? It repeats with her husband taking her to hospital about to have a baby in the car. Through here pain she says it again, "Don't mess with my discount." Then, her young son implores her to drive faster because he needs to use the bathroom and she says she is holding it too so she won't lose her discount. I laugh at that every time because I am convinced that too many of us are operating the same way but our statement seems to have become . . .
Don’t mess with my deception.
How many of us are involved in deception and don't want anyone to mess with it? We know it. We have embraced it. We are even intentional about it. We know the Word says in black and white what we are doing or believing is wrong but we have listened to other people, our society, movie stars, Bible "scholars" and we take their word over God's simply because we don't want anyone messing with our deception. So, we accept language, behavior, habits, prejudices, ways of thinking and lifestyles and we aren't just deceived but worse we are intentionally and in many cases delightfully deceived.