Summary: Dealing with rough times in ministry
Acts 5 - Dealing with the Highs and Lows in Ministry - 2/26/16
Turn with me this morning to Acts chapter 5. Whenever we look at the lives of individuals in scripture, we see that every one of us goes through highs and lows in ministry. Think of Abraham - willing to sacrifice his son Isaac - and entertaining angels - but the same Abraham lies about his wife and gives her to Pharaoh. Think Elijah calling fire down out of heaven - but in the next chapter running for his life, saying God, go ahead and kill me, I’d be better off dead. Think of David - killing Goliath, escaping King Saul, dancing before the ark - and yet we think of David sinning with Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah so he can have her for himself. Think the 12 disciples - one moment rejoicing that the demons are subject to them, but the next minute arguing about who is the greatest in the kingdom.
Lest we ever forget, the examples we see of men and women in the bible are not the example of super-saints to be put up on a pedestal, but they are common, ordinary men and women like you and me, who were used by God to accomplish great things, but who left to their own passions and fears often made great mistakes. And scripture records both the triumphs and failures for us: the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, as the old ABC Wide World of Sports theme used to say.
Today, our goal as we come to the scripture is to learn from these examples lessons we can apply to our own lives so that we will live more faithfully for God. Let’s never forget that as we come to the scriptures, our goal is not just to see the story and understand what happened, but to pull out of the story principles that will guide us in our daily walk with God. Romans 15 tells us, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. So here is our goal, to learn from the examples of scripture so that we may be encouraged to live faithfully for God each day. And not only will that help us individually, but it will help us corporately, as the church. The next verse in Romans continues with this idea: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So as we each learn from scripture, we build a unity in the body of Christ that enables us to glorify God in the way that He deserves.
So, having said all that - we each need to learn today, so that our whole body may be blessed. And as always, we realize that as God speaks to us, we each may pull out of the text something unique for our situation - and that is okay - but our goal is to each come away with some truth that will help us live more faithfully for God.
We are in the book of Acts - we see Jesus ascends, the Spirit descends, the disciples transform, the church unites, the testimony of Christ is spread. In Acts 4 we see the apostles were fearless with persecution, faithful with prayer, and free with their possessions. We see the positive example of sharing in Barnabas, and the negative example of deceit and greed in Ananias & Sapphira in the beginning of chapter 5. We pick up the story today in Acts 5:12. I’ll actually start reading at verse 11. Read Acts 5:11- 42 - Pray
Verse 11 says Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. Is is any wonder people were afraid? How would you feel about coming out to church if God struck you dead for lying and deceit. How confidently would you sing Oh How I Love Jesus? How about singing I Surrender All? I mean, if God started striking Christians down dead for deceit, would ANY of us be left in church long? But this POWER of God being displayed is exactly what the early church needed. Because God needed to authenticate His messengers, the disciples, so that people would understand that the message they were delivering was true. Hebrews 2 tells us, This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. So the signs were a confirmation of the message. Everyone was able to see that these disciples were the messengers of the one true God. And as a result of the power of God displayed, we see