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Summary: Lessons we can learn from the early church and from the incident of Ananias and Sapphira’s deception.

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INTRO>When the Iraq conflict began 5 years ago, a term got tossed around alot: “Shock and Awe.”

--Technically, it’s known as rapid dominance, a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power, dominant maneuvers, and spectacular displays of force, designed to paralyze an adversary’s perception of the battlefield and destroy his will to fight.

--But the first century Christians experienced it backwards...awe and shock:

--There was great awe for God, then came a shocking event that caught the believers off-guard as Ananias and Sapphira fell dead after an incident of dishonesty.

<>There are some very important lessons for us to learn from how this event came about, how the early church handled it, and what the results were.

I invite you to open a Bible once again and turn to Acts, chapter 4.

--One of the best ways to understand the “flow” of the book of Acts is to notice the repeating pattern within the book:

---The Holy Spirit is unleashed, set free to work within the disciples

---The church flourishes

---Then a problem develops

---The church deals with the problem, usually with repentance involved

---The fervent dependency upon God returns, problem solved.

---Then the Holy Spirit is unleashed once again, set free to work within the disciples

---The church flourishes...

<>This is one of those “problem events” where we can see the cycle unfold, and we need to learn from their actions.

<>AS THEY DID, WE NEED TO...

1) COMMUNE TOGETHER WITH GOD’S PEOPLE.

--Ac.4:32 -- “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them.”

<>As they did, WE SHOULD ENJOY THE COMPANY AND FELLOWSHIP OF OTHER BELIEVERS.

---Ac.2:46 -- “Day by day continuing with one mind...they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.”

-->There are reasons why we choose to get together a lot around a meal:

----It’s fun.

----We like each other.

----There’s an “energy” we gain as we spend time with one another, encouraging one another, experiencing life together.

----But we do so primarily because it’s part of God’s plan for each of us as individuals to grow and mature, and it is a crucial element in our effectively carrying out His mission.

-->Understand, Christianity is not a spectator sport, but it is a team adventure.

-->God has placed these individual believers in this room in your life in order for you to be helped, and in order for you to help them.

<>As they did, WE ARE TO BE UNITED IN PURPOSE AND IN OUR MISSION (which is God’s mission).

---Ac.4:32 -- “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul;”

-->God has entrusted His mission to the whole church, not just one believer by himself / herself.

-->Consequently, we, as God’s church united, need to be “on the same page” with each other and moving forward in accomplishing God’s purpose through us.

---That’s what Luke meant when he wrote that these believers were of one heart and soul.

<>As they did, WE ARE TO BE UNSELFISH WITH OUR POSSESSIONS.

---Ac.4:32 -- “...not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them.”

---Ac.4:34-35 -- “for there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.”

--->This is how the word “share” is supposed to be used...how it is an appropriate word.

--->A correct understanding of stewardship brings us to the realization that we really don’t own anything!

----Instead, what we have at our disposal is what god has allowed to come into our hands for a temporary time.

<>Therefore, WE ARE TO BE GOOD STEWARDS / CARETAKERS OF WHAT GOD GIVES US:

--a) Giving back to God at least a tithe (a tenth of what we receive), because of our gratitude to God for what He has given us.

-----ILL>I’m reminded of the fictional, but poignant story that has been told about a man who said, “If I had some extra money, I’d give it to God, but I just have enough to support myself and my family.” The same man also said, “If I had some extra time, I’d give it to God, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs, and what have you, every single minute.” And he said, “If I had a talent I’d give it to God, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I’ve never been able to lead a group; I can’t think cleverly or quickly.” So, as the story goes, God decided to change things up a bit, and He gave the man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then He waited...and waited...and waited. Finally, after awhile, God shrugged His shoulders and took all those things back from the man...the money, time, and talent. Then, after awhile, the man sighed, and said, “If I only I had some of that money back, I’d give it to God. If I only had the time back, I’d give it to God. If I could only rediscover that talent, I’d give it to God.” And God said, “Oh, shut up.”

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