Summary: The faith calls us to be people of integrity
June 30, 2013
The $10,000,000 Challenge
Opening words: You know the story. I have told you several times. Jesus was executed on a Friday. Everyone thought it was over. However, everyone was wrong. It was just beginning. On Sunday morning a few women showed up at his tomb to pay their final respects. They made a discovery that changed the world. Jesus was alive! For forty days walked the face of this world in his resurrected state. During that sacred time period, he did two things. First, he proved his was a bodily resurrection. In other words, he wasn’t a ghost. Second, he taught about the Kingdom of God. As he ascended in heaven, Jesus ascended into heaven and entrusted the ministry to the disciples. On their own, the task of evangelizing the world seemed impossible but when the Holy Spirit arrived everything seemed possible. The church was created and the divine helper was changing lives. For example, on a single day 3,000 people claimed the name of Jesus and were saved. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching’s, the fellowship and to worship. The apostles were changing too. They were learning how to trust the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Peter healed a man who had been crippled from birth. For this act of kindness, Peter and John were arrested and interrogated by the Sanhedrin. Upon their release the church prayed. That leads us to today.
The text for today reveals a problem in the early church. The situation revolves around a man named Ananias. He and his wife, Sapphira, were keeping the custom of the early church. They had sold a piece of property and gave the profit to the church to help those who were in need. However, this time not all the money is given. Ananias and Sapphira keep some of the money for themselves. That proved to be a deadly mistake. May God give you ears to hear this morning’s scripture lesson, Acts 5:1-10. I have called this entire sermon series Church Planting. I have called this message, The $10,000,000 Challenge.
Acts 5:1-10 1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
What would you do for $10,000,000? That was the question James Patterson and Peter Kim asked countless Americans. Their findings found their way into a 1991 book called The Day America Told the Truth. What would you do for $10,000,000? According to them two-thirds of Americans would do at least one of these things:
• 25% of the individuals polled said they would abandon their family.
• 23% of the individuals polled said they would become prostitutes for a week.
• 16% of the people polled said they would give us their American citizenship.
• 16% of the people polled said they would leave their spouse
• 10% said of the people polled said they would withhold testimony to enable a murderer go free.
• 7% of the people polled said they would murder a stranger
• 3% of the people polled said they would put up their children for adoption
Those finding came in 1991. How much uglier do you think those findings would be today? Those findings tell me two things. First, there is a surplus of desperate people in our land. Money seems to have a death grip on us. Second, there is a shortage of integrity in our land. What would you do for $10,000,000? How many people do you know of true integrity? Do the people in your life question your integrity? If that makes you think say, “Amen!”