Tuesday, May 20, 2008
We had an amazing service at Living Hope this weekend!
It is an exciting time in the life of our church because we are expanding LH by planting two new churches in our area. We are asking God to help us reach people in our community we are not yet reaching. The whole body is praying about where they should serve- whether in a Core Group of a new church plant, or to step up to service within our existing body. Rusty and I are so excited because God has given us some direction as to where we should be and a vision for that. We can't wait to see what God is about to do!
But our message this week, as we have been in Acts recently, was on Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. This falls in the midst of the early church seeing AMAZING works of the Holy Spirit among them, people being saved in mass, healings left and right, and great persecution of their leaders for spreading the Gospel. Then comes Acts 5, with husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira. They were members of the early church who tried to deceive the church leaders about how much money they were giving to the church. The apostles called them out on it immediately, and they dropped dead right there, in front of the whole church, by God's swift judgment. Whoa.
Admittedly, by our pastor and everyone else, this is a difficult passage to understand. But what we took from it was very good.
First, Ananias and Sapphira were misrepresenting their faithfulness.
Butch gave two likely reasons. PRIDE and LACK OF FEAR OF THE LORD.
Pride. They wanted to look good. Seeking praise from men and not God. I can find Pride at the root of almost all of my sin issues. Fear of the Lord. Not something we talk about a lot.
Butch asked us if we are misrepresenting our faithfulness to others...making it seem as if we are not struggling with sin?
I sure hope not! Without question, I have sin that I'd like to see eradicated in my life, desperately!
Not too long ago, a sweet lady from our church visited my home for a meeting for the first time. It was after my baby was in bed, and the big kids were pretty quiet. (very rare occurence) She said something to me that struck me. She said "you make all of this look effortless."
That was the very last word I would use to describe my life.
She was, of course, paying me a compliment and it was very kind of her.
But I wondered, am I inadvertently putting off a false image?
Not for people who are in my home regularly. They see the real deal up-close, and we're not hiding anything. My HOPE group, my college girls, they know what's going on around here. But for the people who don't know us as well, I want to make it clear.
I have shared some of my sin struggles on this blog, and more personally, I have a husband and friends that I regularly dump my junk on. But I really don't want to make my life look effortless.
It's not a burden. It's not a pain. It's not miserable.
It's joyful. It's my favorite job ever. It's a blessing.
But it certainly takes more effort than I humanly have.
It's hard, and there are days I feel like a big, fat failure.
Butch encouraged us not to let any seemingly small sin take hold in our life...not to let what others might deem acceptable or common or not a big deal SIN take root.
He asked what sin could we be more guarded against in our own life?
That was an easy answer for me. Taming my tongue.
God had already started speaking to me about it in my prayer walk before church.
God has grown me so much in this area over the last five years! Praise God! But sometimes when that happens, I become satisfied with that growth, and don't ask God to take me the rest of the way to BLAMELESS, HOLY, AS HE IS HOLY. That should be what we are striving for!
Like Paul says here...
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I want to see God continue to clean me out, and for me to press on toward the goal! No one (except some of you crazies out there) likes to clean house. But isn't the result so good? Aren't you so glad you did? I am. And I know whatever God wants to do in us before we join Him in this new work is going to be productive.
Seeing praise from men...this is also what I refer to as the people-pleasing disease. We women are particularly afflicted with it.
There are several good verses to cling to if this is an issue for anyone else.
The end of Romans 2 is talking about a true heart change, not just a following of rules, and it end with:
"Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people." Romans 2:29
"Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to pleae God. If I were still trying to please people I would not be Christ's servant."
I am excited to see God clean house, in my life and other's in our church! I want to see God unleash his power in a new and fresh way on us! He has burdened our hearts for the lost in a deeper way than ever before! We are evaluating everything in our lives, and how to make the Great Commision the driving force behind all of it!
Reading the above pictured book while studying the book of Acts simultaneously has blown my mind! Wow! I beg all of you to read this book by K.P. Yohannan, founder of Gospel for Asia. I see why our church is giving them away for free and has been begging us to read it!
God has been showing me so much in the last month, I don't feel like I can keep up! But it's so good! So stinkin' good!