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This morning Pastor Brian reminded us that we tend to make promises, but a lot of times we fail to follow through on those promises. We have all been there before. Last week we identified ways that we fail each other in our flesh and how we can work to keep those promises more often. This week, we focus on the empty promises we make to God.
Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
You can't out give God. God is the most generous there is. It is a part of who He is. What comes to mind when you think about being generous? Do you think of giving money? Or that neighbor down the street that would give you the shirt off their back? Generosity can come in many different forms, and can speak the language and character of God.
Consider the verse above, Acts 17:25, "He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else" Not only has God woken you up today and put breath in your lungs, he also gave you EVERYTHING else. God is the most generous there is or ever will be.
So what does that mean for us? Generosity towards the kingdom of God is a very important part of your walk as a believer in Jesus Christ. Many of us make commitments to be generous, but in reality, not many people actually follow through with those promises. Acts 5 shows us that there can be severe consequences of not fulfilling the promises we make.
But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God."
Let's break down what has happened to bring Ananias into this position. In Acts 4 we learn about a group of believers who have everything they need. It is written that all of these people are of one heart and soul, and that they had everything in common. Not a single person was needy, and if land or possessions were sold, the profits were brought to the apostles to be distributed among the people. In Acts 5 you see that Ananias and his wife sold their land and decided to keep some of the profits from the sale to themselves instead of bringing it to the apostles. What Ananias didn't realize, is that he was breaking a promise he made with God.
Ask yourself: What promises have you made to God that you have broken? What led you to the decision to break those promises?
Paul also asked Ananias why Satan had filled his heart. That is a pretty powerful question. Why would we let Satan fill our hearts? When you think about it, it seems like something we would never do if we had the choice. Yet, we let it happen every day. Christians, cannot be possessed by Satan, but our hearts can be influenced by him. Satan looks every day to destroy anything that puts you in a position where you are honorable to God. The promises we make are no exception.
At Hope For Warsaw one of our key values is that "generosity is our privilege" we know that it takes resources to minister to people. We need to be able to meet people where they are and help them when they are in need. We aim to be more like the community you see in Acts 4 and less like what you see from Ananias in Acts 5.
You don't have to be rich to be generous. All you have to do is be obedient.
The love of money is the root of all evil. Why do you think Jesus spoke so much and so often about money? He said you cannot love God and money. It's not the money itself that is evil, its the love of it. The love of it that drives us to greed and to breaking our promises to God. It has been said that we should give a tithe of our money, our time, and our talents. Bear in mind too that just giving is not the point. Ananias did give part of the proceeds, he still gave, just not all that he had promised. Generosity is about obediently giving according to the promises you made to God.
Ask yourself: Are you giving to the kingdom of God by way of your tithes, time, and talents? If the answer is no, what can you do to get there?
Then Peter said to her "Why did you agree to test the spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you."
Let's talk about the idea of influencers. In the world we live in today, influencers are everywhere. Not only are there people out there pushing and striving to influence the way we think or act, there is even a name for it. There are influencers all over social media, we encounter them in our emails, on our Facebooks and Instagram's, in our work, and they are all looking to wiggle their way into being a part of how you live your life. The truth is that we are all some sort of influencer. We may not all have a million followers on Instagram that we are trying to persuade to buy a certain type of toothpaste, but we all have an influence over someone or something. Maybe our spouse, children, co-workers, siblings, etc. It's important that we understand what our influence is telling the people around us. What do our social media accounts and our work life say about who we are and what we believe? Are we influencing people positively or negatively? For God or for man?
We see in Acts 5:9 that Ananias had influence over his wife. He used that influence to break a promise he made to God. We see in the text that Ananias went to his wife and told her of his plan to hold some of the money back. When she agreed, she was falling subject to the influence that he had over her.
Ask yourself: Is your influence being used to glorify God? Or is it being used to strengthen Satan?
Empty promises. We know we have all broken promises, and it's probably the case that very few of the promises we have broken were broken intentionally. However, have you ever made a promise that you never intended to keep? It could have sounded something like this: God, if you will get me out of this situation, I will never miss church on Sunday again, I will tithe more, I will do XYZ. The reality of the situation is that God doesn't want what we can do for Him. He just wants us. God doesn't NEED us, He CHOOSES to use us.
Today, we have more means than ever to share the Gospel. We have the internet, planes, boats, all kinds of ways to share the word of God. What we have to realize is that God doesn't need us to share His word, He can reach people all on His own. He already did it when He sent His son to Earth. He chooses to use us, He chooses to allow us to be obedient to His calling for us so that we can receive the blessings that pour out from Him. Any time you are generous to the kingdom of God, He will multiply whatever you gave. Multiply it!!! If you knew that $5 could turn into $10, or $20, or $100, wouldn't you do it??
At Hope For Warsaw, we have a set of core values that embody who we are as a church.
Jesus is our message
People are our passion
Love is our spirit
Servant leadership is our identity
Generosity is our privilege
We truly believe that generosity is a form of being obedient to God. We believe that any promise made to God is one that should be kept. We believe that we should be generous in our tithes, time, and talents. Most of all, we believe in the power of Jesus, and that through our commitment and spirit of generosity, we can fulfill the plan God has for us all.