1. *((illlus))* This past month a new family moved into our neighborhood.
In talking with them about their move from New York to Florida, it was easy to see their enthusiasm over all the plants and wild life they were experiencing in their new location.
When my wife and I met them, they were in the middle of cutting back some of the plant growth from around their house which the previous owners had left.
One word of warning I had for them was to *BEWARE OF THE SNAKES*.
When you reach behind a bush or plant, look before you reach and grab.
The best surprise is no surprise.
Now that’s not only good advise for someone living in SW Florida, but that’s also good advise for every Christian.
a. Beware of the snake!
i) Look before you leap.
ii) If you are a Christian, you have a spiritual enemy and he is called a snake.
b. Twice in Revelation, (12:9;20:2) Satan is called that “old serpent.”
i) That is the form he used in the Garden of \\ Eden to tempt and mislead Adam and Eve.
ii) Genesis 3:1 (NIV) - */Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made…./*
iii) Peter uses a different picture in 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) */Be careful!
Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy.
He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour./*
c. Joining the emphasis of the two pictures together, Satan, the snake, looks for every opportunity to strike you and me and to destroy us.
i) John 10:10 (NIV*/) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full./*
/*No where is that seen more graphically than in the text before us this morning.
*Acts 4:32-5:11 (NLT) (page 928)*
*/32 All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had./*
*/33 And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all./*
*/34 There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them/*
*/35 and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need./*
*/36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).
He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus./*
*/37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles for those in need./*
*/1 There was also a man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property./*
*/2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, but he claimed it was the full amount.
His wife had agreed to this deception./*
*/3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart?
You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself./*
*/4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished.
And after selling it, the money was yours to give away.
How could you do a thing like this?
You weren’t lying to us but to God.”/*
*/5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died.
Everyone who heard about it was terrified./*
*/6 Then some young men wrapped him in a sheet and took him out and buried him./*
*/7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened./*
*/8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”/*
*/9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of doing a thing like this—conspiring together to test the Spirit of the Lord?
Just outside that door are the young men who buried your husband, and they will carry you out, too.”/*
*/10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died.
When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband./*
*/11 Great fear gripped the entire church and all others who heard what had happened/*
The Bible is brutally honest in its recording of redemptive history.
It records the blemishes and faults of God’s people as well as their strengths.
b. Noah, Moses, David, Jonah, Peter, etc.
So far in Acts, Luke’s portrayal of the church has been totally positive.
a. From its dramatic birth on the Day of Pentecost to its joyous, dynamic fellowship and explosive growth, the faithful writer has portrayed the church in all its pristine beauty, freshness, and vitality.
Even Satan’s attempt to thwart the church through the external pressure applied to its leaders (persecution) was a failure.
Such a picture is not complete, however.
No church is perfect, since all are made up of sinners, and the early church was no exception.
This section of Acts chronicles a negative milestone in the church’s history: *the first recorded instance of sin in the church.
i) And it’s not even considered one of the BIGGIES
ii) ((illus)) A recent survey of /Discipleship Journal/ readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
\\ 1. Materialism.
\\ 2. Pride.
\\ 3. Self-centeredness.
\\ 4. Laziness.
\\ 5. (Tie) Anger~/Bitterness.
\\ 5. (Tie) Sexual lust.
\\ 7. Envy.
\\ 8. Gluttony.
\\ Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Of all the firsts in Acts, this is certainly the saddest.
7. Don’t forget that Acts is a *book transitions*.
Many “firsts” are taking place.
As is often the case in redemptive history, as a new era is coming in, God often established at the beginning of these, the seriousness of sin and a pure relationship with Him.
i) Achan in the book of Joshua – stoned.
ii) Nahab and Abihu who offered a wrong sacrifice and died.
iii) Uzzah who reached out and touched God’s ark and was struck dead.
iv) Here – */Ananias and Sapphira/*
Luke *sets up this story by way of contrast*:
He again, shows the beautiful unity among God’s people – strengthened by persecution.
Now believers are sharing in significant ways.
i) Many believe much of this was brought on by those who chose to stay in Jerusalem after Pentecost and wait for the Lord’s coming.
ii) Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt.
25) and this happened in 70 AD
iii) There were those motivated to sell there possessions and use them in Christ’s kingdom because when the predicted destruction took place, these possessions would not do them any good.
Even Joseph, sold land, probably in his home country of Cyprus and freely gave it to service.
i) From this act, he is noted and given the nickname of Barnabas – son of encouragement.
9. *SADLY, SITTING OVER TWO THE SIDE *is this couple who thinks it would be nice to have this recognition.
They were of a different character than Barnabas and longed for the same kind of treatment.