With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself but brought the rest and put it at the apostle’s feet.
“Ananias and Sapphira.” The names are mentioned together, like “Bonnie and Clyde.” We remember both couples for their crimes and the manner of their deaths.
We don’t know why God struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for lying about how much money they received for the property they sold. What is clear is that both husband and wife were held accountable. Sapphira knew the details of the transaction, but she stayed home while Ananias presented their offering. Three hours later, she arrived at the assembly. Perhaps she expected a grateful welcome. Instead, she saw no sign of her husband. Before she could wonder why Peter asked her a question: “Is this the amount of money you received?”
Carefully coached, she confidently said, “Yes.” She died in the same manner as her husband.
Sapphira could have made several choices. She could have objected when Ananias sold the land. She could have asked him to give all the money to the church, instead of holding some back. Most importantly, she could have refused to lie about it. When Peter asked her directly, she could have told the truth. Instead, she committed the same sins as her husband. When we stand before Christ we will not be able to say, “I was just following orders.” The choice to stand in truth will always be our own.
For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love.
Apphia (Philemon 1:2) was probably Philemon’s wife and therefore had a part in Onesimus’s situation. Onesimus was a runaway slave who had robbed his master Philemon and escaped to Rome. While there, he met Paul, and Onesimus became his spiritual son. Paul sent the runaway slave back to Apphia’s household with a letter appealing to Apphia and Philemon to respond to Onesimus in Christian love. How the newly converted slave would be treated depended upon how Apphia, as well as her husband, Philemon, reacted to the apostle Paul’s request for leniency.
No doubt, emotions ran high in Philemon’s household. He and his wife may have reacted with shock when Paul asked them to take back the escaped slave as a brother in Christ. After all, legally, they had complete authority over their slave and could even have had him put to death.
Though the couple could have made life very difficult for the runaway, Paul called them to compassion, even hinting that they might free Onesimus and send him back to continue the ministry he had begun with Paul (Philemon 1:12-16).
Like Apphia, we face times when our emotions may edge us toward revenge. Will we try to exact as much as possible, or listen to the apostle’s voice? Seeking retribution leaves us with empty hearts and spirits. But forgiveness can fill our souls and the lives of those around us.
A Roland for an Oliver means a tit for tat, a blow for a blow. Paul steps forward and asks Apphia and Philemon that if Onesimus had wronged them in any way, or owed them anything, to charge the debt to his account (1:18). Sounds a lot like Jesus. How we react to our own Onesimus’ will also display Jesus in our lives. When someone has wronged you, will you respond with a Roland for an Oliver (retaliation), or will you respond with a hand of mercy that has fully embraced the pure joy of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth? The choice is ours.
As Paul closes his letter, he says, May I have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ (1:20). When we choose love over retaliation, not only do we offer the refreshment of Christ to the one needing it, we also refresh anyone else with eyes to see and ears to hear.
But My righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I have no pleasure in him.
Jesus says fear comes from little faith (Matthew 8:26). When we struggle with fear, and it causes us to be anxious or timid, the Bible says to look away from ourselves. We grab hold tightly to the beautiful truth: He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains (Isaiah 53:4), and we see the emphasis is on He HIMSELF. The remedy to fear is not found in ourselves but in Jesus Christ. Our fear gets crushed when we turn our eyes to Jesus, “He Himself” because he is our remedy.
Below are four examples of women who did not shrink back when fear tempted them. Don’t think for a minute it was because the invitation to make a difference did not require bold courage. It did. These women were human just like you and I. Just because the text does not indicate their sweaty palms, their butterfly stomachs, and sleepless nights does not mean it did not exist for them. It just signifies they overlooked their body’s response to uncertainty and focused their eyes on something more significant.
During these days of uncertainty, we must choose courage. We need the courage to do what is hard. Courage to not fear. Courage to not retaliate. Courage to give a blessing when someone close to us is behaving like an enemy, and most importantly, the courage to stand when we feel like retreating. Choose bold courage today. Love when it’s risky. Be merciful. Be thankful. Forgive. Have peace. And most importantly, trust God.
She summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you: ‘Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you 10,000 men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? Then I will lure Sisera commander of Jabin’s forces, his chariots, and his army at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.
Barak was hesitant to obey the LORD, but Deborah boldly reminded him of God’s promise to go before them, and the blessings that come with obedience. She encouraged him by saying, “Hasn’t the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you…to go?” She trusted God so much that she even planned to take part in his plan. Encourage someone to be brave. Remind them of God’s promises. We need courageous Christians to step forward. Be prepared to stand with God, come what may, and encourage someone who needs reminding.
Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”
Esther is an inspiring and remarkable woman willing to risk her life to save others. She is an outstanding example of a woman ready to be courageous, even under the most stressful circumstances. Jesus Christ said, “Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Most of the time, our lives may be pretty routine, but when defining moments present themselves, be prepared to put godly principles above personal benefit. She teaches us that we must break fear’s intimidation and use our influence to bring glory to God. Be a difference-maker.
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her with their tambourines and danced.
Moses’ sister Miriam displayed remarkable intelligence and confidence. She helped save his life by hiding him among the reeds at the edge of the river when authorities wanted to kill him. Later, Miriam, with her brothers Moses and Aaron, led the Hebrew people through the forty years when they searched for the Promised Land that God had promised. I like how Miriam led the women to worship the God who saves. She encouraged the women not to keep silent when God demonstrated his awe-inspiring works. Who can you invite to give God glory? It is always perfect to start with ourselves. Miraim did by picking up the tambourine.
“I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of the most admired figures in Scripture. It is her courage that is applauded because she was willing to trust God’s call even when that meant a disruption in the life she planned. Mary experienced considerable joy in her submissiveness but also significant suffering. Despite these things, she responded to God with great obedience and submission to His way. Her life did not rob Jesus of His glory, for her mission was to witness the glory of the Son of God. She humbly surrendered her life and reputation to the purposes of God. Her submission shows us that when we consecrate our life to the Lord, He can do amazing things. We too can lead courageous lives so that we, as well as others, are a witness to His glory.
While they were battering the wall to bring it down, a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.”
2 Samuel 20:15-16
Joab and his men were in pursuit of Sheba, the “wicked man” who had rebelled against David. Sheba hid in the city, and Joab began battering the walls in order to get him out. A wise woman who desired to end the destruction and save her people called out from the city and asked to speak with Joab. He agreed to talk to her, so she informed him that the people within the very town he was attempting to destroy had faith, and surely he did not desire to destroy the LORD’s people! The bold woman agreed to hand Sheba’s head over to Joab in order to save the city, and that is exactly what they did.
The woman’s courageous faith equipped her with the bravery required to stand on the front lines, to speak to Joab, to convince the city of Joab’s desire, and to ignore any possible naysayers. Often we believe our voice won’t make a difference, yet there are many Biblical accounts of how one person’s faith, spoken out loud, changed lives! Lord, grant us the confidence required to speak up when the situation requires it.
When your circumstances threaten to “batter” you until you collapse under the sheer stress and uncertainty of it all, use your voice and call out to the Lord for His help. Use your voice and pray with bold courage. Use your voice and speak confidently of the promises afforded you by being in covenant relationship with God.
God does amazing things through our faith. Lord, increase our faith and fan it into a flame of boldness for your purposes. Grant us the courage to speak up like the example of this wise woman, even if we are afraid and even if there appears to be no hope. What bold women of faith know is that where there is a voice of prayer, there is always hope.
How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.
It is infinitely better to spend our time, either when alone or when gathered with others, praising the excellencies and faithfulness of God rather than harping on man’s greatness. How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me? The Lord has caused countless mercies to come to us that we should always look and see what can be done to manifest our gratitude. We often praise God for what can be seen, but what about searching with divine inspiration to pursue various ways we can render fresh praises to God. Each of us should have our own exceptional way of expressing gratitude. The Lord gives each one of us a particular benefit, so we should each be asking, “How can I repay?” What sort of service would be most becoming in me?
The Psalmist answer to the question is, “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh.” He will express blessings, thanksgivings, and prayers, and then drink the cup the Lord had filled with his saving grace. It is ours by faith to take and make our own and then with joyful hearts, to magnify the gracious One who has filled it. Drink and be refreshed. We can do this figuratively every time we partake of communion, and we can do it spiritually every time we grasp the promises of the covenant and receive those divine promises into our soul.
Take a long pause Believer and receive with thanksgiving, the great and precious promises given you by God through Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Allow the promises to refresh and revive you and share your thankfulness towards God when you gather with others.
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God.
Perhaps from the habit of familiarity, we frequently emphasize the second portion of this verse, “all things work together for good for those who love God” without reflecting upon the equally important first two words, “we know.” I have become accustomed to hearing the verse quoted with the first two words left off, but it is essential that we not only say them but that we believe that we know! Can you agree with confidence that you “know” all things work together for good to those who love God? If you emphasize the “you know,” when you speak the sentence, it will be a faith builder to yourself and to those who hear.
If you can confidently say that you know all things work together for the good of those who love God, then you would agree that God ordains the circumstances of a believer’s life. We may or may not understand the events when they surface, but we must not attempt to control or wish them away because we know that by God’s providence, he has brought them to us for his divine purposes. And, we know the Spirit is aware of our circumstances, and He brings comfort to us because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:27). “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26), and without His assistance, we might be too weak to endure, but the Spirit helps and strengthens our weakness by inspiring our prayers. What a blessing!
“Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him.”
When Satan is defeated, then shall the battle cease (Spurgeon). Believer, when we allow ourselves to accept the providence of God in our lives as well as other’s lives, we will submit to his providence, not desiring to become our own or someone else’s providence. When you have submitted your circumstances to God and have aligned your will and prayers to His government, Satan is defeated, and the battle within you will cease. I trust you, Lord! Teach me through all of my troublesome and painful circumstances, for I know the overarching aim in all of your providence is love.
There is nothing like the absolute radiant beauty of Jesus Christ. When Jesus transformed on the mountain in front of Peter, James, and John, his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. We also become transformed in front of those around us, as a result of completely different thinking, when we come into agreement with the renewing Word of God. Also, as a result of the covenant, all believers have unveiled glory (regeneration, justification, and sanctification) and in the future will receive a heavenly glorification. The bottom line of these verses? Transformation brings noticeable change. Your transformation is expected to be noticed by those around you. Desire to always be transformed more and more into His image and less and less of your own. Ask Him for it. Allow Him to be on display in your life. Make Him known to those around you. Be radiantly transformed.
He was transformed in front of them, and His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light.
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, and His clothes became dazzling — extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 2:18
The Spirit of the Lord will control you, you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person.
1 Samuel 10:6
Food may come from the earth, but below the surface the earth is transformed as by fire.
Job was describing the mining processes in this verse. In some of the mining processes, fire was used whereby material was detached from the earth and made to yield their treasures of beautiful stones. In our own lives, fiery trials will be the tool that reveals God’s most precious treasures He has implanted in us. When we realize the stunning, all-surpassing pearl within us and its power to transform us through our most difficult and painful experiences, we become transfigured and those with eyes to see behold the brilliance of God. Thank you, Lord for your transforming Word and the gift of Your Spirit.
Where can wisdom be found, and where is understanding located? Job 28:12
Job describes man’s skill in digging for precious metals and jewels. Yet in all his drilling ability, he has been unable to unearth true wisdom. Earthly wisdom consists of envy and selfish ambition, which produces disorder and every kind of evil (James 3:15, 16). God is the giver of the wisdom believer’s seek. It is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy (James 3:17).
Nowadays, we have skills in ‘digging’ for distractions. To be relatable in the current culture, almost everyone seems to need a smartphone. As a result, the amount of distractions available is mind-boggling. My daughter mentioned she felt there had already been so much dazzle experienced on smartphones that now the electronic fascination is shifting to vehicles. If you have watched car ads these days, her opinion is probably right. We recently needed repairs done on one of our cars, so we were supplied with a 2019 rental. The car had so many electronic gadgets we could hardly keep our fingers still. Reflecting on it, I can see what a draw electronics are and how much of our time is spent learning, talking, playing, and even discussing their abilities. The tools can certainly be helpful, but it will take tremendous resolve to keep them in their place. Lord, we need your help to not be caught by the glittering lure of distraction. We desire Your pure wisdom and understanding.
A friend of mine shared a quote someone made regarding how they felt a satanic lullaby was lulling the American church, and she could feel herself being put to sleep. I thought about this as I was getting out of that decked out rental car and realized how easily that has become the American reality. We must work at it if we intend not to be lulled into an electronic slumber. Living in this cocooning technological age will require a persistent resolve on our part to keep it in check if we desire to not sit idly by as our spiritual health declines because of the gluttany of distraction.
Let’s not forget marketing’s impact in its attempt to suggest worldly wisdom and understanding. My daughter and I found a program we enjoy watching from the ’50s called, What’s My Line. The commercial that runs during the program describes a product based on what it does (even though it is still quite humorous), not the emotion it supposedly produces if you use it as we see in our current commercials. Lord, we desire Your wisdom and understanding so we can discern when the world’s objects are molding our emotions. I understand why the person holds the opinion that Americans are being lulled into a spiritual slumber. We allow our emotions to be treated like marionettes and accept our smartphone as our new buddy. Where are these things considered our primary source of wisdom and understanding these days?
Job’s illustration indicated that true wisdom and understanding will not be found by human science or mere investigation. Man has shown his skill and wisdom by penetrating the earth, cutting through rocks, closing up gushing fountains, and locating treasures that had been buried for generations. Yet all this did not enable him to fully explain the operations of the divine government. Even today, true wisdom and understanding will be found in the Word of God so we must put our energies toward this endeavor.
Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
Let’s be fully aware that unless we are diligent in seeking after the things of God, we will be lulled to sleep by the dazzling components of this electronic age, all the while becoming weaker in spirit and service. Let’s shake ourselves from any spiritual slumber so we can also awaken others. Help us, Lord, to not lack diligence. Help us Lord to be fervent in spirit for we desire Your wisdom and understanding. Amen.
The Enemy’s aim? Stealing…Killing…and Destroying John 10:10
Beloved, you ARE who God says you are. Your spiritual identity is not diminished by the power of your circumstances, your past behavior, or your rank in the world. Agree with the Word of God and make NO agreements with the enemy, the world, or your carnal inclinations when they deviate from His proclaimed and magnificent truth.
Have we become so influenced by the world that we are now suffering from an identity crisis? If we do not know who we are IN Christ and primarily seek worldly objectives during our private life, then when we gather together we will not harmonize as well with each other because while apart we were striving for different goals. Recently, the evangelist Angus Buchan spoke about revival and how it must begin within the hearts of each individual. The Lord initiates revival; therefore it will always be according to His purposes and His timing. However, we can choose to participate with His purposes by making certain our heart is in full agreement with his Word of truth in every way we know possible. Do you read the Word and verbally agree with what it has to say, especially about your identity in Him?
As believers, we must not seek after carnal inclinations and worldly uncertainties because they are our primary focal point and leave God’s promises in the periphery. Instead, we want to powerfully come together in the harmony of one accord, because our individual pursuits have been primarily focused on striving for the faith of the gospel. Standing firm in our identity in Christ and striving side by side for the faith of the gospel will make us even stronger as a unified church and we will be able to stand firm in the face of opposition.
If we do not stand confident in who were are in Christ, then we will fall for worldly alternatives. We will wander aimlessly through valleys as if we had no direction, searching for answers from the world and ignoring the Book that holds the answers. Confusion will encamp around us relentlessly offering remedial advice to prop up self, not seeing the self-prop is a snare. The problem with this wandering is there is no direction. With no direction, there will be no goals, and with no goals, there are no victories.
If the enemy’s objective is to cause an identity crisis among God’s created people, one way he can do that is by stealing the promises of God from us, killing our resolve to stand firm, and destroying our love, joy, and peace we have in the Lord. However, NONE of this can happen unless we allow it. It is our responsibility to guard these things as the treasure they are. Let’s be confident of who we are IN Christ and make this our living reality so that when we gather together we stand even stronger than when we stand alone. Amen.
She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your words and about your wisdom is true. But I didn’t believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, I was not even told half. Your wisdom and prosperity far exceed the report I heard. How happy are your men. How happy are these servants of yours, who always stand in your presence hearing your wisdom. May Yahweh your God be praised! 1 Kings 10:6-9a
The Queen of Sheba is to be commended. She too possessed the riches of this world but desired what she lacked ~ wisdom. The reports of Solomon’s wisdom awakened her heart, and she desired to know more. She was not content with sending an ambassador to inquire on her behalf because that would not satisfy her. She decided to make the difficult journey so that she could stand in his presence and hear his wisdom with her own ears. What she did not realize was the joy that would accompany such wisdom.
The queen had great riches but loved the wisdom of God more. She knew what she possessed was not enough to solve the complexities that faced her people. She needed more than she had to give. A storehouse of possessions will not satisfy when the true need is the wisdom of God to provide answers to the toughest problems, the light to shine on the darkest places, and the strength the untie the tightest knots. Lord, I too have heard reports about your wisdom but I am not satisfied with reports. I desire to experience it for myself.
We do not need to travel long distances to stand in the presence of Wisdom. But a sacrifice will need to be made. Do you desire His wisdom enough to lay down your own intellect, stomp it to the ground if need be and see it as folly? That will be a great sacrifice, indeed. He promised that if we desire wisdom, all we need to do is ask for it, and it will be given generously (James 1:5). Take the faith that God has given and cry out to the Lord for His wisdom. We need it desperately.
God’s wisdom blows away the clouds of this age’s uncertainty and ushers in the light of joy. Ask for it. Wisdom is a beautiful thing.