You are welcome to use the writings on these pages or pass them on to others who might find a touch from God in the words. Our purpose is always to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Please remember to give credit to the Author who has given you everything, and keep in remembrance the vessel which He used to bring these words to you. We pray that this site may be a blessing to you and anyone with whom its been shared. All rights reserved. Peggy Hoppes
Christian Bible Study Pages
Travel PagesSalisbury Plain
Our Lord is so good, He grants us many blessings. We can see Him in the daily course of events, in our homes, our jobs, our lives. I pray that these words help you to grow in your faith and recognize His hand in even the most mundane circumstances.
The picture to the right is of a Celtic Chapel located in Cornwall England. This building is approximately 1700 years old, and contains a holy well known for its healing powers.
(Click for enlarged)
"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much. But Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out. And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things." Acts 5:1-11, ASV
Some of the stories in the scriptures are hard to bear, like this one. We are bothered by the idea that Ananias and Sapphira keeled over dead because they didn't give the profits from the sale of their land to the church. There are those who would interpret this story as a command to vows of poverty and that anything less is less than faithful to God. In the days of the early church, the believers shared everything. They lived in community, ensuring that no one was hungry or cold. Those who had more gave food and clothing to those who had less. There were some members who were even selling property to help the church.
The story before this one is about a man named Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, also called Barnabas. His name meant "Son of Encouragement." He sold a field and took the money and laid it at the feet of the disciples. He is the example of a faithful, giving disciple. Then we hear the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Seemingly encouraged by Barnabas, the couple sold a piece of property and laid an offering at the feet of the apostles. This story is different, however, because Ananias and Sapphira willfully withheld some of the profits. You might think as you read these stories in tandem that they really were struck down for their lack of generosity. The truth, however, is revealed in the following verses the truth. They lied to God.
Can you imagine the scene? Barnabas, out of the generosity of his heart, gave the church a great gift. Though I'm sure he did not desire any attention for his gift, he was probably honored for it. Human beings are imperfect, we all sin; in this case, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was a desire to have the attention heaped on them. They weren't being generous; they were putting on a show, competing with Barnabas. They didn't get away with it because the Holy Spirit revealed their deception. Peter asked why Ananias why they lied and then reminded them that they were under no obligation to give it all. We are asked to give as we are led and able. Ananias lied to God and the very revelation of his sin struck him dead.
The story is made even clearer when Peter confronts Sapphira. She didn't know what happened to her husband, so when Peter asked if they sold the land for that amount, she continued in the conspiracy and said, "Yes." She lied, too. And the revelation of her sin struck her dead.
God did not cut down Ananias and Sapphira because they kept some of the money for themselves. They died because they lied to God. The revelation of their sin cut them down immediately. If they had gone to the apostles and said, "We sold our property and this is a portion of the proceeds," Peter would have gratefully received the money and used it to glorify God. However, Ananias and Sapphira wanted to have their cake and eat it too.
This might be a story about financial resources and generosity, but it is even more so a story about truthfulness. Do you make claims about your faithfulness in word and deed before men, but in your heart you are hiding something? How many of us claim to love all our neighbors and yet harbor anger in our hearts? How often do we make confession but hide the very sins that destroy relationships and community? We won't be struck down as Ananias and Sapphira, but aren't we buried by our sin? Aren't we destroying our relationship with God when we try to hide the very things that He knows even more intimately than we do? God knows our hearts and He is calling us to be truthful. One lie might not seem very bad, but one lie leads to another. It becomes easier to put on the show and yet that show builds a wall between you and the God who forgives. The lies show a lack of faith and without faith there is no relationship with God. That's true death.
Jesus Christ died so that we would be freed from sin and death. He didn't die to force us to give all our stuff away. He has sent the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love, generosity, grace and mercy for our brothers and sisters. He wants us to give it all, but He does not require it and He won't strike us dead if we don't share everything. He does not require a vow of poverty or a tithe of one hundred percent. He has given some, like Barnabas, an extraordinary faith and gift of generosity and he stands as an example. However, we should never put on a facade of generosity to compete against others. We have our own gifts and God will lead us in the use of those gifts if we are willing and honest and faithful.
If you would like to contact me, please use the following address, replacing the bracketed words with the symbol. Thank you for your continued interest, prayers and messages of encouragement.
A WORD FOR TODAY is available daily through a mailing list at yahoo.groups. Visit the link below and you will receive the WORD in your box Monday through Friday.
"Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace." James 3:13-18, ASV
Ben Jonson is considered one of England's greatest writers, second perhaps only to William Shakespeare. The two were friends, perhaps enemies, along with John Donne and Francis Bacon. His life was interesting. He was the son of a minister who died before he was born and his mother remarried a bricklayer. He was well educated, a fact that aided in his release after he killed a man in a duel. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death, but due to an ancient law called "benefit of clergy" that considered clergy as touched by God and above human law, he was released. He was not a priest, but he could read Latin, something he had taught himself to do. He faced trouble with the court under Elizabeth, but was highly favored under James I. He wrote many masques for the court and is often referred to as England's first poet laureate. Charles I paid him a large pension to be the city chronologer even after he had a debilitating stroke.
He had a circle of admirers, including nobles, who called themselves the "Tribe of Ben" who met at the Mermaid Tavern and later at the Devil's Head; they gathered in a special chamber known as Apollo to exchange wit. He was a genius and extremely entertaining, Ben Jonson was rather sure of himself. He was keenly aware of his own stature as an author and self published his works in 1616. A story is told that Ben had an encounter with a local landowner who boasted of his wealth at a local pub. It is said that Jonson replied, "What care we for your dirt and clods? Where you have an acre of land, I have ten acres of wit." The gentleman retorted by calling Ben, "Good Mr. Wiseacre." Though the word wiseacre is probably a corruption of an old German word, some have suggested the negative connotation of our modern definition, "a person who says or does things that are funny but also annoying," might come from this story.
Though Ben Jonson was able to write and answer with great wit, his wisdom was not really wise in the sense of today's Bible passage. He was a stubborn and angry man. He had many students and he was greatly respected by the literary establishment. His plays put down the establishment and foolishness of the world in which he lived, yet he was honored by kings and queens. He was known to be wise, though his life did not always show true wisdom.
True wisdom comes from God and is revealed in the way you live your life. If you are quick to anger or seek to advance in the ways of the world, then your wisdom is earthly. James tells us how we can recognize those who have wisdom from heaven. They are not 'wiseacres'; they are considerate, submissive, and merciful. The fruit that is produced is the good fruit that comes from the Spirit of God. Peace follows wherever they go.
The following links provide some specially chosen scripture that tell the stories of the Birth and Passion of our Lord as Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as a fictional perspective of the Crucifixion. Spend time in God's Word, read about His life and learn of the wonderful gifts He has for you. Know Jesus Christ and honour Him today. Thanks be to God.
Scripture on this page taken from the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain. Some scripture on this site taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
As you may be aware, I also write a weekly devotional on Wednesday called "MIDWEEK OASIS." For those of you who are familiar with lectionary scripture sources, MIDWEEK OASIS is based on the texts used by millions of Christians each Sunday. The lectionary consists of four texts: an Old Testament passage, a Psalm, a passage from one of the Epistles and a Gospel text. We are now using the lectionary for our A WORD FOR TODAY texts. This devotional is posted on Wednesday, at both A WORD FOR TODAY and at MIDWEEK OASIS.
You are welcome to use these words to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. Please remember to give credit to the Author who has given you these gifts, and keep in remembrance the vessel which He used to bring them to you. We pray that this site may be a blessing to you and anyone with whom you've shared it. Peggy Hoppes