The Fate of Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5.1-16

Ananias and Sapphira learn quickly the deadly consequences of lying to the Holy Spirit. Sin is dealt with swiftly and decisively. 

God takes sin seriously and so should we. And while we may not see the consequences of our choices quite so quickly, they do not go unnoticed. That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 5.15-17, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…doesn’t mean that we are perfect or will do it perfectly. But it means that we are learning more and more what it is to walk by the Spirit, to put off the old self and put on the new…to live and love like Jesus.

Character…integrity…matters. There is no such thing as a small fib…a little white lie…a half truth. Who we are on the outside should match who we are on the inside. Our walk should match our talk. If we claim to follow Jesus, then our lives should reflect that. When they don’t, it’s obvious to those around us. It’s called hypocrisy. And the only person we are fooling is ourselves…the truth always comes out. Who we are matters.

That’s why it is so important for us to be intentional about pursuing our relationship with Jesus. Left to ourselves, we will never live and love like Him. But when we intentionally pursue our relationship with Him…when we spend time in His Word, time in prayer and time with other believers…then the Spirit slowly but surely begins to transform us into the image of the Son. Little by little, moment by moment, day by day. As we spend more time with Him, we learn to recognize His voice. We begin to notice Him directing our steps. And as we say “yes” to His direction, we become more like Him. But we have to be intentional. It won’t just happen.

One more thing… The mark of a maturing Christian is the realization that our greatest regret when we blow it is disappointing our Father in heaven. Not the regret of being embarrassed or even the harm to others, as bad as that may be, but the deep regret of disappointing the One we love the most…the One who loves us more than any other. After David’s epic failure in the Bathsheba-Uriah affair (2 Samuel 11), he cries out to God in Psalm 51.4 saying, “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.”

As parents we need to teach our kids that they should choose to do the right thing, not because doing the wrong thing leads to physical consequences and not even because the Bible identifies it as the wrong choice, but because when we love someone, we want to serve them and do what pleases them…living right out of love for the Father as opposed to just living right because the Bible says it is the right thing to do.

God takes sin seriously…that’s why Jesus had to die on a cross…to pay the penalty for our sin. That’s what we celebrate in communion. Jesus died so that we might live. So choose life. I want to give you a few minutes to talk to the Lord. What do you need to confess? What do you need to celebrate? What do you need to commit to?

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Tragic Consequences

Genesis 34

What has happened to Jacob? Where is Israel in all this? Just when Jacob seemed so close to realizing his new identity, he now appears to be so far away.

While there are a number of other characters involved in the story, Jacob’s the primary one. It’s his decision to settle down in Shechem rather than going to Bethel. And his compromise, his partial obedience, sets up the rest of the narrative. It allows Dinah to be in a dangerously vulnerable place. His failure to respond and to lead his family results in the brothers taking matters into their own hands.

This is another one of those episodes that we could ask where is God in the midst of this mess? His name is not mentioned even once. He doesn’t seem to be factoring into Jacob’s thinking, much less his family’s thinking, at this point. I don’t know how long he’s lived outside of Shechem…but it’s been too long. Partial obedience is disobedience…it’s compromise, and he’s compromised far too long. When we are in that place of compromise, God seldom factors into our thinking even when tragedy strikes…even when we experience the consequences of our choices.

So where is God? He’s still there in the midst of the mess. He hasn’t lost control. He is still working in the lives of His people. Jacob, like his daddy and granddaddy, is called to be a blessor of the nations. But also like Abraham and Isaac, his actions result in cursing rather than blessing. Instead of introducing the townsfolk to the love of Creator God, they’re introduced to a sword. Yet God is still in the process to transform Jacob into Israel. He’s not done, and He hasn’t given up on Jacob. But for Moses’ original audience, this episode would have highlighted the danger of compromise. It doesn’t turn out well.

God is still at work in our mess too. When the sin of others tragically impacts us, when our anger overwhelms us, when we are tempted to withdrawal and look out for number one, He sees and He cares. He knows and will one day judge. But praise God that He is patient. If not, all of us would be annihilated. For no one is innocent. Since the time of the fall, when the world was fractured by our sin and rebellion, God has been on a rescue mission. He’s promised a way back to the garden, a way back to life with Him through faith in the One He promised to send…the Genesis 3.15 Redeemer, the Head crushing Seed of the woman, Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died a bloody, horrible death, was raised the third day, conquering both sin and death, crushing the serpent’s head. He has provided the way back for us to Creator God.

I don’t know who you are today…Dinah, Shechem, Jacob, Simeon and Levi…but Jesus died for you. He understands your shame and your guilt, your anger, and your fear. He took it all with Him when He was nailed to the cross. He came to bring life. He wants to restore and heal you. And He wants to remind you that you are an image-bearer. You have infinite value. You are loved.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Looking for Love

Genesis 29

In this tangled tale of romance, lies, deceit, love at first sight, spurned affections, costly misguided pursuits…it’s easy to ask, “Where is God in all this mess? Is He still in control?”

This story should serve as a warning for us who claim to follow Jesus of what happens when we live as if His presence and His prerogative have no impact on and really have no business in our lives. We live in the here and now with no thought of eternity. The daily pressures of life have pushed out any sense of connection to the God of the universe. We are missing out on the incredible destiny He has in store for us. A destiny He wants us to realize every day…to play a part in His redemptive plan for the nations, to impact the valley for His kingdom.

So where is God in all this mess? He is still seated on the throne. He is still working out His purposes…even in situations where our bad choices would seem to threaten them. Jacob is at the right place at the right time to be introduced to his kinsman. Although not his choice, God provides the right girl on his wedding night. He doesn’t override Jacob’s decisions…he allows him to make mistakes and reap the consequences. [God is not mocked…we reap what we sow.] God’s presence is evident in His orchestration of events, His love and grace are demonstrated in the boys He gives to an unwanted wife, seeking Leah’s affections as earnestly as she did Jacob’s.

And in our mess…when the world seems to be breaking apart at the seams – war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Ebola outbreak in Africa, border challenges, unrest in Missouri, the unthinkable in a nearby church, not to mention our own struggles with health or finances or safety or whatever…God is still on His throne. He hasn’t lost control of His world, but He’s allowed us to make our foolish decisions, starting with our initial defiance. Wanting to write Him out of the script, we face the consequences of our own sin and rebellion. But God is still at work. He’s able to bring about His purposes in spite of our transgression. His presence is still with us. His love and grace demonstrated in His relentless pursuit of us…pictured so perfectly on the cross, price was no object in securing what He desired.

So whether you feel like you’ve been duped like Jacob, spurned like Leah, pursued like Rachel or came out on top like Laban, the gospel is good news for you. God’s not done. He delights to bring life from death, order from chaos, beauty from ashes, to restore what the locust has eaten. He’s a God who can and wants to transform your life.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

What a Mess!


Thoughts About What We’re Reading…


2 Samuel 13-18 is a sad tale of a dysfunctional family and the consequences of sin.

In these chapters we learn that seemingly small sins of omission can spawn large sins of commission.

David had a son named Absalom, described in scripture as handsome in every way, with beautiful long hair – foreshadow of things to come.

Absalom also had a beautiful sister named Tamar who was violated by another brother from another mother – Amnon.

Deuteronomy 22 and Leviticus 20 are very clear on the penalty for Amnon’s action, yet David did nothing when he learned what happened – perhaps because Amnon was his first born.

Absalom is angry at the violation of his sister and exacts revenge on Amnon a couple of years later by arranging for his murder.

Absalom’s actions force him into exile with his maternal grandfather for three years.

David is heartbroken and longs for his exiled son, which is evident to all, but no one knows how to achieve Absalom’s return and reconciliation.

Through an elaborate hoax, Joab – David’s commander-in-arms, arranges for the return of Absalom, and David agrees to his return but will not see him personally or let him visit the palace.

After two more years of estrangement from his father, Absalom is desperate for attention and after trying to get Joab’s attention to no avail, he sets fire to Joab’s barley field. This gets Joab’s attention!

Joab intervenes with the king and they are reunited. But as subsequent events demonstrate, David’s long-delayed acceptance of his son came too late.

Absalom was embittered and resolved to do whatever was necessary to make David pay for his obstinacy.

Absalom’s first move to achieve his purposes of revenge was to make himself conveniently available by the city gate to hear the complaints of the citizens.

Over time, Absalom gains the support of the people.

When the time is ripe for revolution, Absalom leads a coup, forcing David to flee the city, leaving behind ten concubines.

David’s forced flight from Jerusalem not only put his own kingship in jeopardy, but it also opened the door to further contention for the throne between the dynasties of Saul and David. Another foreshadow of things to come in the Book of Kings.

Absalom marches into the city and lies with David’s ten concubines on the roof of the palace for all to see – further consequences from David’s sin with Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 12:11.

Absalom seeks to kill David but is finally defeated and killed by Joab after getting his hair – head, stuck in an oak tree. So ends the story of Absalom.

All in all, it’s a messy, costly business—events set in motion by sin always are.

Carelessness in the palace has landed David in the wilderness again!

Saul’s death brought his wilderness years to a close the first time.

This time, it is the death of his own son – Absalom.

Through it all, God preserves David, and restores him to his throne.

We are reminded that sin is never trivial, and grace is never cheap.

But God never leaves or forsakes those who are truly his.

Until next time… keep reading!


Excerpts for this blog were taken directly from: Gospel Transformation Bible Notes and The Bible Knowledge Commentary.

The Consequences of Sin


Thoughts About What We’re Reading…


As we turn to 2 Samuel 11-12, we come upon one of the most tragic stories in all of Scripture.

Our story begins in the spring, the rains are over and David decides to resume his military campaigns, launching an invasion of Rabbah, the capital of Ammon.

Although David usually led his army personally, he stays behind in Jerusalem and sends his commander, Joab in his stead.

While walking along the rooftop of the palace, David observes Bathsheba, the wife of his neighbor Uriah, bathing out in the open.

David inquires about the beautiful woman and has her brought to the palace and takes her to his bed, although he knows she is married.

Sure enough, Bathsheba sends David a note with the worst news he could hear – she is with child!

The crisis brought by the pregnancy required some kind of suitable resolution, so David determined to “legitimize” the impending birth by bringing Uriah back from the Ammonite campaign, thus making it possible for him to enjoy the intimacies of marriage.

But the plan does not work. So David resorts to two schemes (2 Samuel 11:8-13) trying to induce Uriah to go home and be with his wife, but the noble Hittite refuses.

Why should he, Uriah argued, be allowed the comforts of home and a conjugal visit while his friends in combat were deprived of them?

Even after David plied him with wine, Uriah’s sense of loyalty to his comrades prevails over his desire for his wife.

In utter frustration, David resorts to a third scheme and writes a memo to Joab, commanding that Uriah, when he returns to the front line, be abandoned to the enemy by an unexpected Israelite withdrawal.

The plan succeeds – Uriah is surrounded and slain. This is the same Uriah listed in 2 Samuel 23:39, among the exploits of David’s warriors – Uriah was one of the Mighty Men.  What a sad end to one of such courage and character.

After a time of mourning, Bathsheba moves into the palace with David, becomes his wife and bears him a son.

The Lord is displeased and set events in motion that will trouble David throughout his life. We will read about these events later in 2 Samuel.

It is only after being called out for his sin by the prophet Nathan, that David repents.

Shortly after the interview with Nathan, the child becomes terminally ill. Despite David’s intense fasting and prayer, the baby dies within a week.

One may wonder, why David was not punished with death as he had so sternly advocated for the guilty man in the parable told by Nathan.

The answer lies in the genuine and remorseful repentance that David expressed, not only in the presence of Nathan, but more fully in Psalm 51, David’s magnificent prayer of repentance.

David’s sin was heinous, but the grace of God was more than sufficient to forgive and restore him.

David and Bathsheba would go on to have another child – Solomon. The name Solomon means “Peace”.

Although David is restored in fellowship with the Lord, the consequence of his sin remained and would continue to work its sorrow in the nation as well as in his life.

This story serves as a reminder to all believers that although we are forgiven of our sin, through the redeeming work of Christ, the consequences of our sin and the choices we make, can last a lifetime.

Until next time… keep reading.


Excerpts for this blog were taken directly from The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Volume 1.