Friday, January 25, 2008

Has Greed Ever Tried to Take You Over?

Over & over in the Bible we read stories of people who tried to pull one over on God, only to be struck down with some horrible disease or worse dead. Two stories that come to my mind are Gehazi in 2 Kings 5 and then Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5.

2 Kings 5 tells us of a man who was the commander of the army for the King of Syria. He was a man of valor but was stricken with leprosy. His servant girl who waited on his wife told him of a prophet in Israel who could heal him of his leprosy. He goes, and Elisha sends a messenger to the door to tell him to go and dip in the Jordan 7 times and he will be cleansed. He gets all irate thinking first of all, that Elisha should have come to him himself, rather than send a messenger and second that he should have waved his arms around and called down fire from heaven or something more spectacular than telling him to go jump in the river. Well, his servants talked him into doing just as Elisha had said, and he was healed. He had brought lots of riches to pay Elisha, but Elisha would not take any pay for this work. But his servant Gehazi was standing by and overheard and saw the great riches this man had so he waited until he got down the road some, and then he went running after him and told him that Elisha had sent him for 2 talents of silver and 2 garments for his sons. Naaman gladly gave these things to him. So Gehazi went back, hid the silver and garments in his house and then went before Elisha.

2 Kings 5 vs 25-27...Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, "Where did you go, Gehazi"? And he said, "your servant did not go anywhere." Then he said to him, "did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever." And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow....

My first thought is how long had Gehazi been serving Elisha that he wouldn't know that Elisha would know that he was lying? My next thought was, how sad for Gehazi's descendants to be cursed now and forever because of Gehazi's greed.

Then over in Acts 5 vs 1-11 we see the story of Ananias & Saphira. They had some land and was going to sell it to give to the apostles to help the people in need. Only when they sold the land, they got greedy with what they had and held some back for themselves. But then they lied about it.

Acts. 5 vs 3....But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?"

Acts 5 vs 5....Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things....

Then Saphira, his wife comes in, and she doesn't know what has happened to Ananias, so she lies also as her and Ananias had agreed upon.

Acts. 5 vs 9...Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last....

How many times have we tried to bargain with God, saying Lord if you will do this or that, then I will do this or that. God is not in the business of making bargains. His word tells us what we are to do, and then we alone have to make the decision to do right. The Holy Spirit is there guiding us, but the ultimate final decision is ours.

When you make a commitment to your church, it is the same as if you made it with God Himself. When you belong to a church, you are obligated by God to pay your tithes to that church. This is not something that is between you and the church this is between you and God. So when you hold back your tithes you are doing the same as Ananias, Saphira, and Gehazi. You are letting greed take over your spirit. But if you will do what the word says, I promise you, God will provide and you will have a more fruitful life.

Mal. 3 vs 8-10...Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," Says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it....

It costs money to run a church, you have electric bills, water bills, bldg. and grounds payments,staff to pay, etc. When God says to bring into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house, He is saying to pay what you owe, so the bills can be paid, and the Pastor has a place to bring in the sheep and feed them the word of God. Think of the church as a barn for all God's sheep and a place for them to come out of the storms (trials of their lives) into a safe place and be fed. (the word of God) The next time you get ready to hold back your tithes, think how many sheep may be left out in the cold and not receiving the word of God, because you didn't do your part. If you have a family member or loved one that needs the word of God, wouldn't you want them to have a place to go and be fed?


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