What’s the dream inside your heart that if you had unlimited resources, you could see anything happen in the entire world that you knew would glorify God and help people and bring about real change, what would it be?
What would be the dream inside your heart that you’d want to see God do in your lifetime?
I shared this last week, I want to start this morning by sharing my dream.
My dream is that God would launch a movement, first, in this church and around America where Christians would live like Christians. Sounds kind of novel, isn’t it? And then I thought about the kind of churches that would produce right around here.
Churches that would be warm, caring, non-legalistic, non-self-righteous, authentic, passionate followers of Christ. The broken, the irreligious, the people that are different, the people that are unlovely would come to churches like that right here and feel loved and welcome.
I’m dreaming of a day when churches would measure success by the depth of their love not by the size of the church, the beauty of their buildings, the size of their budgets. I’m dreaming of a day when Christians would stay married when things get tough. That forgiveness would be sought and granted, and those predictable struggles that we all have in our marriage would be followed by getting wise counsel, heeding God’s Word, getting some help, and making it through the struggles.
I’m dreaming of a day when parents would model holiness, and purity, and set boundaries for their children, to protect them from the seduction of the world that promises them everything and delivers death.
I’m dreaming of a day when parents would eat together – novel idea – with their kids. That they’d laugh, they’d tell stories at bed time, they’d tickle each other to the point of tears, they’d spill popcorn on the floor and together, as a family, they’d pray about everything.
They’d pray about their neighbors, they’d pray about tests, they’d pray about friends, they’d pray about sports. Pray about grandpa and grandma and other people that don’t know the Lord yet. And that their house would be the most fun and exciting place on the entire block to be.
I’m dreaming a day when Christians know their neighbors, and have hamburgers in the backyard, and where people would get the idea that these Christian people are just friendly and kind and when you have a crisis, they’re always available, it seems.
I’m praying for a day when churches would work together to paint schools, and clean parks, and build houses in the tough part of town, and no one would care who gets the credit.
A day when Christians would be known for what we’re for, instead of what we’re against. And a day when we would actually believe that prayer is more powerful than politics, and people would be valued and treated with dignity, even if how they live and what they believe is the exact opposite of everything that Christ said and stands for.
I’m dreaming of a day when Christians would cease to be so concerned about being in, and cool, and hip, and relevant and just be flat out consistent, caring, and committed to be like Jesus and do what He says.
I have a picture in my mind of a day when nine out of ten Christians in this church and around America and then around the world would think it abnormal and strange if they didn’t come before God every day.
If they didn’t do life in community, authentically, in a small group. And if they didn’t seem themselves as on mission 24/7, getting up every day, in their home, in their dorm, at work, in their neighborhood and say, “God, what’s the assignment? You live inside of me.”
I’m dreaming of a day that the world would really change. That all those stereotypes about churches and the Bay Area, spiritually dark, would, three to five to seven years from now, we would see things happen that we would know God did it.
And I gotta tell you, I can’t shake this. I wake up thinking this, when I pray deeply I think it, I know it’s humanly impossible, I know I don’t have the resources or the power in and of myself in any way for this dream to become a reality.
But it’s the passion of my heart and I will tell you this: I think it’s the passion of my heart because it, literally, isn’t my dream at all. This is Jesus’ dream for His Church, isn’t it?
This is His dream for you, this is His dream for me. When He said, when He taught His early disciples to pray, what did He say? “Ask the Father for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done.” How? “On earth the same way gets done in heaven.”
And to me that’s just us Christians living like Christians.
And when we do that individually, not that we’re perfect, but we make progress. And when we blow it, we own it. And we’re authentic and we’re real and we’re changing.
Everyone in this room, everyone in this church has the potential to, literally, transform the world around you.
And the question I want to talk about is how does that happen? How does that really work. Right? I mean, is that just pie in the sky? Is that just rhetoric? Like, “Oh, well, wouldn’t that be great? Someday, someway.” How, actually, does God change the world?
And I want to suggest that God, by the Holy Spirit, puts inside of you and inside of me dreams, and desires, and opportunities.
And that there isn’t some great hero coming someday, someway to make all that happen. That it happens organically and small, like a little mustard seed, through ordinary people. That’s why Jesus chose the disciples that He did.
I mean, you do some hard study of the background of those people, you’re thinking, “This is not a good group to change the world with.” They’re not educated, they don’t have much leverage, they don’t have any political power, they don’t have any money.
So that everything that happened, we could know, it’s God at work in them. But what He did is He set His Spirit, remember last week, He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of them and in living inside of them, instead of Jesus walking on the earth, and loving, and caring, and feeding, He came inside of every true Christ follower, so Jesus is living out all those people.
And so a hundred and twenty turned into three thousand devout followers that He planted these dreams and these desires, and placed them in all these different backgrounds, and they began to change the world.
But I want to talk today about, well, how does it really work? I mean, we’re sitting here two thousand plus years later. Billions of people have followed Christ and are making a difference in the world.
How in the world did we go from a hundred and twenty scared people in an upper room, who the Holy Spirit comes upon, into what you see today?
Acts chapter 3 is the answer.
What you’re going to see is just, are you ready, the answer is baby steps. The answer is not some big thing, someday, someway. How many people have seen the movie What About Bob? Sort of, the classic, if you haven’t, rent it. It’s clean and it’s great.
But there’s this great line in this movie. And this is, it’s a story of a guy with deep psychological problems that makes this psychiatrist crazy. And the one thing he gets is, baby steps. You know? You know? How am I going to change? How am I going to change?
He has all these issues. And so, just, baby steps.
And, you know something? But that’s how God works. Just, you know, all you need to do is say, “You know what? There’s a big picture and Chip said all those big things about all these churches and all the…” Well, you know what? You know where it starts? Baby steps.
Open to Acts chapter 3 and what we’re going to see is how God begins with Peter and John and helps them take baby steps and He’s going to give them just a very specific baby step game plan and they change their world.
He just lays it out for us.
The chapter is broken into two parts. The first, oh, fourteen or fifteen verses are a story. And what we’re going to find is that Peter and John, you know, it’s, like, Monday morning and everybody has a Monday morning.
And they’re just doing what you’re supposed to do on Monday morning. In their case, it’s a prayer meeting they’re going to. And something happens.
And then the second half is what happens is going to create a stir and thousands of people are going to be drawn to this temple open area, much like, maybe, a big park open area like Time Square.
And thousands of people are, kind of, pouring in because of this event. And Peter uses it and then he gives a sermon. His second sermon. So follow along because what I’m going to do is there is four baby steps that we learn from the story and there’s one or two baby steps we’ll look at in terms of his sermon.
“One day, Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now, a crippled man from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those who were going into the temple courts.
“When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. And Peter looked straight at him, as did John, and then Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So the man gave him his attention and he expected to get something from them.
“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have but what I do have I will give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him up by his right hand, he helped him up and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong and he jumped to his feet and he began to walk.
“And then he went jumping into the temple courts and walking and leaping and praising God. And when all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to beg sitting at the temple gate called Beautiful and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what was happening to him.”
Baby steps. Step number one for us regular people, who have desires in our hearts that God wants to use to change the world, is simply draw near to God.
Verses 1 and 2, where are Peter and John going? Now, in Judaism, at the time, they had a prayer time at nine, a prayer time at noon, and a prayer time at three o’clock. Peter and John, right? The Spirit lives in them but it’s like, it’s Monday.
They’re just doing what they normally do. They’re doing the mundane of life. They’re just doing what they would do on any Monday. But they are faithful in just the little things.
They’re just on their way. I got news for you. This guy has been crippled from birth, we learn later he’s forty years old. The disciples, most of them, were in their late teens or mid-twenties at best.
Peter has walked by this guy a thousand times or more. He’s been at the same gate forever and ever and ever and ever and, yet, Peter is just on his way doing what he’s supposed to do.
See, being faithful in a very little thing is the key to being faithful in great things. We think God does things from, like, a little seed into some huge tree of fruitfulness and the fact is, here’s what you need to remember.
It’s faithfulness in the ordinary that prepares us for the extraordinary. Luke 16:10 says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
You know these dreams and desires? The way God works is He’s going to change you first and you gotta be with Him for Him to change you.
The promise of scripture is if you draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you. Peter doesn’t have any more power, and John doesn’t have any more power, than ordinary people like us.
The difference is they got near to Him. And what they were doing is they were just being faithful. We talk a lot about praying or spending time in God’s Word. That’s not so you check a box and don’t feel guilty. It has nothing to do with that.
It’s about relationship. It’s like recalibrating your soul. It’s about understanding, “Oh, you know, God has an assignment for me today. I want to be in tune. I want my antennae to be up with the Spirit of God and the will of God for my life.”
And all I want you to know, God does extraordinary things through ordinary people but it always begins with just being faithful in the ordinary things.
I don’t know about you but I get up, there’s some mornings and, like, the last thing I feel like doing is reading the Bible. The last thing, at times, I feel like doing is praying. Right? Don’t you have some late nights and get, kind of, worn out and have some pressure over here and a problem over there?
You know, this morning, I mean, my mind was a bit in a fog and I went out and I got a cup of coffee and I read my Bible and I didn’t have any ooey gooey amazing feelings. And I though, “Well, what’s going on in here?” And I just sat down and I wrote down, this morning, what I was feeling and what I was thinking.
And then I took the top four or five things that I was wrestling with and I said, “God, these are yours.” And then as I did then I wrote out a couple of verses that spoke to me. And it’s interesting, just things started to change.
Walk with God. Draw near to Him. Step one. It’s a baby step.
Second, is look through Jesus’ eyes. Peter is going to the temple, he’s been there, he’s just doing what he’s supposed to do. But the Spirit of God lives inside of him now. Now, he saw Jesus’ example.
The Christian life is not seeing that Jesus was this marvelous person and trying to be like Him in your own power. That is not Christianity. That’s not what Jesus taught.
The fact is, a revolution occurs and the old you dies and the Spirit of God comes and, literally, Jesus lives inside of us by the Holy Spirit. Well, now, Peter is walking and instead of seeing a beggar who is always there who needs some help and maybe he’s even given him a little money here and there, all of a sudden, he sees him through Jesus’ eyes.
Jesus sees his deeper need not just physically but spiritually. And Jesus sees him through the eyes of there’s unlimited resources. Remember the last thing Jesus said to the guys? “All authority,” dunamis, our word for dynamite, “all power, all authority has been given to me and I’m going to be with you always.”
So Peter’s not going in there thinking what can Peter do? Peter’s walking by this guy who has a desperate need and he realizes Jesus has unlimited resources, and He lives in me, and then something happens. And he takes a step of faith.
Here’s what I want you to remember. Never assume the way it is is the way it’s gotta be. That’s death.
Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do abundantly beyond anything that we could ask or think.” Jesus, He’s able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond what you and I think.
Pretty soon, if you’re not careful, you start thinking this marriage is going to be now the way it is and ever shall be. You know, this struggle with one of my kids. My singleness, I’m single, I’m discouraged, I’ll always be single. You know, no one really is open at work. I don’t think anything’s ever going to change. It’s a dark place.
We start living as though the way things are today is the way they’ll always be and that just eliminates faith.
This guy was absolutely helpless – they had to carry him in. And he was absolutely hopeless. God wants to do miracles and you know who He does them through? Ordinary people.
Later on, we’re going to learn when they’re going to get thrown in jail for this. The intellects of the day will look at Peter and John and go, “These are untrained and uneducated men…” but they recognize them as having been with Jesus.
The thing that makes the difference isn’t your personality, or your gifts, or what you bring to the table. All that under the direction of the Holy Spirit is great. But it’s Christ in you. Don’t assume the way it is is the way it’s always gotta be.
But you need to look – you need to start looking at your work through new eyes. You need to look at people in your family through new eyes. You need to look at needs through new eyes. You need to start walking around and realizing Jesus, through the Spirit of God, lives inside of me and if you could just, like, take these glasses or you could take a contact and put, I want a Jesus lens.
I want to start looking at people at work, people on the highway, people that cut in front of me, people that give me a hard time, people that in my neighborhood – I want to look at them the way Jesus would look at them if He lived inside my body and then I want you to just take a quick gulp and say, “Oh, He does.” He does.
And it’s exciting to see what happens.
When you do that, the third baby step...now, those aren’t too hard, really, is it? I mean, how hard is it to draw near to God, and then just to look through Jesus’ eyes.
Third is act on your good impulses. Now, I don’t want to read too much into this and I don’t want you to go tell people, “Chip can read Peter’s mind and he knew what exactly was happening.” I can’t.
But this is a regular guy, right? And he’s failed before. I mean, like, big time. And so, okay, Jesus lives inside of him now through the Spirit. And he sees this beggar. And I gotta assume that his thought process changed.
Now, we’re going to learn a little bit later that this early Church was completely Jewish and when the Spirit of God came they were expecting the restoration of the Kingdom and him to come back very immediately. That’s why the pooled their resources very voluntarily.
They, you know if the nation would have accepted the Messiah, they would see Him coming back very, very, very soon. We’ll learn that the nation rejects the Messiah, the nation of Israel does, and they didn’t know about this mystery called “the Church” which they were.
But, you know, Peter’s walking by this guy and he has this thought. It had to come to his mind. “You know, I don’t have anything to give him but I don’t see him like I used to see him.” And then his thought had to be, “We’ve got this unlimited power.”
I mean, I bet it went through his mind, like, real quickly, like, “I think I’m going to tell him, ‘Walk.’ That’d be cool. What if I say it and nothing happens? What if I say it and maybe this isn’t me. You know, I’m, you know, I’m kind of new at listening to the Spirit. Maybe this is just, sort of, a fabricated thought in my mind.”
See, he came to a little point of time where he had an impulse, a nudging from the Holy Spirit to take a step of faith outside his comfort zone, though he’s really going to help someone and a miracle is going to occur. And just like you and me, he’s right on the edge of, “Am I going to obey this prompting or not?”
You’ve got them, haven’t you? You know, like that weird thought like you’re driving by and you see someone walking and there’s this thought like, “I should turn around and help that person.”
And then the next thought is, “Well, you know, I’m really kind of busy and I’d have to do a u-turn and I’ll help them later.”
Or, someone out of the blue, like, you’re praying or you’re driving in your car and someone you haven’t thought about in two – you ought to call this person. And sometimes you do and then, what do they say? Stuff like, “How in the world did you know?” Right? The Spirit is still prompting.
Here’s the next baby step. Act on your good impulses. When you have an impulse that comes to you that loves someone, that glorifies God, that helps them, that takes you out of your comfort zone, that probably costs you something, and you’re a little afraid to do it? That’s probably not you! Right?
I mean, recently I was in line somewhere and it was like, buy these people’s groceries behind you. Yai, yai, yai. You know? And this lady’s gonna, you know? Why? I don’t know, I don’t have to know.
And I, this was just last week and they were checking out and the lady, “Oh, I’m sorry.” And I could tell a little struggle with her son and, “I don’t have my credit card.” And God, I mean, got louder. “Just buy her groceries. Just, just be My presence.”
And, so, okay, this will help you. So finally she found her credit card and I couldn’t get rid, so now I’m acting like I’m looking at the tomatoes over here and, you know, it’s just like, “I don’t want to do it. You know, she’s going to think I’m some weirdo and this kid’s over there.”
And so, I’m, chicken out, don’t, chicken out, no, chicken out.
So finally, you know, and then I finally, “Okay, I’m going to do it.” And I walk up and it’s very uncomfortable and she gives her credit card. And I blew it. “Oh, Lord, I’m sorry.”
And then he said, “Do you have cash?” “Yes…” “Well, give her…” So, anyway, I kind of saw about what it was like and her and her little boy had gotten in their car. And I don’t want to read too much in it but from body language, the boy, the lack of a wedding band, you know, if I was going to make up a story it looked liked a divorced mom going through a hard time who is really struggling about how she was going to pay for this.
And I drove around in my car and I said, “Excuse me?” I rolled down the window. “I assure you I’m not some weird guy stalking you or your son, okay? But I just got this really weird prompting from God and He wants you to know that He loves you and He wants to take care of your groceries today.”
And I just gave her forty bucks and I said, “Can I give this to your son?” And the light on her face was like, it wasn’t like, “Oh, no, no.” I mean, it was like, “Thank you!” I said, “I’ll see you later.”
God is giving you and me those kind of promptings all the time. What if we acted on them? What if we acted on them?
Act on those good promptings.
Notice what it says to remember: God daily prepares divine appointments for you to be the answer to someone’s prayer. “Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” That’s from the very lips of Jesus.
You know how you do that? You draw near to God so you’re in tune. You start asking, “I want to look through life through your eyes, not mine.”
And then when God, and early on, it’s okay if you have a few misses. I could tell you some other stories that didn’t come out that well. I thought I had a prompting, I think it was a “Chipting.”
But you know what? I would rather go down swinging, wouldn’t you?
Number four, give God the credit. Notice when this happens. Because, you know, I think Peter is as shocked as anyone else. You know, long before these guys got to be in stained glass they were just ordinary blue collar workers trying to figure out what was going on.
So you pick up the story, look at verse 11. “While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified His servant Jesus.’”
Now what’s Peter do real quickly, here? Guys, you understand, this isn’t about us. Boy, this isn’t, like, like I’m smarter, better, cooler. This isn’t that I’ve got all this faith. This isn’t my gifts. This isn’t my personality.
This is, this is God. God does miracles. He did miracles then, He does miracles now. The issue isn’t God’s power, isn’t God’s will, isn’t God’s desire, it’s a conduit. He’s looking for an ordinary person like a Peter or a John or a Mary to just say, “Hey, I’m kinda looking through your lens and I’m going to take step of faith and I’m going to love in places that make me a little uncomfortable.” And God shows up.
But when He does, here’s the key: be really careful. Because, you know, I gotta tell you. When I drove off after giving that lady a little money and it wasn’t, like, a ton of money but it felt pretty good.
I don’t know why but when you’re generous you feel a little happy inside, you know? Felt kind of happy.
And I bet if I did a quick news interview, I think I could have fallen quickly into, “You know, I was pretty wonderful today, wasn’t I?” You know? Right? Right?
Jot in your notes, if you would, Isaiah 42:8. Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is My name. I will not give My glory to another.”
You’ll notice, what you need to remember is the world has yet to see the extent of what God will do through someone who does not care who gets the credit.
God’s waiting for a church like that, he’s looking for people like that, and it’s subtle. Right? I mean, none of us are immune to this. It’s when you serve, it’s when you care, it’s when you love, it’s when you’re generous. Pride is really, really ugly and it’s deceptive.
The reason that a lot of people are not very responsive to Christ is the package that Christ is coming in. And there’s, it’s a very tender arrogance that we have as people that we gotta be careful of.
And somehow, over time, something shifts in our brain and you get thinking, “Well, I’m a have and they’re a have-not. I know what’s going on, look at the terrible things they’re doing. And look at this and look at that.”
And even if you don’t say it, when you look down on other people and you think that you’re superior or I think I’m superior, it, there’s a vibe that comes off you.
The reason people were so attracted to Jesus is they never got that vibe. And He’s the only one that had the right to say, “I’m up here and you’re down here.” But He was a servant.
Now, He didn’t back away from the truth. I mean, He’s talking to a gal that’s, you know, had five marriages and shacked up with someone. But she didn’t feel, she didn’t feel condemned. She felt like the truth was there and she was loved and she felt convicted. And that’s what God wants from us.
God wants us to realize, you know what? You’re like one really bad decision or doing something stupid from having a life where you’d say, “Wow, how did that happen?”
We’re all people of flesh. I praise God the Spirit of God lives in me. The difference is we’re forgiven, the difference is He lives inside of us, and we’re the conduit to share and to care. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict.
You share the truth in grace. Usually you hear people that they give people all truth or they give them all grace. Love is giving both in balance from a heart that really cares.
I love the verse here I put in Luke 1:37 because it’s so interesting who God chooses to use. This is a response of an angel to Mary. Remember Mary? The little teenager, scholars believe, probably fifteen years old, maybe seventeen at the oldest.
And the angel says, “God has a God-sized dream for your life. I know you’re young but it’s a God-sized dream. He’s going to show up to the planet and He’s going to live a perfect life and die for the sins of all mankind. He’s the Messiah. He’s the Savior. And very soon He’s going to implant in your womb the supernatural seed of the Spirit of God and you’re going to have a baby.”
And this little fifteen to seventeen year old girl goes, “Um, like, I haven’t majored in biology but how can that happen since I don’t have a husband?”
And the angel says, “Mary, with God, all things are possible.”
He wants you to know that. With God, all things are possible. With God at your work, in your marriage, in your home, in your singleness, on your campus, with God, all things are possible. Do you believe it?
See, at the end of the day, really, what it boils down to, the whole Christian life, you draw near to God and live before Him. You get strength and in community and as you’re on mission, it’s just believing. It’s just trusting. With God, all things are possible.
Because if that’s true you take steps that you would never take. If it’s impossible, that’s you know, then what you do is you cul-de-sac in your mentality and you figure out how can my life in my little world, you know, can I get safe to make it work for me?
And then we lose. We lose the purpose for our living. We lose the purpose for why God put us here. The number one priority of the Church is to build up the life of fellow believers so that those who don’t know might know.
And they can know, not just by what we say but by how we live.
Well, it shifts and we’ve got a pretty good crowd. And the crowd, now, is going to hear a sermon. We got the story.
And he’s going to pick up the sermon and remember it’s a very Jewish group and he’s done this right outside in the open area of the temple courts and so we pick up the story in verse 13 where he says, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified His servant Jesus.”
Now, for some of us, that’s not a real key word. But if you would go back and read in Isaiah 42, 49, 52, and 53 there’s a whole section where the Messiah is described as the servant of the Lord.
So this would very quickly get their mind thinking, “Oh, so you’re saying this Jesus was the Messiah?” “Yep.”
And then when you share with people, you need to understand, and let me just give you this and you can listen to how Peter does it. There’s part of it, part of the good news of the gospel is bad news.
It’s that you really have blown it, just like I have, and you’ve sinned and you fall short of a holy God. And we gotta make sure we say that.
And then after the bad news there’s the good news. But God really, really loves you and cares for you and in that good news there needs to be an explanation that Christ died for you. Literally as your substitute.
And then the final part, when you share as you’re going to see Peter, you have to call people to a point of decision. It’s not just this is what He did, I hope you’re now aware of it. When you share the gospel, you need to say to them, “Is there anything keeping you from putting your faith in Christ today?”
I mean, is it uncomfortable? Of course it’s uncomfortable. But if people just hear, you know, there’s a movie. It’s free. It’s the best ever. But you can’t get a ticket. Or I won’t tell you how. Well, you see what I’m saying?
So, listen for the bad news. Listen for the good news. And then listen as he calls them to a very specific response.
Verse 14, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released. You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is in Jesus’ name and the faith that comes, through Him, that has given His complete healing to him, as you can see.”
So this man, for forty years, has been laying outside, he’s leaping and dancing and praising God, a crowd of thousands of people are mushrooming and now he says, “This Jesus that you disowned, the Author of life that you killed, that you…”
Does this sound like good news? I mean, I’ll tell you what, I mean, this would be, like, “Oh my. What if this guy is right?”
And by the way, here’s the proof, you see this guy? It’s in His name. It’s not me. It’s in His name, and His power, and faith in Him, that’s done this.
And so they’re looking at this miracle. But notice once you share and I think his tone of voice was not condemning. I think it was very matter of fact. I think Peter loved these people. And so notice he shifts gears.
He goes, “Now brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance. I mean, you didn’t get it. You didn’t really believe He was the Messiah. As did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what He foretold through the prophets saying that the Christ would suffer.”
I mean, so basically, the good news is, you know, if you fully understood at all, I don’t think you’d have done that. So, now, here’s the option. Here’s the call. “Repent, then, and turn to God.” Why? “So that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord and that He may send the Christ who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.”
Then he quotes Moses, “For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. You must listen to everything He tells you. Anyone who does not listen to Him will be completely cut off from among His people.’
“Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on as many have spoken and foretold about these days, these Messianic days when the Spirit would come, when the Messiah’s promises would be true and you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers.
“He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring, all the peoples of the earth will be blessed when God raised up His servant He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’”
I want to encourage you that this gets, it’s a baby step but boldly share the good news. Boldly share. Now, I know many of you are reading through on the reading plan and we’re in Acts and read a lot of Acts.
If you want to know, you know, everyone wants to know. What’s the real evidence of the Holy Spirit? I mean, how do you know the Holy Spirit really has a hold of your life?
And some people will say, “Well, it’s an event like this or it’s an experience like that.” Let me tell you, you read all the way through the book of Acts, the common denominator when you are filled or saturated and controlled by the Holy Spirit is boldness. It’s boldness.
You actually get where you’re not so afraid of rejection. You get where you realize the love of God and your concern for people who don’t know Him outweighs your fear of what they’re going to think of you.
And that takes a Spirit of God moment. It’s boldness. He’s bold.
I don’t know about you but I take a deep breath when I have to tell someone the bad news of the gospel: you’re lost apart from Christ. “Oh, am I going to get put in a category? That sounds very narrow. You’re saying Jesus is the life and the only way?”
“No, no. I’m not saying that. He said that.” Okay, listen, at some point in time, you’re either going to, kind of, slide and sort of try and be okay with everything and everyone and, sort of, have this private, you know, I know this is what the Bible says and I know what Jesus has done in me and, you know, it says in chapter 4, “There is no other name by which we must be saved.”
At some point in time you gotta realize, you’re going to share some things with some people in love, with tears rolling down, and they can be nice people, good people, moral people but the God who made them, the second person of the Godhead came to the earth, and lived a perfect life, and died in their place, and there is only one way to have relationship with a perfect, holy God and be righteous.
And that’s the atoning, covering of Christ.
Remember last week? If you have the Son, not if you have religion, you have life. If you have the Son, not if you try to be a good, moral person, you have life.
And that means that there’s a time where you and I, talking with people, need to move beyond the comfort level and talk about the bad news of the gospel. If a person never sees their need they can never hear the good news.
And I would guess that the great majority of us struggle with being bold. Think about the people that, I mean, if someone you know, that you care about at work, or in your family, or in your neighborhood, or in your network, or who you chat with. What if you knew they had cancer and they got three days to live? Would you, today, relate to them the same way for the next three days as you are now?
They’re going to slip into eternity. Would you? Because at some point in time, I gotta get out of being so worried about what people think, or what I can answer, or what I can’t answer, and I need to boldly share the gospel.
And the gospel has a promise of eternal life. But he begins with bad news and the problem is sin. And then it goes to the good news is that Christ has paid for your sin and it has an explanation that He’s our substitute and then there’s an action call.
You need to repent. You need to leave and turn from your sin and put your faith in Christ and what He did. And that’s when the Spirit of God comes inside of people’s lives and they’re sealed by His Spirit and they have new life and eternal life.
And that’s not pastor’s jobs or missionary jobs or Christian books’ jobs. It’s us.
I’m always shocked, I remember the first time as an early Christian some guy came up to me and said, “You know, you’re the greatest Christian I’ve ever met.” And I thought, “Man, this guy is in trouble.” I mean, this guy is in really big trouble. Because, you know, I mean, if I’m the greatest Christian he’s ever met, you know, the percentages look a little bit low for how much of Jesus he’s really going to see.
And then I just realized, you know what? That’s true of all of us. You are, some place at work, people you don’t even know.
I was in, I played a little basketball and a guy I’ve kinda got to know and I’ve not talked with him directly but built a relationship and then I went out to lift and he was lifting. And out of the blue he turns to me and goes, “Um, can I tell you something?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “I started going to church here recently.” I said, “Great!” You know?
“You’re a pastor, right?” I said, “Yeah, how did you know?” “I heard those other guys talking.” “Okay.” He said, “Can I ask for your help?” I said, “Well, what do you need?” He goes, “Like, I’m, like, going to church and this group I’m with, you know, I mean, there’s like a Bible study mid-week. Have you ever of those?” I said, “Yeah, we do some of those.”
And he said, “So, I’m going to church and I’m in this Bible study. And I stopped, I mean, I knew I was doing stuff that was really wrong and I’m not doing the external stuff.” But he said, “Man, I got stuff going on in my head that’s really bad.”
And he said, “Is there any help for that?” I said, “You bet! By the way, we all have that stuff.” “Really?” “Yeah.”
And so I said, “Give your email address.” And anyway, I sent him the book, The Miracle of Life Change and a book that most men would understand about how to overcome the dragon of lust.
And you know what? It was just a divine appointment. But at some point in time you gotta cross a bridge, and get a little uncomfortable, and share the truth with someone realizing, you know what? It may not one hundred percent go well.
Notice what the remembrance here is: “How will they know if we do not tell them? And if not you then who? And if not now then when?”
Paul would write in Romans 10, “How, then, will they call upon Him, Christ, in whom they have not believed and how will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
You know one of the things I’m praying, just for me, these baby steps for me, I’m praying, “God, will you please, please help me begin to see people through your eyes. See their need not their exterior.” And I’m practicing, kind of, going into practice to act on those good impulses.
And one of the things I’m praying for me is just rather than an ought, or should, or guilt, I guess we could rev each other up for a couple weeks and, “Let’s love lost people. Let’s…” You know and then, kind of, sink back to the normal.
I’ve been there done that. I could get real emotional. We’ve got to love lost people…sorry, just kidding, just kidding. Right? I mean, have you been there? Right? You know?
You know what instead I’m doing? I’m just little, tiny prayer, “God, will you give me your love for people who don’t know you? Would you help me love them so much that I wouldn’t care what they think of me?
“Would you give me sensitivity that instead of it being about how much did I share, did I share the whole gospel? Am I…would you just give me your love for them? Some of them probably aren’t ready to hear this yet but will you help me love them?”
And whether it’s groceries today, or helping them with one of their kids, or doing something here, or just inviting them over and I don’t have to tell them anything about Jesus to start out.
You know, tell me your story. How are you doing? Do you have any kids? Where’s your biggest challenge? And then, you know, would you mind?
I met an unbelieving guy recently and I don’t know how we hit it off pretty quickly. And I just asked him, I said, “Would you be offended if I prayed for you? Is there one thing I could pray for you?”
And he looked at me, like, “Are you on drugs, man? Are you kidding me? I would love you to pray for me.”
I mean, I got news for you. Like, there’s no atheists in foxholes. There’s no atheists with people that got cancer, and whose homes are upside down, and marriages are falling apart, and are under addictions and are screaming and needing help.
You know who they need? They need Jesus. The One that lives inside your skin. Just being you.