AGCC Sun. a.m. 6/14/1998
TEXT: Acts 3:1-26; Rev.
INTRO: We are living at a time
when everyone is very busy, so busy that we may be tempted to think that
ministry is the responsibility of a paid staff in our Churches. Our busy lives
can be so programmed by schedules that we can think of our relationship with
Christ as just a part of our lives rather than the all encompassing call that
Christ intended it to be.
We cannot afford in the days we live to present to the world the idea that
being a Christian is a small part of our life. We cannot afford to present the
idea that if someone wants to become a Christian perhaps they can give us a call
sometime! The call to ministry is every Christian's call, not just a pastor's
call. The most important thing that can happen to a person is for them to find
Christ as their savior, and the most important thing for us Christians is the
call to minister to the lost!
ILLUS: In his book The Crisis in the University, Sir Walter
Moberly cites the failure of evangelicals to penetrate university campuses with
the gospel. To those who claim to follow Christ he says, "If one-tenth of what
you believe is true, you ought to be ten times as excited as you are."
We must realize that every contact with unbelievers is an opportunity for
ministry. Even routine life will afford us opportunities to witness for
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
to be ready to minister even in the routine of our daily life, Christ is always
ready to touch some life, we just have to have his heart and mind and be
available to minister for Him.
I. SEEING THE OPPORTUNITIES 3:1-10, Rev. 3:8
A. Routine Life 3:1-5
1. Peter and John were doing what they always did, following a usual schedule, a routine daily schedule.
a. Some of the best opportunities for ministry begin in routine moments!
b. We have relegated ministry to special times or specially planned moments, but the truth is that ministry is a call everyday!
2. The lame man was going through his routine schedule this day too.
3. Everything about this encounter was routine, a routine for both the person in need and the disciples themselves.
4. With Christ alive in our hearts however, there is no such thing as "routine," Christ is ready at a moment's notice to dramatically change people's lives, we just need to be ready to see those opportunities.
a. It is not enough for us to be saddened over the condition of men and women's hearts.
b. We need to remember that Christ can dramatically change people's lives,
they just need an introduction to Christ!
ILLUS: Longfellow could take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it, and instantly make it worth thousands of dollars -- and it's called genius.
Rockefeller could sign his name to a piece of paper and make it worth millions of dollars -- and it's called riches.
A mechanic can take material worth only five dollars and make it worth five hundred -- and it's called skill.
An artist can take a fifty-cent piece of canvas, paint a picture on it, and make it worth thousands of dollars -- and it's called art.
Jesus Christ can take a worthless, sinful life, wash it in His blood, put His Spirit in it, and make it valuable to God -- and that's called sanctification.
The Lord is in the business of taking rough,
raw material and using it -- transforming men by His power to be the extension
of His work in the world.
5. Are we able to get past our daily routine and see ministry opportunities?
a. Since Jesus had gone to the Temple before His resurrection, and this man had been there every day for many years, it is quite possible Jesus and His disciples had passed this man before without touching him.
b. But today was a new opportunity for Peter and John, and they take it!
c. Peter could have been tempted to think, "if Jesus didn't help him
the other times we came by him, it must not be God's will to heal him" ..
but Peter is moved to see this as an opportunity for ministry TODAY.
B. Resources Limited! 3:6-7
1. The usual excuse for not ministering is lack of resources or training.
a. Certainly Peter expresses here that they do not have what the man WANTS - silver and gold, but they do have what he NEEDS.
b. Peter sees a greater need, one that they can help with because they are minister's of the person and power of God!
2. The modern Church today can miss the mark too, that we need huge resources before we can effectively minister to this broken world!
a. The truth is that we have everything we need already!
b. We have forgotten that it is not silver and gold that will build the
kingdom of God, but the power of His Holy Spirit at work through us!
ILLUS: When Thomas Aquinas visited Rome, and was shown the gorgeousness of the papal palace, the pope, it is said, remarked to him, "Well, Thomas, the church in our day can not say, Silver and gold have I none. "
"No," replied Aquinas, "neither can she say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
Ah! how often has it been the case, that when
the church has been increased in riches and worldly wisdom, she has
correspondingly decreased in spiritual power and piety. -- Rev. C. Perrin, as quoted by Rev. Aquilla Webb in, 1000
Evangelistic Illustrations, (New York: Richard R. Smith Inc., 1930), p. 54.
3. Notice Peter not only asks this man to have faith to rise, but offers him a hand to help him up!
a. Peter's faith is at work here too.
b. We need to express to this world that we have faith in a God who still has power to do great things.
4. This man received something far better than just a few days worth of money for food, he walked for the first time in his life, and thus was able to hold down a job and receive an income the rest of his life!
a. But the most important thing this man found was the revelation of who Jesus is!
b. He becomes lost in the joy of having had an encounter with Christ.
c. How grateful he was that two of Christ's disciples were willing to stop from their routine and introduce him to the Christ!
5. What if they had just continued their routine that day? How many lives
have we passed in our routine schedules possibly causing some to have missed an
encounter with Christ?
C. Real Lesson! 3:8-10, Rev. 3:8
1. The first thing this man does is go to Church to worship!
a. He does not just think of his own good fortune, but finds himself in God's house worshipping and praising the Lord!
b. He has found Christ as both his healer and his Lord, the Temple and
worship will never be the same again!
ILLUS: When the heart is afire, some sparks will fly out of the
mouth. -- Thomas Fuller,
Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3.
2. It wouldn't hurt once in a while if our hearts were ablaze with such joy and excitement over Christ ... after all, the change of a heart toward God is the most important change that can happen to a person!
a. Is being a Christian just a mundane part of life for you?
b. The "joy of the Lord is our strength" the Bible states, how strong do you feel today?
3. It has always seemed strange to me that some Christians feel that
Church should be quiet and boring, even downright blah so people don't think we
are fanatics. We have the most exciting thing in eternity to celebrate, life
ILLUS: Evangelist Rowland Hill was once walking by a gravel pit outside of town when he saw three laborers caught in a landslide. He began calling for help so lustily that his voice was heard in the village a mile away! No one questioned his urgent cry in that emergency, but many denounced him as a fanatic when he shouted zealous hallelujahs in his messages, and raised his voice to warn sinners.
If Christ and His salvation are as meaningful
to you as they should be, you will be impelled at times to exclaim
spontaneously, "Amen! Praise the Lord!"
a. When Christ knocked on the door of this man's heart, he opened it.
b. He always will when we open the door for Him.
II. SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITIES! 3:11-26
A. Receptive Listeners! 2:11-12
1. There was no possibility of any rational explanation here except that in Jesus' name this man had been healed!
a. Everyone in town had known this man for over 40 years (see Acts 4:22)
b. Having been lame from birth, any other explanation was impossible!
c. He had been there every day probably for the better part of his life!
d. Nothing else had helped this man before.
e. He had not been a follower of Jesus until this healing took place!
2. His healing opened a door for ministry that Peter and John could never have expected as they came that day to the Temple of God.
3. A changed life can created a receptive audience where none existed
ILLUS: Patrick Reynolds has signed on to help the American Lung
Association's anti-smoking campaign. So what? He is the grandson of the founder
R. J. Reynolds. Reason -- to "make up for the damage my family has
4. One of most effective ministry tools we have next to Scripture is our testimony!
a. Peter and John didn't have to force the issue of Christ as Lord, the people came running to them because of this lame man's testimony of God's power.
b. We do need to be sure that our lives reflect the changing power of Christ so it can be used to minister to others.
c. The opportunity created by God's power was not going to be lost to
Peter's preaching about salvation. Peter realized that miracles are not just for
show, they are for demonstrating the power of Christ's salvation.
B. Resurrected Lord! 3:13-16
1. Notice that Peter does not spend a great deal of time on the miracle of healing as much as he does on drawing attention to the resurrected Christ that brought it about!
a. Spectacular miracles are not the focus of Peter's preaching here, he does not offer a "miracle night" if everyone comes to a future service, there are no plans to tour with the former lame beggar, Peter puts the emphasis where it was intended by God, on the resurrected Christ and this crowd's need of salvation!
b. All miracles are granted in order to present the gospel, not to laud a man who is a miracle worker! - Note: Peter and John do everything to remove focus off of them and how they were used and did everything to steer the crowd toward Christ! This should be the pattern for all ministers today, even those who witness great miracles through their ministry!
2. Peter is very sensitive to the fact that this crowd could easily get lost in the lame man's miracle and miss the intended message of faith in Christ!
a. The crowd needed to have their faith placed in the right place.
b. It is NOT enough TO HAVE FAITH, it must be placed in the right
ILLUS: You drive your car over the George Washington Bridge with perfect faith that it will hold you, and you arrive safely on the other side.
With just as good faith you may drive onto some
wooden bridge over a country stream, but if the boards are decayed you will be
let down into the stream. It is not your sincerity or your faith that keeps you
safe. It was the object of your faith that made the difference. If you place all
the faith in the world in a religious system, you will be lost. But the smallest
amount of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ assures your salvation (Acts 3:16).
-- Donald Grey Barnhouse,
Bible Truths Illustrated (Keats Publishing, 1979), p. 27.
3. When Christ does something unusual, do we use it to draw people to
Christ, do we seize every opportunity God gives us to draw people to Christ, or
do we get lost on the unusual event?
C. Repentance & Life 3:17-26
1. Peter uses the healing to try to show the crowd that they don't need to simply be amazed at what happened to this man, but that they too could have a dramatic thing happen to them, something even greater than this man's healing, their hearts could be completely healed!
2. Christ makes everything different, and that door can open to them too if they are willing to see what is really important in life.
3. Sometimes God uses dramatic means to shift the focus of our attention
off of what we think is important to what is really important!
ILLUS: There's a true story that comes from the sinking of the Titanic. A frightened woman found her place in a lifeboat that was about to be lowered into the raging North Atlantic. She suddenly thought of something she needed, so she asked permission to return to her stateroom before they cast off. She was granted three minutes or they would have to leave without her.
She ran across the deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle. She raced through the gambling room with all the money that had rolled to one side, ankle deep. She came to her stateroom and quickly pushed aside her diamond rings and expensive bracelets and necklaces as she reached to the shelf above her bed and grabbed three small oranges. She quickly found her way back to the lifeboat and got in.
Now that seems incredible because thirty
minutes earlier she would not haven chosen a crate of oranges over even the
smallest diamond. But death had boarded the Titanic. One blast of its awful
breath had transformed all values. Instantaneously, priceless things had become
worthless. Worthless things had become priceless. And in that moment she
preferred three small oranges to a crate of diamonds.
a. If this crowd failed to see what Christ was saying to them in this healing, they could miss eternity!
b. The door of ministry was wide open, but the crowd would have to decide if they will respond correctly.
c. So do we!!
4. How has ministry been going for you lately, have you gotten lost in the routines of life and missed the needs around you?
5. Are we seizing the opportunities Christ affords us to minister, do we take such moments and present the Gospel when God opens such a door for us to do so?
6. The message is clear: Ministry is the call of every Christian, and
Christ is waiting to save the lost ... let's give Him the opportunity to do
great things as we make ourselves available in our busy schedules to proclaim
the Gospel of Christ.
CONCLUSION: Some of the greatest ministry opportunities come from the routines of our lives - if we are watching for them! There is no reason for any Christian to fail to minister when they see a need, what we may lack in material resources we possess in spiritual resources, but we need to act in faith! By faith let us seize the ministry opportunities to witness about God's salvation. He has set before us an open door - always!