Morning. David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church.
We’ve been working our way through the Book of Acts the past 5 weeks and we are continuing with that today.
The Book of Acts is the story of the beginnings of the Christian church
And thus, it’s a great book for us as a church to study.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but we are only 13 months old as a church. We are in the very beginnings of our ministry of doing incredible things in the city of Blaine and beyond.
And here you are, on the ground floor of it all. Pretty cool.
It’s going to be neat for us to look back to times like now as the years past by and see what God has done. And to know that we got to see so much of it.
Yet, when you’re young, like we are as a church (we’re just moving from infant into toddler stage), you’ve got a lot to learn.
And there is a lot we can learn from the early church.
The things they figured out right away, and their growing pains as they got started.
And one of the things I think we have to make sure to make note of as we observe the early church in their infancy, in their toddler stage, is that they had an incredible amount of reliance on God.
And we’re going to see that today in our passage
And I point this out because I think this is a critical thing for OUR church.
Because I think, and I worry, that it could become easy for us to become self-reliant.
It’s like in Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul lists all these reasons for why he could boast: His background (tribe, Hebrew), his zeal for the law, the things he had done.
And, as a church plant, from just a statistical standpoint, we could feel quite good about ourselves and what has happened and could do the same.
80% of church plants never make it. They fail.
Of those that do, it often takes 3-5 years to become financially self-sufficient. We did it in 6 months.
And even of those that make it, they are often just hanging on. We, are a growing church, and at the year 1 mark we are at the same place attendance-wise as our two largest churches in our network were.
So, sure, we could sit back and say, “WOW. You know what? We are awesome. We are a part of a successful church plant that just started from scratch. That’s awesome. We are awesome.”
And we could do that, but if we do, we won’t be here in 5 years, and even if we were, we won’t be making a difference w/ that attitude
Listen, we relied on God to get us this far, and we are going to continue to rely on Him from here on out.
Sometimes success has a way of tricking churches into thinking they are their own greatest resource.
Wrong. HE is our greatest resource. And that’s what we see in our passage today
Just to catch you up to speed in Acts: The Holy Spirit has come down and empowered the believers, they are growing like crazy, and now they are meeting in homes and growing spiritually together. And that’s where we join our story today….
(Acts 3:1-11) – NIV
1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
Ok, pretty crazy. I never like it when I don’t understand a lot of the references in the Bible, and it’s not a major, major thing, but I think it IS helpful to explain some of these references. (The gate called beautiful, temple courts, Solomon’s Colonnade)
SHOW TEMPLE MODEL PICTURE
(Explain Gate called beautiful, going into temple courts, Solomon’s colonnade)
The story continues…
(Acts 3:12-26) - NIV
12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, 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?13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 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. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people. 24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
If I can, I’d like us to study this backwards today. Let’s look at the second half of chapter 3 first, and then I won’t to focus on what happens in the beginning of the chapter.
After everyone comes running to Solomon’s colonnade, Peter again addresses the crowd.
And just like he did in Acts chapter 2, he’s got everyone’s attention.
And I just want to point out, that he does the exact same thing he did when we talked about his sermon 2 weeks ago.
If you were with us then, I don’t know if you remember or not, but we put on the screen the 3 things that Peter did. And again, he does the exact same thing when he addresses the crowd
PUT UP PETER’S 3 THINGS SLIDE
Firstly, he connects with what’s going on it their life. (He talks about the beggar that was just healed.) He doesn’t just have everyone run to him and say, “OK, now that you’re all here, let me continue teaching on the theological concept of substitutional model of the atonement!”
Secondly, he reviews the story of Jesus again. AND, he uses Scripture and rational arguments to back up his points.
And thirdly, he then asks the people to repent. To ask for forgiveness, turn their lives around, and give their lives to Jesus.
And I just wanted to quickly point this out again because the leaders are going to CONTINUE to speak just like this in Acts, and thus, it’s even more important that we are asking ourselves this:
“When we’re talking about God with our friends…our neighbors…our co-workers….when we have opportunities…are we talking like this?”
Are we connecting with them, telling them about who Jesus is, and asking them to accept his incredible offer of forgiveness?
Or are we too sidetracked on something else? How he can make them happy, or his stances on moral issues, or some denominational view.
Are we focused on what the early Christians were focused on?
Good questions to ask.
WORKING IN TEAMS
One of the things we see early on in this passage is that the disciples worked in teams.
4 times in the first 11 verses, the passage mentions “Peter and John.”
This sort of team thinking continues throughout ACTS…
Acts 2: Peter stands up with the 11
Later on : Paul and Barnabas always travel together. When they split up, they form new teams. Jesus sent out the disciples TWO BY TWO
Teams are important. It can’t be a one-man or one-woman show. There’s still a leadership structure. We definitely see this in acts. But teams work together.
We see this principle work to success in the world of sports.
The most successful teams, the teams that win championships are almost always teams that work well together.
It’s really rare to find a team that wins a championship and find out that they just never even really like each other; they just came in and did their job.
No, the teams that win, learn to work together.
For instance, when the Timberwolves won the NBA championship in 2003…, ok, I lied, that never actually happened.
But you have to work together. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have.
You could have the four most talented people in your sport on the same team, but if they can’t work together, their talent is irrelevant.
I don’t know if you follow basketball or not, but good example for this is the 2004 Lakers.
And it’s no different in the Christian community.
It’s impressive to watch how the early disciples worked together and didn’t let it get to their heads.
It’s not like John stood up and said, “Hey, Peter, why don’t you sit this sermon out. I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that they’d really like to have me get in on the action more, so…”
No. They were a team. It can’t just be about one pastor, and everyone else comes to hear the show and go home.
If we’re going to change this world, we have to do it as a team!
So let me ask you, “What team are you on?” Are you working with other people to change this world for Christ? Are you just kinda doing your own thing?
Churches have to be about team.
We launched this church with a TEAM of people.
A team of people to do worship, a team of people to start our incredible children’s ministry, a team of people to do administrative work, a team of people to do marketing, a team of people to figure out our equipment and set-up, a team of people to lead our house groups, and the list goes on.
The early church didn’t grow by thousands and thousands and thousands just because of Peter and John were good speakers. It was individual people reaching out to people. Working in team.
Yet, sometimes today we think the opposite way: “We’ll just change our community by having a church w/ a good speaker.”
And since we’re being so nostalgic today about looking back at the launch of this church, I do want to mention to you that next week, we are doing a special switch-up.
One of the main reasons we were able to start this church was due to the massive generosity of our two parent churches enCompass Church in Vadais Heights and Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park
Kevin Thomas, who is the Lead Pastor of encompass Church is going to be here speaking next week, and I am going to be at encompass church in Vadnais Heights.
And one of the reasons we are doing it is to keep the value of church planting and our desire to have our churches help start more churches in front of our people.
Plus, Kevin is a really gifted speaker, so it will be a special treat for you
But even then, that is another example of working in team. Churches even working in team together.
And we work in teams because, WE as a team, know we have something to offer people. And it’s really nothing special about us. It’s something special that is now in us. It’s something we know. It’s someONE we know!
WHAT WE CAN OFFER
Look back one more time at Peter and John’s exchange with the beggar:
(Acts 3:4-6) – NIV
4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
I absolutely love that line. “Silver or gold I do not have, BUT WHAT I DO HAVE, I give you.”
And then he heals the man in the name of Jesus
Almost every day we are surrounded by people who are looking for something. They are hurting. Life isn’t quite working out how they expected. It feels like there should be more… It feels like they are missing something…
And you know what most people are going to think they need?
Same thing as the beggar: Money. Stuff. Materials. Things they can touch, things they can see.
Interesting isn’t it? 2,000 years later, and in a middle-class suburb (not an area laden with beggars) people are still looking for the same old things: Money. Things. Material pleasures.
What did the beggar think he needed? Money.
Not because money was going to make him so happy, which we sometimes fall into the trap of, but because money was maybe going to help him maybe get a meal because he couldn’t walk to get a job and buy a meal
Money was going to provide for Him, and thus it felt like his MOST IMPORTANT NEED.
But what did he REALLY need?
He needed to walk again. He needed to KNOW God.
See, people today, often don’t know what they REALLY need either.
They think they need things to “work out,” to get a job again, to get a raise, to have a kid, to fix their marriage, to get married.
No, what they need, is Jesus Christ
The human race has a severe disability when it comes to discerning what it REALLY needs.
We can identify some of the things we need. Things that are second, third, or fourth on the list. But too often, people miss the most important need. The one that supplies ALL of our OTHER Needs.
And our job as people who’ve experienced the unmatched Goodness of God is to say, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I DO have, I give you”
Our job is to expand our friends and neighbor’s vision of what they really need.
Humans are often like a little child in line with their dad who thinks they NEED a toy from the check-out line to make them happy, and THAT toy that will solve all their problems for the day and make them happy!
But what will really make them happy? Bring them peace? Bring them to maturity and know love?
You know, there really is no direct correlation between how happy a child is and how many toys their father buys them.
But what does matter is how much their father loves them.
The happy child who grows up mature is not the child with the most toys, but the one with the most love from their parents.
But, we are like kids in the checkout. Thinking we need a trinket to make our pain go away, but we really just need to know the love of our Father.
And you don’t need to be rich to offer something to someone else.
You don’t need to be rich to make a difference.
You don’t need to be rich to change lives.
Because we’re not here to just offer people materials, we can do one better! We can offer them Jesus Christ!
Our job, like Peter’s, is to offer people something out of this world. Something they’ve never seen before.
Don’t get confused. Sometimes we think the best thing we can offer people are God’s blessings He’s given us.
Nope. Wrong. The best thing we can offer people is God.
Let me give an example. As the early church grew, leaders/teachers/pastors started to be supported by their church. We don’t know the exact timeline of this, but it happened really quickly.
Let’s say for arguments sake, Peter and John are now being supported financially by the Jerusalem church because they are full-time teaching and shepherding the church.
I imagine that they might have even had a conversation with each other talking about how wonderful it was, how much of a blessing it was from God, to now be supported by the church and not have to get up early and go fish for living.
So, let’s rewind. Let’s say, they’re walking to the temple, and the beggar calls out, “Sirs, do you have any spare money?”
And instead of how it really happened, Peter and John respond, “Why, yes we do! God has blessed us, let us transfer some of those blessings to you! Here are two gold coins!”
Giving God’s blessings to others is great, but it’ll never compare to actually giving them God.
And I’m not saying we shouldn’t give back to others what God has blessed us with. We should. Probably way more than we do. But, let us never forget that the best thing we could ever, ever, ever offer someone would be a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And NOTHING else even remotely compares to that.
It’s kind of like... say there’s a 26 year old guy whose been dating his girlfriend for 5 years. Say he gets a bonus at work. Now, there are some things he could give her with the bonus (a blessing). He could get her flowers, he could take her on a nice date, he could buy her a new necklace, but the best thing he could BUY her is what???? A ring!
And it’s kind of like that because the ring isn’t the easiest thing to give. It’s not the easiest thing to purchase, and it’s not the easiest thing to bring up in conversation.
It’s always easier to just go to the flower store or better yet, the discount flower section in CUB Foods, and get flowers.
But just because it’s easier, AND it’s good, doesn’t mean it’s the best.
Are you offering the people around you the best thing? Or just the second, third, or fourth best thing?
WE HAVE TO HAVE IT FIRST
We have the best thing in the world to offer people. No matter if you’re a brand new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for 50 years. No matter if you’re rich, poor, female, male, no matter your race, no matter what you do for living, every believer can tell another person about the best thing anyone could ever get!!
And we let people know about it by being so full of God in your life that He’s just spilling over.
BUT, let me give a word of Caution: We won’t have much to offer people if we too are seeking the material things instead of Him.
If we, like the beggar, are putting our first hope in the material things to make life work.
We won’t be able to offer God to others with any serious credibility if we can’t with integrity say that we have actually found life in Him and not in the silver and gold of our day
So, let me ask you…have you found life in Him?
Is He the first thing you could ever think of offering another person if you saw they were in need?
Is your life so full of God that He leaks out of you?
And if not, seek Him out.
Not only because we need Him, so WE can actually offer Him with passion to a dying world.
But seek Him because He (and His Word) is as the Psalms say “More precious than silver and gold
God is the greatest thing you could ever offer anyone, and the greatest thing God ever offered you was His Son.
His Son that not only gave his life to wipe away every sin you’ve ever done, but His Son that offered to be there for you when you are down/depressed, offered to provide for you when you don’t know where to turn, and offered to help when you don’t know what to do.
God is SO GOOD. Better than anything this earth could ever offer us. Let’s thank Him and praise Him for his goodness this morning.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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