Summary: This sermon focuses on Acts 4 but covers chapters 2-4 as it shows how the Christian life goes in a cycle from Spiritual Fulfillment to Ministry to Opposition to Decision whether to quit or continue on back to Spiritual Fulfillment.
A Virtuous Cycle
During Superbowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.
When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives a simple, "Thank you."
But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for years. He says, "If I may ask, what was in that package after all?"
She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, "Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds."
I think our church is like that commercial. We have the power of the Holy Spirit at our disposal, but we do not use that power enough to worship, teach the word, love one another and minister to people.
But we can if we will learn the Cycle of the Holy Spirit.
A cycle is when a circular series of events with one leading to another, leading to another, leading to another, leading back to the first again. For example the way the seasons move is a cycle. Spring, Summer, Fall and then Winter show a cycle of birth, growth, death, and dormancy. Then it all starts over again.
The way a Christian grows has often been compared to a roller coaster. But I think it is more like a cycle. We see this cycle repeat itself over and over again in the life of the early church as they are filled with the spirit and then a cycle of events returns them to a renewal of that filling.
Acts 2-4 is a stretch of scripture where we see that.
Retell story from healing to arrest to acquittal and celebration of believers.
Cycle: Holy Spirit comes upon us.
The first step is the Holy Spirit coming upon us. This happened for the early believers way back in chapter 2. They waited for Him to reveal Himself and on Pentecost He did just that bringing new life to the believers.
Do you believe God can bring the dead to life again? They do in Death Valley.
Death Valley may no longer deserve its name. Normally the hottest and driest place in North America, this desert area in California has experienced the wettest year in a century. As a result, colorful wild flowers are in bloom. “Vast fields of desert gold poppy, Eschscholzia glyptosperma, desert star, Monoptilon bellioides, evening primrose and phacelia have sprouted in the usually barren moonscape, which includes the lowest point in the Western hemisphere.”
Heavy rains have resulted in disaster for other parts of California through flooding and mudslides. But the rainwater has brought the desert to life. Referring to the explosion of color, a spokesman for the Theodore Payne Foundation said, “2005 is a year likely to be remembered as the wildflower show of a lifetime.
I believe God can bring the dead to life, but he won’t do it without our participation. It takes us being willing to make ourselves ready just the way the disciples did.
[Illustration of a glass of dirty water. Dumping it out is not enough. You have to clean it out and then fill it with clean water.]
Right now we are filled with things that are not that bad and probably don’t seem to be destroying your life.
Young families - activities, stuff
Youth - entertainment, friends
Seniors - fears
Clean it out and let the Holy Spirit fill you.
Cycle: We minister in His power.
After the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, they responded by ministering. First they preached on Pentecost, but chapter three showed how they continued this. And after this story they continued it.
If we are not ministering in the power of the Spirit, we are ignoring our purpose and the whole reason we are here. We begin to live like the man in the FedEx commercial, with the power of the Holy Spirit at our disposal but we fail to let him use us and we become stagnant.
Do you know what happens when a person becomes stagnant as a believer? They get bored because they are not busy ministering. As a result they become opposition. Instead of supporting the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the oppose it because Satan uses them instead of the Spirit. We are like a vacuum, we cannot go unfulfilled. So if the Holy Spirit is not filling your actions, then Satan will.