6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermons

Summary: Look at every situation as a gospel opportunity.

Becoming Gospel-Centric

Acts 3:1-16

Rev. Brian Bill

November 2-3, 2019

Play IDOP video

Today we’re giving attention to the persecuted church. Let’s pray the persecuted will…

1. Sense God’s presence (Heb. 13:5)

2. Know the greater body of Christ is praying for them (2 Tim. 1:3)

3. Experience God’s comfort when persecuted (2 Thess. 2:16–17)

4. See God open doors to evangelism (Col. 4:3)

5. Boldly share the gospel (Acts 4:29)

6. Mature in their faith (Col. 1:28–29)

7. Be granted wisdom in covert ministry work (Acts 9:23–25)

8. Remain joyful amid suffering (Acts 5:41)

9. Forgive and love their persecutors (Matt. 5:44)

10. Be rooted in God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16–17)

Pray for the Persecuted

If you want to learn how to pray for the persecuted, we’ve posted four helpful resources on Sermon Extras, including the video we just watched.

In light of how so many Christians around the world are unable to gather together, I was humbled that approximately 700 people attended the Fall Festival of Fun on Thursday night! It was so packed it was difficult to move. At one point, all the parking spaces, included the 110 new spaces in our south lot were full! This event was multi-generational, multi-ethnic and many ministry contacts were made. One of our neighbors came and several Edgewood neighbors were here. I was pleased when a young boy in a wheelchair came and was able to use our new elevator to go to the lower level. One of my favorite comments was this, “Wow, this place has changed since I was here last Easter!”

When you see Sheila Kuriscak please give her props! If you served on Thursday night, can you raise your hand?

As we get ready to transition into our worship center, adult growth group space and the student center, it’s good for us to be reminded of a couple things.

• This is a place for people to meet with God. Because it is, we want to treat the facility with respect. Listen to what happened when Solomon dedicated the temple in 1 Kings 8:10-11: “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”

• This is a place for people to bring their messes. As a result, things will get dirty, drinks will spill and items will break. The only way to have everything perfect would be for the building to remain empty of people. Proverbs 14:4 says: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean…”

Let’s go back to the video we just watched. Incredibly, Pastor Han was able to share the gospel and disciple 1,000 North Korean believers! His ministry was primarily one-on-one, not to the crowds. He saw each individual as made in the image of God and therefore worthy of respect and in need of the gospel.

In our passage from Acts 3, we will see how Pastor Peter and Pastor John, while gathering for prayer, saw one person in great need. Verse 1 gives the setting: “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” The ninth hour is 3:00 p.m. These disciples of Jesus had very different personalities. Peter was a doer and motivator, while John was a dreamer and a mystic. Peter was outgoing and opinionated; John was an introvert and self-effacing. In spite of their differences, they both ran to the empty tomb and now they are prayer partners.

At the beginning of the Christian church, the first followers of Jesus were Jewish. It was natural for them to continue gathering for prayer in the temple at specified times.

Here’s our main idea: Look at every situation as a gospel opportunity. It’s been awhile since I’ve preached a first-person sermon so I’m going into character right now. I’ll be back to share some application steps.

Imagine I’m the man described in Acts 3:2: “And a man lame from birth was being carried…” I encourage you to follow along in your Bible or on the app as I share what happened to me. The Scripture will also be up on the screen.

People called me Levi the Lame. I guess that’s better than Lame Levi. I was unable to walk or run since birth because of a congenital condition. I was excluded from worship services because I was broken and blemished. Some thought I was cursed, that somehow my condition was a result of the sin of my parents or my own. I didn’t have many friends and when I did go somewhere someone had to carry me.

When I was older some of my friends would carry me to the temple every day and place me right next to the most beautiful entrance. Actually, that’s what it was called – the Beautiful Gate. The doors were made of Corinthian brass complete with exquisite carvings and detailed workmanship. I loved looking at the massive door but always felt ugly and unwanted next to this beautiful place. Frankly, I picked this spot because a lot of people went through this gate to pray. My hope was that they would be moved to toss me a shekel or two because they were thinking about God.

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