Summary: Exposition of Acts 9:32-43 regarding Peter’s ministry in Lydda and Joppa healing the sick and raising the dead
Text: Acts 9:32-43, Title: Effective Personal Ministry, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/10/08, AM
A. Opening illustration: In all the recent church growth and development books a common thread that runs through them is how to get all the members in your church to be ministers and involved in ministry—to move people out of the mentality that one can be a church member simply to receive, and to pay some staff to do ministry. Some have decided not to have traditional staff titles, some have changed traditional ministries, some have a system of classes to move through toward ministry, so require you to have a ministry to be a member, some use SHAPE. And yet, still today, we struggle to accomplish it.
B. Background to passage: Our former fisherman turned foundational stone in the church now is mobile moving to and fro outside of Jerusalem. And what we see is not him ministering to the masses only, but to individuals and to churches. This is a perfect model for us—all of us. First the realization and decision must be made that you are called into ministry. (And there is a distinct call to what we might designate as proclamation ministry) But we are all sent out to minister and serve as was Jesus. Therefore, you and I must be about the business of identifying our primary field of mission, and then deciding how to reach them.
C. Main thought: in these two incidents in Peter’s life we see four keys to effective personal ministry.
A. Availability (v. 32, 38)
1. It’s a cliché I know, but God is all about your availability rather than your ability. Peter was not fishing. He was not cheerleading, hunting, or even preparing sermons, he was out and about waiting for God to guide him to the next ministry opportunity. An he was actively involved in ministry. He was checking on churches and caring for “the saints” as a practice. But he wasn’t so tied to a schedule that ministry couldn’t be worked in.
2. Eph 5:16, Col 4:5, Matt 6:33,
3. Illustration: illustration about the seminary students in a hurry that stepped over a man in need to go and give a talk about the Good Samaritan, Erika and I were just talking the other day about how non-stop ministry is for us, especially on Sunday-Monday, Terry Little shared a photograph with us in the conference last week of himself as a young man with a birddog and his goals and ambitions at the time,
4. And I know that we live in a “busy” age. But we must do the work of evaluating what is really important. I talked the other night about developing a wartime mentality. Talk about soldiers carrying everything they need and not carrying things that are not important to the mission. We must begin to ask the kingdom question of our activities. Is this thing furthering the kingdom of God? Is this activity holding me back from ministry? Is this forcing me to choose regularly between it and God? And if it is work, we must ask the question about our use of resources that is driving the long hours. Are you paying for things that you really don’t “need.” Tell the story of Piper’s 12 year old car that got wrecked and they went and bought a 10 year old replacement for the insurance money check of $2300. Do you have a wartime mentality related to resources and priorities? Is your life truly a kingdom life? Are the activities that you are doing producing eternal results? Maybe you need to stop some things; it won’t kill you or your children?
B. Sensitivity (v. 33, 39)
1. Even while going about his busy schedule of ministry related tasks, Peter is sensitive enough to the moving of the Spirit to stop what he is doing and go a different direction. In the first incident he is checking on the saints, and sees or senses a need with an unbeliever. In the second incident, he is ministering to believers in one town and receives a request to go to another town, and arises and goes.
3. Illustration: “Our spirit is released according to the degree of our brokenness. The one who has accepted the most discipline is the one who can best serve. The more one is broken, the more sensitive he is.” -Nee
4. As believers, we are the incarnation of the body of Christ now. We must be the hands and feet of Jesus. We must look for tragedy. Embrace it as the gateway to blessing. We must continually renew our minds to the truth that we are servants of our Master, Jesus, first, not of our boss, or sports team, or our bass boat. I was told this week that I was the first pastor that has told you that it is OK to be around unbelievers. But how are we to be sensitive to their needs if we don’t know what they are. The church must be in the world, although not of it, lest we completely lose touch with the realm of the unbeliever. And of course, we must maintain a closeness to Jesus and purity before Him in order to hear the moving of the Spirit. Pray that the Spirit would open your eyes to ministry needs daily. Pray that you would be given the courage needed to step up in the hour needed. How many do we pass by each week that need Christ to work through you in their lives. That feeling that something is undone.