Summary: It was not so much about what Peter could do FOR God, but much more about what God was doing THROUGH Peter. It’s the same with us.
“More tea Vicar?” Would you like another piece of cake Vicar? Ten years ago I never dreamt that I would be on the receiving end of phrases like that, even if they do get said jokingly. When Peter headed out from Jerusalem and “travelled about the country” (9:32) tea and cake were not his priorities! Yes, he was on a tour visiting Christian believers around the country, but his visits were not just for socialising.
When Peter went on his travels, no doubt receiving very warm hospitality, God used him to encourage and teach the Church, and to draw new people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I love socialising! At Trinity College Bristol, as some of you know I did a 6 week placement at St. Michael’s Church, Stoke Gifford. Another student, Tim, did his placement at the same time and when we were chatting about our placements he said, “I’ve drunk so much tea these last 6 weeks. When do I get my bladder extension?”
I know that God has called me to this place at this time to encourage you, to teach the Christian faith and to join with you in pointing other people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not to get drunk on tea!
Something really important we can learn from today’s Bible event is that God can do great things through those who follow Jesus. The main thing is not what we can do for God, but what God can do through us.
When Peter met the man called Aeneas (9:34) he said, “Jesus Christ heals you.” Peter didn’t heal Aeneas. The risen Lord Jesus Christ healed Aeneas.
Tabitha was a wonderful Christian lady “who was always doing good and helping the poor” (9:36). She had just died (9:37) but because Peter was in the area the Church asked for him to come urgently (9:38). When he was brought to Tabitha Peter got down on his knees and prayed (9:40).
The main thing was not what Peter could do for God, but what God could do through Peter; and for us the main thing is not what we can do for God, but what God can do through us.
Aeneas was able to get up from his bed for the first time in 8 years. That’s roughly 3000 days confined to his bed. We don’t know what he actually did during those 3000 days but even after he was healed it was not primarily about what Aeneas could now do for God. It was more about what God would do through Aeneas because when people saw him they turned to the Lord (9:35).
When Tabitha was resuscitated she was able to return to the work which God was carrying out through her; but just as important was what happened when Peter presented her to the Church alive (9:41). “This became known all over Joppa (modern day Jaffa) and many people believed in the Lord” (9:42).
The healings were brought about by the invisible, risen Lord Jesus Christ, through Peter.
I’m not confined to bed but I am currently not able to do all that I would like to do. Strangely, as I was planning and writing down that very thought whilst sitting on a park bench, a rather stressed woman with two young children walked past. I heard her say, “I just haven’t got time to do everything I need to do;” and a smile crossed my face!
In his second letter to the church in Corinth (12:7) St. Paul refers to a ‘thorn’ in his flesh. We don’t know exactly what it was but he prayed that God would take it away (12:8). It hampered him, weighed him down; yet he wasn’t defeated by it. There are times when my ongoing neck problem feels like the proverbial ‘thorn’ in my flesh. An irritation which hampers me; but God said this to St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9).
In reply Paul said, “When I am weak, than I am strong.” You see, it’s not primarily about what we can do for God, but what God can do through us.
Yesterday here at Christ Church we celebrated 17 years of Anvil Trust with a Praise and Puppets Party. I should imagine that anyone involved with Anvil Trust who looks back over the last 20 years would not have imagined 20 years ago that the current situation of 3 and soon to be 4 houses would happen. Even with my very limited knowledge of the story, it seems to me that it is has been not so much about what people have done for God, but what God has done through people, especially the Trustees.
So how about us? As we serve God by serving other people it is less about what we can do for God, and much more about what God wants to do through us. Do you know what he wants to do through you? Do you realise what he is already doing through you?