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Summary: This sermon series is adapted from Max Lucado's book, Out Live Your Life, and credit for most the series belong to him. This message focuses on what they first Christians believed and how it affected them. They believed Jesus is Risen, Jesus is Ruling, an

Made to Make a Difference: Acts 1

Scott Bayles, pastor

Blooming Grove Christian Church: 6/19/2011

There is an old story about an elderly man walking the beach at dawn. He noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked the boy what he was doing. The youngster said that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,” countered the man. “How can your effort make any difference?” The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and, throwing it into the safety of the waves, replied, “It makes a difference to this one!”

Life can feel a lot like that beach sometimes, can’t it? As Christians, God has called each one of us to change the world. You and I were made to make a difference. But when we look at the world we live in, it seems so impossible. Many of us look at the moral condition of our nation and it breaks our hearts. We want to do something about it, but we wonder what difference one person can make. We consider the demoralizing times in which we live. Nearly 2 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, 24,000 children die every day from preventable diseases. Earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes devastate neighborhoods and nations. And in the midst of it all, here we stand. You want your life to matter. You want to make a difference. But you take a look around you and you feel that little boy standing on the beach.

How can your effort make any difference?

I have 120 answers to that question. As we open the first pages of the Book of Acts, we find a gathering of believers huddled together on the second floor of a quaint Jerusalem building. These men and women weren’t politicians, athletes, or celebrities, or Nobel-prize winners; rather they were small town, simple folk—fishermen, tax collectors and soccer moms—120 of them in all. Yet these ordinary men and women became part of a movement that exploded like a just-opened fire-hydrant from the streets of Jerusalem and spilled into the ends of the earth. The Jewish authorities of the first-century accused them of having “turned the world upside down” (Act 17:6).

How did they do it? More importantly, can it be done again?

A wise rabbi named Gamaliel, when he heard about what was being accomplished by this small sect of Jesus-followers, warned his fellow Pharisees: “I tell you, do not take any action against these men. Leave them alone! If what they have planned and done is of human origin, it will disappear, but if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them” (Acts 5:38-39 GNT).

Each and every page of the book of Acts announces: “God is afoot.”

He still is. We have to believe that. It was the disciples’ belief in God and faith in Jesus that spurred the Christian movement into the districts of Rome, the streets of Paris and ports of Athens. If we truly believe what they believed and do what they did, we can make a difference.

Throughout this summer, I’d like to invite you to ponder the stories of the Jerusalem church with me as told in the Book of Acts. This tiny movement grew into a world-changing force. How did they do it? What can we learn from their examples? Before we go any further though, I want to highlight three simple beliefs they held and how those beliefs affected their priorities and passions.

• JESUS IS RISEN

First, they believed that Jesus is risen; this gave them a message! Luke starts the first chapter of Acts with these words: “The first book I wrote was about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up into heaven. Before this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the apostles he had chosen what they should do. After his death, he showed himself to them and proved in many ways that he was alive. The apostles saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:1-3 NCV).

Jesus is risen. He was crucified. He was buried. He rose from the dead. They saw it for themselves. They believed it. It changed everything. When the ground beneath the Old Rugged Cross was tinged red with the blood of God, all of Jesus’ followers were disheartened and disillusioned. I think the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, spoke for everyone when they said, “We had hoped that He was the one” (Luke 24:21 NIV).

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