Summary: This expository sermon series is adapted from Max Lucado's book, Out Live Your Life, and credit for most the series belong to him. Outlines are original. In Acts 3, we learn to Share the Work, See the Wounded, and Serve the Weak.
Made to Make a Difference: Acts 3
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 7/3/2011
This series is inspired by and portions adapted from Max Lucado’s Out Live Your Life.
The very first followers of Jesus weren’t what you might expect. None of them had any seminary training. They didn’t belong to the religious elite or sit at the tables of governors and kings. They were common folk. Most of them had blue collars and calloused hands, and there’s no evidence that Jesus choose them because they were smarter or nicer than the guy next door. The one thing they had going for them was the willingness to take a step when Jesus said, “Follow me.” If you think you fit that description, then congratulations. God changes the world through ordinary folks like you.
In Acts 2, we witness the origins of a globe-changing movement called Christianity. This movement was propelled along by ordinary men and women who relied on the power of the Holy Spirit, who related to the people in a way they could understand, and who continually pointed the world to Jesus—the author and originator of it all. They knew that their lives mattered and that they were made to make a difference.
As we reach the third chapter of the book of Acts, it begins with the compelling story of events surrounding a seemingly insignificant beggar outside the temple gates. Let me read this story in entirety before we move on:
One day Peter and John went to the Temple at three o'clock, the time set each day for the afternoon prayer service. There, at the Temple gate called Beautiful Gate, was a man who had been crippled all his life. Every day he was carried to this gate to beg for money from the people going into the Temple. The man saw Peter and John going into the Temple and asked them for money. Peter and John looked straight at him and said, "Look at us!" The man looked at them, thinking they were going to give him some money. But Peter said, "I don't have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you. By the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, stand up and walk!" Then Peter took the man's right hand and lifted him up. Immediately the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk. He went into the Temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. All the people recognized him as the crippled man who always sat by the Beautiful Gate begging for money. Now they saw this same man walking and praising God, and they were amazed. They wondered how this could happen. (Acts 3:1-10 NCV)
Here in this brief narrative of early church life, we discover three more practical principles that will help us live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did. The first of these life-applicable lessons is to share the work.
• SHARE THE WORK
That’s what Peter and John did. Notice the first phrase of that first verse again: “Peter and John were going up together to the temple” (Acts 3:1 HCSB). Peter and John were practicing what preschoolers call the buddy system. In fact, all of the early Christians made teamwork a principle for everyday living. It’s a lesson they learned months earlier from Jesus himself. Back in Luke 10, he sent his followers out in pairs to all the towns and places he was planning to visit.
The Jerusalem church was a hodgepodge of believers from a variety of backgrounds, with different personalities, and sometimes conflicting opinions, yet they found a way to work together. They understood that none of us can do alone what all of us can do together. And because they did, lives were changed.
And as you and I learn from them, the same will happen.
This weekend 15 people from our church traveled more than 350 miles to Joplin, Missouri to help families displaced by the F5 tornado that wreaked destruction a few weeks ago. As well-intentioned as our volunteers are, they wouldn’t even know where to begin if we weren’t partnering with College Heights Christian Church. By God’s hand they were spared from the devastation of the tornado, and you can see why. Through good management and decisive action, College Heights has transformed their church campus into a distribution center for tornado victims—receiving, sorting and distributing donations, feeding thousands of people, and organizing teams to clean debris and rebuild homes. Volunteers from all over the mid-west have partnered together in the name of Jesus to make a difference—to literally change the landscape of the city of Joplin. None of us can do alone, what all of us can do together.