Acts 3 – Kingdom Opportunities

AUDIO [25:23]

Pastor Dan – Transcription
Thank you choir for setting up our time in the Scripture together so well.

You know, before we get started is anyone else notice that the Praise Team is sort of cramping my style a little bit here… they’re trying to keep me from pacing back and forth, up here… slide this stuff over a little bit. (Laughter).

Well if you’ve been around Kirkmont for the last couple weeks you know that we began a new sermon series a couple weeks ago through the Book of Acts.  Acts is a New Testament book; it’s the fifth book in the New Testament; and we’re walking through it, dealing with one chapter at a time.

Two weeks ago we did some stuff from Acts chapter one, and last week some stuff from Acts chapter two, and now we’re going to be getting into Acts chapter three.

And here’s the basic gist of what we’ve been talking about in case you haven’t been with us lately, or maybe you were here but not paying attention, or something like that (laughter)… but here’s the basic gist–the Cliff Notes of the last couple weeks.

DividingLine_829d5babc99647ff972ae861ed33ab77

review3

We’re talking about this… The Kingdom of God.  And if that’s a new expression to you what we mean by the Kingdom of God is this:

Imagine life where you are living in a kingdom where God is the king. And what we mean by that is just imagine living life where everything that you experience, and everything you don’t experience, is exactly the way that God intended it to be.

That’s a pretty decent description of the Kingdom of God.

Kingdom-of-God.jpg

You understand right but that’s not what we’re experiencing right now.  The life that we experience right now is not everything that God intended it to be.

It was that way at the beginning, it will be that way someday again.  But it is not that way now.  And the reason we’re talking about the Kingdom of God is because the Bible tells us that when Jesus arrives on the scene.  He ushered in the Kingdom of God.  He began to reverse the consequences and the effects of sin, and usher in the Kingdom of God making the life that people experience the way that God intended it to be.

So when He healed the blind man, He ushered in the Kingdom of God because blindness was not a part of God’s design. When he raised the dead he was ushering in the Kingdom of God because death was not a part of God’s design.

Those are the types of things we mean by the Kingdom of God. And what we’re talking about, as far as it pertains to you and I, is that

Jesus began that effort.  And the Scripture tells us that he promises to complete it when he comes back again some day.

But what does that mean for you and I in the inbetween?

DividingLine_829d5babc99647ff972ae861ed33ab77

And we are discussing the reality that Jesus did not say, ‘Sit back and be idle until I come back.’  But instead, He handed the work of advancing the Kingdom of God to His Church and said.

“this is it… this is your task… this is your mission… this is your purpose, and I will empower you with the Spirit of God.

We are called to be a people living with the Spirit of God, and for the Kingdom of God.

h2_lets-begin

And I want to suggest this morning that if we were ever going to live FOR the Kingdom of God,

we need to start seeing the Kingdom Opportunities that God puts in front of us on a daily basis.

And for us to start seeing the Kingdom opportunities I believe we’re going to start needing to have some Kingdom Goggles.

photo-rs101.jpg

Here’s what I mean by Kingdom Goggles… when I was in and college I went to Malone College in Canton Ohio, and I hung out with a group of guys… and we were so immature… and we were the on the soccer team, and I think athletes were always less mature than the rest of the students…

And we had this thing where… I shouldn’t even be sharing this… (LAUGHTER), but I just want you to know that I didn’t participate in any way at all… ahh… (LAUGHTER).

But we had this thing where if a guy saw a girl, and he found her to be attractive, and he would say “Oh… look, she’s pretty,” or something like that.

But if his friends disagreed, and had a different opinion they would say. “Oh, you’re suffering from Malone Goggles.”

And what they meant by that was, you know… you’ve been in this Malone world for so long that you kind of lost perspective of what ‘pretty’ is in the real world out there (Laughter).

Before we move on, how many of you think that I might have benefitted from Malone Goggles.. I mean, my wife must have had her Molone Goggles on when she said yes to me (Laughter)… thank you… so they were purposeful.

So what we mean by that is “goggles that change the way you view everything”.

That was a negative illustration, but what we mean by Kingdom Goggles is, just imagine if you began to see life as exactly the way that God would have you see it from his perspective. 

It would change not only all of the ways that you view other people, but your own personal circumstances as well.

Kingdom Goggles

And I just want to let you know this morning, before we dive into our passage, that I think this passage, this concept, is relevant for everyone who’s here.

You know we’re living in a church age, particular churches with young pastors like myself, where everybody is talking about the next young family with kids that will come.

And the potential negative implication is that we send the communication to people who are of a different age group, that we don’t really think that they can have any Kingdom significance.

And I want to let you know, that’s not what I believe at all.  I believe that this passage, that this idea that if we were all to put on Kingdom Goggles, we would discover that God can have any one of us in this room do some really neat things for His Kingdom.

exp_curvy

Let’s dive into the passage of Scripture,

ACTS – CHAPTER THREE.

Again, we would love to have you open a Bible and turn their with us; or grab one from the pew.  But if not, we’ll have the Scripture on the screen as well.  If you’re here this morning and you don’t have a Bible, we always give away free Bibles; they’re in the back of our sanctuary when you leave you leave here this morning.

Here’s what the Scripture says,

Acts 3 – Peter Heals a Lame Beggar
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—

Some of you might recall from last week that Peter is one of the early Christians and we discussed last week, when this miracle happened among the hundred twenty people who were part of the early church, Peter really steps up and he speaks on their behalf.

So he’s the leader, or the pastor, or whatever you want to call him of the early church–he’s sort of that figure.  Now he and John says,  “We’re going up to the temple at the time of prayer.”

I found this sort of an interesting little piece of information, because here they are Jewish men who’ve become followers of Jesus Christ, and yet they haven’t completely, at this time, abandoned the whole idea of going to the synagogue, of going to the temple and worshipping through their Jewish history and Jewish tradition. They’re still going there at their time of prayer.

And so I think that helps realize that these men recognize that Jesus didn’t just arrive on the scene out of nowhere.  Right? …but he’s the fulfillment of the thirty nine books of the Old Testament; he’s the fulfilment of that. They were all speaking to Jesus’s arrival and they realize that.

So there’s not this major disconnect between our Old Testament and our New Testament–Jesus is the fulfillment of that.

And so here they are, they’re followers of Jesus Christ, and yet they’re still going to the temple at the time of prayer. Now eventually, Christ followers will get kicked out of the temple, so they kind of make their own churches… but at this time, they’re still going at the time of prayer; and at this time, it’s three in the afternoon…

Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful,

So he’s not completely paralyzed, but he’s crippled, he’s handicapped, he’s unable to carry himself.

Now I don’t know how you feel about who we should and shouldn’t help in this society when it comes to economics–that’s sort of a hot button politically.

But I hope one thing we can all agree upon, is that for people in our country who are born, this is all he’s ever known… in this type of state, we would love them to be able to have some assistance, and have them to have some sort of support, and some type of care.

But we can’t forget that, as we empathize with this man, that he was born before the time of welfare, or government assistance, or handicap procedures, or anything like that. I mean he’s left completely on is own to the mercy of society to care and to provide for him.

And apparently there was a group of people who weren’t able to meet all of his financial needs, but they cared about him enough that they carried him to the Temple entrance where they thought his financial needs could be met.

So they carried him there… and they brought him to the entrance gate called Beautiful.

Now the Temple, some of you know, was a large massive structure in Jerusalem, with multiple layers to it:

  • There was a layer for Gentile people who followed this God, but weren’t Jewish.
  • There was another court for Jewish women;
  • Another court for Jewish men…

It had all kinds of entrances, and as Jewish men they would have pretty much had access to any of the entrances.  We can’t pin down exactly where in the temple they are at this point.  But they’re traveling to prayer.  And this man’s been strategically placed by one of the entrances.

This makes sense… right? … in common day.  I mean this would be like someone just seeking help outside of one of our churches.  That seems kind of logical.

And they’re out there praying… and hopefully the preacher is talking about loving your neighbor and being generous and those kind of things, you know… kind of to get people on a “Spiritual High”… and right when they’re thinking along the lines of love and generosity

This man’s been placed there, and that concept of  “alms” for Jewish people, and their relationship with God was really a big deal.

And so here he is, he’s been placed here… and the Scripture tells us,

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.

This is nothing new he would have been asking just about anyone who came through for money. Though what Peter does is probably drastically different than what most people do…

Peter looked_straight_at_him,

See… Peter has his Kingdom Goggles onHe has the ability to see people and their circumstances through the Lens of God.

Lens of God

Peter stops and he does something that probably many of us have never done in our life.

When was the last time that you looked at a homeless person right in the eyes?

Don’t we do everything but that?

Don’t we do everything to avoid that reality… ?

  • When we’re stopped at a traffic light, and they’re standing on the street corner we fidget with radio… you know.
  • When we’re walking with someone and we see them coming up, we really look at our our friend that we’re with…

because we want to do anything we can to avoid what Peter does here. You see Peter doesn’t have our Goggles on; he doesn’t see the world like we’ve been trained to see the world.

He sees the world through Kingdom Eyes, and Scripture tells He looked straight at him.  I love Luke’s little added note… “so did John”.

as did John.

You know just in case we’re wondering about John’s character… John wasn’t grabbing Peter by the hand saying, “Let’s go, we don’t have time for this guy.”

John has his Kingdom Goggles on too.

But, clearly Peter’s the focal point.  And then the Scripture says this… not only does Peter look straight at him…

Then Peter said, “Look at us!”

Isn’t that an interesting thing that Peter had to say that, because the man had already asked them for money.

Which gives you the impression that he asked them in a way that was filled with the hopelessness… that he was he was asking them perhaps with his head down, not really expecting to get anything… or so full of shame that he was really not even looking at them.

He doesn’t even seem to realize that Peter and John have stopped, and are looking at him, so that Peter has to say, “Look at us.”

So now they’re making eye contact, and the Scripture says, “He expects at this point to get something from them.”… that makes sense.

So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them

So you can imagine, for a moment, his discouragement and his disappointment when Peter says,

“Silver or gold I do not have,

He had to be thinking.  “Well what did you stop for?”

Why are you staring at me?  Why am I having to stare at you? What’s this all about if all you’re going to do is tell me one more lame excuse as to why you can’t support me?”

Peter says, “Silver or gold I do not have,

Now you and I, we are trained to think skeptical of that answer, because everyone in this room has lied to someone who’s asked them for help, including myself.

We’ve told them we didn’t have any money. And we did.

So we immediately impose that on Peter… “Really”… and maybe he had absolutely no money.  Or maybe he had only the amount of money that he thought was necessary to take care of his needs… whatever it might be… there’s no reason for us to think skeptical of Peter’s character, or to question it. It doesn’t read that way at all.

We have nothing but to take him at his word; he did not have the financial means to help this person.

But the Scripture tells us this,

“… but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

You know when I read this passage, and perhaps you can relate with me… when I read it on one hand, it’s incredibly exciting… it’s enthusiastic… it’s encouraging.  Look at the power of God and what he can do for people, and how we can transform someone’s life–what an exciting passage.

But if I’m really honest there’s this other part of me that reads it and says,

Really?”

There’s this incredible doubt that creeps in and says, “Come on really? … I mean did this really happen?  

I’ve never seen that.  Did this really happen?”

fasten seat belt

And then when I work through my doubt, I discover that the source of my doubt is really personal insecurity.  Because the truth of the matter is that I’ve never done anything like what Peter does here.  And there’s a part of the passage that makes me feel very insecure about my faith, and my standing before God.

You can bring me those in your life who are wounded and who are hurting and I would love to pray for them.  But I have to tell you, I’ve never had someone come to me, and pray for them, and to my knowledge walk away a different person.

I’m not saying God’s never answered my prayer… I’m just being honest with you about how this passage makes me feel, and maybe you can relate to it.  Maybe you can relate to the insecurity of the passage.

You know there’s a part of it, that we can’t even relate to Peter, it feels unrelatable, because what he does is something that we can’t even imagine doing.  It’s like we’re tempted to just turn the page and move on to the next passage.  Like when you’re alone in your house and you come to the genealogy of someone’s life (LAUGHTER)… And you look around and flip the page. (Laughter).

“Oh, Peter here, and the crippled beggar, that’s nice, let’s turn the page… because I don’t need to be healed, and I’m not a healer… let’s move on.”

divinehealing-banner

In fact it makes so many people uncomfortable, the truth of the matter is there are people who’ve developed entire theological viewpoints around the idea that this type of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

And they justify their inability to relate to Peter by saying that it theologically doesn’t exist anymore — that this was a gifting that happened a long time ago that just doesn’t happen anymore.

And you know what? … those people might be right… but I’ll be honest with you I think they’re wrong.

And here’s my basic rationale for why I think they’re wrong.

Let me ask you where does the power come from in this passage?  Is Peter the source of the power?  No… I mean

Do you know the difference between Peter and Jesus?

When Peter prays he has to say “… in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”; and when Jesus wants to heal somebody he just says, “Be healed”.

He even says, later, as he’s talking to the crowds, “Why do you stare at us, as if by our own power or godliness we did this? — that’s not the truth.

So if it was Jesus’s power that made this happen, let me ask you,

“Is he not seated at the right hand of God the Father today?”  Is he less powerful today than he was then?

I hope the answer is “NO”. 

So how does this happen?

It’s the power of Jesus Christ working through the Body of Christ.  Peter is his hands and his feet.

Do we still not make that claim?  Do we still not make the claim that we are the Body of Christ, the hands and feet of Christ.  Therefore he can do wonderful things through us.

DividingLine_829d5babc99647ff972ae861ed33ab77

Let me tell you that… I believe this passage comes down to the fact that Peter had incredible Kingdom Goggles.  He saw the circumstance… He saw it from the lens of God,  he saw the opportunity, and therefore his will was in line with God’s will… and just imagine what you and I could begin doing if we saw the world through these Kingdom Goggles.

I’m not saying everyone of us would become “healer types”.  But I do believe that if we began to go through life with Kingdom Goggles, God could use every single person in this room to make a significant impact in the life of someone else for the Kingdom of God.

Kingdom Goggles.JPG

Now, Pastorally, we must look for a minute at this passage from the perspective of the crippled beggar.

As hard as it is to relate to Peter, I think most people have a harder time relating to the crippled beggar; so if you had to choose one you’d say well, Peter.  That’s how we naturally read the text… through his lens.

But there might be a few people in this room, who view themselves through the lens of the crippled beggar this morning.  Maybe it’s because of a physical circumstance, a health circumstance in your life.  But maybe it’s just because of some other circumstance which has gotten you to the point where you feel hopeless, like the crippled beggar, and quite frankly, you think the only chance out is probably through the miraculous work of God.

And some of you this morning… you need a little bit of this passage and the power of Jesus Christ in your life. I mean, your financial situation is so bad that you need Christ to put his hands on your finances and say,

“Be healed”

You are so done with your spouse, or your spouse is so done with you that you need Christ to put his hands on him or her and say,

“Be healed”

You are so hopeless in your addiction that you need Christ to put his hands on it and say,

“Be healed”

So some of you this morning, probably not most of you, but some of you might read this passage through the lens of the crippled beggar, at a place in your life this morning where you need a miraculous power of God.

I want to encourage you, through the truth of this passage, that that power still exists today.

But you know what? … Sometimes God just doesn’t answer our prayer privately or individually the way we want.  You don’t think that this couple beggar ever asked God to heal him?

I would suggest that in the wisdom of God, that sometimes he doesn’t answer our personal private prayers for him the way that we would want, because in his wisdom He entices us into the fellowship of the church, and he forces our issues to come out into the Light.

And it’s not until we share them with brothers and sisters in Christ, and God works through them into our life, that sometimes we experience the miraculous power of God.

07052012figure_j

Well… we don’t have time to talk about all of it; but I think we should read Peter’s response. Let’s go to verse eleven, the Scripture tells us this,

Peter Speaks to the Onlookers

11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.

You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate,though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

You know what I love about Peter… is that he has the Kingdom Goggles to not only see the physical and material needs of someone around him, but he has the Kingdom Goggles to see the Spiritual Needs of those of those who are physically just fine.

He sees a large crowd of people who come up… and they’re walking fine.  And they can communicate fine; and maybe all their needs are being met financially… but they are spiritually depraved: they haven’t a clue as to who Jesus is; they don’t have a relationship with him.  And Peter seizes the opportunity to tell them about Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that the hardest type of Kingdom Goggles to have?

I mean we can see the physical material needs obviously in front of us.  But I mean when people act stupid and… they don’t know Jesus Christ, it’s really hard to remember that.

It’s really hard to view them through the lens of Kingdom Goggles and and say this is someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that’s how I should view them and that’s where my heart should be.

And then he goes on and he says.

17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Let’s pause and let’s stop there.

Here he turns to the crowd, and he invites them the opportunity to repent.  He addresses their sin, doesn’t he…

He says, “You crucified Christ”

He doesn’t shy away from sin, he addresses their sin but because he has Kingdom Goggles on he also knows that the Bible offers something far greater than sin and that is GRACE and FORGIVENESS–that grace always trumps sin.

banner

You know recently I learned how to play Euchre… how many of you here are euchre players?  OK, about half.

I think it would be fun to have like Euchre Night here at the church… like a big tournament. (“Amen”) … Yeah, right.  Thank you.

amen_1982c.jpg

My first “Amen” comes Euchre (Laughter)… not all the Jesus stuff.. Nah… (laughter) that Kingdom stuff.. Nah… (laughter)… but Eucher, Eucher… “AMEN” (LAUGHTER).

Anyways… in Euchre, apparently there’s like a “Trump” suit…  I’m just learning how to play.  And so even if you play the Ace of something I can play the nine a something, but if I’m playing the nine of the “Trump suit”, I win.

And I think we ought to remember that in Scripture, GRACE is the TRUMP CARD.

Peter confronts them with their sin, but he invites them to repent because there’s Grace to be found.  He invites them to come back to God because He knows that if they do repent, they won’t just discover confrontation with their sin, but they’ll find grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

And maybe you’re here this morning and you think, “there’s something you’ve done, that put you beyond God’s invitation to repent and come and experience his forgiveness.

Let’s be reminded as to who’s getting this invitation… these are the very people who crucified Jesus.

So… if you think you’ve done something worse than that… then we can talk about it. But I don’t think that exists in this room.  To the very people who crucified Jesus, God is saying,

“Repent.. and come experience my GRACE and FORGIVENESS.”

Let’s pray:
“Heavenly Father… we thank you for this Scripture.  We thank you for the wonder of your Word.  And we believe it is LIVING and ACTIVE and SHARPER than any double edge sword.  We believe God, that your word is breathed out by you and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness, and so we thank you for that reality and we pray that you give us humble hearts now that your Word would come upon us, that it would shape and direct us… that you would use it to make us more like your Son Jesus Christ.

Father God we acknowledge before you, the lack of times that we’ve seen other people’s circumstances, and our own difficulties and trials through Kingdom Eyes.  And we pray God that you would help us to see the world in the way that you would.  And we pray these things in Christ name now.

Amen.

dividing-line-blurred

Kirkmont Composite Pic
Kirkmont Closing Pic Combo

  Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website
http://www.kirkmont.org/

Listen to recent sermons
http://www.kirkmont.org/listen-to-recent-sermons/

Share Your Thoughts Below ....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s