Category Archives: Pastor Dan Borgelt

Acts 14 – Actions and Words AUDIO, Transcribed, not edited

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

 

4.17.2016 Actions and Words

Audio: []
Actions and Words”

Transcription:
“Thank you choir for setting up our time in God’s word together so well.

You know, if you’ve been around a Kirkmont at all in the last couple months, you know we’re going through a Book of the New Testament–the fifth book of the New Testament, the book of Acts.

Acts is the story of the early church, and we’re doing one chapter at a time, and normally our progress would have brought us up to Acts, Chapter Fourteen… that’s what we were scheduled to do this morning, it’s what’s in your bulletin; but we’re going to take a little deviation this morning and the reason why, is because… well it’s actually my mom who’s visiting here, it’s really kind of her fault.

She said, I don’t want to listen to Acts fourteen. (LAUGHTER)

No, in all seriousness, ever since she got into town, visiting us from Toledo a few days ago, she and my wife Amanda have been talking about health.  They’ve been talking about health like crazy.  Talking about how important it is for us to make sure, with the stuff we’re putting into our body, whether by eating it or drinking it is good for us and all that type of stuff;  and you know the basic rationale is, the physical us is connected to the Spiritual us.

And so she said to me yesterday, as I’m on my way out the door to finalize my planned message for today, she said, “You know I think more pastors need to preach about, not just the Spiritual, but the physical us, and the importance of taking care of our bodies.

At first I kind of blew it off, but then when I got here to the church, I just felt convicted, that that’s indeed what I should talk to you about.

So, that’s what we’re going to talk about you know the importance of making sure that what we put into our bodies is really honoring to God–the body that he’s given us.  But if you don’t mind, I’m going to do something unprecedented, I’m going to finish my breakfast right now, because what happened is, I was in a total chaos, trying to plan my message, my last minute message, and so I drove through the drive through.  And so…

(He pull out a McDonald’s Breakfast bag)

I haven’t had an opportunity eat breakfast at this morning, it’s a long morning, I’m feeling my blood sugar getting low… and so, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a Sausage Egg McMuffin from McDonalds?  (He takes a bite)

Chewing, he says… “Umm… that is really good stuff.  And I don’t know if you know, but they are only a buck right now at McDonald’s, at the Drive Through…  so.. where we?

Oh, we were talking about the importance of the physical us, and connecting that, because you know after all, your body church, is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. So we need to make sure that what we’re putting into our body actually, honors God.

So with the idea, that your body is the Temple the Holy Spirit, I want you just to sort of meditate on that, think about that for a while, because I got to wash this sandwich down and (he pulls out a McDonald’s beverage cup to LAUGHTER)…   I’m really thirsty (continues drinking and eating).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _  _

Now, in all seriousness of course it would be quite ridiculous for me to preach about the importance of what we put into our body.  While eating a sausage McMuffin by the way.  When I said that was good that was that was there was a line.  I was I to you or acting we’ll call it because I bought that at seven thirty this morning.  And so I think it’s really gross actually that anyways.  It would be totally hypocritical of me because my words and be saying one thing my actions would be doing something completely different you see on the screen behind me when your actions contradict your words don’t mean anything.  We actually are going to continue in the book of acts do you think and preach a whole sermon about caring for my body.  I mean it’s like a.  It’s like a standing.  Object of hypocrisy right.  So anyway.  Case.  We’re going to go in acts fourteen and what we’re going to skive an x. fourteen.  Church we’re coming back to.  Repeated the here in the book of acts to the subject of the idea of us sharing our faith.  Now some of you are here this morning and you don’t have faith in Jesus Christ you don’t even claim to have that faith and it might seem weird for us to talk about sharing our faith.  I want you to know just as you hear this message this morning that.  You know God places incredible emphasis on our show on our faith with the world around us.  Not so that we can get bonus points or kudo’s or earn our way into heaven.  Because he really cares and loves you.  About you and wants to have a relationship with you.  And that’s why he wants the rest of us to show faith.  We come back to that subject and what we see is the importance in Scripture.  Of our actions.  And our words.  Lining up working together cohesively so that when we share our faith we’re actually doing it in an effective.  Wing.  Want to buy into a passage of Scripture of the passages is.  As I said.  Acts.  The fifth book in the new testament would love to have you turn your bibles or one of our pew bibles there to the book of acts chapter fourteen.  If not, we’ll have it on the Scripture behind us.  On the screen behind us and the Scripture says this and acts fourteen versus one to two verses starting in verse one.  The Scripture says.  At.  I comb him.  Now let’s pause there when to stop with those two words we got two words before we need to stop for a second all right at this pace we’re going to be here all day long but.  I comb.  Ok and the reason we’re stopped there because there’s some.  Geography and history that happens in these few verses.  That for most of us makes absolutely no sense at all even if you’ve been here with us in acts we’ve talked about this a little bit but most of it kind of comes in one year we forget about so we’re going to we’re going to keep rediscovering the setting the context of this passage.  I can even now.  What’s happening is Paul.  Paul is one of the early leaders in the church he was being sent by God to go tell people about Jesus Christ.  Now.  The reason that’s happening is because this is the history of early church.  When Jesus showed up his life is death his resurrection was actually only naturally.  Immediately understood by a room of relatively small group of people and.  So there’s a whole bunch of people the world to yet to hear about him at this point in time.  And so he’s sending the early church.  Out and Paul sent to go to places he’d never been before.  To talk to people, he’s never met before.  And to tell them about his faith in Jesus Christ.  And he sent from the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea where the Holy land is and a northern city in the northeast city.  Called.  Where did the order to get sent for sent from?  Charlie your number from.  There’s two of them from.  Antioch or I actually forgot I just knew Charlie would remember.  And so.  He was sent from.  Antioch a northeast city.  On the Mediterranean Sea he sailed to the island of Cyprus.  Which is still there today.  And still called Cyprus.  And then sales north to modern day turkey.  Or a region called glacier.  Some of you know that there’s a book in the bible called.  Galatians.  That covers this whole region.  And he’s moving from city to city in the region of Galatians and I coney him is one of those cities.  So Paul and Barnabas the Scripture say he wasn’t alone he was with a friend named Barnabas went.  As usual when they arrived in this city.  They went.  As usual into the Jewish synagogue.  So their normal practice.  When they got somewhere.  How where are they going to start telling people about their faith in Jesus Christ was to go to the Jewish synagogue.  Why would they do that but this reminds us of the reality that the message about Jesus Christ.  Doesn’t just show up out of thin air well in the new testament.  It is the fulfillment of.  All that is in the old testament.  The thirty-nine books of the old testament.  Every single story.  Every bible character as that one author has said.  Whispered the name of Jesus Christ.  They’re all pointing to him.  He is the fulfillment of it so.  The Jewish synagogue.  Is a place where they could show up in start and have some common knowledge with these people some common beliefs with these folks.  They were supposed to understand that the messiah was coming.  And so that makes them.  It was most natural for them to start.  In the Jewish synagogue because Jesus is full of.  The filament.  Of their old testament Scriptures.  And what we discover.  Not only in this section but all throughout acts.  Is that the Jewish response to the message of Jesus Christ is extreme on one hand.  They are the quickest people to receive the gospel and jump on board and get all excited about it.  But on the other hand.  There are also the most resistant to the gospel.  The Jewish.  Responses by and large an extreme response.  Where the gentile or the non-Jewish response is much more moderate.  Some people embrace it some people don’t embrace it but they don’t seem to be as passionate as heated as the Jewish response.  So they show up in the synagogue in the Scripture tells us this and here’s where we get to the whole component of actions and words working together.  In fact, the Scripture deals with their words before their actions so that’s how we’ll address the topic.  It says.  There.  They spoke.  So effectively.  That a great number of Jews and Gentiles.  Believed.  There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.  A church I don’t mean.  Or want us to put the entire weight.  A whether someone receives our message about Jesus Christ.  Upon your shoulders and chalk it all up as being about whether or not you give an effective presentation.  We must remember.  God to soften right.  We cannot usurp his sovereignty in this hold conversation.  And as the Scripture clearly tells us in the book of john chapter six first forty-four it will pull that up on the screen for you I believe the Scripture tells us that Jesus says that no one can come.  To the Father unless he drawls them no one can come to him unless he’s drawn right.  Do we have that passage?  Either way out there the instant you have to just trust me it’s in john chapter six verse forty-four.  Right.  And you’ve got bibles you can look it up in john six forty-four Jesus says no one can come to me.  Unless the Father draw all soon.  So we’re not usurping God’s sovereignty or.  Sovereignty here but we have to recognize the reality that loop does take the time to address.  How effectively Paul communicated the gospel.  And he said they did it so effectively.  That a large number of Jews and Gentiles.  Received the message and.  We need to pause and ask ourselves.  Could the same be written of us.  Could someone write that about you and I.  They commuted the kid the gospel of Jesus Christ so effectively.  Isn’t that a prayer of ours isn’t that a desire of ours don’t we want to be.  Have that said about us that we can.  We’re able to communicate.  Our faith in Jesus Christ.  So effectively.  Now some of you might be thinking to me well you know I really have a hard time relating to Paul.  Because Paul gets up and he speaks to large crowds of people I never have any intention of putting a microphone on and sharing my faith about Jesus Christ to a large group of people so.  How can this.  Relate to me.  Well.  Church I believe that the most common way the most effective way for you and I to share our faith in Jesus Christ is through our personal life story is through our personal faith.  Story.  Some people call a testimony.  Your testimony is where your life and all of your life’s experiences and your faith in Jesus Christ is where they intersect.  Together.  Is where they come together.  In this where you have the greatest I believe.  Opportunity to share your faith in Jesus Christ with other people.  Think about the power of a testimony.  When you’re just simply communicating to people.  This is what Christ has done for me.  I believe it is the best way to communicate our faith.  Without.  Entering into an argument with someone.  There’s nothing to argue with about that.  I’m just saying this is who Jesus is to me without entering into some deep theological debate that almost never produces any Spiritual fruit.  All we’re saying is this is who Jesus Christ is for me this is what he did for me this is how he impacted my life.  I believe our Testimony, our life story. our faith story.  Is the most effective way that we can communicate.  Our faith in Jesus Christ so I want to ask you a question.  If I was to ask you to come up here and take three or four minutes to share your life story about Jesus Christ.  How confident are come for would you be in doing that so you most people I believe are completely unprepared to do that and I want to challenge you this morning.  No one ever said following Jesus Christ was going to be easy.  No one ever said that making Jesus your lord.  Was never going to make you uncomfortable or that it wouldn’t require work.  Or homework or preparation.  So I want to challenge you with this idea.  I want to invite you to work at getting more comfortable with your version of your life story.  And by that I mean taking your life story.  And how crisis impacted your life.  And bring it to obama three or four-minute presentation.  And you know a church I would love to spend my time.  Hearing your life stories.  Or reading them.  I would encourage you.  How come by the office.  Take me out to lunch.  Send them to me via email or whatever you need to do I would love to read them and I’ll give you some honest feedback or if you’re not come full sharing with me then maybe there’s another brother or sister in Christ who you’d be willing to share with.  If your feeling convicted by God about.  Getting serious about lining your life up with the Spirit of Christ. I believe this is the greatest step in homework that you could do is to start to get more comfortable with your testimony.  To write it down to put it in outline form and to share it with someone who’s a brother and sister in Christ.  That you trust.  I mean how many times.  How many times have we had the opportunity to share our faith or to interject our faith.  But we didn’t.  And oftentimes is because we felt.  Unprepared or at least under prepared for the occasion.  It doesn’t mean that every single time we have the opportunity to speak of your faith it’s going to be a whole three or four-minute spiel and you have to give the whole part.  Beginning middle and end.  But what it does mean is that if you have a component of your testimony if you have it ready to go.  You’ll be able to share a portion of it.  In that moment.  In that time.  But how often have we not said anything I know that’s been me because I felt.  Unprepared to share and to speak about my faith in Jesus Christ and you know what x. is doing to me is saying that shouldn’t be the case.  God is calling us to get comfort with the idea of sharing our faith so that it might be said about us.  They spoke so effectively.  You know.  I know some of you of course are afraid of failure if you were to actually step out and to show your faith and to try to present your testimony to someone.  Some of you have heard this quote from Wayne Gretzky I think we have this one on this route for you this quote from raincoats writes.  Gretzky he’s a famous hockey player if you don’t know.  I don’t know anything about hockey so it’s sort of ironic that I’m quoting him here but.  He says you missed one hundred percent of the shots.  That you don’t take without over analyzing and I think the same could be said.  True of our sharing our faith.  If you don’t attempt to share your faith.  It will be unsuccessful.  One hundred percent of the time.  But we want to set about as they were so effective.  Communicating their faith and Scripture goes on and tells us this and says.  Not only are they effective so effective that a great number we don’t know how many but a great number of Jews and Gentiles bullied.  But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles.  And poison their minds against the brothers.  So Paul and Barnabas spent a considerable time.  There.  All right so.  The scene is this not not only do.  Some of the Jews and Gentiles believe their message.  But as we’ve been talking about if we’re sharing our faith we’re always going to also receive resistance as well.  There’s a group of people who not only do they not believe.  But they’re trying to resist.  Their efforts.  So what you have is a bunch of.  Early people who have just given their faith to Jesus Christ.  Who are being scrutinized by all of their peers around them.  These people who said yes to Paul’s message are now receiving scrutiny from the people around them.  And you have this tension that’s going on and then the Scripture says that Paul didn’t just leave them there on loan.  But as a result of the tension that they were these early Christians were experiences.  He spent a considerable time there speaking.  Boldly for the lord he stood up on their behalf if you will.  Now it says.  Who that is the lord.  Confirmed the message.  Of his grace.  By enabling them to do.  More rack of the signs and wonders.  And here’s churches where we see that their actions.  Were able to support.  They were able to complement the message that they were speaking.  He enabled them to do miraculous.  Signs so the.  The scene is this Paul has shared his faith in Jesus Christ.  Some people have said yes.  Some people are adamantly no.  But there’s probably a whole bunch of people who are sort of.  On the fence.  If you will.  And there’s this tension there being argued over.  To win their allegiance and the Scripture says that God gave Paul the ability to do miraculous things to move the.  People who are on the fence.  To a place of faith in Jesus Christ so that those who are on the fence would know that Paul’s message was true.  So now all a sudden.  They’re not just speaking about Jesus but their behavior is affirming the message they have.  About Jesus Christ.  And again this is where we get to the point where we ask ourselves.  Does our behavior.  Reinforce our message about Jesus Christ.  Does our behavior reinforce our message?  About Jesus Christ now I know some of you are thinking.  Once again this is hard to relate to because Paul and Barnabas did miraculous things it doesn’t say exactly what we know they were.  Miraculous.  And if you’re like me you don’t feel like you’ve ever done anything.  Miraculous.  And you’re thinking to yourself you know what.  If one of my neighbor’s car.  Couldn’t start because it needed a jump.  If I had the ability to walk over there put my hand on the hood and say be healed.  And the engine just fired up.  Then I probably would have the boldness to tell my neighbor a little bit about my face.  And I.  So.  But until then don’t tell me about Paul and Barnabas because they had miraculous things to support them with.  But I want to ask you this morning.  Are you seriously considering entertaining the idea that God has not done a miracle in your life?  The Scripture says that when you become a follower of Jesus Christ when you place your trust in him.  The third person of the trinity the Holy Spirit dwells.  Inside of you.  As a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance.  And it doesn’t just go to sleep.  It starts working.  Working like crazy to kill off the acts of the sinful nature and to rise up in you.  Fruits of the Spirit.  Has God not done.  A miraculous work in you.  The Holy Spirit is inside of you making you more and more like you are.  His son Jesus.  About like Jesus Christ.  Is that not a miraculous work that.  God could use.  To affirm your message.  About Jesus.  I mean church some of you.  Some of you have had.  Sinful lifestyles.  Addiction that you’ve been completely freed from through the power of the Holy Spirit in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Is that not a miracle that God has done in your life that he could use to affirm your message in Jesus Christ.  So many of you have had your marriages or other relationships completely rescued in st redeemed by the power of the Holy Spirit and your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Is that not a miracle of God that he has done.  In your life.  That he could be used to make your message.  About him.  More affective.  Some of you have had actually buttes and characteristics about yourself that you hated you were.  You were angry you were jealous you were you were conceited you whatever it might be hot tempered.  You know you name it.  And people noticed that.  But God has changed that in you because of the power of the Holy Spirit working through you.  Is that not a miracle that God has done.  In your life.  That other people can notice and God can use to make your message more effective.  The sad thing is you know that if you’re like me.  You can relate to the reality that you have had times where God has given you the opportunity to share your faith in Jesus Christ.  And you have purposely decided not to do that because you knew that your life.  Was not lining up with what it is that you were about to say you knew that your recent behavior even around that very person.  Was not lining up with what you were about to say to them.  And so you didn’t say anything.  And so we see the importance of having our actions.  Line up with our work.  It’s the importance of seeing the two of them.  Work together.  To complement each other so that God might use them to make our message more effective.  Our actions.  And are our words.  Is there something that you’ve done in your life recently that would contradict the message that you might share.  About Jesus Christ as their behavior of yours that you have that might contradict your message.  About Jesus Christ.  God has done a miracle in our life we have the Holy Spirit we can overcome those things.  To have our message about Christ.  Affirmed.  And it’s not just about getting rid of the negative things is that we tend to focus on the idea that if I could just get rid of all the negative stuff.  Then I’ll be able to talk about Christ.  Then my message will be compromised but it’s also about having the positive stuff as well.  It’s not just about not being rude to your server before you invite them to church it’s about.  Also giving them a generous tip.  Before you invite them to church you get the idea.  Right it’s not just about killing off the negative things.  It’s about the church of Jesus Christ.  Achieving a level of generosity kindness and compassion and gratitude for the world around it.  That surpasses everyone else around us.  So that when we share our faith in Jesus Christ.  Our message about his.  Him has been affirmed by.  Our behavior.  Let me ask you why does it seem.  Why does it seem like.  So many of the people who have the boldness.  And the confidence.  To talk about Jesus Christ.  Are often the people who are living a life that is completely contradictory to the Gospel?  And so often the people who are living a life and they’re walking.  Humbly with their lord that honors the gospel or the people who tend to be too shy or fearful or scared to talk about Christ.  But what the Scriptures calling us to hear is what we see in Paul’s life.  Is that he not only spoke with boldness and effectiveness.  But his life was lined up in accordance and that’s what God I believe is calling the church to do.  The power of the Holy Spirit to align our actions with our words.  Not to have actions without words not to have words without the actions but to live them together so that God might work through us.  To draw all people.  To himself.  The passage of Scripture ends.  And we won’t come on a very long but it ends with this it says the people of the city were divided.  Some sided with the Jews others with the apostles.  There a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews together with their leaders to mistreat them.  And stone them.  But they found out about it and fled to the county and cities of Lystra.  And derby.  And to the surrounding country where they continued to preach the good news.  Church I know that for some of you the subject of sharing our faith and eventually.  Them.  It seems just.  Redone tint and repetitive as we walk through x..  Hope that one of the benefits of going through a book of a viable is that you can see this is not my personal agenda that I am interjecting into our preaching but you see it’s the heart of God who’s repeatedly returning to the subject time and time again.  I was reading one commentaries as.  I have to unapologetically talk to you about evangelism again because it’s there in the book of acts.  We see.  The heart of God.  If you hear this morning.  And you don’t have a relationship with Christ.  Will you see the heart of God.  As he is calling his church.  To faithfully.  Proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.  To.  Looks just like you when invited our praise team to come for.  So we have the opportunity to respond.  To God’s word through song will you join me in prayer as their transition.  Father God we thank you for your word as always and.  We come before you and we acknowledge to you.  The many ways in which all lives have not lived up.  And been in accordance with the gospel.  The times or maybe we have to share our faith in Christ but what we have done has been.  Contradictory to that.  And we confess that to you and apologize for that and ask that your Holy Spirit help us to walk.  Closely with you.  And we also confess and acknowledge to you the times in which you have opened up the door for us to talk about our faith.  And yet we have been afraid to do so or unwilling to do so and we ask that you might give us the boldness and the confidence to do that to prepare and such a way that it might be said about us that we have communicated our faith in Jesus Christ with effectiveness.  And for that we seek your help when we seek your guidance.  Bubble and he type of knowledge.  It really requires your Holy Spirit to do the work in our heart.  And we ask for that word.  We ask these things now.  Christ’s name.  He meant.

 

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Acts 13 – Sharing Our Faith – AUDIO +FULLY EDITED (last one complete)

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [31:07]
“Sharing Our Faith”

NOTE: If you listen to audio only, be sure to scroll down for closing music video at bottom of this page.

Transcription:
“Let me ask you as we get started in our time together this morning,

When was the last time that you had a meaningful, faith-based conversation with someone who didn’t exactly share your convictions about faith?

When was the last time that you had it a meaningful faith-based conversation… you know, a conversation about real things, and real life; about faith and religion, and those types of things, with someone who wasn’t exactly on the same page as you?

You know, if you’re like me, the very thought of having such a conversation just absolutely makes you incredibly nervous.

The thought of having a conversation like that makes your heart race perhaps, or your palms begin to sweat a little bit, maybe even your voice begins to crack — the idea of… having a faith based conversation with someone who has a different belief system than you?

The reason, of course, that we start to feel that way, is because we tend to imagine the worst case scenario.  We imagine, “Surely if we talk to someone about our faith we’re going to just be completely rejected by them… they’re going to “unfriend us”, if you will.

They’re going to mock us; they’re going to outwit us, and they will leave the conversation perhaps even more convinced as to why they don’t believe in our faith, because of our conversation with them.

But this video reminds us that God is that work… that he is at work working in people’s lives drawing them to himself.  And that there are people out there from all different ages, from all different backgrounds, and all different situations in life, whose lives are broken, and who are ready to have someone come alongside them, and talk to them about matters of faith.

And I want to ask you this morning… I know that when it comes to the topic of sharing our faith, and when it comes to the topic of evangelism, as some of you want to label it… when it comes to this whole topic we tend to imagine the worst case scenario.

But I want to ask you this morning,

Does the best case scenario, outweigh the worst case scenario?

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Here we are in the book of Acts, and we’ve been looking through the book of Acts, and seeing people repeatedly sharing their faith, having faith based conversations with people who don’t already believe in what it is that they believe in.

And my guess is that many of those people were really excited, enthusiastic about the opportunity, and there was probably also many of them who were extremely nervous and cautious about that opportunity as well.

Some of them had incredible success in their efforts.  Others of them had incredible failures in their efforts, and we’re going to look at that and see that together in our Scripture this morning.

I want to talk to you about three basic points when it comes to the topic of sharing our faith.  The first one is that,
1. God calls all of us to a ministry. The second is that,

2. Sometimes that ministry that God calls us to seems like a failure.  And then finally,

3. Sometimes that ministry that God calls us to seems like a success. 

So God calls all of us to a ministry; sometimes it seems like a failure; and sometimes it seems like a success.

And maybe you’re here this morning, and you’re sort of new to the whole idea of church.  You’re here this morning you don’t even claim necessarily to have a relationship with Jesus Christ yourself, let alone tell other people about Him.

But I want you know that we’re glad that you’re here.  And perhaps you’re here because someone has had their life story changed by Jesus Christ… and they want to present that same opportunity to you by inviting you to come to where they go to church.

Gold Dividing Line

All right let’s look at our passage of Scripture this morning.

If you’re new with us, we are going through the book of Acts, which is the fifth book in the New Testament.  We are now in Acts chapter thirteen. We would love to have you grab a Bible that’s offered to you there in the pews, or your own from home, and open it up to Acts chapter thirteen.  If not we will have the Scripture on the screen behind me.

Here’s what the Scripture tells us.  First let’s look at this whole idea that,

1. God calls all of us to a specific ministry.

In verses one through three, here’s what the Scripture says.  This is the part that Charlie read earlier to our children.

Acts 13:1-3

 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers:

Now as Charlie said there were a couple of Antiochs. When we think of the early Church, we tend to think of the city of Jerusalem as sort of being the hub of the early Church.

Jerusalem, in general, is located in the Southeast corner of the Mediterranean sea.  Antioch is north, up the Eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, on the Northeast corner of the Mediterranean sea.

And this is where this group of people were… they were prophets and teachers, the Bible says.  Here were their names:

Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch) and Saul.

Now, most of those names probably don’t sound very familiar to you, and that’s okay. For time sake we’re going to leave them in the unfamiliar world.

But there is a name that might sound familiar to some of you who have been hanging around with us through our Acts series, and that is the name Saul.  Saul was someone who used to persecute the Church. His whole goal was to make sure that the followers of Christ were put out… and had an end.

But, the Scripture told us a back in Acts chapters eight and nine, that Saul had this miraculous conversion experience.  He is now a follower of Christ himself.  And slowly, quickly I guess, really becoming a leader–THE leader, a significant leader, in_the_early_Church.

So, this is the group of people who are gathered together… take note of their context,

2-3 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Alright…

God calls all of us to a specific ministry.

I want to put you at ease, because the nature and the type of ministry in which Saul and Barnabas are called to here in this passage, is incredibly extreme and miraculous.

So I want to let you know from the very beginning, I don’t mean to say that all of us are called to a ministry in the same manner, or to the same type of ministry that Saul and Barnabas are called to.

But nonetheless, I want to argue, that we are all called to a specific ministry.

And I want you to notice the context in which they are called to this ministry.

The Scripture says that Saul and Barnabas were not hanging out by themselves, doing ordinary things, if you will, but these men were gathered together with other brothers in Christ, and

they were Worshiping and fasting

And this is when God gives them this specific ministry for their lives.

And I think this is an important component for us to understand, because I believe this is when God tends to speak to most people in their lives.  So it’s when they’re doing some form of a spiritual discipline, that they begin to receive what God wants them to do with their lives.

It’s the reason why it’s important that we create an atmosphere here on Sunday morning when we’re Worshiping through song — that God can speak to you.

Or when we’re opening up the Scripture, that God might speak to you through it, because this is the type of gathering where God might call someone, and place upon their heart, a specific type of ministry for their lives.

It doesn’t have to be a Worship setting… it could be a Sunday School class; it could be a Small Group; it could be just an informal gathering of Brothers and Sisters in Christ… or it may have absolutely nothing to do with any spiritual discipline at all.

Alright?

God owns all of our circumstances, He could speak to us at any time.  He could speak to us and place a call or ministry upon our life, doing the most mundane thing.

You might go out one day for a jog.  And there you are jogging around you look up and you see a billboard… and the billboard informs you about the number of people in your community who struggle from hunger, and aren’t well fed, and God uses that billboard to speak to you, and place that ministry upon your heart.

Or perhaps he doesn’t.

And the only thing that billboard causes you to do is to think about how hungry you are.  So when you get home from your jog, you get your car, you drive off to the Chinese buffet.  And while you’re at the Chinese buffet, sitting there stuffing yourself, all of the sudden God reminds you that there are millions of orphans in China, and you should do something about it… right?

Or maybe He doesn’t.

Maybe you eat your Chinese buffet with absolutely no conviction at all, you get in your car and you’re driving home, you turn on the radio.  And it’s not until you turn on the radio and you hit the ‘Seek’ button that the local R&B Hip Hop station comes on… your liking the rap song, but somehow in the midst of the rap song.  God speaks to you and says, “You know what? There’s a lot of people in inner city Dayton who need your help. “

God can speak through all of those circumstances.

But what I’m trying to say, is that I don’t think we should ignore the reality that he called Saul and Barnabas in the midst of a spiritual discipline of worshiping God and fasting, because statistically, my observation is that, that seems to be when God places a ministry upon our hearts.

And I’m worried that there are churches filled with people all across America who would hear a message like this and think to themselves, “I’m not really sure what God wants me to do for his kingdom.  I’m not really sure what he’s calling me to do.  What is my ministry?”

And one of the main reasons they haven’t discovered that is because they don’t have enough times or opportunities when they’re alone with God… or have spiritual disciplines in their lives where God might speak His heart for them.

Well, the Scripture tells us that this is the call, this is the ministry that he gives Saul and Barnabas.  And I want you to realize that,

“How He calls us,” might be similar… but it also might be different. 

I mean, do you see in the Scripture how he called them…

the Holy Spirit said, “(quote)

I’m the kind of person who might say to someone, “I really feel like God was leading me to do this…” or, “I feel like you know God had placed this on my heart.”  I might say, “I feel like God was telling me…”

But it’s all understood that I’m not really quoting himI’m not one hundred percent sure… I just have a really strong inclination. 

But here Luke comes along and he tells us that this group of people are spoken to so clearly–perhaps audibly, perhaps not  I don’t know.  But so clearly to by God, that they were able to say . “The Holy Spirit said… and now, there he is… “in quotes”.

And some of you might be able to relate. But I suspect that most of you are more able to relate to me… we don’t really tend to have God speak to us, in that way.

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He might place upon your heart, a call for ministry in another fashion.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be this MIRACULOUS, is what I’m trying to say to you.  He places a burden on your heart.  And perhaps you ignore it and then he places it on your heart again, and you ignore it again, and then he places it again; that’s probably…

If God gives you a burden, if you have a burden on your heart a repeated amount of times, it’s probably a good indication, it’s not from the devil… it’s probably from God.

So he can call us to our specific type of ministry in many different ways and circumstances, but I also want you to see that the type of ministry he calls us to, might be similar, or it also might be different.

Listen to the type of ministry he calls them to: they are not being called to just stick around their hometown, and begin to become the pastor of one of the local churches… they are being sent off to a cross cultural experience, where they are sharing Jesus Christ with people they don’t know, in a region that they are not familiar with.

And this is the type of experience and call, that some people in our church have. We have some people at Kirkmont, who spend a good portion of their lives overseas, somewhere else, doing that type of ministry.

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But again, God doesn’t call all of us in the same way that he called Saul and Barnabas here. He might give us a a different burden — for some of us he might place on our heart a burden for missions, but we’re not the one who’s necessarily supposed to go, we’re the ones who are supposed to make sure that our church is generous, and supporting, and encouraging, and praying for missionaries, and sending others off.

That might be the burden that he gives you.

Other people might have a a global, social justice burden that God puts on their heart.

Maybe, you’re the kind of person who says, “You know what… there are millions of people who don’t have access to clean drinking water… that should not be.  I want to do something about it.”

You might be the kind of person who says, “You know what? There are millions of people who are sold into slavery every year.  That shouldn’t be.  I want to do something about it.”

Or maybe you are more of a local person and you want to sign up for our Work Days with the Gospel Mission Project and go to downtown Dayton and and help some inner city people who could really use your love, and care, and support.

Or maybe God has given you a real heart and a passion for the Pro-Life movement, and you want to sign up for the Miami Valley Women’s Center and support them.

Whatever ministry he might have given you, He can give it to you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be as extreme, if you will, as what he gave Saul and Barnabas, or be cross-cultural at all.

In fact, I want to argue that really what God tends to invite most of us to do is to really not do anything else different… but instead by placing a ministry on our hearts, what he’s actually inviting us to do is to continue to live out our ordinary lives, but to begin to live them with extra-ordinary purposes. 

To begin to do the things that we are already doing, but to now do them with Kingdom Purposes… to do that which comes natural to us but with supernatural purposes. 

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So for many people the ministry that he calls us to, unlike Saul and Barnabas, it won’t require a change in your schedule in any way at all.  It will just require you to do what you’re already doing, with a new intention… for the Kingdom of God. 

And I have often discovered that what God tends to place on our heart… while many of those causes, and issues I mentioned are significant and important… God tends not to put causes and issues and programs on people’s hearts… he tends to put people on our hearts. 

And so many of you may never identify with some great ministry or some great cause that you sign up for.  But instead, in your ordinary, mundane life, God will put people in your path, who he burdens you with: the person whom you buy a coffee from every day… He may all of the sudden say, “Alright… it’s time that you be a light in this person’s life.

You see what I’m saying… that it’s not all like Paul.  It’s not all like Barnabas.  It’s often doing that which is ordinary for extra-ordinary reasons…  it’s not often programs, its more usually people. 

And that person that God places upon your heart, may be extremely open and SO grateful for the fact that you took the risk of sharing your faith in Jesus Christ with them… or… they might be incredibly belligerent of the fact that you tried to share your faith with them.

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And that brings us to our second and third points… that

2. Sometimes, the ministry that God gives us seems like a failure; and

3. Sometimes the ministry that God gives us seems like a success.

Let’s go on in the Scripture, on Acts 13, verse four the Scripture tells us

On Cyprus

Now on to Cyprus. The Scripture is about to tell us that from Antioch, Saul and Barnabas went down to the port city Seleucia. And then they sailed across the Mediterranean, not that far across it, to Cyprus… Cyprus was an island on the Eastern side of the Mediterranean.  And there they start to minister in a couple of different cities. Here’s what the Scripture says,

4-11 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.

They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas (this is Bar-Jesus, just a different name for him) and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

Now let’s pause there.  So the Scripture tells us they come across a man named…. what was his parents thinking? … Bar Jesus.

Now.  I got on my phone and I started searching for all the bars in the Dayton area.  I found a Bar Louie, a Tank’s Bar, a Timothy’s Bar, but no “Bar Jesus”

Bar Jesus actually it means “son of Jesus”… in Aramaic it’s Jesus,  but in the Hebrew it’s Joshua, or Yeshua. And so the Son of Yeshua is this guy’s name.

And the Scripture tells us that when Saul and Barnabas arrive, this man, not only does he not receive their message, not only is he not converted or persuaded by their talks about Jesus, but in addition to his rejection of them, he is working to make sure that others around him don’t receive their message of Jesus Christ.  Particularly… this proconsul.

So here we find that Saul and Barnabas encounter this man… and I think that this is a common theme in the book of Acts that,

…sometimes our ministry efforts, that God calls us to, seem like a failure. 

And the reason why I use the word “seem” like a failure is because sometimes that which seems like a failure is really a success.  And sometimes that which seems like a success is really a failure.

But the truth is,

…that many times, when it seems like it’s a failure, it’s a failure. 

(Laughter)… and when it seems like it’s a success, it’s a success. 

So here we find they encountered this man Bar Jesus, and if their goal was to turn him and convert him by all practical means we could say this was a failure–they faced some resistance at this point.

This is a common theme in Acts.  We cannot read Acts, and see all of the advancement of the Gospel, all of the ministry successes, without also seeing that almost every time there’s a ministry success, it’s accompanied with the ministry failure.

It’s so important for us to realize that… because I’m concerned there are many people, when you talk to them about evangelism, or sharing their faith, or participating in a ministry, they will tell you about some experience they had — they tried that at one time.  And here’s why they don’t do it anymore… because it’s failed.

Well here’s the thing.

Failure happens in the Bible.

This your coach, kicking you in the butt saying, “Get back on the field, you can do better next time.”

Failures happen… this happens.  And so many people get discouraged–they don’t anticipate it.  And so when it happens they think, “Well this must not be what God’s called me to… I must be doing it wrong somehow.”

But the reality is,

…sometimes you might do everything right, but sometimes our ministry, that God calls us to, is still_a_failure.

It’s crucial for us to grasp because often times, I’ve discovered, that the failure come before the success. 

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Some of you know the story of the first time I was ever called to lead a Bible study.  I was in high school.  And I didn’t grow up in the church, I had no real Sunday School knowledge.  And I was just trying to attend a Bible study, but someone elected me to be the Bible study leader.

So that week I started reading this book by a Max Lucado, and it was “In The Grip of Grace”… a wonderful book, and he has this section in there that God really spoke to me… and I really felt like he was telling me to share this with this group of students.

I was excited… I was nervous, but I was more excited because I felt like God was behind me and he was supporting me, and I had this great thing to share.  And I got into the room.  And I completely tanked…  It was a miserable experience for me, and I’m sure for everyone else in the room as well.

I know because we had like twenty-five students the first week, and like twelve the next.

But that morning I went back to my locker and I sat there and I cried, in my public high school, at my locker, thinking, “God, this is the first time that you’ve asked me to step out in faith and do something like this and this is what happens?”

And the thing is that, since then, and even in my ministry today, things go back and forth.

There are some Sundays where I leave church I feel like a real success… and other Sundays I leave church I feel like a real failure.  Some Sundays I leave committee meetings, or session meetings feeling like a real success… and others I leave feeling like a real failure.

Sometimes I get emails from people that make me feel like a real success… and other times I get emails from people that make me feel like a real failure (Laughter).

You get the idea.

And here’s the thing… we have to be prepared for that reality.  God will give you a ministry, but that doesn’t mean that it will always be accompanied with success — at times you will also experience failure.

And I think the reason why He does that is to make sure our hearts are on the right place. 

Because if I talk to someone about my faith in Jesus Christ and they reject me… are they any worse off than they were before? No.

But I feel worse. I’m now wounded.  And what prevents me from going back? …my care for them? …or my care for myself?  It’s my care for myself — that’s what keeps us from having these hard conversations… it’s because, if we’re honest before God, we really care more about ourselves than them.

And I think one of the reasons why he allows us to fail before we experience success is because we have to get to a place in our heart where we care about the other person, more than ourselves.

Isn’t that the Gospel?

… that when we care about them more than ourselves we can have that conversation, even in the face of rejection, because we’re there for them, we’re not_there_for_ourselves.

Gold Dividing Line

There’s this Facebook quote, I threw up on our Facebook page here at Kirkmont the other day… and I’ll throw it up on the screen for you… this speaks to this whole topic that we’re discussing… it says,

be brave enough.jpg

To be brave enough to start a conversation that matters… it takes bravery, because sometimes those conversations fail — but they matter, because sometimes they succeed.

Let’s look at the very last verse in our Scripture together this morning.

12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

Isn’t it nice that the Scripture section here ends with that as well… not just this Bar Jesus guy.

Sometimes ministry seems like a success, and in this case, indeed it was. 

And this ought to motivate us… for the Gospel of Luke chapter fifteen verses eight through ten tell us this.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

 This is Luke, the same guy who was writing in the book of Acts, now quoting Jesus when Jesus said,

Luke 15:8-10 Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Church, at the beginning I asked you…

Does the best case scenario, outweigh the worst case scenario?

And I think this Scripture is a vivid reminder that,

 Yes_it_does.

Are you willing to be mocked —the worst case scenario… for the best case scenario… which is,

the angels in heaven rejoicing over a sinner who has repented.

Indeed… the success is worth the failure. 

And may we, this morning, leave this place… may we go into the world, with the love for others — the same love that drove Jesus Christ to the Cross for us, and for them…

And with the power of the Holy Spirit — the same power which raised him from the dead, that we might be used by God to change people’s stories.

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I want to invite our Praise Team to come forward as we prepare to sing our closing song together this morning … this is a song, “Your praise will ever be on my lips”. This is a song they introduced to us just a few minutes ago during our offering.  And now we have the opportunity singing together as a congregation.

Will you stand and join us as we close together.

 

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Kirkmont Closing Pic Combo

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Acts 12 – “Why Me?”

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Pulpit 3

Audio: [31:07]
(If you listen to audio, be sure to scroll down for video at bottom of this page)

“Why me?

Transcription:
“Those are words that, if we’re honest with ourselves, probably every single person in this room has asked God at one point in time… Why me?

Maybe you’re here this morning, and you have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one and it led you to ask the question… “Why me?”

Or maybe you’re here this morning, and it wasn’t a life or death matter, but you just feel like you’ve experienced more misery, or more hardship, or more tribulation in your life than you really deserve, or you really earned–than you think God should’ve allowed you to experience… and it led you to ask the question.  “Why me?”

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Or perhaps you’re here this morning, and you’ve asked the question “Why me” from the opposite end of things… you actually feel like God has blessed you, has spared you, has cared for you… greater than you deserve, in a certain instance, or over the course of your life, and it has led you to ask the words, “Why me?“…  why have you treated me so well, and spared me when you haven’t others?

Either way.  We’ve asked the question…“Why me?”

And today in our passage of Scripture, as we continue through the Book of Acts, we come to Acts chapter twelve, and we find two Biblical characters, two guys who were early leaders in the church… who both loved God and wanted to honor Him with their lives, but who seemingly get treated very differently by God.

And quite frankly, I couldn’t blame either one of them, if they would have asked the words… “Why me?”

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I want to invite you to our passage of Scripture together this morning… as I said, it’s found in the Book of Acts, which is the fifth book in the New Testament.  I’d LOVE to have you take a Bible and turn there with us to the Book of Acts–whether it’s your own or one of the ones we provide for you in the pew.

Fifth book in the New Testament, the Book of Acts chapter twelve.

If not we’ve got the Scripture on the screen behind me…  we’ll pull it up for you.  So here we are in the Book of Acts, chapter twelve starting in the very first verse.

Let’s look at these two characters and see how God treats them in a seemingly very different way.

It’s entitled in most of your Bibles something like, “Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison… as we got a glimpse of earlier in our children’s message. The Scripture says this,

Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

12:1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.

So Luke, who’s writing this, his early account of the church… he comes along and he tells us that a man named King Herod… now when we think of a king we think of somebody who’s like the absolute top authority.  But in the Roman Empire that wasn’t the case.  The emperor was the top authority, but the kings were in charge of various regions of the empire empire and they were appointed directly by the emperor.

So, King Herod was sort of like the second in command, the second tier of authority, if you will…. and for all practical purposes, he was in charge of the daily events of his area, his region.  He got to decide how people were treated in his area on a day to day basis.

And so it tells us that this king, King Herod, his name was Herod Agrippa… decides that

“he’s going to arrest some who belong to the church”.

Now, “some”…  we don’t know exactly who he’s arresting, we don’t know exactly how many, but he decides to come along and he arrests some of them for the purpose of persecuting them.

We don’t know why he’s motivated to arrest them, to persecute them yet–we’re going to see that in a second, but this is what he’s decided to do.

He comes along and in verse two the Scripture says,

2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.

We might be asking ourselves, “Who is James?“…besides the fact that we know he had a brother named John, because Luke just told us that.

Who is James?

So if we go all the way back to the Book of Matthew, Chapter four we look at verse twenty-one the Scripture tells us this.

21 Going on from there, he saw (that is Jesus saw) two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John.

So now we’re talking about the guys who Luke is talking about in Acts chapter twelve.

22 They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

This was a key moment in Jesus’s life as He’s beginning his ministry, and he’s decided to gather together twelve disciples who are going to be his best friends, whom he’s going to train in the matters of the Kingdom of God.

And among the twelve, two of them are a man named John and his brother James. James might have been the older brother since he’s listed first, we don’t know for sure, but he’s called James.

So this James guy is, of all the people that Jesus could have chosen to follow him out of the twelve that he chose, he’s one of them.

And not only that, but most people agree that John, his brother, was Jesus’s best friend.  So not only was he chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve.  But he was the brother of Jesus’s best friend.  And this is the guy that King Herod Agrippa decides to put to death at the sword.

When he saw that this pleased the Jews.

So now we have an understanding of why Herod’s about the business of putting these Christians in jail and having them killed–it’s a political move.

He not that invested personally in the church one way or the other… but he’s a political figure, and as we know, sometimes, they tend to do things that might just make people happy… that might make them more popular. And so we discover that that is why he does this.

He saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.

Now you might not recognize the name James, but if you’ve been hanging out with us here at Kirkmont for the Acts Series, you would recognize the name Peter… because Peter is the leading figure in the early church at this point.

He’s been involved in almost every chapter of Scripture we’ve looked at so far. Peter, John, and James, the brother of Jesus, at this point are probably the three biggest leaders of the early church.

So what you have is really kind of this movement of Herod… he goes from James to Peter, and I think it’s on purpose.

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Now we have to realize that when James is put to death at the sword, this is the first time that one of the original twelve disciples was martyred for their faith.  They had been mistreated… Peter had been mistreated in the past… other people have been killed for their faith, but James is the first of the twelve disciples who gets killed for their faith.

And now, Herod realizing, and thinking… “Hey. .. the whole James thing seemed to go over pretty well… people kind of like that.; let’s step it up a little bit and let’s go for the top dog of the church.  Let’s go get Peter.”

And he has Peter thrown in prison.

So their circumstances are very, very similar.  And yet the outcome.. very, very different.

This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains,

So, some time has passed by… we don’t know if it’s a night, or couple nights, or a few nights; but either way what we can gather is that this is now the night before he’s about to be brought to trial.

So Peter has every reason to believe this is his last night here on earth.  He’s going to be put to death tomorrow.

He’s bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.

So in other words, Peter thinks he’s having some sort of an out of body experience–a dream if you will, whereby God is showing him in this dream a miraculous escape.

Now you thought you had a dream that you woke up from and were disappointed to find out it wasn’t true.  Could you imagine, had Peter woken up from this and it was just a dream, “Hey, I showed you what it would have looked like, and how it could have felt to be escaped from prison…”

This is sort of Peter’s state of mind; he’s sort of in this trance, he thinks this is a vision, sort of an out of body experience… however you want to get your head around it…that’s what the Scripture is telling us.

Then in verse ten, it says,

10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.

So here we are, two leaders in the early church… both of them who seemingly loved God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength… wanted to serve the Kingdom of God.  We have no Biblical indication to think that one of them has committed some erroneous sin that God would want to punish them for… they for all practical purposes seem to be on the same level, on the same par,

and yet, God allows one to be put to death with the sword… and one is miraculously freed from prison.

And I could not blame either of them for asking the question,

Why me?

James asking the question, “Why is this happening to me?”  Peter asking the question, “If that happened to James, why are you freeing me?

We could not blame them if they asked that question.  And truthfully we could heap all other kinds or types of questions on this. There are all types of scenarios that flow out of this.  Which seem sort of difficult to respond to, and to handle.

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Now if we want to try to answer the question, “Why me?” from the text, our mind goes to the subject of PRAYER because that’s a subject that Luke, clearly involves in this passage of Scripture.

He makes sure that we know that while Peter is in prison, the Church, repeats on two occasions, “the Church is earnestly praying to God for them.”  They were gathered around praying for him.

So we cannot deny that Luke is including a component of the miraculous power of prayer.  And that part of the reason why Peter has escaped from prison and freed from prison, is because of the power of prayer.

That is certainly something we are supposed to take away from this chapter… but can that serve as the only answer? Can that stand alone, in answering the question,

“Why does God free one, and allow the other to be put to death?

Certainly it can’t … because that would beg the question, ‘What about James?”  Was no one praying for James.  Had they forgotten to pray for James?  Are you telling me that one of the leading leaders, one of the leaders of the early church, one of the twelve disciples is in prison, and at risk of having his life come to an end… and no one thought of praying for him?

Are you telling me that James didn’t think to pray for himself?  Are you telling me that Jesus who called him into a relationship with him, himself who was seated at the right hand of God the father, forgot to intercede to the Father on his behalf.

“No one prayed for James…”… right? …”and people prayed for Peter, and that’s why it happened.”

That’s doesn’t hold up.

Of course the other problem with that would be, we would naturally be asking the question, well what about all the scenarios in my life where two people are put in very similar difficult circumstances.  And the number of times of which the person who had a bunch of people praying for them, and was not spared, was not delivered.

And there are other occasions where someone doesn’t have a bunch of people praying for them, and maybe they did indeed NOT even think to pray for themselves.  And yet they were freed.

What about that?  How does prayer stand up to that?

It doesn’t completely suffice in answering the question, Why me?”

And a lot of other scenarios that would piggyback off of this scenario.  I mean there are some people who experience “the James thing”, and then kind of “the Peter thing”.

Then some people who experience sort of the Peter scenario, and then only to experience the James scenario.

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That’s something that happened, I think, in Amanda and my life.  In the last few years, I think we’ve sort of experienced the Peter thing… and then experienced the James thing in our life.  Let me tell you what I mean by that.

A few years ago, we felt like God was calling us to start the adoption process… through the country of Ethiopia.  We felt like he was calling us to adopt two children from Ethiopia.

And quite frankly we put it off for a year or two after we felt like he was prodding us to do that. Because the money was just intimidating, and we didn’t have it.  We thought his timing must have been wrong.

And so eventually though, a couple of years after God was sort of prompting us in that direction, we had had a recent miscarriage, and I think we finally just decided to sort of submit to God’s will in our life.

So we started the process, making it known to our friends and family, knowing that we didn’t really have the means to finish the process.

And, you know, that within forty eight hours or so my sister called us up, and she said, “I saw that you’re starting the adoption process.,”  I said, “Yes.”  And she said, “Do you know that I’ve been thinking about you guys and adoption, and that if you ever did, we would want to help you, we would want to support you in that process.”

And, she said, “I just haven’t been wanting to bring it up because of the miscarriage… it just seemed insensitive, but if you’re ready to move forward we want to help you out.”  And she said, “What’s your immediate need?”

I said, “Well, to get started, there’s a three thousand dollars payment to our agency… and I mean we’re stuck from the get go.  And she said, “I’ll make that happen.”

And we hung up the phone, and we were just thinking, “Oh my gosh.. God is clearly providing for us.”  And this happened time and time again.

The closest we’ve ever experienced, to God’s miraculous hand in our life, seeing Him, just provide for us, like God did for Israel with manna in the desert on a daily basis.

And this happened time and time again.  We would get a thousand dollar check from a family member right when we needed the money; but probably the biggest incident that happened, happened several months later.

We were up against a five thousand dollar road block… that’s what we owed our agency and it was just this, insurmountable amount to us at that time.

But, for the past few years leading up to that, I had been volunteering for a role in our denomination… I had been serving in this role, as a volunteer.

And my time came to an end, right as we were owing this money. And our denomination came to me and said, “You know when we asked you to do this, we didn’t realize how much work this was going to take.” And so they said. “We would like to give you a ‘thank you’.”

Now when I heard that I wasn’t even thinking about the adoption process. I was thinking,   ‘Fifty dollar Applebee’s gift card’… you know… like, “We’re going to dinner tonight!” … or something like that.   Or maybe a hundred dollar check;  but they give us a check for…, well, you just tell me how much… Five thousand dollars… that’s right.

So… here we were, God is treating us like Peter.

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And then last May, our agency called us up, and said, “You know what, we can no longer afford to operate in Ethiopia.  We regret to inform you that we are closing our adoption process through the country of Ethiopia.”

And in effect… “All of the time, and all of the money that you’ve spent on the process, are now gone, and wasted.”

And the biggest thing for Amanda and I in wrestling with this was, “Why would you bless us so, only for this to be ‘The End’.  Why would you treat us as Peter, only to eventually treat us as James?

And you know others have experienced similar circumstances, maybe you here in this room.  And others have experienced the opposite.  They’ve been treated as James, but eventually treated as Peter.

Gold Dividing Line

Perhaps you’ve heard of a group of men, most notably known by the name of Jim Elliot, he was one of them.  As a group of men, who went to Wheaton College in 1945, and eleven years later in 1956, they felt God was calling them to go be missionaries, to a specific tribe of people in Eastern Ecuador, in a Tropical Rainforest, and to minister to this group of people.

And this tribe of people were known to be extremely violent.  And also known to have never really heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a result.

So they felt like God was calling them to take their wives and their young families and move, and try to share the Gospel with this tribe that was notorious for killing people with their spears, and for their violence.

So they moved, and they relocated to a point where they were at a safe distance, but close enough that they could reach them.  And they began by taking their plane, and flying it towards where the tribe was, and dropping, sort of, “Care packages”, if you will.

So that they would start to associate the plane, with their care and their provision and their love for them as a tribe.  And eventually, these five men finally decided it was time… they felt like they had warmed up with them enough, that it was time to land the plane get out of the plane and to make personal contact with them.

And the very first time that they got out of the plane, and tried to make contact with them, the tribesmen speared all five of them to death.

And I couldn’t blame any of those men, if while it was happening, if they hadn’t said something like,

“Why me?”

“Why would you put this upon our heart for this to be the end of it?”  

And I certainly wouldn’t have blamed their wives, and their children if they had all just packed up and gone home, and said, “Well… this must be a James incident.”

But you know what? … what happened in history is that their wives, and their families, and other friends, came alongside and supported them, and they stuck it out.

And eventually through the Divine Providence of God, He gave them the opportunity to communicate with them safely… they were able to communicate to them a message… could you imagine this, a message of forgiveness.

The tribe’s hearts were softened by the Spirit of God… they gave their life to Jesus Christ.  And this group of white people and this tribe became family.

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Later we’re going to see a video clip, about how some of this comes to an end.  But just imagine being a child, growing up with this tribe, knowing that one of these men around you, is the man that probably took your father’s life.

See, this began as a James Story, but it ended up as a Peter Story.

Gold Dividing Line

And so God has all of these miraculous ways, and all these different ways of working, and we could have multiple questions about, “Why Me?” … And why does this happen… why does it start with James and become Peter, or vice versa…  Or why one or why the other, but we’re here for answers, more than we are for questions, right?

And I think the answer lies in the idea that we as a church here in America have completely lost our way when it comes to understanding what it means to be blessed by God.

We’ve completely lost our understanding of what it means to have God treat us fairly, to care for us, to bless us.  We have adopted and embraced the mentality of the world’s blessing around us and therefore we haven’t a clue anymore, when we have been blessed, or when we haven’t been blessed.

We don’t even understand that anymore, because our mindset is completely adrift from God’s.

You think about this passage from our mindset here in America… we are trained to read it and say, “James was obviously treated unfairly Peter was obviously the recipient of God’s blessing.”  

Many of us, if I had preached that message, would have never ever questioned that–it seems so obvious to us that that’s the way it is, we’re hard wired that way.

But just Paul in his Epistle… does he say later in the New Testament, “Oh by the way to die is to be cursed by God?”  Does he say, “To die is somehow to not be treated fairly by God?” Does he say, “To die is not to be blessed by God?”…or does he say, “To die is…” what??? …

gain…

Philippians 4:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

He says those words because he has a perspective that many people in the Church have forgotten even though it’s one week since Easter… and that is he has an Eternal Perspective he understands the power of the resurrection, and the beautiful Glory of Eternal Life; and the promise of eternal life and therefore he views God’s treatment of him through that lens.

But most people in the church have completely forgotten about that. 

We review God’s treatment of us through the lens of the world around us.  Our understanding of being blessed is no different than the world around us.

  • We want to have a spouse that’s good looking and doesn’t argue with us just like the world wants.
  • We want to have a house that’s big enough  so we never have to worry about how much room we have,  just like the world does.
  • We want to have a car that others envy that we don’t have to worry about breaking down from point A to point B… just like the world does.
  • We want to have children who are smart, and good looking, and successful — just like the world does.

We want all of the same blessings that they do, and we haven’t ever really asked ourselves, “Is that what it means for God to bless us?

There are folks in the Bible, maybe you’ve heard of the stories: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegoin the book of Daniel, chapter three.  The Scripture tells us, starting verses sixteen through eighteen.

The context is, these are three men who want to honor God with their lives, and they’re being forced to consider that idea of worshipping a human king.  And they refused to do that and the king basically says, “Okay if you refuse I’m going to put you in a fiery furnace and you will die.”

And you thought YOUR  religious freedoms were being challenged…  And so they say this,

16-17 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.

Now let’s just pretend that the verse ended there, the whole passage ended there, that that was the essence of their response.  What they would basically be saying is,

  • We believe in a God that can miraculously deliver us.
  • We believe in a God who will treat us like Peter.  And as long as he does we will keep worshipping him and praising him; we will be faithful to him.
  • We’ll honor him, we won’t regret having honored him because he will deliver us like he does Peter.

But that’s not the end of their response.  They also say,

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

In other words, “We will continue to be faithful to him regardless of whether he spares us or whether he doesn’t.  We won’t worry about that… God gets to treat us how he will, he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he is our God regardless of the outcome.

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And the thing is, that we have too many people in the Church who view God’s blessing through the lens of this world, and not through an eternal_heavenly_perspective.

Too many people in the church who want to go to heaven some day and they, quite frankly, want to have heaven today too.

And not enough people in the church who have the heart and the spirit of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego… that say, “God has done all that he needs to do for me by saving me through his Son Jesus Christ. ..

This life is his… and he can treat me as he will…and I will continue to honor him with my life

I want to play this video clip for you as I promised. It’s from The End of the Spear–that’s the name of this movie.

There are a lot of movies and books that surround this whole story, but this is the scene whereby the son of one of the men who was killed by this tribe has grown up.

They’re still in relationship with this tribe, but by now the tribesmen have become brothers and sisters in Christ… and he learns who the precise man was, that took his father’s life.  And the whole subject of forgiveness and stuff as just round up and this.

We’ll let you watch it.

This message this morning isn’t necessarily a topic about forgiveness per se, but we can’t deny that forgiveness isn’t wrapped up in it… that if we are clinging to this world’s view of being blessed by God, and without an eternal perspective, then those people who have taken something near and dear to us, away… will be very difficult to forgive.

Communion

And as we transition.  And as we come to this table we are reminded that this table is indeed a sign and a seal of God’s covenant of grace… His covenant of forgiveness.

For by his body in which it was broken, and his blood which is shed, we experience the full measure of that forgiveness.  And as a result of it we have the promise of eternal life, so we are able to say to God, with complete confidence, “You can treat me in this life, and allow whatever circumstance you want to happen to me in this life… as you will, because I am forgiven, the grave will not contain me,.it cannot hold me, and I will go to a place that you are preparing for me, even as we are gathered here this morning.

I want to invite our elders who are so helping to serve to come forward and just time.

And as they do, I want to let you know that if you happen to be new with us here at Kirkmont, that this is not a table that we claim ownership of.  And certainly, I’m not the host of it.  And by that I mean you are welcome… regardless of whether this is your first time here or not, to come to the table and join us for Communion, to participate in these elements.

We ask only that you have placed your faith and your trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

And if that’s you, you are invited to participate on the table together.

I would remind you that on the night that Jesus was betrayed, that Jesus, having given thanks for the bread, he then broke the bread and in plain view of his disciples, saying to them,

“This bread represents my body, which is broken for you.”

And then he invited them to do this and remembrance of him.

Easter – Cross Over to Life

Opening Video

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Pastor Dan Composite

Audio [22:51]

Transcription:
“I love that last line in the video we just watched… it says that “The truth that is crying out from the empty tomb, is that no matter where you’ve been, or no matter what you’ve done, LIFE can begin again – BECAUSE OF HIM.”  

Speaking of LIFE, my wife Amanda and I learned very early on in our marriage, that we were not very good at taking care of things that were alive.  In our first year of marriage we had multiple incidences of failure, taking care of things that were alive.

The first one that happened, we were at seminary where we spent our first few years of marriage, and her best friend brought to us a plant… she was going away for a while and wanted us to take care of her plant.

She cared about this plant, well… more than I think anyone should care about a plant, but she cared about this plant, and she brought it to us and we were to take care of it.

I don’t remember all the details but I’m sure that we watered it… for a couple of days.  And then we forgot all about it, until we heard the knock on the door, and we had the Walk of Shame to Brittany, her best friend whose plant had died in our care.

And then some time later, my wife’s sister, who was also at seminary with us, who apparently hadn’t heard about the plant story, brought to us a fish. This was a fish that she cared about, more than I think anyone should care about a fish, but nonetheless she brought us a fish and put it in our care.

I don’t remember all the details.  I’m sure we fed the fish… for the first couple of days.  And then we forgot about the fish until she knocked on the door.  And we had the Walk of Shame having to bring to her… I assume we didn’t bring the dead fish; we probably had done something else with the fish by then, and maybe just brought her the empty bowl of some kind.

But you know, as bad as we are at caring for a living things, one of the things that united Amanda and I early on in our relationship, is the recognition, that as bad as we are at that, we have messed up our own lives, far worse… we have messed up our own lives far worse than that.

And so we love expressions like, the truth of the empty tomb crying out to you and I saying, that “ No matter what you’ve done; no matter where you’ve been, life can begin again.

So I want to talk to you about this whole idea of,

CROSSING OVER TO LIFE

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Continue reading Easter – Cross Over to Life

Good Friday – The Prosperity Cross

Pastor Dan Borgelt

Audio: [18:33]

Transcription:
“As we continue through the Gospel of Luke in the twenty third chapter, Luke writes of these events happened in the life of Jesus. Starting now, in verse twenty six the Scripture tells us this,

The Crucifixion of Jesus

26-43 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.  A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then

“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
    and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Church, this evening, this Good Friday in which we recall Christ’s death on the Cross for our sins… I want to begin by asking you a question.  And that is,

Are you prepared to experience suffering, and not have your faith shaken? 

Are you prepared to experience suffering, and not have your faith shaken?

Gold Dividing Line

Continue reading Good Friday – The Prosperity Cross