6/28 Sermon

What Are You Doing, God?

Acts 3

            Do I need to tell you we are in the midst of a gargantuan struggle? We don’t even know what to call it. A pandemic, maybe, but it’s more than that. This is not just a disease. This is a disaster. People cannot tell the difference between truth and falsehood, between right and wrong, between friend and foe. When you cannot believe the people you elected, the news media, the internet, or the supposed authorities, who can you believe? Some people are dying of a disease, some die of neglect and despair, others are losing their jobs, their businesses, their homes, their families, their freedoms, and can see no way out. We see injustice, destruction, and discord every day, if we even dare turn on the TV.

            When we ask, “What is the answer?” we should ask, “Who is the answer?” The old saying, “Jesus is the answer,” made fun of in the past, needs to rise like the morning sun and illuminate this land. Shine, Jesus, Shine!

            God is the answer. God is bigger than a virus, bigger than a riot, bigger than a state or a country, bigger than a governor or a president, and far more powerful than all of these. We know He is still working. We may not know what He is doing, but we know He has a plan.

            In case you haven’t found out yet, you should know two things: God always keeps His promises, and God likes to surprise us. The writings of Luke are full of holy surprises. If they were fiction, which they are not, the Gospel of Luke could be named, “Surprise!” and the Acts of the Apostles would be “Surprise Too!”

            Read with me Acts 3:1-8. The slide will begin at verse 2.

            Every good writer knows that you need to start your story by grabbing the reader’s attention. Preachers need to do that, too. The first three recorded sermons ever in the Church Age were from Peter. And every one of them has a compelling introduction. The difference is that the attention grabbing beginning did not come from Peter.

            In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit’s arrival got the crowd’s attention in a hurry. In Acts 4 Peter and John were arrested and interrogated by the authorities. And, in Acts 3, God surprised everyone with a healing miracle. In all three, Peter did not have time to prepare his message. He just opened his mouth and the words came.

The surprise beginning:

  • Verse 1: the context of prayer.
  • Verse 2: the need of a man.
  • Verse 3: the weak appeal.
  • Verse 4: the focused eyes.
  • Verse 5: the feeble expectation.
  • Verse 6: the surprising command.
  • Verse 7: the helping hand.
  • Verse 8: the jumping with joy.

            Well, that would get your attention, wouldn’t it! The Beautiful Gate, from what I read, was the most popular entrance to the temple, the best place for a beggar. But he entered the temple courts after he was healed. Peter and John went to Solomon’s Colonnade, a covered porch, where they could get relief from the hot afternoon sun, to pray, with a man clinging to them, and people running in to see the miracle man. The audience was ready made. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, took full advantage.

The surprising news:                    Acts 3:12-15.

  • Verse 12: Why does this surprise you?
  • Verse 12: Why do you stare at us?
  • Verse 13: Why didn’t you recognize who Jesus is?
  • Verse 13: Why did you want him killed?
  • Verse 14: Why did you disown God’s Holy One?
  • Verse 15: Why did you kill your Creator?

            Think about it. Disasters have been happening ever since sin entered this world. We think we have it bad? Read your Bible. Read your history books. One disaster after another. The sin pandemic has been far worse far longer than Covid-19. It never goes away. Why are we surprised?

            Not that everything is bad. Much good is in our world, since humans are created in the image of God, and we are seeing wonderful deeds of love in the midst of our disaster. It’s just that evil gets so much attention. When we see the horrible deeds of murder and rioting and societal injustice and political hate, we ask why, why, why? Why doesn’t God do something? But He has.

            He sent His Son.

            That provoked the worst disaster of all time, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The human race killed its Inventor, its Author, its Savior. And cheered!

  • Verse 15: Surprise! God the Father raised God the Son from the dead, and the two of them sent the Holy Spirit as a Gift of Love to all who believe.

The surprising power:                 Acts 3:16.

            The authorities had to be confused and frustrated. They thought they had put an end to those pesky, unexplainable miracles. Now they had their power back, right? Wrong. Those pesky disciples were doing the same thing!

            Politicians back then were no different than politicians now. They love the power and will do anything to get it. The people were staring at Peter and John, thinking they themselves had done the miracle. Peter, in verses 12 and 16, made sure the crowd knew that this was the same Jesus at work as before. Jesus can’t be killed, and His power can’t be stopped.

            And that is our assurance at this difficult time, too, that Jesus is the answer, and His power is greater than any pandemic, any politics, any wickedness, any spiritual forces of evil that inhabit this world. (See Ephesians 6:10-13.) Put the blame where it belongs, on Satan himself, and know that God has already won, and the devil is on his way down!

The surprising  promise:             Acts 3:19-20.

            You would think, wouldn’t you, that God’s promise would be to destroy those depraved people who killed Jesus? That God would gladly send that murdering police officer and those despicable rioters down to hell with Satan? But no, our amazing God says, “Repent and you will be forgiven. You will have your sins wiped away.” Not just good people taking care of the suffering, not just good police protecting the innocent, not just good protestors pursuing justice, but also the murderers, the rioters, and the haters can be saved. And He promises not only forgiveness, but even “times of refreshment.” [Sounds like pot luck to me.]

The surprise ending:                    Acts 3:25.

            Seriously God? This is available to every family on earth?

            Yes. The original Greek word for “peoples” is “families.” Every family on earth forever can have this, if they will trust me. I promised this to Abraham and I will keep that promise. THE END.