Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Acts 4: Trials Make You Taller Hear this message and others: download our free app @ the App Store: Search The Gathering Connect
WHAT’S THE USE? Acts 4:1-3
Last week we learned about the amazing things that occur when we leap out on faith in God. Peter and John, two ordinary men, on their way to “church” Temple) one afternoon, prayed over a crippled man and he was healed. Peter used this opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with those who witnessed the miracle; it was only fitting, since the miracle was not something he did but was done in the power of Christ (Acts 3:11-12). For this “good” thing, he and John were thrown in jail! Have you ever done something good for someone only to be treated badly? Have you ever done what Jesus directed you to do only to be “locked up?” If you have you may have thought “what’s the use?”
TAKERS: Most people are takers. They take what they can from others and give nothing back. These people rarely say thank you and when they do it is only so that they can take more later on. Takers come in all ages, shapes and sizes, and many of them even claim to be followers of Christ; they have much to learn of course, because they lack the obvious trait of a Christ follower by not being givers. Jesus said: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 He also told us who follow Him: Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38
GIVERS: God’s true disciples are givers, and you will know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:20). A giver recognizes and appreciates all that has been given to them by God and by others and wants to reciprocate (give back). A giver gives out of a cheerful heart of appreciation. That is why it hurts so badly when a giver is taken! Peter and John were givers. They were filled with appreciation for what Christ had done for them and they wanted to share it with a crippled beggar and those who witnessed the miracle of his healing…but they were taken! Taken to jail!
AMERICA GIVERS & TAKERS
As we look towards the celebration of Independence Day, it is givers and not takers who have made America great, men and women who bled and died for our posterity– those who loved God and nation more than themselves. The takers of today have set us on a path of destruction. Self-centeredness, godlessness, liberalism and socialism are rising like a tornado on the horizon and threatening our great nation and future. For the sake of our nation, our children and grandchildren we need to stop expecting more and start giving! In the famous words of President John F. Kennedy, we need to: “Ask not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for your country”. Stand up and be bold American Christians. Don’t let the unpatriotic and ungodly kill America and the Judaeo-Christian values that this country was founded on. Stand up even in the face of persecution and be bold.
WHO LOVES YA’ BABY? Matthew 25:31-40, Colossians 3:23-24
When feeling abused or discouraged for giving we must remember who is pleased with us. Our encouragement must come from He who sent us to serve in the first place, it must come from the source of our strength, who is Jesus. Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) and to serve the “least of these.” He also promised a reward for doing so (Matthew 25:31-40). His reward will far outweigh any discouragement or persecution dished out by man. “No eye has seen…” 1 Corinthians 2:9 When you are discouraged in your service, be encouraged by His Word and the promises He has made to His faithful ones. Remember , all we do we do as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24).
If we are to continue being encouraged to serve God then we must not look for that encouragement from other people, but from God Himself.
“THE NEXT DAY” Acts 4:3b-22, Hebrews 11:35b-40, 12:1-3
As little Orphan Annie would sing: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya’, tomorrow your only a day away.” This is a good song to live by! Reading further along in Peter and John’s story, we see what God saw all along. Yes, they were locked in jail, but “the next day” came. So often we get discouraged because we can’t see beyond the trial to the blessing that waits tomorrow, next week, next year, or in the experience of some great missionaries, many years down the road:
* William Carey was in India for seven years before he baptized his first convert.
* David Livingstone served eight years in Africa before seeing anyone converted.
* Hudson Taylor in China, waited ten years!
And then still there were “others” it speaks of in Hebrews 11:35b-40 who never even lived to see the fruits of their faithfulness to God. Yet, because of their faithfulness to God’s service the gospel of the Kingdom of God was brought to earth…and ultimately to you and me. They will have their great reward! Revelation 22:12
In Acts 4: 11-12 Peter boldly proclaims the reason for the sharing of this gospel with a prophetic Psalm from David (Psalm 118:22-23) once quoted by Jesus to the chief priests and Pharisees who questioned His authority (Matthew 21:42-44). What a slap in the face of Annas and Caiaphas who were largely responsible for His crucifixion (John 18:13-14, 24). Peter put them face to face with their utter rejection of their Messiah (“cornerstone”).
Note: The cornerstone (foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones are set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
In the threat of opposition and persecution, Peter and John proclaim that they will “not stop speaking about what they have seen and heard.” Neither can we…
If we are to continue serving joyfully today then we must anticipate the intervention of God in our tomorrows.
RAGING SMALL & GROWING TALL! Acts 4:23-31, James 1: 2-4
Selfish people lash out when they don’t get their way. They rage, plot, and threaten persecution to those who stand against them. When we live as servants of God we must remember to look above their smallness and worship Him. If we do this we will grow taller spiritually as that early church did even in the face of scorn. When we stand firm in the truth and live as givers even in the face of discouragement and opposition the places we meet will be shaken too as we are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak the word of God boldly.
Are you a Giver or a taker? Are you shrinking in self-centeredness or growing taller in Christ and His calling. The choice is yours and so are the consequences.