Great Ways to Obey our God

Great Ways to Obey our God

Acts 3:1-26 (Initial reading vs. 1-9)

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church – July 7, 2013

*No true Christian can be happy living in disobedience. I heard something in a church in Warner Robins, Georgia 35 years ago, and I hope I never forget it: “The most miserable people in this world are not the lost people. The most miserable people in the world are the Christians living like lost people.”

*We have every good reason to live in obedience to God, and in this chapter we see 4 great ways to obey our God.

1. First: Obey Jesus by praying to the Lord.

*We should be like the Apostles in vs. 1. There “Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” Devout Jews had three special hours set aside for prayer each day. In these verses, Peter and John went to pray at 3 in the afternoon.

*Peter and John went to pray in vs. 1, because they wanted to be obedient to the Lord, because they wanted to draw close to God, and because they knew the power of prayer. They knew what prayer could do both in their hearts and in their world!

*Peter and John went to pray, and a man born with a serious birth defect was miraculously healed. Peter and John went to pray, and chapter 4 will tell us that 5,000 people got saved! All of these great things happened, because Peter and John were obeying God’s command to pray.

*There is no question that God commands us to pray. For example, in Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

*In Matthew 6:6, Jesus said, “when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” 

*And in Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus told His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

*On the night before the cross, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed in agony to the Father. In Matthew 26:40-41, Jesus came back to the disciples and found them asleep. Then Jesus:

40. . . said to Peter, “What, could you not watch with Me one hour? 

41. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

*One of the best ways the Lord showed His love for children was by praying for them. We see this happen in Matthew 19:13-15:

13. Then little children were brought to Him (i.e. Jesus) that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 

14. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 

15. And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

*Those parents knew what prayer could do in the lives of their children. And God wants us to know more and more the incredible value of prayer. It can change our lives. And it can change our world!

2. So we should obey Jesus by praying to the Lord. — But also by giving for the Lord.

*We can see this truth starting in vs. 2-3:

2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 

3. who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 

*That man in vs. 2 was lame from the day he was born. He was never able to run as a child, never able to take a step, never able to take care of himself. He was reduced to begging outside the Temple, and he tried to beg for money from Peter and John. But in vs. 4-8, God used Peter to give that man more than he ever dreamed possible.

4. Fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 

5. So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 

6. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 

7. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 

8. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them walking, leaping, and praising God.

*God wants His people to be givers. 

[1] Notice that we give out of what the Lord has given to us.

*For Peter that day, it was a special gift of healing. And what a gift it was! What a miracle! This was the greatest day the lame man had ever had! He was over 40 years old, and had never been able to take a single step his whole life.

*I wonder how old he was when he began to see that there was something wrong with him, something missing, things that the other children could do that he could not do. And then to know or believe that he would never be able to do those things.

*But now the day came when he was “walking, leaping and praising God.” What a change! What a day! And by the way, a day like that is coming for all of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! Whatever is wrong with us will be made right! Whatever is weak in us will be made strong! Whatever holds us down will be forced to let us go!

*But in these days, we give what the Lord has given to us. For Peter that day, it was a special gift of healing, and the Lord wants us to give what He has given to us. A little boy gave his lunch, and 5,000 were fed. A widow gave her two mites and the Lord said it was the biggest gift of the day.

*We are to give what the Lord has given to us. Peter had to say, “Silver and gold have I none.” But most of us can say that God has given us a great abundance. And one of the most precious things God has given to us all is our time. What if Peter had told that man, “Hey, we’d like to help you, but we don’t want to be late for the Temple service.”?

*God wants us to invest our time in the things that last forever: His Word, His Church, and people.

[2] We give what the Lord has given us. — But we also give the glory to God.

*The people there that day quickly realized that something amazing had happened, but Peter was very careful to give the glory to God. In vs. 9-16:

9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 

10. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 

11. Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 

12. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 

13. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 

14. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 

15. and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 

16. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

*Give what the Lord has given you, and always give the glory to God. This is a great way to obey.

3. We should obey Jesus by giving for the Lord. — But also by trusting in the Lord.

*Notice again what Peter said about Jesus in vs. 16: “His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

*Faith can and will do miraculous things.

[1] But as we think about faith tonight let’s focus on the object of our faith.

*We should always go back to what the Lord said in Mark 11:22: “Have faith in God.” Christians: Our faith is not in our faith! 

*And Peter reminded us back up in vs. 12 that our faith must not be in our own goodness or holiness. Please listen again to what Peter said in vs. 12: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”

*Our faith is not in our own power or goodness. Our faith is in God! And our faith should be in God, because as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With God all things are possible.” God is big enough, and good enough to take care of every need we will ever have.

*I love the story Brian Harris told about a little boy who went to the store with his mom. The shop owner was a kind man, so he held out a big jar of suckers and invited the boy to grab a handful. The boy surprised his mother by hesitating. He usually wasn’t shy, but he kept holding back.

*Finally, the shop owner pulled out a big handful of suckers for the little boy. When they got outside, Mom asked, “Why were you so shy? Why didn’t you take a handful of suckers?” Her little boy answered: “Because his hand is a lot bigger than mine!” (1)

*God’s Hand is infinitely bigger than ours, so we can have faith in God. And our faith must be in God, because this is the true faith. And it’s the only kind of faith that gives glory to God.

[2] God is the object of our faith. — But also think about the influence of our faith.

*Please listen to Peter talking about Jesus again in vs. 16: “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

*The miraculous healing came through faith. But who had the faith? It wasn’t the lame man. Yes, maybe he expected a few coins from Peter and John. But he got infinitely more than he expected, and it didn’t come through his own faith.

*Peter and John were the believers walking in faith that day. And God can use our faith to help make a miraculous difference in someone else’s life, all for the glory of God.

4. We should obey Jesus by trusting in the Lord. — But also by telling people about the Lord.

*Peter started telling the people about Jesus in vs. 12-16, and he continued through the end of this chapter.

[1] One of the main things Peter focused on was the magnitude of our sin.

*That’s what Peter did back up in vs. 13-15, where he said:

13. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 

14. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 

15. and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 

*William Barclay called this “The Crime of the Cross,” and the people in the temple that day were absolutely guilty. (2)

*Peter gave them a five-count indictment of their crimes: “You delivered Jesus up. You denied Jesus in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. You denied the Holy One and the Just. You asked for a murderer to be granted to you. You killed the Prince of life.”

*What a terrible indictment! But who was really responsible for the cross? Was it just the Jews in Jerusalem? — Of course not! It was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. As Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

[2] Peter focused on was the magnitude of our sin. He also focused on the mercy of our Savior.

*When we begin to get a measure of our sin, then we can also begin to get a measure of God’s mercy! So please listen as Peter continued in vs. 17-19a:

17. “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 

18. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 

19. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . .”

*In vs. 18, we see that God had always planned for our perfect Savior to suffer for our sins, because that was the only way our sins could ever have been forgiven. And in vs. 19, we see that if we turn to the Lord our sins will be blotted out forever! Our crimes can be covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ! When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our sins are completely washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ!

*And this covering will be completed to the fullest when Jesus comes again. As Peter said in vs. 19-21:

19. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 

20. and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 

21. whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

*This ultimate time of perfection is coming for all who trust in Jesus Christ, and it is coming through the merciful kindness of our God!

[3] Peter focused on was the mercy of our Savior. — He also focused on the message of the Scripture.

*God has made the message clear for all who will hear. Peter tells us this in vs. 22-26:

22. “For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 

23. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 

24. Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 

25. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 

26. To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” 

*God has made His message clear. From the Old Testament to the New, from prophet to prophet, step by step, God has made the message clear. And He wants us to make it clear everywhere we can, every way we can. What a difference we can make when we tell people about Jesus Christ!

*John Smithson told the story of a young girl who grew up in California during the Great depression. When she was ten, her family was so poor that they lived in a tent. Her home life was horrible. Her father was an alcoholic, and her sisters were prostitutes.

*But one day a man and woman came and invited the girl to church. Then they started taking her to church. After church, they would also take the girl home with them to feed her and visit with her. They showed this young girl the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. And because of this, she eventually came to know the Lord.

*John Smithson told that story and asked if one person can make a difference. Then John answered his question by saying, “This little girl was my grandmother and because of the love shown her 55 years ago, every one of her descendants are Christians and working for God. Because of her, I am here. All three children pastor churches. Three grandchildren pastor churches, plus music leaders and Sunday School teachers. A whole army from one person!” (3)

CONCLUSION: 

*And all of those wonderful things happened, because that couple obeyed the Lord. Church: We know that we have every good reason to obey the Lord.

*And as we go to God in prayer, may God help us to obey Jesus:

-By praying to the Lord.

-By giving for the Lord.

-By trusting in the Lord.

-And by telling people about the Lord.

*Would you please bow for prayer.

(1) “The Giver’s Big Hands,” Citation: Brian Harris, Mt. Roskill, Auckland, New Zealand – Source: SermonCentral illustration contributed by Todd Coget

(2) Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT) – Copyright Statement: These files are public domain. Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission. Bibliography Information: Barclay, William. “Commentary on Acts 3:4“. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/acts-3.html. 1956-1959 – THE CRIME OF THE CROSS – Acts 3:11-16

(3) SermonCentral illustration contributed by John Smithson

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