12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? Acts 3:12

Introduction… Acts 3:12-19

The book of Acts is the story of the early history of the Church.  It was written by Paul’s Gentile associate, Luke.  Both because of who wrote it and to whom it was written particularly to lift up the universal mission of the Church.

The lesson for today was part of a sermon by Peter at Solomon’s portico on the east side of the temple in Jerusalem.  It followed the healing of a lame man.

Peter began asking the crowd of Jews who had gathered after the healing why they seem so surprised and so excited as if he and John had performed the miracle.  They had, but not really.  They saw themselves as merely the agents through which Jesus had acted.  It was Jesus who had performed the miracle, not them.  They were healers alright but only by using “borrowed power,” so to speak.

The healing of the lame man was said to have happened by faith…not in the healers but in Jesus’ name.

So…why are we so surprised when great things happen in Jesus name?

Why are we so amazed that lives are transformed, hopes re-born, vision re-cast?

What does it say about us that we are ever so surprised when good things happen in Jesus’ name through ordinary human beings powered by His love?

Are you sometimes like me…amazed at all the things that are done in Jesus’ name?

We got a very generous donation from someone’s estate recently ($10,000), the very day this past week I sat down to write this sermon.  Imagine that, a check for $10,000. while I was writing about the amazing that people sometimes do, no, actually do a lot in the name of their Lord.

The check was from the attorney for the estate of a member who had recently passed away.  He had left instructions in his will to give it as a gift to the church…with no strings attached.

So why am I so surprised?  Delighted, of course, surprised … no, people of faith, people whose life has been touched by Jesus are always generous, loving people.  Their gifts shouldn’t surprise me at all.

 

I met someone this week I hadn’t seen in 40 years, someone I should have perhaps remembered but didn’t.  Ends up he had been an adopted son of someone in the church back before my time and had gone back to his birth father even before I got here. That day he was filling in for the man who drives the garbage truck that services the church.  The man’s mother had just died and this man who remembered me, remembered meeting me shortly after I came and was only filling in for our original driver parked the big truck and came up to the door to say “hello”.  He had a story to tell me, it was important for him for me to remember him and bless him…which I did.

After years of living his own life away from any church he has recently found Jesus and has been going to a Wesleyan Congregation about 45 minutes from here.  I took the time to talk with him, to reminisce with him, to give him a “tour” of the church he remembered (the old building) and to congratulate him on his new found life in a church.  I was surprised by the whole encounter, but why should I have been so surprised?   Why should I be so surprised that someone is born anew, finds the Lord and comes to share the joy of his memories of this place in another lifetime, a long time ago?  Lives are changed when Christ enters the heart and soul of a believer.

 

I stand in this sanctuary and I am still amazed and moved to tears.  Some said we couldn’t do it.  Some said it was too risky to risk the life of our church and build a million dollar addition 30 some years ago.  Yet we did.  A small but devoted band of believers in Jesus worked together, took a giant leap of faith and stepped out in faith and built this beautiful new church.  The sheer beauty, the combination of practicality and beauty is just amazing.

Why am I amazed and surprised that ANYTHING can be done by people acting in Jesus’ name and with the power of Jesus pulsing through them?

 

 

  1. The secret of course is “we do nothing” without His power. By ourselves we can accomplish nothing…but with and through his power we become agents of change, people who accomplish great things, with the power of Jesus pulsing through us.

 Peter established that right off the bat.  It wasn’t he or any of the other disciples who was the source of the man’s healing…it was the power of Jesus acting through them.

What a contrast to so many of today’s disciples, ministers and lay folks alike, especially the big time church preachers or the television evangelists.

It’s all about them.

Somehow when their names are in the big letters I know right off the bat that their ministry is all about them…and not the power of Jesus acting through them.

The power to heal,

The power to change lives,

The power to inspire unbelievable generosity

 

Doesn’t come in our name or in the name of the church but in the name of Jesus.

It’s Jesus who changes lives.

It’s Jesus who generates generosity.

It’s Jesus who heals.

 

 

 

 

III. To change lives, to do amazing things, to enable miracles we work in and through and with the power of Jesus, not ourselves.  There are four ways this matters for us to know.

 First we have to be in touch with his power ourselves.

You can’t heal if you aren’t healed.

You can’t inspire others to be generous if you don’t have the power of generosity.

You can’t be an agent of life if the agent of life isn’t working in you.

 

Before Peter, James, or John, or later Paul healed, or restored life, or brought new life to others they first had to experience Jesus within themselves.

It’s no different today.  You have to experience Jesus for yourself before you can help another experience it.  You can’t give what you don’t have can you?

 

Secondly, wouldn’t it be wonderful, wouldn’t it be a different world if we realized and practiced the power God has given every one of us through the power of our Lord?

We can heal.

We can inspire.

We can touch.

None of these life-giving gifts are limited to ministers or to the ordained but belong to everyone, to all of those who have experienced the life-giving power of Jesus themselves.

 

Third, Can you fathom the power to change lives, to bring healing, to bring new life, to be agents of change if all of the people who call themselves Christians let Christ work through them?

That’s ultimately the task of the minister…not to be the one who does all the caring, or the one who does all the calling, or the one who does all the changing of lives but rather to be the one who calls and inspires those gifts in the members and friends of the church he serves.

I’m not here to do your ministry for you…I’m here to challenge you and inspire you to do it yourself.  That’s the ultimate measure of success…not what I do but what I inspire all of you to do.

Just imagine how much this church would grow if you as the members, if you as followers of the giver of life were to become truly inspired, truly enabled, fully charged to go out and share the Gospel with others, invite them to church and receive them and love them once they were here?  Why, we would grow by leaps and bounds and do more ministry than anyone thinks possible.

That’s the difference in the New Testament church and today’s church.  The first followers of Jesus were filled with the power of Christ, the first disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and they weren’t amazed at all at what Christ could do through them.

Finally, we can reclaim that power.

We have to reclaim that power if the church is to grow, if the church is to touch lives deeply, if miracles are to be performed in today’s world and if the power of Christ touching people’s lives is to be as exciting and joyful and abundant as it was in the first century world.

 

Closing,

Miracles do happen today.

Lives are changed today.

People do experience healing in ways no one ever dreamed possible.

Faith is still very much alive and practiced all the time.

 

So, why are we amazed when someone gets down on their knees and prays in the name of Jesus and God answers them?

So, why are we amazed when acts of generosity, measured not by the amount but by the faithfulness are shared in the name of Jesus all the time?

So, why are we amazed when someone turns their life over to God in the name of Jesus and they are never again the same?

 

When we let Christ work through us great things, unbelievable things happen!

When we let Christ take control of our life we become agents of power and change!

When we let the power of Christ flow through our veins just like electricity flows through a wire the power is turned on!

I’ve been having some sleepless nights lately.

I’ve been worried about some things lately.

Why is it so hard to let go and let God have control of whatever it is that is worrying me?

Why is it so hard for me to be amazed at what God can do and will do when we all just surrender to His will?

Why is it so hard for me to trust God, having faith that when the sun comes up in the East at the beginning of the day and sets in the west at the end of the day it will all be His hands?

Today’s story from the scriptures is the perfect reminder for me, and who knows maybe for you too.

Trust God.

Do good things in God’s name.

Let God have the control.

Be the agent not the author.

 

12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? Acts 3:12

 

Why indeed?