Acts 8: A Hope Filled Life

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:26
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Too good to be true

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. You may know already that Advent, the 4 Sundays before Christmas are a time of preparation.
We know this because we are getting our houses ready … decorating and all
Spiritually we look back to how God was preparing his people for the arrival of Jesus, their longed for messiah… but we are looking forward in Advent to his coming again… we look forward to Christmas because one day - soon - Jesus will come back.
That’s always been the expectation of the church, from the very beginning… it is that we live our lives looking forward to Jesus coming … soon.
When Jesus was crucified, it really shook up the disciples. They didn’t know what to do.
But they did what Jesus told them to do, they waited for the Holy Spirit, and when He came upon them, they were amazed at how God’s Spirit worked in them.
Peter began to preach and 3000 were saved…
Later, when Peter and John were going to the Temple to worship, they saw a man who had been born lame… couldn’t walk. He was begging at the temple gate.
Not having any money, They offered the man what they did have… God’s power. Immediately the man was healed and this drew some attention… The people were astonished and again Peter took the opportunity to preach and tell people about the promise of God in Christ.
Everything was going great.
Then...
You have an idea what happens next right… maybe not the details, but just from teh way I began you expect things to take a turn don’t you?
Why is it that in the moment when all is going smooth that we never stop to get prepared for something? We just keep skipping and dancing along then BAM
My brother and I didn’t have a good relationship as teenagers. But then in our early 20’s while we were both in college… I was getting my masters he was working on his phd… we started to spend more and more time together. It was good to have my brother around again.
We went out for my birthday and one thing led to another and we found ourselves on the side of the road fighting… a few minutes later we were in the back of police cars on our way to jail.
I should have seen it coming, but I was having fun… it was my birthday for goodness sake… Knowing he was an alcoholic, when I saw him drinking I should have known… but I didn’t. When I saw that the other guys we came with weren’t going to be able to take him home I should have known… but I didn’t.
Peter and John didn’t see how things were about to change for them either… they were caught up in the moment as well.
Let’s read the passage for today and see what happens then we will come back and draw out some applications for us.
Acts 4:1–22 NIV
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
The difference between the disciples and me is that they were caught up in THE SPIRIT and I was getting caught up with someone who had enjoyed some spirits.
Yet for the disciples, even though it seems that things are starting to fall apart God is at work. And that means there are some great lessons for us in this story… what I refer to as

Lessons from opposition

Not just from their time in jail, but from this first instance of real opposition without Jesus.
In fact, That is the first lesson

Lesson 1: Sometimes OBEDIENCE brings OPPOSITION.

The Disciples were doing exactly what Jesus had charged them with. They were to share the Gospel… and make new disciples, they were to heal and give hope.
They were going to the temple to pray as they should do and when they encountered the lame man, they did what they should have done, help the poor and for their obedience look what happens… the Jewish leaders though see their obedience as a threat to their idea of pure Judaism, and that leads to the first instance of opposition for the disciples.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise though. Jesus had warned them back in Luke....
Luke 21:12 NIV
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
I got to thinking how often we miss this.
Often times we see opposition as a result of living in ways not pleasing to God.
We even proclaim it… when we talk about God opening Doors.
We pray that God would open doors for our lives, for ministry and that he would close doors so we wouldn’t get out of his will.
The problem is that if all we do is look for open doors, we wind up only taking the easy way, avoiding adversity. And if you only go through open doors you will wind up in some pretty ungodly places.
Sometimes obedience leads us to opposition.
Which leads me to the second lesson we can learn from opposition.

Lesson 2: Opposition may not be our COST, but be our REWARD.

Illustration of seeing opposition as a punishment.
Sometimes opposition just might be not a cost we have to pay… not something we have to endure… but actually our reward.
Opposition has the ability to produce in us things that can’t come about any other way.
What do I mean?
How do you learn to persevere without being tempted to quit?
How do you develop resilience without getting knocked down?
God allows spiritual opposition in our lives in order to strengthen us spiritually. It’s one of the ways the Holy Spirit matures our faith.
And because God is at work in the opposition, he equips us.
Look at the passage in Luke again
Luke 21:12–15 NIV
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
Jesus says opposition is coming your way, but the Gospel will prosper in it.
Later Paul the apostle would say that God works all things for the good of those who love him.
If that’s the case, that should change the way we pray right?
That leads us to the third lesson from opposition.
Knowing that God works this way for His glory we should focus on...

Lesson 3: Let’s pray for more MINISTRY, not just less MISERY.

Not saying we don’t pray for more ministry. But often we don’t want it to cause us much discomfort. Matter of fact we don’t like discomfort much at all. So much so, often I find myself praying that God would deliver me and those I pray for from it. But the reality is that often our discomfort, our misery, often brings with it opportunities to witness to the power of Christ to bless us in spite of our circumstances.
That’s what Paul was writing about to the church in Rome when he wrote:
Romans 5:3–5 NLT
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Opportunities to share the Gospel… the good news that Jesus is coming back and until he does he wants’ to empower us to live faithfully in this world. He wants us to have power over sin
He wants us to live the good life. Not a happy life, but a truly good life.

The key to a truly good life:

If the good life means no problems, then our life won’t ALWAYS BE GOOD; But if good means GLORIFYING GOD, then life can never really BE BAD.

Romans 8:28
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
This verse emphasizes that God uses all circumstances for the ultimate good of those who love Him and are committed to His purpose.
1 Corinthians 10:31
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
This verse encourages believers to do everything with the intention of bringing glory to God, suggesting that even the mundane aspects of life have significance in honoring Him.
Philippians 4:11-13
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
This passage from Philippians highlights finding contentment and strength in God regardless of the circumstances.
James 1:2-4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
This verse suggests that challenges and trials, when faced with faith, lead to growth and completeness in our spiritual journey.

Unquenchable, courageous hope is a result of a Spirit filled life.

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