February 24, 2013 INTRODUCTION – In Acts ch. 2 vs. 1 and following – we find that the united fervent persistent prayers of God’s people led to God pouring out His Spirit with signs and wonders, which led to a bewildered and curious crowd…. with some critics and naysayers among them, which led to a wonderful opportunity for Peter to explain what was behind those signs and wonders.
Today – – we probably won’t experience an outpouring quite like this because of all the unique elements of Jewish society and culture that colored that outpouring. But as we interact with the lost, and as we get better at looking for signs of God’s working, I believe we will find that the people we are reaching out to have had dreams or visions, have expereinced unusual protection from disaster (neighbor’s bike ride), healings, unusual provisions, or even may be expressing their desperate need for a miracle etc., and thus we will find an open door for our witness.
Not always, but often in the book of acts this was the case – – miracles led to the message being proclaimed; not always with us, but this should be our experience increasingly as Christ revives and purifies His church, and as He sends us forth into the harvest with our lost neighbors and co-workers, fellow students, relatives, etc..
Our focus this morning is on how to make the most of these sudden opportunities for witness. I want to share 3 simple ways from Peter’s sermon that we can make the most of the opportunities God brings us. The first way is by
I. Making the most of a crowd/opportunity/audience with our attitude & initial response (vs. 14,15) (read it) As I have meditated on this passage, I’ve found myself longing for the time when because of our united, fervent, persistent prayers as God’s people in this region, we can see His Spirit poured out, and we can make a united stand together for the gospel
A. May we learn to expect things to happen as we gather to pray and be ready to make the most of the opportunity – recognizing the strength that comes from a unified approach/stand. (vs. 14)
B. Our greetings/beginnings should be respectful; no derision, disgust, sarcasm or tit for tat; regardless of what some are saying about us, …..calmness, but also straightforwardness or directness. vs. 14 Peter could have said, “Look you idiots – – it is only 9:00 in the morning. We haven’t even had breakfast yet! You’re the ones that appear to be drunk! But he didn’t. (Phil. 1:27-30) (Titus 3:1-3)
C. Some defense based on logic and reasoning is appropriate vs. 15
Peter – years later – perhaps was reflecting back on this experience when he wrote to those he was shepherding – – “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” I Peter 3:15
The second way we can make the most of our opportunities for witness is by turning to
II. Making the most of the opp with the authority of Scripture (VS. 16-21)
A. The sooner we turn the attention to God’s authoritative living word the better (vs. 16f)
1. Peter quickly pointed them to God’s word – Joel 2; Psalm16 & 110 2. Jesus and “it is written” scattered throughout the gospels 3. “For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS. AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” I Peter 1:24,25
“The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.” Napoleon the conqueror
B. Miracles stimulate or arouse faith, but scripture produces it. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) Miracles are not the end all, but they can be the gateway to our witness of Jesus Christ.
C. Two things I have done in the last few months: writing letters to follow up conversations – Jer. 9:23,24 to Al M.; some of those letters have effectively stopped communication. But I know God’s word does not return void. God said once through the prophet Isaiah – (Isa. 55:11) “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
D. My 3 x 5 cards with neighbor Isa. 30:18; Ecc. 9:9; John 6:35
The third way we can make the most of our opportunities for witness is by
III. Making the most of the opp by Proclaiming Christ (VS. 22-36) (read it) A. Miracles are great, and may we see more of them, but their purpose is to point to the Miracle worker Himself or to the source of the miracles. They are an important part of the message. And they point to His divinity. But don’t stop there. Peter alluded to the miracles, but in this long passage He quickly turns the focus to Christ (vs. 22)
B. His manhood – vs. 22
C. His suffering and death – how and why (vs. 23)
D. His resurrection – significance of (vs. 24) Very important that people know it didn’t end with His death. But that He rules on high now and intervenes in our lives & in the affairs of men in every city and nation. It is the resurrection that proves once and for all that Jesus was not only fully man but also fully God.
E. Paul – in trying to help the church in Colossae get established – said, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” 1:28 lots of other “spiritual’ things he could have talked about – especially in Colossae where the empty but tantalizing philosophies of men thrived.
F. Ideas: 1. Use tracts; 2. Use john piper books; 3. Memorize pertinent scriptures especially on His atonement or sacrifice and His resurrection.
CONCLUSION – prayer for opportunities & better more prepared responses