A Part of the Body - Acts 3:1 - 26

Series: THE BOOK OF ACTS

Summary

So much to go through today. Unlike most days, we're going to look at a lot of text today and `I'm just telling you it's going to be a little bit of a long one. We only have two lessons to pull out, but we got a journey to get there. You guys ready to go to work?

Yes.

Here we go. Acts 3:1 three verse one, "Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour." Now, what is that?

6:00, 9:00.

Three. 9:00 is also an hour of prayer, but that's only the third hour, right? So this is the ninth hour, we're at 9:00 and 3:00. This is what we know, "A man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called The Beautiful Gate to ask alms for those entering the temple." Okay. We got to stop right there, because if you're savvy Bible person, what you know is there's never a gate that is historically called The Beautiful Gate. So we got to figure out which gate are we talking about, and that's going to matter to the story, so let us begin. Photo number one, here is the Temple Mount, and there are many gates that lead in here. There are several gates in and around the temple and the inner court itself that we need to talk about. There are three that are proposed as good candidates for what is The Beautiful Gate. So we're going to walk through those. I will show you which ones they are and why they're wrong, Okay? Except for one, which is right.

Okay. Let's look at the next photo. This is the inner court. This one's labeled for you. It's the same photo just zoomed in. The court of Gentiles is here with the soreg that separates the court of the Gentiles from the rest of this. You have the court of women, which is where any Jew can go, man, woman, or child. Then you have Nicanor's Gate that beyond that is the inner court and only Jewish men and priests could go in there. Now, the Gentiles can't pass the soreg, they can't get past the soreg. There's actually a sign on the soreg that says, "Gentiles, if you pass this point, you'll be killed." Welcome to church. Not biblical, by the way, added later. It's not in Torah. It was added later, but that was how serious they took this separation, like the layers are really important. Now let's zoom in on this inner court. Next photo. This is the Nicanor Gate. The reason why we want to zoom in on it is because this is option A for which gate it is.

So we looked at how far it was zoomed out, so we came in, we came in, we came in. These steps here called the Rabbinic Teaching Steps. This is where the rabbis would sit and teach. This is where Jesus, when he was 12-years-old and his mom and dad find him at the temple speaking with the rabbis and asking them questions, this is where it would've been. Okay. So this is here. Here's a question. So this is option A. okay. Let's take a look at it. Is this a good option for where this lame man was begging? What are the three rules of real estate?

Location. Location. Location.

Yeah, Location, location, location, right? This is the worst location for multiple reasons. Number one, it's a limited number of people that can actually get there. Number two, the man is lame, therefore he's unclean. He probably would have a really hard time even getting this far in. Okay. So not a good candidate, but nice idea. There's some different historians that have said this was the one, they just happened to be wrong. Next option is this one. This is the Eastern Gate. It's also called the Golden Gate or the Mercy Gate. This is the gate that when the Messiah comes and walks onto the Temple Mount to take his position as the ruler in the kingdom of God, this is the gate that he's going to go through. You go, "That's not a gate, that's bricked in." Right. When the Arabs got control of it, they bricked it in and put a cemetery in front of it, because if a Jew touches something dead, then they're unclean and they can't get on the Temple Mount. You go, "Well, that's dumb. That's not going to keep Messiah off the Temple Mount."

To which they immediately would reply, "It's worked so far." So this is supposed to be a gate, it's just bricked in for now, but this is an option. Now is this The Beautiful Gate? I would have loved for this to be the right one, because there's such a cool play, because it's the Messianic Gate. If this is where he's begging, and this is where he meets Peter and John, that would be a beautiful connection of Jesus being the doorway. There's all kinds of fun stuff, but I can't prove it. This is not the gate for multiple reasons, one being, very little traffic comes through this gate. Very little traffic comes through this gate. People don't really use this gate. The priests use it during holidays when they're bringing cows and goats and stuff in to be sacrificed, they'll use that gate, which, okay, let's say that this is the gate. Then, you're going to have to explain why is the beggar standing or laying in front of the gate that only the priests go through when they're the most stingiest of all the people? Totally different than today's world.

Secondly, what are Peter and John going through a gate that only the priests use? Are you with me on that? There's some logistical problems with this one that just doesn't make sense. Okay. So next option, and this is probably the best option. We looked at this photo last week. These are the Southern Steps, right? Remember, we talked about there used to be a gate here where this is bricked in, and this building that sticks out on the side, there is not there. So what I found for you is a model that looks like what it would look like in the first century. Okay. So let's go ahead and look at the next photo. This is what it would've looked like in the first century. Okay. Remember, we talked about this last week, you don't just run to the Temple Mount through this, you got to take your time. You read the Psalms of the ascent. You take a step and quote a Psalm. You take one more step and quote another Psalm. Why? To prepare your heart and mind to be in the presence of God.

You don't just rush into church, you prepare yourself, which I would offer again, this question, "Did we prepare ourselves today to hear, or did we come blowing in not really thinking about it, and then wonder why God doesn't speak?" It's not that God's not speaking. Our heart's not ready to hear. There's no shortcut on any of that. It is what it is. Did we prepare ourselves or not? Now, this is the place where the vast majority of people would come and go to the Temple Mount. This is where most of them would enter and exit from the Southern Steps, which makes sense then that Peter and John would've been entering and exiting this way. It also makes sense why the lame man is there. Number one, is volume of people. Number two, they've just prepared themselves to be in the presence of God. I quote a Psalm, I take a step. I quote a Psalm, I take ... why? To prepare my heart of mind. The first thing that I get an opportunity to do is give to a beggar. That is a brilliant business move on his part.

This is the space, it's the only space that actually hits all of the criteria. Okay. So I would contend, and I'm with the majority of scholarship on this one, that's actually rare for me. A lot of times, I'm not with the majority of scholarship, but in this particular instance, I'm with the majority of scholarship that would say, "This is the gate that we're talking about." Okay. That's all going to matter. We're going to tie it all together as we go through this. Now, let's keep reading. "Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms and Peter directed his gaze at him." I don't know what that means, exactly. I don't know if he was like, "Hey, Buckaroo," Peter grabs me as a, "Hey, Buckaroo," guy. I'm going to be honest with you like, "Buckaroo." He directed his gaze at him, as did John and said in the words of the Joker from Batman Begins, "Look at me." Anybody?

Yeah.

Said, "Look at us, and he fixed his attention on them," because this is weird all of a sudden. Stop staring at me, "Expecting to receive something from them, but Peter said, 'I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.'" Now, how many of you grew up in Sunday School? Remember this song? Remember the song? Peter and John went to pray. They met a layman on the way. They stuck out his palm and asked for an alm, and this is what Peter did say. Now, two things about that. Number one, and most important is that, you know why I'm not on the worship team now, and secondly, I thought about auditioning and Perceval was like, "There's some things that you're really good at. You should stick to those." Anyway, second thing that we need to know about that is this is a pretty accurate Sunday school song. This is one of the rare times that the Sunday school song actually got it, right, because it's just quoting the text to music.

So Peter and John they're like, "I don't have any silver or gold, but the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. He took him by the right hand and raised him up." This is way bigger than musculature. Okay. So we have a daughter who was born with bilateral microtia. What that means is she was born without ear holes, and what happened was early on, like a little baby, the parts of your brain that naturally turn on when you hear people speak, those parts didn't turn on for her. So there was some really intense learning curve that she had to overcome on that, and she's stinking brilliant, and she did. But there's some delay in that because that part of her brain didn't turn on in the natural sequence. This man has been lame from birth and he's an adult, so it's not just that the musculature in his legs had atrophied, it's that he does not know how to stand. He didn't learn it the way normal people do. He doesn't know how to walk.

When you walk, when you stand, there's a multiplicity of muscles that are contracting to be able to keep balance. It's not just your legs, and that part of his brain had to turn on. This is a whole body transformation for him. So when he says, "Get up and walk," he's like, "I'm confused." So Peter grabs his hand and pulls him up. Okay. I have one more photo that I need to show you, because it's going to be important, one more photo. Can we show that last photo? I'm sorry. I totally just messed them up. This is Solomon's Colonnade, or also called Solomon's Portico. We're going to see this in the story here in just a minute. I'm giving it to you as a visual placeholder, but here's why this matters. The Sanhedrin would often hold court here. So this is a place where there's a lot of coming and going, a lot of buying and selling. This is a busy area. Think of a common area in a shopping mall. There's a lot of coming and going in this area.

So when Peter and John are in here and the lame man starts to raise a ruckus about what just happened, they're like, "You're going to get us arrested, " which is interesting. This is interesting. So in Acts 2, we have this really amazing thing happen with the tongues of fire. That sound like a rushing wind. Then, Peter preaches a really powerful sermon and 3000 people get saved, right? Like, whoa. Here, we have a really amazing thing happen. It's a miracle. This guy walks and then Peter preaches a really powerful sermon. He's going to get arrested, same process, very different result. I think sometimes we get in danger of assuming that the end game, whether or not we saw 3000 people get saved or we got arrested that determines whether or not God was present. I would just offer this, the man is walking. God was there. Don't lose sight of that. So what if I get arrested? So? So? What difference does that make? "So he took him by the right hand and raised him up and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong and leaping up." Here's the thing, that's advanced walking.

That's not like, "I'm stumbling." No, that's advanced walking right out the shoot. He's leaped, and how long has he dreamed about this moment? How many days has he asked the Lord for this, this time? "Leaping up, he stood and began to walk and entered the temple with him, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at The Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people utterly astounded ran together to them in the Portico called Solomon's," so go back to that picture in your mind, Solomon's Colonnade, or Solomon's Portico. "When Peter saw it, he addressed the people." Now remember, Peter sermons have a pattern. Blah, blah, blah. Jesus is God, you killed him. Let's see if he holds true to form. Okay. "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?"

I love that statement. I love that statement, because in the modern church world, there are a lot of people making a whole lot of money by coming on TV and saying, "I have the gift of healing. I have the gift of prophecy. I have the gift of miracles." No you don't. You have a depraved heart and a depraved mind, and Jesus uses broken people to do great things. that's our only hope. That's our only hope. That is what Paul's going to say, "There's nothing good that lives in me except for Jesus." Some people would disagree with this, but some people come to like, Man, you really have a gift for teaching. You have a gift for teaching." No, I'm just a beggar trying to point other beggars to bread. Jesus is the only one that makes those words live. Jesus is the only one. This is the problem is when we start talking that way, it's as if, "The gift is mine. It's as if God needs me to exercise my gift so that he can use me to do his bidding." No, God doesn't need you.

I love Peter's perspective. "Why do you look at us as if by our own power or our own piety, our own keeping of the rules, why are you looking at us as if we did this?" Then he goes on, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers glorified his servant, Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate. When he decided to release him, but you denied the holy and righteous one and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the author of life." Blah, blah, blah. Jesus was God. You killed him. "Whom God raised from the dead to this we are witnesses and his name by faith in his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health and the presence of you all."

By the way, you know what it's like when somebody hasn't used their legs for years, like if somebody's a paraplegic or something like that, they've been in a wheelchair for a long time, their legs shrink, they atrophy the muscles, you can tell. You can look at it and go, "There's something wrong with that." All of these people have seen this man. They know something's different. "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance as did also your rulers, but what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets that his Christ would suffer he thus fulfilled. Repent, therefore, and turned back that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago."

Moses said, "The Lord, God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers." Now that's a weird interjection. Why is that there? We're going to have to take a look at that. "You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you, and it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people, and all the prophets who have spoken from Samuel to those who came after him. Also, proclaimed these days, you are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your father saying to Abraham and in your offspring, all of the families of the earth be blessed." By the way, we're going to have to take a look at that passage, too. "God having raised up his servant sent him to you first to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness." Okay. Two lessons, you ready? Number one, never forget what it feels like to be lost.

Amen.

Never forget what it feels like to be lost. For those of you that have said yes to Jesus, do you remember how pure were that was? "I don't have any information. I don't have any knowledge. I don't have any awareness of where this is going to take me, I don't know anything. I just cannot believe that the creator and sustainer of the universe would take the time to notice me, that he would not just notice me, but know me." Like the Bible says, God, doesn't just have the hairs on your head counted, he has them numbered, each one has a number. Some of us are trying to make that job easier for him, because there's a lot of other things that he could be doing other than numbering my hairs on my head. But that he would not just notice me, not just sustain me, but want to be intimately connected and aware in relationship. Who am I that someone so powerful would want that from me? Here's what happens, when we lose that space, that wonder, that incredible moment of, "Wow, God really loves me."

When we lose that, what happens is we start to look at our relationship with the Lord as if like, "I deserve it, that god somehow needs me." Like, "Of course, God would love me. Like what's not to love?" There is an entitled arrogance that comes to our relationship with the Lord that is really dangerous, because what happens, God's not a jerk. He's not going to come in and really tear you down. God and his grace allows us the space to run out the things that we think matter. But we wind up feeling like everything becomes mechanical. There's no vibrancy. When we feel like, "God's not God if he doesn't have me." They're like, "Of course, God loves me. Of course, God would want us. Of course, it's like he's begging us almost, 'Come on.'" Your religion becomes mechanical. It becomes task list. It becomes checking one thing off of a list or another thing.

Even your time with the Lord, "I read my Bible, check. I did my prayers, check. I did my reading or my dream, whatever you do in your quiet time, check, I did that," and it still feels lifeless because we lose how incredible it is that notices us at all. that lame man did not give two hoots who cared, who heard what consequences were there. "Arrest me. I don't care. I've been lame since birth, check me out." Testimony matters, and you got to remember, you got to go back and visit your story. You got to go back and remember that moment, and that moment in the lives of other people too. It's really important, testimony, because it helps anchor us to those memories of, "I remember when there was no reason for God to love me, but Christ demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we're still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly." I love Psalm 51. This is a Psalm that David wrote after he was confronted about his affair with Bathsheba. He says some really profound things in this, and I just want to read a section out of it.

Here's what it says, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness. Let the bones that you have broken rejoice, hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, oh, God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me," here it is, "the joy of my salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit," or in other words, "Make me willing to obey you." Listen, if you're, "I just feel so far from God. I walked with the Lord for a long time. I felt him. We were tight. We were good and now, I just feel really distant from him." This is a great verse for you to just pray over and over and over. Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. We spend some time meditating on that one.

We can never forget what it feels like to be lost, because as soon as we do, we lose God's heart. When we lose God's heart, then everything becomes black and white, in and out, good or bad, right and wrong, and there's no room for people to be any different than us. There's no room for the diversity that brings beauty to the kingdom of God. Uniformity is not the mark of the kingdom. Unity in diversity is the mark of the kingdom. I mean diversity in all its facets, like diversity economically, diversity racially, all of it, like all of it, all the diversity. We need all the diversity. We all come together and when we all pursue Christ, somehow it all works. We're so different. We don't think the same. We don't act the same. We don't have the same ideologies, but when we all pursue Christ, it all works. It all works. When we lose God's heart, we lose that. If we don't have that, then the people out there don't feel like they have a place in here unless they're willing to look like us, act like us, talk like us.

So I'm going to nerd out for just a minute. When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek: The Next Generation, I know about five of you are going to be like, "I am with you right now." I am convinced that when he created the Borg, he had the church in mind. The Borg fly around in this ship that's a perfect cube. It's just perfect cube, and it's perfect. Everything is perfect and they have this ability to, when they conquer somebody, they suck all the information out of your head and they take it as their own, but not just for that one person, the entire Borg hive gets all that shared information. So what they do then is they make you just like them and so their big thing is, "We will assimilate you." That's what the Borg says over and over again, and I think a lot of people view the church that way. Like, "If I'm going to go be a part of a church, I got to be like them." Just for the record, if you're in here and you're like, "I don't want to be like church people," me either.

I totally want to be like Christian people, but church-y people are a pain. They're difficult and they're mean-spirited, and they've lost what it feels like to be lost, which leads me to my second lesson, and we got to move. That is this, God needs a body. Now, God doesn't less God, that's not the sense in which he needs a body, but God has chosen to interact with flesh and blood to make himself known. This was the purpose of the priest, There was four fundamental responsibilities of the priest. Number one was, the priest becomes a living example of what the God is like. That's why it's so devastating when pastors fail, because the pastor's supposed to be a living representation of what God's like. By the way, you are called to royal priesthood, you. If you say, "I'm a follower of Jesus," you are called to royal priesthood. You know why it's so devastating when you don't do what you're supposed to do, because you're supposed to be a living representation of what God's like?

From the beginning, God comes to Abraham in Genesis 12, and he says, "I'm going to make your name great and I'm going to prosper you and I'm going to bless you so that you can be a blessing to all the nations." He says, "You and your offspring will be a blessing to the entire world." We quoted that verse in Acts 3 earlier. We believe that to be Jesus. That's the fulfillment of this promise of the line of Abraham being a blessing to the whole world. Absolutely, but hear me say this. From the jump, if you don't stand that your job and being blessed by God is to be a pass through blessing to other people, then what we start to do is we start to amass power and stuff and things, and at the expense of being generous, at the expense of reflecting God's heart into the world. By the way, in a couple of weeks, we're going to watch a couple of people die for that, so God takes it pretty serious.

But what we do is we miss that really significant moment of reflecting God's heart, because we're trying to make it all about our world, our kingdom, our way. So what happens is from the very beginning, God intended for his people to be built out of this promise of being blessed by him so that they can be a blessing passed through to other people. Then, in Exodus 7, here's what happens. Moses goes to Egypt and he's going to deliver the people, the children of Israel, out of slavery in Egypt. It says this, "The Lord said to Moses, see, I've made you like God to Pharaoh." Okay, huh? Because here's the deal. I don't know if you know this, but in my mind, there's a bit of a gap between God and Moses. There's a bit of a gap there. "I've made you like God to Pharaoh." How? "Your brother, Aaron, should be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land, but I will harden Pharaoh's heart.

And though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my host, my people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them." Moses and Aaron did so, and they did just as the Lord commanded them. Now, Moses was 80-years-old and Aaron was 83-years-old when they spoke to Pharaoh, 80. That's almost half as old as Russ McCracken. I love Russ. When I grow up, I want to be Russ, only taller. Here's the thing about Russ. You know what I love about him? He's in his 80s and he won't quit doing ministry. We sing that song, "If I'm not dead, you're are not done." Do you really believe that?

Because here's the thing, what happens with too many people in that age bracket, and I'm not talking about the particular generation, I'm just saying what I've observed in history is that when people hit that age, they're like, "Okay, I need to hand this off. I served my sentence in ministry. It's time for somebody else to do that. I'm going to go enjoy whatever, boating. I'm going to go enjoy traveling. I'm going to go enjoy that." Listen, my generation was raised in daycare. We were the first generation that was really raised in daycare. The problem with that is we didn't have good examples of moms and dads that knew how to do things in life, how to be leaders, how to have integrity, and what what's happening is we're watching the result of that happen in our culture, in our churches. We're watching pastors who don't have the character to match their assignment collapse because nobody's there to show them how to do it. Russ shows me how to do it.

Amen.

We need people like that. We need people like that. If there's breath in my lungs and a need out there, then I can be part of that. You want to know how to have that kind of drive for the kingdom? You want to know how to do that? Never forget what it feels like to be lost, because when you are in that space, it compels us to be part of the solution for people. So God comes and makes this weird promise to Moses like, "Moses, I'm going to raise up a prophet just like you." In Jesus' day, they are looking for the prophet. They're looking for the prophet. This is not a prophet, that's THE profit. That's a very different question, and so they're looking for the second Moses. They're looking for this Moses to come. Even I'm going to approve it, John 1 20-22, they're talking to John the Baptist and they're trying to figure out who he is. It says, "He confessed and did not deny, but confessed, I'm not the Christ."

They asked him, "What then, are you Elijah? He said, I'm not, and that's a sermon for another day. Are you the prophet, the prophet" They want to know, "Are you the second Moses? He says, no." So they said to him, who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do say about yourself?" What it'll go on to say is, "I'm the one who's preparing the way. I'm the one, the voice crying and the wilderness." But this thing though, they're looking for the prophet. They're looking for the second Moses. They're looking for this. Well, in what sense does God's say, "I'm going to raise up someone just like you? I'm going to raise up somebody that will be like God for you," because here's what happened. Here's what happened. Israel gets given this responsibility of being God's body as a nation. You're going to be my priest to the world, so Moses is God's body because God needs a body, not that he needs a body, but he uses flesh and blood to show the world his heart.

Then he says, "Okay, all of Israel, you get to carry that mantle." While they're doing it, they prosper. Things are growing. Things are moving, they're going on, and then Solomon comes along. Now, how many times throughout the story of Israel did God say, "Hey, never forget that you were slaves in Egypt. Don't ever forget that, because if you do, you're going to lose my heart." So Solomon starts to build his empire, and he's so good at it and he's blessed by God, but how does he build his empire? On the backs of slaves. So what happens is God comes and divides the kingdom and ultimately, Babylon comes in and hauls them off. For what purpose? To be slaves. Why? So that they'll never forget what it feels like to be slaves. Why? For the same reason that you and I need to be overjoyed with the paralytic, because we should never forget what it feels like to be lost. It changes how we treat people. It changes how we do things. Then they get released and they're not doing very much better job. So God finally goes, "Okay, fine.

I'm just going to actually come in bodily form and show you guys what I'm talking about." Jesus shows up he's God in a body for real. Then, Jesus does these incredible things, and then he goes back, he ascends. Then, you and I get invited into this weird space where we're called the body of Christ. Do you see how this works? When we choose to be God's body and not our own part in God's body, we become like God to Pharaoh. Not that we are God, but that God uses us to put his heart on display and it changes the world, and we get to be part of it, not by our own power and not by our own piety, but because of how much God loves you and me. It's not complex. This is not complicated, but it sure ain't easy. I have some implications for us. There's only three today, because I'm taking it easy on you guys. Implication number one, apart from God, Peter and John do not have any special power. They are obedient and God does the work. That's so hopeful for me because God doesn't need you to be talented. He doesn't need you to be good. He doesn't even need you to be right. He needs you to be obedient, and then he'll do all the work.

Amen. Amen.

You're like, "but if I'm wrong ... " Listen, let me ask you a question. What part of God do you have completely figured out? What one small of God do you have completely figured out? Because if you have anything completely figured out about God, he's too small. Maybe there's room for us to have some new things to learn-

Amen. Amen.

Which leads me to my second implication, don't over-complicate your faith. Never forget what it feels like to be lost. This is why testimony is so important. Never forget what it feels like to be lost. Number three, God is looking for a body and he's invited us to be a part of it. But let me be really, really clear. The body has to do what the head tells it to. If it doesn't, then that part of the body is not healthy. That part of the body is sick. Sometimes it has to be amputated to save the rest of the body. Don't think for one second that God who didn't even spare his own son, won't come to that place with us.

Now, I love his grace and his grace surpasses all of my weaknesses, but when I just choose to say, "You know what, God? I don't care what you say. I'm going to do what I want," that's not me growing in my faith, that's rebellion and God has a whole different posture for that. So we're going to move into our communion time right now. I would just invite you into this question, this conversation with God, maybe today, this week, right now while we're preparing our hearts, what part of your life is preventing you from being a part of the body? If you're sitting there going, "Well, I'm totally part of the body. I'm 100% in," you're not being honest about your sin.

Amen. Praise god.

We all got places that we need to grow and that's okay. It's just that we won't ever past those things if we're not honest about it. So let's just spend a minute laying our heart before the Lord as we get ready to take communion together. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread and he broke it and he said, "This is my body, which is given for you, so whenever you eat this bread, do it in remembrance of me." Then, after the dinner he took a cup and he said, "This cup is the blood of the covenant, which is shed for you, so whenever you drink this cup, do it in remembrance of me."

Let's pray, God, thank you for your relentless pursuit of us. Thank you for your heart. Thank you that you've invited us to be a part of your body. God, thank you that you don't leave us and you don't forsake us. Lord, help us to be people who represent who you really are in a way that's consistent with your heart. Thank you for looking for a body. God, you don't need us, but you choose to use us anyway. Thank you for doing that in Jesus' name, amen.

Speaker: Aaron Couch

January 23, 2022

Message Notes

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Follow Along with the Message


Acts 3 English Standard Version (ESV)

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,  the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Psalm 51:7-12 | ESV

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; 
   wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
   and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Acts 3:17-24 | ESV

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.

Genesis 12:1-3 | ESV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Exodus 7:1-7 | ESV

And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 | ESV

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

John 1:20-22 | ESV

He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 | ESV

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Implications:

  1. Apart from God, Peter and John do not have any special power; they are obedient and God does the work.
  2. Don’t overcomplicate your faith. Never forget what it feels like to be lost. This is why testimony is important.
  3. God is looking for a body; he has invited us to be a part of it.

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