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Church; God's Work-Around

His Old House; Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sara’s Garden

Sara is a persistent gardener.
Have any of you tried to plant anything in this soil?
Rocks and shade.
You dig and you hit a rock. There’s no room to plant much. And, the rocky soil doesn’t have a lot of nutrients that would naturally feed plants.
So, when you keep hitting rocks do you quit? Give up trying?
Then, there’s the shade issue. We love our trees. But, plants need direct sunlight. Finding a place w/ enough sun and no rocks. Good luck.
Sara, rather than digging down, she built up.
Rather than the futility of digging all around our property, she built an above ground garden and put healthy soil in it.
She’s had great success w/ kale, peas, beans, some broccoli.
And, then, the animals have found Sara’s salad bar. Squirrels and a javelina have wrought havoc in the garden.
Thus, the chicken wire around it.
Tomatoes have not worked out at all. The growing season is too short. She tried in the garden, then up on the deck. No real success.
So, now we have a little greenhouse and it’s hot in there.
She has faced rocks, shade, squirrels, javelina, and cool temps. And, yet, we have fresh vegetables.
She is going to have a garden and we are going to have fresh vegetables.
You see our investment. It’s taken more to get this started than what it costs to maintain it every year. But, now that it’s going, it’s easier to keep it going.
Sara is going to do whatever it takes to have fresh vegetables. If something gets in her way, she will work around it.
Jesus said He is going to build His church. As smart as Sara is and as hard as she works; Jesus is that much smarter and more powerful. It’s going to happen.
Rather than the futility of digging all around our property, she built an above ground garden and put healthy soil in it.
Jesus is going to do whatever it takes to do what He wants to do. If people get in the way, He is going to work around them.
Do you want to work w/ God? Or, would you prefer He work around you?
The church was conceived when Jesus told Peter He was going to build it on faith like his. ().
He told the disciples He was going to build His church and no one’s death, his or theirs, would prevent it from happening.
Israel tried. Threw rocks and shade at Jesus. Eventually, they killed Him. So, God created a work around.
The concept of the church presented in Matthew.
The church was born in Jerusalem, on Pentecost; .
It takes a lot more to get something started than it does to keep it going later.
And, God provided everything needed start something that was totally new and different.

Start Up Capital

Acts 1:1–13 NIV
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
Acts 2:1–13 NIV
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Jesus had told the 120 disciples to not go anywhere, just wait till the HS shows up and baptizes you.
And, they wonder what exactly that means.
Never happened before. So, what do they do? They had to eat, work, fish, talk…and they waited.
Pentecost, we think of it as the event we’re about to talk about. “Pentecost” had been a time for a festival since Moses gave Israel the law.
Literally, means “50”. 50 days after the Passover. The day after plus 7 weeks, or 49 days.
This was the feast of weeks. Also called first fruits. A harvest festival in the summer. Plant in the spring, harvest in the summer. Worship and sacrifice the first fruits of the harvest.
What would have brought all 120 people together in one room in the morning before breakfast?
A Jewish festival, that they had celebrated all their lives.
All they knew to do was keep doing what they had always done until they were told to do something different.
Then, it happened.
Luke, Peter, John, didn’t have the benefit of modern CGG.
They are describing it as best they can. Wind and fire.
Clear references to God. Pillar of fire, burning bushes, speaking in the wind. All OT refs when God showed up.
Baptized and filled, two different things.
They were changed on the inside, baptism.
They were also filled. The HS fills people with the ability to do something He wants them to do.
Teach, exhort somebody, speak fluently in a language they’d never studied.
All were baptized and all were filled, not just a few.
This was a powerful and dramatic sign that it was time to do something completely different. And God was equipping people accordingly.
Not normal.
Not a regular display.
This doesn’t happen all the time.
In fact, it’s only happened this once.
Start up Capital. The HS was poured out on the people and they did things they’d never done before.
It took more to get the church started than it does to keep it going.
People from all over had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks. A list of nations who spoke languages besides Aramaic or Greek.
They heard the commotion and made their way over to find out what was going on.
This was a speaking miracle not a hearing miracle.
They heard their native tongue, b/c someone was speaking in it.
Q#1: Where did they get this ability?
Uneducated Galileans. Only from God.
God uses people to do things that are obviously not natural, but supernatural. Only God can get the credit.
Grace: God brought the gospel to the people in their own language.
The mighty acts of God. The miracles Jesus performed. And, His teaching.
His death, resurrection and ascension.
They’re hearing all this maybe for the first time, but certainly in a new way.
Jesus said His followers would go throughout the region and the world and tell their personal stories.
And, here he’s preparing the way.
When the new believers are forced to go when persecution breaks out they will run to places where some of the people where they go would have already heard the gospel.
Planting a church would be easier now than if no one had heard anything before they arrived.
Q#2: What does it mean?
Some took this seriously. Others mocked: They’re drunk!
It means God faced an obstacle in the people who did not want His plan to move forward.
So, He created a work-around.
When Israel would not only work w/ Him but against Him, God worked around them.

The Work Around

Where we’re headed

Acts 2:15–17 NIV
These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
These ppl aren’t drunk, it’s only 9 am
Then, he quoted Joel. It’s a description of what it will be like in the Kingdom.
God will pour out his Spirit, like a down pour on a drought-parched land.
Joel says on everyone.
Clearly, this didn’t happen to everyone, only 120.
But, visions and prophecy. Men and women.
It’s happening here in a small way so you know that it will happen in a big way when the kingdom is finally established in the end.
So, what’s it going to be like in the kingdom?
I don’t know, but here’s a small hint.
This is NOT the end. It is the beginning of the era that leads to the end.
I don’t know, but here’s a small hint.
So, the most important thing is to be there, when it does come to an end.

Where we’ve been

Acts 2:22–24 NIV
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Acts 2:22-
God sent Jesus to save us.
The miracles He performed proved He is Who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.
This was God’s plan. God sent Him to die.
And, you gladly obliged. You killed Him.
You vilified Him.
His resurrection vindicated Him.
Proof that He is our Messiah
And if you want to be saved, if you want to see God’s kingdom, the only way is to call on the Name of the Lord.
B/C He’s the only One who can get you there.

Where David is and is going

Acts 2:
Acts 2:26–28 NIV
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
Now, Peter quotes David in .
A Psalm of confidence.
David is confident that he will always have hope even after he’s dead and buried. He is euphoric.
He’s not worried about his time on earth coming to an end.
B/C he is confident that God will not abandon him or any other believer in Hell.
Yes, David is dead. His body still in its grave.
But he’s in heaven.
Jesus’ resurrection made David’s confident claim credible.
Promised by David, provided by Jesus. Proof.
Peter looks them all in the eye.
You hear what these people are saying in your language, a language they’ve never studied.
You see it w/ your own eyes.
You know what Joel and David wrote.
God sent His son to be our Messiah. If the Jewish leadership would have accepted Him then the kingdom would have been established right then.
But, He was rejected.
God hit a rock in the soil. Shade, nothing would grow. The ppl acted like animals and killed the One who came to save them.
God didn’t quit. He created a work-around.
The people vilified Him. His resurrection vindicated Him.
You see what’s going on here. He is the One.
If you want to see the kingdom, He’s the only One who can get you there.
Peter wraps up his message. How long do you think it took for someone to ask, “What do we do now?”
Jesus was dead (and raised) and gone. So what now?
Buy in as these 120 have bought in.

Buy In

Acts 2:37–41 NIV
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They asked

You can’t tell an adult what they don’t want to hear.
Many who heard Peter got it.
Cut to the heart. Emotional. Concerned. Convicted.
It’s too late, they thought, Jesus is gone. So, what do we do?

Peter’s 3-part answer

“Repent.” That is, change course. Turn around. Do something completely different.
Yes, it’s owning sin. But, it’s also admitting it’s a problem.
“Be baptized.” By the HS and in water. The HS does the heavy lifting here. He will change you on the inside giving you the ability to change course w/ your life.
Then, into the water. It’s symbolic of what the HS has already done. And, it’s a huge step of ownership.
Own your faith. Make it public, not private. It would have cost them to make a public declaration like this.
Families would disown the new believers. Jobs lost, customers lost, friends.
But, how much did Jesus sacrifice for them?
Faith is implied. And, the HS is given as a gift and He comes w/ gifts and the power to use them.
They see what’s possible when the HS is at work in the lives of uneducated Galileans. It would be possible for them, too.
It’s available to everyone, everywhere. Their friends, family, and complete strangers.
Result? About 3000 came to faith that day.
Jesus came and chose 12 men. There were 120 men and women who believed as Jesus walked out of His tomb. 7 weeks later, over 3000. And the church was born.
At one point it looked like the whole thing was dead. Jesus was dead, buried. And He left a confused group.
God sent His son, had they accepted him there would have been a fast track to the kingdom. But, they rejected Him and killed him.
Jesus said no one’s death would prevent the church from being established and growing. It didn’t.
He ran into rock. The people threw shade. They killed Jesus.
But, God was going to do whatever He needed to do to get done what He said He’d do.
God put in motion a work-around. Jesus’ resurrection validated His message. And, one of the many teachings was when He left He’s send an Advocate. And, when the Advocate came, He’d come w/ power and with that power the recipients would play instrumental roles in bringing people into the church.



God will come to you.
He’ll speak in way that you can understand.
Don’t be afraid to go where He leads b/c He’s prepared the way.
Just like He prepared the way when persecution came to the church. Every place they ran there were people already there who had heard about Jesus and what He had done for them.
Wherever God leads you there will people already there who have been prepared to help you. Just go.


Faith comes first. Then, the HS. And, with the power He provides you can completely change the direction of your life.
If you’re not done making that turn, finish it.
Finish the turn.
Jesus died to pay for the sins you commit. God takes them so serious it cost Jesus His life.
Take them serious enough and use the power provided and finish turning away from them and turn completely to God.


Faith, then the HS, Then water.
If you’ve not been baptized yet it a step of obedience to wade into the water.
A public declaration of you faith. It’s an important step of ownership to shout out loud that you’re a follower of Jesus.
If you haven’t been baptized yet, let me do it.
Let me know. We’ll schedule it. And, everyone in this church will know you’re all in w/ us.
Jesus is going to do whatever it takes to do what He wants to do. If people get in the way, He is going to work around them.
Do you want to work w/ God? Or, would you prefer He work around you?
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