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The ESSENTIAL KINGDOM Message!

FOLLOWING JESUS IN ACTS  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction:
I have noticed during the “Stay at Home” orders; that people will follow whoever sounds or looks like they know something. How could a State that has a low number of cases, have to stay shutdown- While a neighboring State with many more cases can open up? This is completely about politics. I wonder if all of this is more of a distraction from what is really happening, than a virus. Why can some religions have services in our State, while Christian congregations get fined for meeting?
This is a “shell game”- (The game where you have 3 cups or ½ coconut shells; and you put a ping pong ball under 1 and start moving it around.) Those who are good at playing this game, move the ball into their pocket or shoe; while the contestant is guessing where the ball is. The point is the contestant will always lose. The enemy has caused us to lose our focus on what matters by distracting us with this virus. What should Christians do? We need to change the focal point.
Acts 3:11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 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?
1. Change the focal point from Yourself to Jesus!
Peter quickly got the attention off of himself and put it on Jesus. As followers of Christ, we must realize that when great things happen that is God working through us. It isn’t through our power, but Christ’s power.
God is working miracles all the time; but we are too focused on the wrong things to notice it. When we do notice it, we don’t give God all of the glory, honor, and praise. It is not about you; but about the life changing power of Jesus Christ.
Acts 3:13 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. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 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.
2. Change the focal point from Their self-righteousness to Their Guilt!
Until people realize that they need salvation, how will they know? Yes, the Holy Spirit of God convicts them; but He also uses us to tell them the truth.
Look at what Peter points out to them:
“You handed him over to be killed.”
“You disowned the Holy and Righteous One.”
“You killed the author of life.”
“You see and know that was made strong.”
“You can all see.”
This fits for us also. People need to realize that it is their sins that put Christ on the cross; but through His power we can be made strong. The word “you” applies to each of us.
Acts 3:17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 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. 22 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. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 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.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
3. Change the focal point from Their separation from God to a Relationship with God!
Having announced the crime, presented the evidence, and explained the nature of their sin, Peter then offered them pardon! (Acts 3:19–26) What a strange thing for the prosecuting attorney to become the defense attorney and offer a pardon from the Judge! Peter’s burden was to encourage his people to trust Christ and experience His gracious salvation.
What did he tell them to do?
19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
First of all, they had to repent of their sins (see Acts 2:38; 5:31; 17:30), which means to have a change of mind about themselves, their sin, and Jesus Christ. Repentance is much more than “feeling sorry for your sins.” As the little Sunday School girl said, “It means feeling sorry enough to quit!” False sorrow for sin could be mere regret (“I’m sorry I got caught!”) or remorse (“I feel terrible!”); and such feelings have a tendency to pass away. Repentance is not the same as “doing penance,” as though we have to make a special sacrifice to God to prove that we are sincere. True repentance is admitting that what God says is true, and because it is true, to change our mind about our sins and about the Saviour.
The message of repentance was not new to the Jews, for John the Baptist had preached it and so had Jesus (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). In one sense, repentance is a gift from God (Acts 11:18); in another sense, it is the heart’s response to the convicting ministry of the Spirit of God (Acts 26:20). The person who sincerely repents will have little problem putting his faith in the Saviour.
Second, they had to be converted, “to turn again” and exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ. The biblical message is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21), and the two go together. Unless we turn from our sins, we cannot put saving faith in Jesus Christ. It is unfortunate that some preachers have so ignored the doctrine of repentance that their “converts” lack a true sense of conviction of sin. Balanced evangelism presents to the sinner both repentance and faith.
Verses 19-20 are the key to everything we believe. People must repent and trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ. He is the One that refreshes us. He is the One that will come back for us. He is the One that we will spend eternity with.
Conclusion:
We must remember that God never wanted the Church to exist for the sake of institutional existing. Christians are essential kingdom worker to be about representing the King in this foreign land and sharing the Good News of King Jesus. It’s not about what we want or what we think; it’s about Jesus. When we make it about anything or anyone else, we will not be effective.
We must stop talking about ourselves, one another, what’s wrong with the world and what we want; and start talking about the One and Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.
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