Encourage one another with these words

Paul is writing back to the church in Thessalonica and he reminds them of what has happened and what followers of Christ believe will happen next. He says:

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17

I want to start by saying that I believe this. I believe that Jesus died and rose again. I believe that, as his follower, I will follow him in his death and resurrection. I also believe that Jesus is coming again to judge the people of the earth and to fulfill the establishment and rule of his kingdom here amongst his people.

At the same time, I am also cognizant of how this sounds to many people. In fact, on television shows you frequently see people who believe these things portrayed as kooks, as crazy lunatics who should simply be disregarded as simpleton idiots. So if that is how I am regarded, I suppose that is what it is and I can only continue forward living as I believe God has called me to live.

Yet I think that this naturalistic / materialistic perspective comes from the myopic view that imagines that we know everything there is to know already. That we understand the earth, that we understand the universe, its creation, how we arrived here, and where history is leading us.

And yet, none of that is true. We understand very little of our earth, we understand almost nothing of our universe and its creation. We have flimsy theories of evolution that, upon investigation, hedge into the realm of the ridiculous…and somehow we think we think that we know what we are talking about. But we don’t, and we won’t for centuries and many millenia to come, so I can’t feel too discouraged that we would be criticized for “crazy” ideas such as a God that created the earth and each of us, Jesus’s death, resurrection, and return, and much more. That criticism simply comes from those who have arrogantly proclaimed that they somehow know more than the rest of us, when in fact God has been explaining what we see around us and where we are going through his Word.

And so Paul finishes chapter 4 with this:

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:18

We should be encouraged that there is a God who is much bigger than each of us. We should be encouraged that our lives aren’t intended to revolve around us. We should be encouraged, instead, that our lives are meant to give praise and worship to the one who created us, who saved us, and with whom we will live forever. May God receive this praise and worship from my life and may we all continue to be encouraged as we look forward to the day that Jesus will return!


Now we really live

Paul truly loves the Thessalonians. His love for them is evident in his desire to have news from them, to know if they are standing strong in their faith. He wants to know if they are continuing on in what they have learned and persevering in their faith. He is afraid that as a result of the persecution or some temptation that they have fallen away, and so he sends Timothy back from Athens and the pensinsula of Achaia where he has been working to get news from the Thessalonians.

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

Paul takes great encouragement from Timothy’s report. He is no longer worried, but instead is filled with joy because of what he has heard about how the Thessalonians are continuing in their faith.

I find the sense of love and concern that Paul has for the Thessalonians pretty amazing because of the purity of Paul’s jealousy for their faith. He isn’t receiving a salary from them, certainly nothing that is obligatory that they must pay him while they are believers. He is simply concerned about their spiritual well-being, for its own sake. He truly desires to see the Thessalonians grow in their faith, following Christ because of their own need for a Lord and a Savior, which they have now found in Jesus.

And Paul experiences great joy as a result. He says that now that they have received this report of their perseverance in the faith, they can truly live. Because the Thessalonians continue to stand, they are full of joy in the Lord.

I pray that we, as believers, will experience this same sentiment. That we would find joy in Christ because of the perseverance and success of others. That as others grow in Christ, we are joyful. Not because we are gaining something of worldly value, but simply because they – those that we have taught and led – are going on to continue in their faith, and that we would be jealous for their faith and for their success to continue and grow greatly.


The Lord’s Message Rang Out

This morning, our church is starting to read in 1 Thessalonians as part of our daily reading in the Bible. Paul has been in the Macedonian areas and has since moved on from there to Athens and now in Corinth where Timothy and Silas come to join him there from Macedonia.

Paul starts his letter to the Thessalonians by commending their work as a result of their faith and their perseverance based on the hope that they have in Christ. But then he says that their faith has become known everywhere. Here is what he says specifically:

The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead —Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

Why all of the notoriety?

Why would it be that their faith has become known everywhere? Here are at least a few of the reasons:

First, as Paul says, they have turned from idols. In that time, the people worshiped and served the Greek gods such as Apollo, Dionysus, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, and many others, sacrificing to idols of man-made “gods”. But the Thessalonians in this church leave behind these idols to serve the one true, living God. They move against the overwhelming grain of their culture, thus they become noticed and spoken about in that area.

Second, they have also rejected the one other monotheistic alternative to this idol-worshiping culture that we are aware of: Judaism. Instead, there are some Jews that are joining with the former idol worshipers together to serve Jesus. Previously, they were separate in different religions, but now they are worshiping God together in Jesus.

Third, as Paul indicates prior to verse 8, the Holy Spirit is amongst them. This message is not simply being spoken with words, but it is being demonstrated in power through the work of the Holy Spirit. People are being healed and amazing things are happening around them. The work of God is happening amongst them.

And finally, they are imitating Paul, Timothy, and Silas by speaking about what is happening. Even though it is dangerous for them because they have left their former idol worshiping ways, they are telling of what God has done through Jesus on the earth, offering forgiveness for their sins and and way to truly know him. It is something to speak about and tell others!

What should we learn?

So what does this mean for us? We should learn from this scripture, but what? Again, a couple of thoughts:

First, even if we don’t have little god statues placed around our house…or even if we don’t go to temples to offer sacrifices to these gods as the Thessalonians did, there are idols all around us today. The idols of our day are those things that we worship, that we bow down to in our time, our money, or our affections that come before truly giving ourselves to God. Each person has different “idols”, but we have them. What are your idols? What has God called you to do with them if you are truly to go against the grain of our culture as the Thessalonians did and serve God through knowing Jesus?

Second, in love, we must lock arms together with others who want to serve God together through Christ. Jesus brings together people from many different backgrounds and from many – those that are considered very diverse – we become one in Christ. Let’s fight for unity in Jesus, not continually look for minor or secondary points of difference that will separate us.

Third, let us call upon the Holy Spirit to be working in our midst. Let’s seek him out, looking for his work happening all around us. If we are sensitive enough to look for what he is doing, then we can join him in it, calling upon the Spirit to move and work, healing and working for his glory and our joy and good.

And finally, we should also imitate Paul, Timothy, and Silas. We should live in ways that will glorify God. We should speak with others daily of what Christ has done also for us, just as the Thessalonians did.

Imagine if these things… Imagine if we were to live as the Thessalonians did and as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. The message would ring out also from us! We would also see many come to know Christ and amazing things happen in our midst. As believers in Christ, this is our desire, that Jesus would be known throughout the entire region because of what he has done in our midst.


More than Morality

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mark 10:18-21


This man, the rich young ruler, comes running to Jesus, recognizing that he is a man from God.

He is looking to justify himself and show that he is worthy of being given eternal life.

He recognizes the value of eternal life, and along with his current riches, he wants to make sure that he is assured of life forever.

But Jesus isn’t, of course, thinking in the same way that this man is thinking. He isn’t thinking of whether or not the man has obeyed the law, which he says that he has done. He is thinking of the man’s heart and how it is more dedicated to his riches than he is to God. And he is thinking of how the man must come and do what God has called him to do. Not just be a rich man, but to be a man who is truly carrying out the calling that God has upon his life.


It isn’t enough to just be a good, moral person. No one can, but even if you could, Jesus wants the entirety of your heart, not only obedience to the rules.

Beyond this, Jesus calls the man to follow him. He wants the man to be part of what he is doing, to engage in the work that he is carrying out, to see his Kingdom continue to grow. But this is not what the man wants. He wants his own kingdom to grow, his own wealth to grow, and for God to owe him eternal life for what he has done.


Lord, I want to be a man that gives you everything that I am to be able to follow you. You know that, within me, there are desires to hold back from you, to keep for myself and for my enjoyment on this earth, but my true desire is to be a man that gives all to you. I pray that, like the man that Jesus called to believe so that his son would be healed, that you would help my unbelief. When I don’t believe that you are all that I need, I pray that you will remind me of who you have called me to be and that I would be sold out to you, your ways, and what you want for me.


This is an important lesson for those in the church. This week, I want to share this lesson with Christian believers that I meet.


Rejected Religiosity

I was reminded today, as I read from Acts 22, a statement that Jesus made to the religious leaders as he was teaching them and trying to explain to them how far they had strayed from what God really wanted for them. He quoted Isaiah and said of them:

These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.

Matthew 15:8

The Jews had wandered far from what God had desired of them. They knew God’s commands and many times would follow them, but they would look for ways to get ahead at the expense of other people. In the example that Jesus used in Matthew 15, he said that they would call something or some sum of money “devoted to God” instead of using it for their mother or father to help them in their time of need. By calling it “devoted”, it was allowed to stay in their bank account, or allowed to stay with them instead of giving it to their loved ones in their time of need. This clearly showed that they were saying that they were honoring God, but their actions did not at all prove that to be the case.

I was reminded of this because of what I read in Acts 22 today. A rioting crowd of Jews had just seized Paul and were going to kill him except that the Roman soldiers came to arrest him, which in effect saved Paul’s life. Except now, Paul asks to speak to the crowd. He wants to attempt to share his story with them to appeal to them to hear what God is truly doing.

First, he speaks to them in the Hebrew language, showing that he is one of them.

Next, he speaks of being raised there in Jerusalem under the tutelage of the great Gamaliel, trained in the law and zealous for it to the point of persecuting those who belonged to the Way, those that even they are persecuting now.

In other words, he is trying to tell them that he is like them, and even more! He has been down the same path that they are on now.

But then he says that Jesus appeared to him, made him blind but able to see a new reality. As he was praying, Jesus spoke to him and said that he would be used to go amongst all of the peoples. God would use Paul to take the message, to take the Gospel to all of the nations.

“‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

Acts 22:19-21

And this is precisely the point at which the Jews begin to protest so much that they begin throwing dirt and sand into the air saying that Paul is no longer fit to live. He should be killed.

How did the Jewish people’s hearts go so far from God’s heart and his desires? Yes, they are attempting to honor God with their lips, but their hearts, and therefore their actions are so far away from what God wants.

God’s intention from the very beginning of the formation of the nation of Israel has been that God would give blessing so that the blessing would reach people all across the face of the earth. The Jews look back to Abraham calling him their father, but they are forgetting the very thing that God had called Abraham to do. God’s intent was that he would use the Jews to reach the people of the earth. Instead of remembering this, the Jews believe that they are God’s only people on the earth.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the Jews is based on the belief that God is on their side. If if they would honor God and say that their life is about serving God, the truth is that they are really believing that God works and acts for them. What they are missing is that God is for God. Yes, that also means that God acts for the Jews, but he doesn’t act only for them. His intent is to act through them to reach all of the people on the earth. Instead of the Jews being the ends, they are the means through which God is working. Unfortunately, the Jews believe that they are the ends, not the means.

But are we any different? Don’t we do the exact same thing? As we sit in our churches without being obedient to do what God has asked us to do, to live in the way that God is asking us to live, aren’t our hearts actually far from Him? As we go to Bible studies or church potlucks, or whatever other kinds of church activities without being faithful to go and share our faith with others or make disciples among all nations as Jesus said to do, aren’t we forgetting that we are the means, not the end?

Yes, in fact, that is exactly what is frequently happening amongst us as believers. We are honoring God with our lips, but our hearts are far from him. How can I say that? Because Jesus said that if we love him, we will do what he says. Are we remaining close to him? Are we loving God and our neighbors with our whole being, with everything that we have? Are we sharing that love with others, telling them of what God has done and teaching them to walk in the way that Jesus laid out for us? Let’s make sure that we truly following God in the way that he wants so that, like the Jews, our religiosity will not one day be rejected.


Confusion abounds

It is amazing how often we act based on half-truths and confusion.

In the reading today in Acts 21, we see that Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to Jerusalem and, upon arriving, the local believers there know that there is trouble that will be awaiting him. The Jews have been talking about Paul as a traitor of his heritage and of his faith, going out into other countries, and in those places speaking against Israel, against their traditions.

Of course, Paul is a Jew himself and hasn’t rejected his heritage, and nor has he rejected their way of life, nor their traditions. But he has come face-to-face with the Messiah and his life has been changed, and because of this, his entire life was turned upside-down. He was given a new life. He was shown the way to know God. And this is why he has gone to both Jews and Gentiles everywhere – to tell them that they also can know God. They also can come to him through the one and only mediator, Jesus Christ.

But alas, the lie is frequently believed more easily than the truth, which is what has happened in this case. Paul had even followed the advice of the church in Jerusalem. He had gone to complete purification rites, specifically to show people that he had not rejected the ways of the Jews. Specifically to demonstrate that he was still one of them, and no more than having just finished, he is accused with the abounding narrative, the lie that had been told, and was continuing to be believed:

When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 

Acts 21:27-28

The people believed the lies about Paul so easily that they had even thought that Paul had led a Greek into the temple, a grave sin of defilement of the temple from the perspective of the law of the Old Testament, just because they saw him with a Greek person while out in the city. Nothing like jumping to conclusions…

And to apply this to us

Still today, confusion is everywhere. Even now, we want to believe we know what is right because it is what we have known. Or we believe it is right because it is what seems good to me. But we miss the bigger picture. We miss the real point. We listen to others, not realizing that there is an agenda behind what they are saying, not realizing that they are selling us something, not realizing that we are selling the freedom of our minds and hearts to others for a lie that we believe will satisfy us for a little while.

Instead, we must look to the truth, and there is one place that is found. The truth is found in Christ, and him alone. His Word and his Spirit give life. Every other person’s teaching, every other philosophy, every other way of life bring us to nothing but, at best a waste of time, or at worst physical or spiritual death.

Let us not about in confusion. If we know the words of Christ, if we know the Word himself, then we can know the truth. Our identity will be found in him. Our way of life will be found in him, and instead of confusion and believing lies, we will have life, and life to the full.



Saul was there when the crowds stoned Stephen. He also led and took part in the great persecution that broke out amongst the Christians in Jerusalem. Now, having scattered the believers in several directions, he wanted to go to other cities as well to begin to bring those believers who had fled back to Jerusalem in chains.

Paul chose Damascus as a city where he knew that some of the believers – those of “The Way”, as they called the movement of Christ-followers at that time – had fled, so he went to the high priest to obtain permission and an endorsement that he could show to the priests in Damascus for his mission to imprison and lead the believers back to Jerusalem. But as he was on his way and nearing Damascus, Jesus appeared to him, knocking him down and blinding him with a bright light.

Jesus spoke to Saul, telling him that he is the one that Saul had been persecuting, but telling him little more. He only knew that he would be told what to do.

Meanwhile, interestingly, the people that were traveling with Saul didn’t see the light that had blinded Saul, nor did they see Jesus appear to him, although they did hear the voice. Jesus was very specific in getting Saul’s attention. Jesus specifically wanted Saul for the work that he would set him on. Not any person. Specifically Saul.

Now, as Saul enters Damascus, led by his companions who had gone with him to persecute the believers there, Jesus calls to one of those believers by the name of Ananias. Ananias already knew of Saul. The believers in Damascus had heard of him and knew that he was coming for him, and now Jesus was telling Ananias to go to him. Ananias, of course, has significant reservations, but in the end he is obedient and goes to pray for Saul who receives his sight, believes, is baptized, and receives the Holy Spirit.

So this morning, I was thinking of the evidence of the belief that we see in these two men. We don’t really know how Ananias came to believe in Christ, but I’m guessing that it happened at some point in Jerusalem, and now through the persecution, he has found himself here in Damascus, hiding away from Saul and the others who were persecuting him.

Meanwhile, it is clear how Saul comes to faith, as Jesus himself appears to him to make him believe and find faith.

But this morning, I was thinking that we see significant evidence of both of their faith. From Ananias’s perspective, he knew that he was putting himself in great danger by presenting himself to the man who was there in his city to imprison him. Yet he was obedient to what Jesus told him to do, even though it might mean that he would have to give up his freedom…and possibly also his life.

Meanwhile, Saul is now full of the Holy Spirit and goes into the synagogues to preach – what a change! Those that had been meant to receive him so that they could round up and imprison people of The Way are now the same ones that are hearing the Word of God. I can only imagine that Saul has much to learn, but that which he knows he is speaking. Not in private, but boldly to the people that he knows will be likely to persecute him now as a result of his preaching!

This is true evidence of the faith that these men are carrying. They do not believe a little bit. They haven’t added a little bit of a new religion to their daily lives. They are laying it all on the line. They are showing their faith in their actions. This is evidence of a faith that will last and that God will truly use.


The Holy Spirit and the Wind

In John 3, as Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, he said that those who are born of the Holy Spirit are like the wind: you can hear the sound but you can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going. The Spirit moves as it pleases. As much as we might like it to do so, the Spirit doesn’t seem to follow specific rules or recipes about how it works or where it appears.

I was reminded of this again as I read Acts 8. Phillip was evangelizing in the area of Samaria and baptized many different people, including a man named Simon who was a sorcerer, a practitioner of magic arts. However, as several of those people were baptized, none of them received the Holy Spirit.

It wasn’t until Peter and John arrived later, having heard of many people believing in Samaria, that they laid their hands on those who had believed and they received the Holy Spirit.

If I’m speaking openly and honestly, passages like this confuse me at times. If they believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus, as the scripture says why did they not receive the Holy Spirit already before Peter and John arrived? There are certainly several passages that suggest that this is what we should expect to happen.

However, the telling of this story suggests a different scenario altogether.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14-17

So how does it work? Honestly, I can’t say that I am specifically sure. The Holy Spirit seems to show up whenever it wants to show up. In this story, the Holy Spirit doesn’t enter the people until Peter and John lay their hands on the people. In Acts 10, the Holy Spirit comes before the people are even baptized. In short, it seems to move whenever it wants to move. It comes upon the people whenever it wants to come on the people. As Jesus said, you can hear the sound, but you can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going!


Just A Helping Hand?

The disciples – now the apostles – had been continuing their work of proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah and carrying their message from house to house and in the temple courts. They were also dealing with persecution from the religious leaders in the Sannhedrin as well as healing people as a miraculous confirmation of what they had been teaching.

And then comes a problem within their own ranks, within the church, where one group of believers, those from a Hellenistic background, began to complain against those from the Jewish background, that their widows were being skipped in the distribution of food and assistance.

The apostles realized that they now have a dilemma. They could stop the work that they were doing and address this issue, or they could trust others to take on this work and manage it well to make sure that it was done correctly such that all of those that were in need would be cared for.

This was a problem in and of itself, of course, but at the same time, they saw a significant number of people who were coming to faith. So there were pressures there as well. The needs for the Gospel to be proclaimed were great as well. In fact, this story starts and ends with a statement that the number of disciples was growing.

The apostles decide that they absolutely must not neglect their time in prayer and their time in preaching and teaching the Gospel. This is their priority. They see that there is a great need for the people to understand who Jesus is. They see that people are coming to faith, and this must be the priority.

Yet they are also concerned that the widows with needs would be taken care of. Yes, the physical needs are important as well, but they can be done by others. They can entrust this work to other people, so amongst them they choose seven men who can do this work.

And what is the result? The widows were fed and the word of God continued to be spread across the city and across the area. And what is more, the disciples multiplied even more, even spreading into the priests where several began to believe.

Catch the right message

I want to make sure that, in this conversation, that we don’t miss an important component of what we read in Acts 6. Yes, the apostles chose these other seven men to manage the ministry to the widows. Yes, they did it well and it allowed the apostles to continue to dedicate themselves to prayer and preaching and teaching the word of God. And finally, yes, it did allow the number of disciples to grow, a beautiful result.

However, does that mean that those seven men were limited to that work? That was their job and their work stopped there?

Absolutely not.

Take a look at who the first man was that the apostles chose to serve the widows. It was Stephen.

Now take a look at who is highlighted next in teaching and is now being persecuted and opposed by the religious leaders. Also Stephen.

Frequently in the church, people are assigned a service job to care for physical needs and their work, either by themselves or by the person assigning them or both, is seen as their work. That their ministry wouldn’t or shouldn’t go beyond that task. But of course, that is exactly the opposite of what we see here in this case.

Stephen is a man that is being opposed by the religious leaders, not because of the work that he is doing in feeding the widows, but because of the preaching and teaching that he is doing. He has learned about Jesus as the Messiah and now he is going on to teach others the same thing, and this is the reason that he is being persecuted and opposed.

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

Acts 6:8-10

Let’s make sure that we connect the dots here. Stephen is not one of the apostles. He isn’t considered to be one of the main ones who is teaching. But he is repeating and sharing what he has learned from others, and in fact he is doing it so effectively that he has drawn the attention of the religious leaders who are now persecuting him as well as the apostles.

So the moral of the story, at least in how I am reading Acts 6 is this: God may want to use you in one way, but that does not mean that you are, or should be, limited to that way of serving. God wants you to be able to also share with others, to learn, for example, how to share the Gospel, and then give it away. To share your testimony of a life changed in Christ. To make disciples, sharing with others what Jesus said to do and who he said to be.

You are not limited to physical service. That is not your only ministry. Every one of us is called to testify to, and to make disciples of, Jesus Christ. Step into that calling that Jesus has given us. Do not be satisfied to allow someone else to do it for you. You are called to do this as well. Each and every one of us.



After the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples in Jerusalem, as we read yesterday in Acts 2, the disciples-now-apostles began to walk and live in the power of the Spirit, doing miracles amongst the people. Aside from the 3,000 people that were baptized on that first day of the Holy Spirit’s broad work here on the earth – an amazing miracle in and of itself! – the first miracle that we see is with Peter and John as they go to the temple for prayer.

As they are going up to the temple, they pass by the gate called “Beautiful” and in that place there was a man who had been lame and unable to walk since his birth. This man asks Peter and John for alms, for money. Peter looks at the man, tells the man to look at them, and then says:

“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Acts 3:6

Peter is not a rich man. He has left everything to follow Jesus and is now living in Jerusalem without any real job to support him. However, what he does have is a life lived, and true personal experience, with the risen Son of God, with the Messiah himself. And through that experience, he has received the Holy Spirit who is able to heal the man from his infermity.

Peter has the opportunity in that moment to truly change the man’s life forever. He doesn’t leave the man at the gate to continue to beg for money. He gives the man a whole new life.

This is also what we are called to do. So often as followers of Jesus, we think that we are to serve and help someone eat, or have clothes, or to have a roof over their head. And of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with that.

But what if their life changed completely? What if these dear people no longer needed to ask for food, or lack shelter, or receive clothes to put on their back? What if the very thing that prevents them from having these things was completely changed.

What if this man’s legs suddenly began to work? That is exactly what happened. Peter takes the man by the hand, calls him to stand and walk, and that is what the man does. He stands and walks into the temple with Peter and John. Now the man, no longer needing to stay there outside at the gate, can go inside for the time of prayer. His life is completely changed.

This is what we are called to do. As people who follow Jesus, we are called to be agents of transformation here on the earth. God is working, but he seems to always work through people.

Today, as I read this story in Acts 3, I later read this quote from someone named “LaSor” in the Enduring Word online commentary for Acts 3. I really liked it:

It is not the Church’s business in this world to simply make the present condition more bearable; the task of the Church is to release here on earth the redemptive work of God in Christ.

I pray that this is who we would be. Because of our experience in living with the risen Lord…because of our experience in living a transformed life, we can go on to give away the same to others. We don’t want to just make this world more bearable. We want to give the people that we meet a whole new life, a life transformed in Christ.