Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

01/13/2019 P.M.

 

Becoming His Instrument Of Righteousness

Acts 3.1-13, 16, 4.3-4 & 13

 

Go with me to the Temple Mount… We enter the Eastern Gate... Also known as the Gate Beautiful.

 

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon... Peter and John are just arriving at the Temple for the traditional time of Jewish prayer.

 

A beggar... A man cripple from birth… Has been carried there so he can ask for help… alms. This was a common practice for people who were... Physically...Socially... Financially… Bankrupt to be laid at the gate. The thinking was that people coming to worship God would have a heart to give.

 

As Peter and John approach... He asked for alms... He wants money.

Peter says... Silver and gold... Money...I have none... But what I do have... I will give to you.

 

We must know tonight that… God’s children... Christians... We here tonight...Genuine Disciples of Jesus... Are people willing to become God’s Instrument.

 

Tonight... We delve into this narrative...

Let’s see what we can learn about becoming people God can use.

 

You see church... As 2019 begins...

We like Peter and John... Are standing at the Temple Gate.

God is opening doors of opportunity…

Will we say yes to God?... Or will we have some flimsy excuse…

For not becoming an instrument of Righteous in His Hands.

 

Our Elders are searching for New Ministry Leaders...

Additional Deacons... Those willing to serve God in this church family.

Come... Let’s see what we can learn...

 

You know I’m big on our first point... God uses those with right motive.

People who want to do right things for the right reason.

Actions can be faked… Motives are real… Here Peter and John are coming to the Temple to pray... They wanted to be right with God.

 

These Apostles were doing right things at the right time For the right reason.

 

God can use people like this… He opens doors for the right motived folk…

• Enoch was doing right and God took him.

• Noah was doing right and God saved him and his family.

• Abraham was doing right and God used him to bless the world with Jesus.

• Joseph… David… Esther… Ruth… Were doing right and God used them to deliver the Israelite people… And God’s eternal plan…  From certain extension.

 

In the Sermon on the Mount… Jesus pronounces blessings on those of pure motive... Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

 

God pours out heaven’s blessings upon those who have a pure motive... Those who want to be and do right.

 

When I say pure motive... I want you to contrast Peter and John here with Ananias and Sapphira... Just two more chapters over in Acts five. 

 

Church... God is not pleased with us when we do things for the wrong reason... When we do things to be seen and praised by others… It cost Ananias & Sapphira their lives… Wonder what it is costing us today… Maybe Heaven… Amen?

 

Again in the Sermon on the Mount… Jesus repeatedly warns against doing our acts of righteousness... Giving... Praying...Fasting... For the wrong reason... Out of an improper motive.

 

Indeed…God uses those who want to be right and do right because they love the LorD and want to be right WITH Him… And have no other motive for their righteousness.

 

Jesus indicated that... People who do things out of improper motive already have their reward… And should NOT expect any other.

 

God uses those who understand that Christianity is more than ritual.

We can’t help from noticing here that there seems to be...

• A relationship… Between the church… The Christian… Between children of God… and helping people.

• A relationship between power and prayer.

• A relationship between worship and giving.

• You see... God’s people are givers.

• God’s people are helpers.

• God’s people are touched by the plight of others.

• God’s people are… servants… Ministers… Labors… In the kingdom.

 

God’s people understand that Christianity is…

• More than a Sunday ritual…

• More than coming to church…

• More than a spectator sport…

It’s a life to be liveD… A walk to walk… A ministry in His Kingdom.

 

Listen to these New Testament authorities speak of genuine Christianity

 

James... Pure religion...Religion that God accepts is this... To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

 

Paul says in Romans six... That after baptism... We are to become instruments of righteousness.

 

In Romans 12... He says that reasonable and acceptable worship to God includes our becoming living sacrifices... Our becoming people God can use... Are we willing?

 

Jesus contends that… As oft as you do good unto the least of these... You have done it unto Me.

 

Listen to me church... This narrative tells us without reservation that...

• God uses those who understand that their religion is more than a Sunday ritual.

• More than a three time a week spectator sport.

 

The narrative of the Good Samaritan stands as an illustration that Temple Worship…Just coming to church does not make us pleasing to God… We must serve Jesus in ministry to others… Amen?

 

Instruments of righteousness are those who are willing to be interrupted.

Our world is so caught up in proper scheduling that we seldom respond to interruptions.

 

I believe it is true some of our most useful moments are those that are unplanned... RIGHT?

 

Moments where God brings us into contact with others who are in need and we interrupt and serve.

 

In fact… Most of Jesus’ service moments were those impromptu moments where God brought Him into contact with others.

 

The Priest and the Levi were doing Good... They... Like Peter and John... Were on their way to the Temple to worship... But they were unwilling to be interrupted and Jesus condemned them for their unwillingness.

The Good Samaritan lives in eternal legion because he was willing to be interrupted… Are we?... Are we?... REALLY?

 

Neale Pryor of Harding University tells a story about one Sunday afternoon… He was cramming for a preaching service… Time was getting short. All afternoon… His son kept popping into the study with a football saying… “Daddy when can you play?... Is it time yet?... You said you would... Are you finished yet?” Finally brother Pryor had had enough… “Get out of here with that football...Shut the door and don’t interrupt me again. Can’t you see I’m working on this sermon.” Then he turned back to his sermon entitled… How To Be A Better Father, point number three… be willing to spend time with your children. Neale said… I got up and played football and that night it was one of the best sermons I ever preached.

 

God uses those precious folk who are willing to be interrupted in service to others.

 

This brings us to His instruments see & are sensitive to the needs of others.

Our world is divided into givers and takers. Great churches are made up of givers.

 

Jesus is our example… Acts 10.38 tells us He went about doing good.

 

In John chapter nine... We have an example of His goodness… As Jesus was leaving the Temple... He was confronted by a blind man.

• The people saw this man every day... He had become another fixture at the Temple gate.

• The Pharisees saw a problem with healing on the Sabbath.

• The Apostles saw a theological question about who had sinned, this man or his parents?

• Jesus saw a person in need and a chance to let God’s glory be seen.

 

What do we see?... What do we see?

• What do we see at the intersection of HWY 49 and Walton…

• At the Gas Station…

• In the Grocery Story…

• Here in the church parking lot?

 

Let’s play out some common scenarios to modern day situations similar to this one…

 

• Peter could have said... You’ve got a legitimate need... But our service starts in five minutes. John and I understand the problem and the need... But you’ve caught us at the wrong time.

 

• Or we could have heard Peter say... Ain’t it a disgrace that such a fellow would position himself here at the gate to the Temple?... The front door to the church building?

I mean this was known as the beautiful gate…

Corinthian brass gleaming in the sun.

The gate was 75 to 90 feet high.

It took 16 to 20 men to open and close it.

When we think back to Lazarus and dogs licking his sores... This sort of thing was not welcomed here... Ignore him... Perhaps he’ll go away.. Or die.

 

• Peter could have said... John, are we the only ones to help?

Let somebody else do something for a change.

We just finished preaching the first gospel sermon... Baptizing 3000.

We’ve got more important things to do.

 

• Peter could have said... I don’t have any change with me... John, do you have a dollar?

 

• Peter could have said...We’ll bring up your need at the next Elder’s meeting.

 

• Peter and John could have been like the Priest and Levite in the Good Samaritan Narrative...  They could have judged the man not worthy of their attention or help...  They could have judged that… Their religious activities... Their Temple duties… Were more important than hurting people...

 

Come on church... God loves people... Jesus loves people... He wants us to serve Him by serving others… all others...

• Hurting others...

• Injured others..

• Suffering others...

• Lost others.

You see... God uses people who see and are sensitive to the needs of others.

 

Instruments of righteousness inspire hope.

Note the end of verse five... This lame beggar looked at Peter and John expecting something.

 

The world is looking at us in the church expecting… great... Good... Tender... Loving... Merciful... Forgiving… Attitudes from the church… This church… What will we give them???

 

What we must not show them is… harsh... Ridged... Mean spirited self-righteousness. 

 

We’ve got it all... We are the world’s most economically  blessed people. and spiritually...We have it all...

• God’s chosen...

• His elect...

• Redeemed...

• Predestined...

• Reconciled...

• Joint heirs with Jesus.

 

As His children God wants us to become His instrument of righteousness...

• He wants us to be givers...

• Encouragers...

• He wants to inspire hope through us.

Jesus said... You are the salt of the earth... The light of the world... Are we willing??

 

God uses those who will use what they have.

Dwight L. Moody once asked his church audience… Whatcha gonna do with whatcha got?

 

Moses said... I can’t..., I don’t have the equipment... God said... What is that in your hand?

 

The Apostles said... We don’t have enough to feed this crowd. Jesus said...What do you have?... And He fed thousands with a sack lunch.

 

Peter said... I don’t have what you want... But I do have what you need...In the name of Jesus... Arise and walk.

 

People ask me... what can I do in the church... I don’t know... What do you have?

 

God has given us all five things... TIME... TALENT... TREASURE... ENERGY...  TRUTH.

 

Genuine faithful stewardship is how we use our... Time... Talent... Treasure... Energy according to Truth.

 

What can we do?

• Perhaps a visit to the hospital or nursing home.

• An encouraging word to those out of duty.

• A smile... A hug...

• A word of forgiveness...

• Work here at the building...

• Raking leaves for the aged or a shut-in... Working in their flower bed…

• Baking a cake.

Be like Peter use your imagination.

 

• Our Eldership is looking for those who will serve in ministry... Will we say yes to them?...

 

• Woody is looking for those who will be a Worship Coordinator...

 

• Aaron & Chris are looking for technology savvy camera operators… Editors…To help livestream our services to the web…

 

• Cecil is searching for adult teachers...

 

Well... On-and-on we could go... But the bottom line is will we use the... Time... Talents... Treasure... Energy... In service to God and His truth... Or will we excuse ourselves?

 

God’s Instruments are people of faith.

Look at verse seven and verse sixteen.

Peter took him by the hand... Helped him up... Peter does for this man ALL he could do...

• Peter can help him to his feet... He can’t make him walk.

• Peter can pull him up... But can’t cause him to leap.

• Peter can support his weight... But can’t empower him to run.

Peter has done all that he and John can do... Now this man’s fate is in the hands of God.

 

Church…

• Have we done all we can in the area of soul winning?... Then trust God for the increase?

• Have we done all we can for our children and loved ones?... Then turn it over to God.

• Have we done all we can in forgiving others?... Then have faith.

• Have we done all we can do for our health issues?... Then trust Jesus as the Great Physician.

 

The dominant characteristic of those people God uses in the Bible... Either individually or collectively are those with faith.

 

When you can’t see God’s hand at work in your life...

• Trust His heart...

• Have faith in His promises.

 

God uses people who are willing to give Him the glory and praise.

I am convinced that TODAY greater things are not being accomplished for Jesus because we are too concerned about the part we play and the credit we’RE gonna receive.

Who’s gonna get the credit??

 

Note verses ten through thirteen... This cripple beggar was leaping... jumping... Walking... Doing all those things he had always wanted to do... But was never able.

 

All the while... Scripture says he was still holding to Peter’s hand.

The people began to surround Peter and John in wonder and amazement.

Peter saw what was happening and said... Wait a moment... Don’t suppose for a moment that this healing was by our power... Our godliness. The honor... The glory and praise… Goes to the God of Abraham... Isaac and Jacob through His Son Jesus.

 

And he began there to preach the second gospel sermon about Jesus and Him crucified.

• David said... God leads us in paths of righteousness for His name sake, for His glory and honor.

• Jesus said... Let your light shine so that others can see your good works and glorify your Father.

• In Revelation 1.6 John writes... To Him be the glory and power for ever and ever... AMEN!!

Indeed!!!... God uses those who are willing to give Him the glory and praise.

 

We note that God uses ordinary men, women and teens.

Look at the last verse of our text... When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were... unschooled... ordinary... Men. They were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

 

Church...We don’t have to be someone special for God to use us... For us to become His instrument of righteousness.  All that’s required is that we be willing to spend time with Jesus...

• Submit to His will...

• Obey His commands...

• Conform to His image... Have His heart... His attitudes... Follow His example.

Are we willing?... I pray that we are...

And that we will... indeed!!... become people God can use.

 

We close our thoughts by noting The results of our becoming His instrument.

Verse four of chapter four... But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

 

Church...

• When we... In humility submit to God...

• When we yield to His will through the Word...

• When we become people God can use...

Those we touch will be brought to a faith in Jesus.

 

Genuine New Testament evangelism is our individually and corporately as a church... becoming people God can use... His instrument of righteousness.

 

What do we need to do tonight to become such a person & people?

 

• Do we need to accept Jesus for who He is... The Son of God... Our Lord and Savior?

• Do we need to repent of our sins?

• And put Jesus on in New Testament baptism?

 

Perhaps we need to start this New Year by...

Changing our attitude & Behavior...

• Saying yes to… Becoming His instrument...

• Conforming more to the heart and behavior of Jesus.

So that God can work… In us… With us… through us.

 

Come to Jesus... As we stand and sing this invitation song.