Raven Cannon, Children's PastorAugust 19, 2019
Are there areas in our lives where we need to be less afraid to rise up in boldness on behalf of Jesus?
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This is our Rise series. I shared last week a message on the healing of the lame man. A man who was born lame and healed in Acts three. I want to review and complete this because there’s a second part to it that I want to share. However, it’s not just about sharing what happened. It’s also something that I want God to steer us towards. If you have your Bible or Bible app, this part is not going to be in the handout, then follow along. I’m going to reread Acts 3:1-10. This is to reset from where we left off.
It says, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer.” It was the ninth hour. They were on their way to pray in the afternoon when God interrupted their plans with a divine appointment. By the way, when we are ordering our lives to do the will of God, we should not be surprised, especially if our ears are open to the promptings in His voice. We should not be surprised or shocked when He does wondrous things. It might be small. It might every now and then be something amazing and extraordinary. A lot of times, if we are open to small little miracles and divine conversations, we will find in that openness, that God will often lead us into divine appointments. This was one of those moments.
It says, “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 I have no 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 he raised him up and immediately his feet and his ankles were made strong, and leaping up, he stood and began to walk and enter 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.”
There is great truth in what we just read and what we just looked at. It was something I actually did. I think I mentioned it in one of the Rise and Shines. It is the idea that before we can rise up, we have to look up. Before we can rise up, we must look up. This is a great, simple, but profound spiritual truth. That there are things that will come to our lives and how we choose to position ourselves will make all the difference. Choose to look up. Where we look makes all the difference. It makes all the difference. If we look at circumstances, situations, what people are doing, our own feelings, we can get ourselves wrapped up into a pretzel. Especially those of us who are over-thinkers and you know who you are. I know who I am because I’m one of them. Where we look makes all the difference. Before we can rise up, we have to look up. Always turn to the Lord first. The more complicated it becomes, the more important it is to look in His direction. So look up, look up.
If you were to read the book of Acts, what would follow is a message from Peter. In that third chapter, it becomes his second message. He shares it. After he preaches or as he’s proclaiming in the temple what the Lord has done, who he is in Jesus, and talking about so many different things you can read about it, Peter is arrested. This is where we pick up. I’m intentionally jumping over his message and into what happened at the end of it in the temple. It says, “As they were speaking to the people, the priest and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus, the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day for it was already evening.” So Peter, John, and it seems the man, were put into prison. Now, who are the Sadducees?
You read that and wonder, “What’s a Sadducee?” Some of us know. Some of us may not know. They were one of the two primary ruling parties of the day. For the most part, Israel at the time had two ruling parties, not dissimilar from what we have. They were political-religious parties. They were permitted by Rome. Israel and the Jewish people were always given a large swath of autonomy by Rome. Part of it was just for pragmatic reasons. Rome felt that they could keep the peace better with it. Sometimes Rome would come in and obliterate a political system and a ruling class. But in this case, the Jewish people were given more room. They had two religious parties at the time of Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees.
Some of us will remember that one of the Pharisees at this moment was a younger man, not a young man, but a younger man who was being trained under one of the greatest Pharisees of that day, a man named Gamaliel. The younger man’s name was Saul, who would later become Paul. He just didn’t know what was going to happen in his life yet, nor did anyone else. There are these two powerful parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Sadducees were smaller but more powerful. They represented more of the wealthy class. They believed in God. They weren’t secularists, in this sense. They didn’t believe in the supernatural. They did not believe in the resurrection as a principle.
Whereas the Pharisees were more intertwined into the scriptures. They did believe in God’s miraculous movement. They had actually a tension point with the Sadducean party, ironically, over the issue of resurrection. What happens to you after you die? This is just to be aware of that fact because when these authorities heard the ruckus being made by the healing of the lame man, the ensuing message of Peter proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, they were irritated and disturbed. Or as the scripture says, greatly annoyed at it. So the temple authorities had all three of them arrested.
Now, you wonder what went on the mind of Peter and John that night. When Jesus was on earth, this was the treatment He told them they would ultimately receive. Now it was actually happening. For Peter, it must’ve been a full-circle, redemptive moment, actually. Remember what had happened earlier? Peter told Jesus, “I am willing to go to prison and die for you. I am.” But he denied Jesus. He renounced Him, emphatically broke with Him, much to his shame. Now months later, that vow was now being fulfilled. It was a full-circle moment of God’s redemptive capacity to take what looked like a broken, devastating chapter of his life. By the time the Lord was done, Peter was now becoming the man that Jesus said he would be, a rock that could be built on.
The satisfaction of that thought, whatever anxiety for the morrow must have been to him a gift unparalleled as he closed his eyes. I think he slept well in that prison cell. Verse four, “But many of those who heard the word believed and the number of the men alone came to about 5,000. On the next day, the rulers, elders, and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem with Annas, the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, all of whom were of the high priestly family.” You’re getting specific names. It is embedded in a historical context. “And when they had set them in the midst, they brought them in. They inquired, “By what power or by what name, authority, did you do this?”
Let me lay this out foundationally. This group that assembled was known as the Sanhedrin, the governing body, again allowed by Rome, centered in Jerusalem and specifically interested in the temple. This body consisted of the elite and the most highly regarded of all Israel. I want us to understand where they were being brought in front of. Historically, it represented the 70 elders who were chosen by Moses in the wilderness, in his administration of the Exodus March when they left Egypt. The high priest would preside. Around him in a semicircle sat the leads of the 24 priestly classes, the doctors of the law, and the fathers of the ancient Jewish family. This was the group that Peter and John were being brought before, as well as the man who evidently was healed. This was the same governing body that just a few months earlier had deftly maneuvered to have Jesus turned over to the Romans. In the same chamber, they are preparing in their mind to stamp out once and for all this Galilean heresy. Note how they went about their business. It would have been foolish to debate the miracle. The man stood right there. What could they do about it? Nor would it have been prudent to challenge the disciples on the issue of the resurrection, which Peter had been proclaiming.
Remember what I told you earlier, the resurrection conceptually on that day would be a polarizing issue today. you can think of some of the most polarizing issues from a sociopolitical perspective. Add to that a religious or moral layer and you get an idea of what was going on here. If the Sadducees decided to make the issue about Peter and John proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus, they would have polarized that body. They would have split, put a tension point between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, which they didn’t want. So they held back, and they took a very different tack.
No, the way to approach was clear. They would go in this way. By what power or name have you done this? Notice, not, ‘did you do it?’ Not about what you’ve been saying about the power behind it, but in terms of the resurrection issue. No. What is the name of the authority? By what power or by what name did you do this? It was a subtle and strategic question. I know we look at it and think, “What are you talking about?” It is because to attribute the power to God would have been safe and acceptable. But to attribute the miracle to some other name or entity would have made them vulnerable as heretics and sorcerers working with dark spirits. That simple, subtle question was a potentially deadly and devastating question. It was a deadly accusation, as well. The seriousness of their dilemma was apparent in light of what had already been done to Jesus was obvious. Peter knew, as did John, this group was not afraid to pull the trigger. Every step now was a treacherous one. What would they do? What would they say? Would they back away? How would they answer the question?
It didn’t seem to phase Peter one way or the other at this point. It’s almost as if he had crossed that bridge already. He wasn’t going back. For some of us, there are moments in our lives where we decide finally once and for all, I’m crossing the bridge with Jesus. I’m not going back to what I was, ever. Peter’s failure and recovery had been so intense, pronounced, and real. He was afraid of nothing at this moment. Let’s look at what happens. In verse eight, it says, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed that was done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, then let it be known to all of you.'” Now, Peter is now talking in front of very powerful people. He steps out and says, “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified,'” they didn’t literally crucify Him, but they delivered Him up to be crucified. It was a joint effort with the Romans. The Romans killed Jesus, but it was an entire cooperation of powerful forces at work.
“‘This same Jesus whom you crucified, whom God, by the way, has raised from the dead. By Him, this man is standing before you well.'” This verse has even more meaning for us as a church. You’ll see why. “‘This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you. I’m telling you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else. There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.'” It was a stunning response, not one that they were prepared for. They were not prepared for that.
Let’s look at verse 13, “Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they perceived,” that is, they were trying to work it through that Peter and John were uneducated, common men. They knew that, and they were astonished. They were shocked at the tenacity, language, presence, tone, and conviction that was being given. It says, “They were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Verse 14, “But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” Nothing to say, what is here for us? What are they going to say? What is here for us?
A couple of things. First, what did they take note of? Their boldness, the strength of their response, the absence of their fear. It made me wonder, and I want to ask you a question. Are there areas where we, you and me, are being asked to be less afraid and rise up in boldness on behalf of Jesus? It’s a question that I’m asking. I’m not talking about being obnoxious, insensitive, or discounting the protocols of the working culture. I am talking, however, about refusing to be intimidated by peer pressure and silenced in our confession.
We can share Jesus in appropriate and respectful ways. We have to if we truly love Him. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” It’s the power of God that can change and save a person. We are to live out our faith in Jesus and invite others into life with Him. At a more personal level, do we have conversations with people about Jesus? Or have we been for whatever reason silent? Some of us need to connect the dots. We need to let people know the why in our life. It’s all there, but the why, to connect the dot to the Lord is what brings a different kind of expression to it.
People may appreciate us. They may appreciate our work. They may appreciate certain things about us, our care, our love. Perhaps these should be characteristics of our life. Kindness should be noted by people. Our good works, these things should be noted. At some point, there needs to be, especially for those who we are either working most closely with or around, a way of allowing others insight into the deepest place of what we love, build our life around, and has really transformed our life. That is Jesus.
Basically, what I’m saying is in our relationships with our friends, we need to connect the dots. We need to remind others about our love for the Lord. Again, I didn’t say be obnoxious. I did not say be annoying, but I do think that there need to be thoughtful ways, courageous expressions with humility. Kindness and prayer about how to disclose our love for the Lord. To show the difference the Risen Savior has made in our lives. Those who claim to love Jesus must talk about Him. I’ve never heard of anyone who we love that we don’t talk about. Some of us in this new era are really good at social media. You have both a gift and an addiction. I mean, some of you are actually mavens who are really good at mobilizing and sharing. Here’s one way to redeem it. As we were talking about it, find strategic ways to display your love for the Lord appropriately within the framework of your communications. Some of you are really good at it.
There’s a man in our church whose name I will not mention yet. He actually shared this with me last week. He reminded our team again of it. He’s been using Rise and Shine in the morning. It caught us off guard because we originally did Rise and Shine for our own community to stay connected and be encouraged. That was it, but he’s actually been using Rise and Shine as a tool to share the message of Jesus and encourage others. He told us yesterday that there’s a button that you can press to send off a message. But it still was a little effort. He has a list of 51 people. It’s not as simple as it seems. He devotes a good chunk of the morning. He spends about 10 minutes of his time to sends it off. He’s been getting a tremendous amount of movement. It’s created conversation. Someone tells him, “Don’t do that,” but they’re mostly friends and family. It’s allowed a conversation about Jesus. I said, “You know how Impressed I am with you?” I really meant it. I said, “That is a Shepherd’s heart. That is the most sincere expression of connectedness you can do, to take that bold step.”
He’s been doing this, and God is really blessing that. I’m just saying, if he can do that, there are ways we can do things like that, as well. We should think about the practical way in which we can put our faith into action in bold ways. Oh, so not only did the Sanhedrin, the leaders, and the authorities perceive the boldness of Peter, but what was another thing they noticed? They noticed something else, didn’t they? I love that.
They perceived that they were uneducated, untrained, and common men. Think about it. Peter was a fisherman. It’s true, he had been apprenticed by a carpenter, which was more than a carpenter, but he was by trade. Peter was a fisherman by trade. He didn’t go to school. He wasn’t trained in religious life. I mean, he had basic training. He had a love for scripture. All his people were very well-read and versed in the traditions, writings, and scriptures of their people. Peter, John, and their friends had had an unusual interest in them. Part of that deep interest is what had propelled them into the circle of Jesus.
Of course, to be around the Lord for that amount of time, I don’t think there was any better training one could receive. He literally was trained, discipled by Jesus while Jesus was on earth. Having said that, they were amazed because they perceived that they were uneducated, untrained, and common men. That is, they had no formal education or pedigree. They didn’t represent any family. They hadn’t been placed in the best schools. However, they did also consider this.
One more thing they noted was these guys have been with Jesus. No greater compliment could have been made. They perceived they had been with Jesus. They sound just like him. Question, can people tell that we have been with Jesus? Can people tell us we have been with Jesus? Can our peers, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family sense it, feel it? Are His words on our lips? Are other words not on our lips? You say, “Oh, you’re going to act holier than thou.” No. I would like to be in my own life with God, a real deal person. Yes, I would like to have my beliefs and actions look a lot like each other. Yes, I would. But I’m not trying to be holy. I want to be right before God and holy before Him, but that’s not my motivation to come across as some really great religious person. I’m not trying to do that.
I guess my question is can people tell by our language? Language is a big deal today, in my mind. It reveals so much. Language and attitudes, everybody’s angry and saying stuff. Even the Lord’s name is used as a doormat. Used as a vulgarity, space-filling curse, or whatever. That’s the name we love. I speak that name. I praise Him. It means something. Is His love the dominant theme of our life? Is there a song in our hearts? Do they know? Do people know we go to church and why? Is there wisdom that reflects study and effort? Have we applied ourselves to learning how to rightly divide the scriptures and defend them, I mean this in the best way, our faith in increasingly misinformed and at times even hostile culture?
It matters not if we have degrees. I have a bachelor’s, master’s, and earned a doctorate. It doesn’t matter if we have degrees as much as what is going on inside of us. It’s not theological training. It’s not the letters. It’s not by might. It’s not by power, but by my spirit that says, “The Lord of hosts, let us be filled with His spirit because the foolishness of God is wiser than that of man.” That’s what we’re taught. That is not an anti-learning or education statement. Nor is it in any way, shape, or form an anti-ambition or anti-intellectual statement. It’s not. It’s just saying at the end of the day, can people tell we have been with Jesus because if they can, it will make a huge difference. It will be recognized. I just want more of Him at work in my life. If I can get that, good things will happen.
Let that be our quest, our goal. Here’s the last thing, before we can rise up, we must, what? Look up. Also, let’s look up when we rise up. What I’m talking about is the morning and starting our day there. Can people tell we’ve been with Jesus? It usually is connected to how we start our day. What comes in is what goes out. I’ve been talking about it, start of our day. That’s what we’ve been trying to say. Let’s get in the habit. Let’s get into this daily habit. I look at it this way. So people can tell that we have been with Jesus. What does that even mean? I mean, I’m taking it seriously. I’m pouring my heart into it. I’m talking to the Lord. I’m making space. I’m creating space. I’m honoring the Lord with my time. I’m making His words a priority in my life.
I know it’s going to sound for some people who are going to say, “That’s an insult to Jesus.” I’m saying even 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of the day. If it can be done consistently, honestly, and humbly, it will have a huge, huge impact on our lives. The consistency of the daily rhythm, you hear me talk about it all the time. The Lord says, talks about give us this day, our daily bread. Teach us how to pray, master. Teach us how to pray, lord. When you pray, pray like this, Our father who art in heaven, holy is your name, right?
Then what? Your kingdom come, your will be done in my life on earth, as it is in heaven, that your will be expressed through me and give us this day, this day, our daily bread. This day. It’s a daily life with Jesus. I rise up in the morning to thank Him, to acknowledge Him, to welcome Him, and then allow His words to be on my mind, on my lips, and in my ears. It becomes intertwined with my life, the way I work, the way I love, and the way I respond. Then say, “Lord, give me eyes to see. Let me be open to the divine adventure of faith where I never will know on a given day what is about to change a life, a person, or a situation in me. I’m cooperating with a grand theme that will go far beyond even my own life. God, remind me of that.”
The way of Jesus was never meant to be anything but alive. My wife will say to me, it’s interesting how light, wherever light is, darkness has chased away. Wherever life is, death must flee. We are following a risen savior who invites us to rise up. When that happens, we will find that people will be healed because of what God is doing in our lives, they will be. Some of you are going to be healers in the name of the Lord, you may have already been.
It matters not if you have a title or a theological degree. I’ve seen many of those things come and go, but keep your heart soft before the Lord, be a continual learner, and be childlike in spirit. Continue to be open to the wonder of growing, becoming correctable, and open to the Lord. Have a true desire to shine His light and be part of a great adventure of faith. That’s what I call it. Yes. That is signing on for something, isn’t it? So in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. That’s the encouragement for the day. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.
Father, I thank you for this. I thank you for the opportunity we had to share your word together. Let us not be like the person in the book of James who sees themselves in the mirror and then forgets what manner of person they are. No, Lord. If there are things that you’re trying to prompt in our hearts, again, we had very intentional things we were trying to do here, reminding us of staying close to you, representing you, being bolder, more committed to sharing you, more open to passing along the blessings of life, being more open to being a healer. Yes, a wounded healer in your name, but a healer nonetheless. I ask that you would again help us to utilize the tools at our disposal to be both a growing person and a person who rises up, shares your life with others, and invites others in life with it. I thank you, Lord. You are our cornerstone and we love you very much. Bless our time of giving, for, without it, we have no community. We ask also that you would bless these closing minutes as we seek to honor you with this final song because it becomes a part of this message. I asked for your blessing over our time. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.