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Proclaiming the Name of Jesus!

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(2/9) Part1 – Jesus our Healer

Good morning, today we are going to read from the book of Acts and we’re going to read about the beginning of the Church in Jerusalem. Now several years ago we did a Bible study through Acts and I really enjoy the book of Acts, because it is so powerful, so practical, and so motivational. So I am really excited to begin this new series… "Proclaiming the name of Jesus!" and I am super excited to be teaching about "Jesus our Healer" as we gather today celebrating our one year anniversary here in Emmitsburg. So I thought what a great way to start, but to look back at some highlights of the first year… the first days of the Church.

Now how many of you today, are struggling with an injury or an illness. How many of you love somebody, or know somebody who in is dealing with an injury or an illness? I bet if we were to raise hands we’d all have them up… it would be pretty much everybody, right? Because we’re either struggling with an injury or an illness or we love someone who is. You see, this is the world that we live in. Over half of Americans are on some sort of prescription medication for an illness or an injury. And ever since sin entered the world, people are suffering, they’re sick, and they’re struggling.

Yet, the promise of God, given twenty seven hundred years ago, before the birth of Christ, was that he would forgive sins spiritually and that he would heal bodies physically. Do you remember this promise about Jesus? It is recorded in Isaiah 53:4-5. "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him"—and here’s the key phrase—"and by his wounds we are healed." We are healed!

In Matthew’s Gospel it confirms this saying, when evening came, many were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. And then Matthew comments, "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases" (Matthew 8:17).

You see, today we live in a fallen world and sin affects both the body and the soul. So Isaiah spoke of a time when Jesus comes to forgive our sin, to heal our soul, and also to heal our bodies. So Jesus comes, He died on the cross in our place for our sins. Three days later, he was healed. His bruised, wounded, bloody body was healed… His dead body was resurrected… and then over a period of forty days, early in Acts chapter 1 it tells us that Jesus went around showing himself and giving many convincing proofs that he was alive (Acts 1:3). And then he rose… he ascended into heaven… and I love this… the Bible says, "He was taken up before their very eyes, a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going…" (Acts 1:9-10).

And you know… it kind of sounds like the end of the story doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. It was the beginning of something bigger… something better…now that Jesus has left, God in his grace sends His Spirit. Now the presence and influence of Jesus is multiplied as the Holy Spirit is sent, to connect Jesus’ people to Jesus, so that we could still talk to Jesus just as if he were physically here among us… that we could still ask Jesus for healing just as if he were still here among us… and by his Spirit he is. He is just as present as he was when he walked the earth. So now when we get to Acts chapter 3, we read of this new powerful presence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in the Church. And we see what Jesus’ followers started doing as they proclaimed the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And so let’s read what they did; reading in Acts 3:1… we’ll read through the whole chapter as an intro to this series and then we’ll dig into it… let’s read together.

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer — at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

17 "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'

24 "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." (NIV)

Now can you imagine you’re driving down the road, and there’s this guy on the shoulder of the road with a sign saying, "Crippled from birth." You roll down the window at the red light, and he says, "Can you give me something?" And you’re like, "Well, I don’t have anything, but how about if you just get up and walk home?" And he does.

That’s what happened here. Peter said, "Look at us! Give me your attention… Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And Peter takes him by the hand and this guy who’s never stood a day in his life jumps to his feet and enters the temple with them, walking, leaping, and praising God.

Jesus heals the man… instantly he got up... he fulfilled Isaiah 35:6, which tells us, "Then will the lame leap like a deer." That promise was given and here it is seven hundred years later… Jesus comes, he’s murdered, and a lame man leaps like a deer…. all because Peter had the boldness to take the risk and invite the living Jesus into that moment. And today I need you to know that Jesus is still alive… and there’s power in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

And so that is what we’re talking about today as we begin this series, "Proclaiming the Name of Jesus!" That Jesus is our healer. He heals from heaven just as he healed when he was on the earth. Jesus is alive, he’s ruling and reigning, and we can come to him knowing that he hears us and will answer us, from his heavenly throne.

That being said, number one, here’s what we see in the example of Peter.

1. Taking the Risk

Number one, we’ve got to take the risk, our faith has to be public. How about Peter? Was his faith at this moment public or private? It was very public wasn’t it? He was taking the risk. He stands in front of a man who hasn’t ever walked… for decades… and says, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Then Peter stood up to a large group of people and says, "You killed Jesus… you disowned him… you killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong (Acts 3:15-16). He’s taking the risk of looking like a fool if nothing happens… not only that, but he’s putting his life on the line!

Today, we live in a time when everyone is okay with your Christian faith as long as its private. How many of you on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever new social outlet there is… and you’re not really putting Jesus out there? Maybe you’re a Christian or maybe you’re just attending church, but whatever the case may be, you haven’t told your family because you know what the response will be. You’re at work and once again, Christianity is the proverbial piZata getting the blows on some moral or social issue. You’re a student at the university, and all of a sudden they’re talking about Christianity again… and it’s not positive.

This is where you raise your hand right? This is where you take the risk… you stand up and say, "Hey, since we all believe in tolerance and diversity… since we’re talking about Jesus… since you brought it up…" Right?

You see, some of us don’t go public with our faith because we don’t want to be persecuted for our faith. Do you remember what they did to Peter? They crucified him upside down. Who did he worship? Peter worshiped a crucified Jesus. How’s it going to go for you? How is it going?

Here’s my point: somebody took the risk for you. You didn’t know Jesus, and somebody who knew Jesus took the risk of telling you what they knew about Jesus… they talked to you about Jesus… maybe they invited you to church… maybe they’re here with you today… But the bottom line is that somebody went public for you, and so I encourage you to go take the risk for someone else.

2. Seizing the Opportunities

Number two, the opportunities are there. You never know when you’re going to have an opportunity to talk to people about Jesus. How many of you, if your teacher/professor in school didn’t pass out tests, you never would have studied? If your teacher got up first day of class and said, "We don’t do tests," you’d be like, "Great, ‘cause I don’t study." You see the reason teachers give us tests is that they know we won’t study unless we have a test.

Now how many of you hate pop quizzes? We don’t like a pop quizzes because its a test you didn’t know was coming. But you know, the Christian life is a series of pop quizzes. You don’t know when you’re going to have an opportunity to pray for somebody, to answer somebody’s question, to talk to somebody about Jesus. You just don’t know!

Do you think Peter was prepared for this day? Do you think it was, on his calendar… his day planner, "Meet the man lame from birth, Jesus heals him, a large crowd gathers, and preach." Do you think he got up that morning and was like, "Time to pull out my commentaries and get my sermon ready?" Do you think he was prepared? No. The Bible says he was going to pray, he meets a guy lame from birth, says "I don’t have silver or gold" but "how about a healing?" And then this is what happens.

So this is a spontaneous sermon and what we read is probably only a summary, not the full message. So he is not just sharing from his morning devotional, I mean this is loaded… he’s really studied up… and that’s the point for us today: Study, study, study… because you never know when the opportunity will arise. You want to be ready.

Peter said, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone…" (1 Peter 3:15).

You see, there are opportunities all the time. But oftentimes, the door opens and we don’t walk through it because we haven’t been studying… we’re not ready… and we avoid the situation…. We go around on the other side of the street, because we’re like, "I don’t think I can answer. I’m not prepared. I’m not sure what to say or do."

Let me encourage you… the opportunities are always there, but prepared people aren’t. That’s why Jesus says that "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37). There’s lots of people who need help, but very few Christians who are ready and willing to take the risk. Peter was ready and he’s a good example for us.

3. Speaking the Truth

Third, the Holy Spirit will empower you to speak the truth about Jesus. I mean look at Peter, it’s amazing, he’s boldly preaching about Jesus at the temple, to people who don’t agree with him, some of them were the same ones shouting, "Crucify him, crucify him," they were the ones guilty of the murder of Jesus. Was Peter always this bold? No, he was a little impulsive at times, but bold he was not.

Those of you who know the story of the Bible, know that he didn’t start out boldly… he started out as a coward… right? Remember, they arrested Jesus, they’re trying him, and they’re going to crucify him. Peter’s following him, but the Bible says from a long ways off. Here’s Peter over here and Jesus is all the way over there. You know Peter can just barely see him through the doorway of the coffee house.

Why is Peter this far away from Jesus when he’s about to be murdered? Because Peter didn’t sign up for any suffering… he wasn’t into all that. The Bible says he’s warming himself by a fire, he’s trying to remain anonymous, he’s keep his faith private. When this teenage servant girl starts talking with him and she’s like, "That’s a weird accent. Where are you from? You from down South?" You know, she hears his Galilean accent. And she starts to put the pieces together. "Isn’t that where this Jesus is from… Galilee? I bet you’re one of his followers aren’t you?" So she calls him out and what does Peter say? Three times he denies knowing Jesus. He says, "I don’t know Jesus. I never met him, I don’t know who you’re talking about." He’s a coward. But here… here in Acts, Peter’s courageous… he’s bold… and so what was it that happened? Well, the Holy Spirit filled him and gave him courage.

I believe that today, in our culture, an increasingly hostile culture, it’s becoming much more like the days of Peter, and the Holy Spirit’s going to need to empower us to talk about Jesus. And some of you know what I am talking about… you agree… and as soon as you feel that boldness you’re going to speak.

But here’s the truth: speak and then the boldness comes. The boldness comes as you speak and not before… The Red Sea parts when we step in… the Jordan River stops when we get our feet wet. It’s by faith. It’s always been by faith. So it’s faith that says, "I’m going to talk about Jesus. I’m not sure I’m going to get it right. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to open my mouth like the prophets used to and I’m going to speak the truth about Jesus, I’m going to trust that the Holy Spirit will empower me to say the right words and to have the courage to endure whatever happens as a result. You see, that’s exactly what Peter demonstrates for us. And that’s what God wants for you today.

Now, as we close, I want you to ask yourself these questions… are you willing to take the risk… to seize the opportunities… and to speak the truth?

You see as a church, we want people to meet Jesus and to become more like Jesus. We want to see people healed like Jesus. We want to see people heal like Jesus. So, the emphasis is really on us being a healthy family, because the church is all about people. It’s about people meeting Jesus… it’s about people loving Jesus... and it’s about people loving each other. It’s about people doing life together… walking through the hard times… being there to celebrate the good times… helping one another… praying for one another… being like Jesus to each other. Those are the things that are super, super important for the church in 2014.

And so right now, God has opened some amazing doors and whatever Jesus has for us, I know that if we’re loving one another, if we’re being like Christ to one another, whatever he has for us, we’re going to be ready for it.

And for those of you who are still out there in the wilderness, maybe you feel disconnected, you’re alone, and you lack purpose… God is saying to you today: "It's time to move on." You've got to let go of the past if you want to move into the future that God has planned for you. If you’re ready to take the risk… if you want to make your move…. claim the promise of God's presence in your life. Acknowledge his presence… expect it… and live in it. Live in it today!

Today is your day. A place of promise awaits you: a place of contentment and joy and peace and abundance. God is waiting for you to enter. It's time for you to make your move. Are you ready to start… "Proclaiming the Name of Jesus"?

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