Acts Factor - Sharing Light


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Acts Factor - Sharing Light

  1. 1. The Acts Factor Sharing the Light Jeff Strite
  2. 2. <ul><li>A mother was busy making </li></ul><ul><li>supper in the kitchen, and </li></ul><ul><li>needing a can of tomato soup, </li></ul><ul><li>she asked her 5 year old son to go into the pantry and get one for her. But the light in the pantry was out and he didn’t really want to go in there. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>&quot;It’s dark in there and </li></ul><ul><li>I’m scared&quot; he said. </li></ul><ul><li>She asked again and he persisted. Finally she said, &quot;It’s OK honey, Jesus will be in there with you.&quot; So, the little boy walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Looking inside, he saw it was dark, and he started to leave when all at once an idea came. He peeked back inside again and called out, &quot;Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup.&quot; </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>What’s happens October 31st? That’s right, Halloween. Halloween was actually celebrated hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. In the British isles, a group of people called the Celts observed a festival they called </li></ul><ul><li>Samhain on Oct 31st. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>But unlike today’s Halloween, </li></ul><ul><li>theirs was no children’s holiday. You see, the Celtic New Year began on November 1st. The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed. At this season of the year the Celts knew that the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>For the Celts this impending darkness </li></ul><ul><li>was a fairly scary time. It was especially scary because they believed that there was a something like a curtain that separated the living from the dead. And they believed, that at this time of the year, </li></ul><ul><li>that curtain was at its thinnest. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>On the evening of October 31, it was their belief that evil spirits and souls of the dead passed through this barrier and entered into the world of the living. And when the dead crossed that barrier they would torment the living. Crops might be destroyed, babies stolen, farm animals killed. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>To appease these dead spirits, various sacrifices, including human, were performed by the Celts. And food was left out for the spirits, hoping that this &quot;treat&quot; would prevent an evil &quot;trick.&quot; (based upon an article by Ken Klaus) </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Thus, Halloween originally began because people were </li></ul><ul><li>afraid of the dark. People generally don’t like darkness. Darkness, too often, </li></ul><ul><li>is a time when life becomes uncertain </li></ul><ul><li>and even scary. Knowing that darkness has this kind of effect on people, God has made us a promise. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Isaiah tells us that the reason the </li></ul><ul><li>Messiah was being sent, was </li></ul><ul><li>to open blind eyes, </li></ul><ul><li>to release prisoners from dungeons, </li></ul><ul><li>those who live in darkness from prisons. </li></ul><ul><li>Isaiah 42:7 NET </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Matthew (quoting Isaiah) </li></ul><ul><li>tells us that when Jesus came… </li></ul><ul><li>the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,: and on those who sit in the region and shadow </li></ul><ul><li>of death a light has dawned. &quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Matthew 4:16 NET </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>John 8:12 NET </li></ul><ul><li>Then Jesus spoke out again, </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;I am the light of the world. </li></ul><ul><li>The one who follows me will </li></ul><ul><li>never walk in darkness, </li></ul><ul><li>but will have the light of life.&quot; John 12:46 NET </li></ul><ul><li>I have come as a light into the world, </li></ul><ul><li>so that everyone who believes in me </li></ul><ul><li>should not remain in darkness. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Several years ago an atheist by the name of Hemant Mehta gained some notoriety by trying to sell his soul on e-bay. He began to be invited by churches to come and share why he was an atheist. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>After one such visit, he observed: </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>&quot;At one church I visited, some people were asked to write down how they felt before and after becoming Christian. They said things like ‘dark and light,’ ’lonely and befriended,’ which got me wondering: Is being down or lonely or desperate a prerequisite to finding God? </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Do these people think that others who have not yet found God are lost, scared or miserable? Do I have to go through some sort of trauma or crisis before finding some ultimate meaning?&quot; </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Of course, Hemant didn’t understand that many people who become Christians do so because they have actually seen how dark and lonely life can be. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Barbranne had lived a life of alcohol and partying. For 30 years of her life did a lot of things a “nice” person probably wouldn’t do. But eventually that way of living began to take its toll on her body and she became tired of that kind of lifestyle. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>One of the things that made the most difference to her was that she literally threw herself into attending church and reading Scripture. She even bought a children’s Bible so she could understand the Bible in its simplest stories. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Barbranne had lived for so long in darkness and emptiness, the message of Scripture was literally one that spoke to her of </li></ul><ul><li>light and hope. Over the past few weeks, the sermons have been building towards this particular message. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>In the first sermon of this series we found that many people are dissatisfied with their lives because God has set eternity in the hearts of men ( Ecclesiastes 3:11 ) . God has placed a knowledge, a feeling, an inner suspicion, in the heart of every man and woman who has ever been born, that there is more to this life than what we generally experience. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>It’s almost as if He’s placed a hole inside of every person who’s ever lived that only He can fill. In the next sermon we discussed that God wants to fill that hole in our lives by giving us a special relationship. He wants to walk with us and talk with us… and be there for us. </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>But then we found, </li></ul><ul><li>there’s a problem. We can’t successfully have a satisfying relationship with God when our lives are burdened with guilt and shame. The stain of our past sins would always block us from getting close to God. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Each of us were guilty of thoughts and words and (sometimes even) actions that stained us so badly that there wasn’t anything that we could possibly do to ever pay for those sins. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Since we were unable to remove that sin from our lives… God did for us. He came down in the form of a man and paid the price for every wrong thing we’ve ever done. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to give us life and light in our lives. </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>John 1:4 In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. Now, I’ve said all that to bring us to our text this morning. The story from Acts 26 is the 3rd time that we’re told the account of Paul’s conversion. I’m convinced that nothing is in Scripture by accident. </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>There’s a reason why God tells this story three times. And I believe that the story is retold here in Acts 26 because God want us to see and understand the significance of this one statement: </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Paul was told he was being sent to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' Acts 26:18 NET </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>In Acts 9 we’re given the first description of this confrontation between </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus and Paul. In that telling of this story, we find that God literally plunged </li></ul><ul><li>Paul into darkness: </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>Acts 9:4 NIV He (Paul) fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 5 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 6 ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>For three days Paul waited in Damascus blind. He must have been fearful, and praying for all he was worth. He knew that he had sinned against the Messiah that his people had waited generations for. He was afraid of punishment… he was afraid even for his very salvation. </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>Then a man named Ananias, sent by Jesus, came to him. And when Ananias laid his hands on Paul, something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see. </li></ul><ul><li>( Acts 9:12 & 18 ) </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>Then Ananias reinforced the commission Jesus had given 3 days earlier, and when he’d told Paul all this, Ananias declared: Acts 22:16 NET And now what are you waiting for? </li></ul><ul><li>Get up, be baptized, </li></ul><ul><li>and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.' </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>God had blinded Paul for those three days as an object lesson. God intended this physical blindness to drive home the spiritual blindness that had symbolized his life to that point. And that object lesson was so powerful that Paul later wrote: </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>1 Timothy 1:16 NET But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>Because of that blindness, for the rest of his life Paul understood that he had been brought out of </li></ul><ul><li>· darkness into light </li></ul><ul><li>· from the power of Satan to God </li></ul><ul><li>· And that he had received forgiveness… and a place in God’s family. </li></ul>
  38. 38. <ul><li>Paul’s sin had been removed and </li></ul><ul><li>God had filled that </li></ul><ul><li>God-sized hole in his life. And from that day forward Paul had a special relationship with God. Paul understood that Jesus expected him to help others gain that very same change in their lives. In fact, he realized that was the job of EVERY Christian. </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi: Philippians 2:14 NIV Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>Paul was telling them that THEIR job as Christians was to </li></ul><ul><li>“ hold out the word of life” Of course, Jesus had already </li></ul><ul><li>told us that. Matthew 5:14 NET You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>So… how do we do that? How do we let our light shine? How do we “hold out the word of life” to people in darkness? As I studied this story out of Acts 26 , I saw some intriguing insights on this question. </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>1 st : I found that we have to realize that God has given US this job to do. He’s not going to do the job for us. It’s ours to do. He depends upon us to help others understand what they’re missing without Jesus. </li></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>Despite what some people may believe Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus. He was saved IN Damascus when Ananias obeyed Jesus and went to talk to Paul. Acts 22:16 tells us up to that point, Paul’s sins had not yet been washed away. Ananias had said “be baptized, and have your sins washed away” </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>Paul’s salvation was hinged upon Ananias doing what </li></ul><ul><li>God asked him to do. God had sent Ananias to Paul to lift him out of his blindness And God sends you and I to others to lift them out of their blindness. </li></ul>
  46. 46. <ul><li>2ndly: When we talk to people about Jesus – God doesn’t expect us </li></ul><ul><li>to do it all by ourselves. Jesus is working behind the scenes </li></ul><ul><li>to change their hearts. Jesus had already worked on Paul’s heart long before Ananias showed up. </li></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>In the same way Jesus tells us that one of the main jobs of the Holy Spirit is to John 16:8 NET And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>God’s Spirit works behind the scenes to soften the hearts of those we talk to. As we pray … and we share the story of Jesus… God is working behind the scenes to help us do what He has asked us to do. </li></ul>
  49. 49. <ul><li>3 rd : We need to realize the importance of telling others OUR story. You and I need to tell people </li></ul><ul><li>why we are Christians. We need to tell them what is so important about Jesus that we’ve been willing to build our lives around Him. Why we would sacrifice so much of our time to worship Him and honor Him. </li></ul>
  50. 50. <ul><li>The story of Paul’s conversion </li></ul><ul><li>is recorded 3 times in Acts. The first time, it’s merely a </li></ul><ul><li>fact of church history. The other two times – Paul is telling people WHY his life was changed. He had a life-altering confrontation with Jesus and he wanted others to know about it. </li></ul>
  51. 51. <ul><li>Your story might be about why you were baptized into Christ (why you became a Christian to begin with), or it might be about something that has happened since then that made </li></ul><ul><li>God real to you. </li></ul>
  52. 52. <ul><li>But the main thing people want to know is this: does it work for you. Most people don’t care about your theology or where you go to church. All they just want to know, DOES IT WORK? </li></ul>
  53. 53. <ul><li>I once read the true story about a woman who put this </li></ul><ul><li>ad in the local paper: &quot;Lost 50 pounds! Selling my fat clothes, good condition, sizes 18-20.&quot; She was bombarded with phone calls, but nobody wanted to buy the clothes, they all wanted to know how she had lost the 50 pounds. </li></ul>
  54. 54. <ul><li>We can have a powerful worship service every Sunday The singing can be inspirational The prayers touch our hearts The preaching can bring you to your knees in repentance And the fellowship can be outstanding. </li></ul>
  55. 55. <ul><li>But we won’t be REALLY successful until we are convicted of the need to: open their eyes </li></ul><ul><li>(of our neighbors, </li></ul><ul><li>friends and relatives) and turn them from </li></ul><ul><li>darkness to light, </li></ul>
  56. 56. <ul><li>and from the power of Satan </li></ul><ul><li>to God , </li></ul><ul><li>so that they may receive </li></ul><ul><li>forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. </li></ul>
  57. 57. <ul><li>Lets read Paul’s commission. </li></ul><ul><li>Acts 26:16 NET But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance as a servant and witness to the things you have seen and to the things in which I will appear to you. </li></ul>
  58. 58. <ul><li>17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' </li></ul>
  59. 59. <ul><li>That’s what God has </li></ul><ul><li>called us to do. to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God And if we fail in this responsibility, a lot of people will spend their lives in a very dark and uncertain life. </li></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>But, at this church, we so much believe in the importance of this charge that it is constantly a part of our worship service. At the end of every sermon, again and again and again, we offer a time for those who haven’t made that decision to belong to Jesus to step forward and allow God to change their life. </li></ul>