Sometimes, when I read the gospels or the book of Acts, I think to myself, "Why doesn't this happen anymore?"
Acts 2 summarized the early church with this statement:
47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Daily? As you read the book of Acts, it's obvious that the early church made an extreme impact in a very short period of time. Within decades, Christianity had spread across the entire known world during a time when travel was difficult and mass communication didn't exist.
Why doesn't that happen anymore? Why don't we see this type of impact? Well, we do.
In the year 1900, there were less than 10 million Christians in Africa. By the year 2000, there were 380,000,000. Since 1950, the population of China has tripled, but there are 100 times as many Christians as there were back then. They went from 500,000 Christians in 1949 to roughly 40,000,000 today. All of that took place in a country where Christianity is persecuted.
I know of a church in North Carolina that started with just 8 families, and no official backing church. The 8 families relocated to a new city, and started building their congregation by doing door to door evangelism. Four years later, they had 11,000 people attend their Easter service. They've baptized thousands of people, donated over a million dollars to various charities, and volunteered thousands upon thousands of hours to their community!
God is still working in the world in mighty ways!
The question for you is: what are you expecting from God on a daily basis?
One Situation, Three Sets of ExpectationsIn Acts 3, Peter and John were traveling to the temple for prayer. On the way, they came across a crippled beggar who asked them for money. Instead, Peter healed him and gave him the ability to walk. When the crowd realized what happened, they were amazed. Eventually, Peter addressed them and rebuked them for being surprised.
In the passage, we see three groups of people, and each group had different expectations.
The Crippled Man: Expected hopelessness
He assumed that this day would be the same as the previous day, and that the next day would be the same as well. If he was lucky, someone would give him a little extra money. If it was a bad day, he may go another day without food. But the best he expected from the day was getting just enough money to buy food; there was no hope.
The Crowd: Expected nothing
They had no particular expectations for the day. It was just another day. There was no reason to expect anything amazing or awful to happen. This was just another day. Why would they see anything incredible?
The Apostles: Expected God to work mightily
When the beggar asks Peter for some money, Peter doesn't even pause to pray before healing the man. It's as if it never crossed his mind that he might not be able to heal him. He had absolute confidence that God was going to show up. He was so confident that God would show up, that when OTHERS were surprised by the miracle, he rebuked them. In his mind, he assumed God is going to show up in big ways on a daily basis.
Why Are We Surprised?
Acts 3Why would you be surprised when God works mightily?
11While 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. 12When 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?
If God is who He says He is, and does what He says He will do, why are we surprised?
- This is the God who parted the Red Sea...
- Who made the Sun stand still for Joshua...
- Who sent His Son to redeem a fallen world...
- Who raised His Son from the dead...
- Who promised that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes...
- We should always be amazed by God
- We shouldn’t be surprised when He does what he says he’ll do
We should expect God to act mightily, and be prepared for when He does!
Are You Prepared?Peter and John were ready when God acted mightily. At different times and in different places, God has shown up in different ways. In the gospels and Acts, God showed up in the form of visible miracles. The lame were healed, the hungry were fed, and even the dead were brought back to life.
If you're like me, you've often wished that you could experience that type of miracle. I want to see something fantastic.
But when you really think about it, there's nothing more fantastic than when a sinner repents and put's their faith in Christ. Hunger is temporary, sickness ends when you die, but your soul's destiny is eternal!
Are you prepared for God to show up in a major way in your life? Are you prepared for when He does show up?
The thing is, you never know which conversation is going to change someone's life for eternity!
I want to end by sharing this video of my mother's testimony. She did not grow up with a strong church background, and rebelled during her teenage years. Over the 30+ years since she put her faith in Christ, she's impacted 1,000s of people through the various ministries she's been a part of (she's been on staff at Hill Country Bible Church Pflugerville for over 10 years and previously led the children's ministry at Hill Country Bible Church Austin). Beyond that, her spiritual legacy has transferred to my sister and myself.
There's no way the woman who shared her faith with my mother could have possibly known the impact those conversations were going to have. But she was prepared when God showed up...