Printable PDF: 1-19-2020 Stewardship 2 Sermon
Pastor Jacobson ~ Stewardship 2 ~ January 19, 2020 ~ Acts 3:1-10
1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now a man who was lame 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. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they 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.
LOVE YOUR COMMUNITY AS YOUR CHURCH
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). That’s where we left off last Sunday in our Stewardship Series called The Externally Focused Church. What an awesome time to be a part of the church, don’t you think? New people! Daily! Being Saved! Imagine that many new people in our church! Not just 10 new people on a Sunday, but new people every day! Wouldn’t that be great?
New people are great, but new people are also challenging. It’s challenging to put names and faces together and then to remember that match after the service. It’s challenging to find out where people are at in their faith and to help them through our Super Saturday Bible Instruction class and our weekly Bible classes. It’s challenging to help new people find their way in church so that they don’t come in through the front door of faith only to slide out the backdoor of doubt and discouragement.
1. Be intentional about your neighbor’s felt needs.
This takes us to chapter three in the Book of Acts. Verse one starts, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame 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. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.” Peter and John were busy with temple activity every day, but on this one day there was a Good Samaritan opportunity for Peter and John. Most people are familiar with the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan helped a stranger in need. Do you remember the other two people in the Good Samaritan story? Not the innkeeper, the men who walked by the man in need. One was a Levite, the other was a priest. Church people, very likely, headed to church, but walking right on by the person in need. Maybe they were busy. Maybe they had a lot of activity at the temple.
What would happen to Peter and John at their Good Samaritan opportunity? You know what happened to Peter and John. They loved the man as they loved their temple. They were intentional about his felt need. Silver and gold would have helped, too, but in the name of Jesus they were able to make this lame man walk. This man would now be able to work for his felt needs of food and drink, clothing and shelter.
So the lesson for us is to…learn how to do miracles? No, that is not the lesson. The lesson is be externally focused. Don’t be so internally focused on the good activity in the church that you have no time or energy for the Good Samaritan opportunities in your community. Love your community as you love your church. Be intentional about your neighbors’ felt needs.
Is our church intentional about our neighbors’ felt needs? Is our church externally focused or only internally focused? Let me ask the question differently. If our church were to close and not be in existence anymore, would our community weep? Would our church neighbors be sad? Would area businesses and schools notice? Would the poor and needy suffer?
Now, we do help our community. We help the Alpha Pregnancy Center with cash or check in baby bottles in spring and we help St. Mary’s Food Bank in the fall. Our Lutheran elementary school and preschool frequently receives calls and visits from parents who belong to our community. We have a fellowship group that meets at IHOP twice a month for food and devotion. I know Subway on Glendale Avenue knows Pastor Clark. I know Antwan’s Salon on 57th Drive knows me and my family. We do meet community needs, but can we do more? Should we do more?
This last Tuesday night our Support Board met in the Parish Center. We talked about the needs of our property and there are many. I asked them what they thought about looking for a project outside of our property, to just help a neighbor and to help our community. The Support Board loved that idea. We make lots of food here. We have a cookie line every Sunday. What if we made Christmas cookies for the homes we can see from our church? We have great teachers in our church, some of them teach at our Lutheran elementary school. Others of our great teachers work at schools in our community. We are proud sponsors of our Lutheran Elementary School and our area Lutheran High School, but could we not also proudly sponsor our Glendale Public High School and other schools? I know they teach evolution, but they need more than a lesson on creation. They need our love. Love your community as your church and maybe we will get a better hearing for our speaking of the good news.
2. Be prepared to address your neighbors’ real need.
This is how it worked out for the man in our lesson who was born lame. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. It’s entirely possible that he could have walked home. Jesus, once fed a crowd of 5,000 men and when this large group dwindled because Jesus wasn’t going to feed them again like that, he asked Peter, “Are you going to leave, too?” When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to give him thanks and praise.
When we love and serve our community we are not always going to get a conversion. We might never get a conversion. That’s okay. We love and serve our community because we love Christ. The message of salvation is the ultimate motive, but it is never the ulterior motive. Christian love doesn’t come with strings attached. Christian love comes with Christ. We love because Christ first loved us. We love to help our community with felt needs, but the real need is always our salvation in Christ Jesus.
We want to be an externally focused church and an internally focused church because we have an externally and internally focused Savior. Christ loved his heavenly Father! Christ and his Father were one together with the Holy Spirit. Christ was internally focused. And yet Christ was and is externally focused. He left his property in heaven to serve our community on earth. He fed people and healed people and he still does. He also lived and died for people. His life and death still benefits people…all people. And so continue the discussion in Bible class today, and at your Church Board meetings this month. Ask the question, “How can we better love our community as we love our church?” Let’s talk about how we can better meet felt needs so that we can better meet our world’s greater need of Jesus. Amen.