After Peter’s first powerhouse of a sermon*, it says the people “were pierced to the heart.” Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt like someone has stabbed you right in the chest by their words? Sometimes you read a scripture or you hear someone preach and it hurts your very heart! It’s as if the words cut into you and expose you. That is the Holy Spirit at work in you! God sees the heart. He pierces it to revive it. He pierces it to wake it up! It’s like a spiritual defibrillator!
To build muscle, you have to break it. Only God can create a new heart. Only God can grow your heart. Your heart has to break for what breaks His and then it will grow. Pray for Him to sing a new song over your heart. Psa 28:7
They were pierced and then asked, “What shall we do?”
Simple: Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a GIFT and Peter also calls him a PROMISE. God would never offer a gift and not give it. God would never speak a promise and not fulfill it. All you have to do is ask.
If God pierces you today, please allow him full access your heart. Repent and be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit. It’s a win-win!
You’ve probably heard the expression, “red herring.” Fans of mystery know what I’m talking about. It’s used to describe something that misleads or distracts you from the actual thing. Red herrings want to send you to the wrong conclusion.
The origin of “red herring” is debatable. People say it came from the training of hunting dogs. Once the dogs were familiar with the right scent, their trainers would drag a fish across their path. Initially, the dogs would be diverted by the new scent. They had to be trained to ignore that scent and stay focused on the original scent.
There are so many spiritual red herrings in our lives. Countless things mislead us or distract us. There are far too many things that can get us off the right scent and following the wrong trail. Next thing we know, we are lost.
Note that the dogs had to be trained. It wasn’t something that came naturally. Obviously, the scent of a tasty fish would throw them off! It was enticing! Things that get us off the trail are things that are attractive. Only with training could the dogs recognize the wrong scent and ignore it. It takes discipline and instruction.
We are pursuing Jesus. Our goal is Christ. Anything that is dragged across our trail to distract us, entice us, or mislead us MUST be ignored! We must recognize or (church word alert!) discern that it is not the right scent and discard it! Only through constant prayer, study, and communion with the Holy Spirit is any of this possible. Praise God for the Holy Spirit, am I right? Without which, we would be like lost hunting dogs chasing after the wrong prey.
We love a good twist, don’t we? Don’t you hate it when someone tells you the ending first? “Ahhhh! Don’t tell me! I want to find out for myself!”
I’m big on keeping the lid on spoilers. So, I cannot with a clear conscience allow you to read on without the following disclaimer: The next sentences are classic twist endings… of REALLY OLD MOVIES.
There, I feel better. Proceed…
It’s a cookbook. Rosebud’s a sled. Ape City is actually Earth. Bruce Willis was dead. Verbal Kint is… ah, I can’t do that one.
I’m going to go ahead and give you the SPOILER OF ALL SPOILERS. I’m going to give you THE END. The for real END. The end of it all. The end of the end. Ready? Here goes: God wins. The enemy is defeated.
There are no surprises. The devil doesn’t pull a fast-one on God at the last second. Jesus reigns supreme. This old world bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Sorry to ruin it for you, if you didn’t already know.
We are so lucky. And by lucky, I mean fortunate. We are so fortunate to have, as Paul Harvey would say: “the rest of the story.” When all the prophets were around, they didn’t know what we know today. They’ll be like: “What was it like to live knowing all the answers? You had all the mysteries right there at your fingertips? I mean, they were collected, printed neatly, and pocket-sized?! You knew the beginning, middle, and end: how cool was that? You had the Holy Spirit? Wow, man. You were so lucky!”
With this knowledge, fear should melt away. With this knowledge worry should disappear. We know the ending. There are only two sides: God’s and Not God’s. There can be only one winner. We know which side wins! Are you on the winning side or the losing side?
Sometimes I think I should’ve become an Astronomer. I love to look at the sky. I love the clouds in the day. I love the stars at night. God’s vast creation never ceases to move me.
I also love to look at the moon. Sometimes the moon can be so bright that it lights up the whole night. Especially a full moon… which (fun fact) in November is called the Beaver Moon.* You might even think, “Wow! The moon is bright tonight!”
But the moon is not creating that light by itself. It is reflecting the light of the sun. On it’s own, the moon could never produce any light… ever. On it’s own, the moon is just a cold rock floating aimlessly in space. In fact, the only way we can even SEE the moon is because of the sun.
In 2 Cor 3:18, Paul addresses the modern Christian. “We all who contemplate the Lord’s glory are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory…” We are to reflect Christ “as in a mirror.”
Close your eyes and think about that for a minute: We are to reflect Christ. (Seriously. Stop. Close your eyes. Think about that for a minute.)
Just as the moon reflects the sun, we are to reflect the Son! When people look at you, they are supposed to see Christ. We transform and radiant God’s warmth, love and compassion. When Moses saw God, he glowed. His face shone so much that he was forced to shroud himself so he wouldn’t scare people. And Moses only saw a glimpse of God’s back! (Exd. 34:29-35).
That is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. (Eph. 5:14)
Not to sound too corny, but: Wake up and Shine! BE THE MOON!
When Peter announced to the first believers that they needed to fill Judas’s empty position*, he used a phrase that always glares at me. I feel it piercing my heart every time I read it. It’s almost as if those words growl and claw. He prays “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go WHERE HE BELONGS” [emp. added].
To go where he belongs. Ouch. I think we all know where that is.
“To go where he belongs” is the NIV translation. The KJ and NAS say, “to go to his own place” and the MSG says, “to go his own way.”
We all belong somewhere. There is a place where we are going to go. You and I cannot be in two places at once. It is either going to be here or it is going to be there. Only God can be in multiple places. Not even the enemy can do that.
There is no spiritual fence-riding. If you think you are straddling that fence, think again. As Peter prayed, God knows EVERYONE’S heart. He knows which side your heart is really on. We fool others and we may even fool ourselves, but there is no fooling God.
Going where you belong can be a comforting thought or a frightening one.
For a Child of the King, where you belong is in the house of your Father. Where you belong is a place you have longingly envisioned a million times and it will be a million times more magnificent that you ever could dream.
For a child of the world, where you belong is in the house of your father. Where you belong is a place you never ever thought of and it will be a million times more horrifying than you could have ever envisioned.
When I returned from walking our dog last night, there was a moment when she was off her leash. In that couple of seconds she could’ve took off. She’s done it before. There’s a spark of realization: I’m Free!
I was struck with two thoughts during that panic: Please don’t! and Why would she want to?
Why would she want to leave my side and the sanctity of our house? I promise shelter, warmth, food, and love. I want her there.
By my side, I can guarantee her safety. Away from my side, she would have to fend for herself. The night was cold and dark. She would have to find her own food. She would have to find her own shelter. Worse of all, she would be alone.
It’s almost like, “Why in the world, would you ever leave my side, you silly dog? Is that “freedom” worth it? I only tether you because I love you. If I didn’t care, I would just open the door and let you have it.”
It would hurt me deeply if she ran off. But you know what? If she did run off, I wouldn’t be like, “Oh, she left. She’s gone.” No, I would go searching for her. I wouldn’t stop until I knew she was ok.
But last night when that moment came, Annie didn’t take off. Actually she was as eager to get inside as I was. “Good girl,” I said and gave her a treat.
Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are: “Even now.” The prophet Joel (2:12) uses this phrase when addressing the Old Testament Israelites. He’s starts describing the impending judgement coming to all mankind. You know the drill: The earth shakes. The sun and moon darken. The stars dim. It is a great and terrible day and who can endure it? It is “The day of The Lord.” The End of the whole sha-bang.
And what is God’s personal message to mankind at that moment? It’s still not too late! Return to me!
He will take you up until the last possible nanosecond! Even as the chapter closes, even as the last letter is typed: He will take you!
Every day is another chance to return to God. Every hour is another gift. Every second is another opportunity.
Of course this also means that:
Every day is another day closer. Every hour is another hour closer. Every second is another second closer to “The day of The Lord.” After that, there will be no more calling and pleading to return. After that, it will be over and done. After that, there will not be a “even now.”
Britt and I had to go to Lowe’s to get some things to work on the house. While we were out, I stopped at the pet store to get Annie (our troublesome labrador retriever) a new Kong (a tough red rubber toy that you can put peanut butter into) because she had all but eaten her old one. At this particular pet store, they have these gourmet dog treats that actually look like donuts. I can never pass them up.
I get back to the car and Britt looks through the bag.
“Couldn’t resist, could you?”
“Of course not. She loves these!”
Britt laughs and says, “God is like that. Even though Annie doesn’t deserve that treat, you still think to get her something. In fact, she’s been pretty extra bad lately and you still want to give her a gift. God is like that with us.”
Even though man disappoints God more than he pleases Him, God blesses. Man drops the ball time and time again and God continues to bless.
I can just see God saying with a big grin, “Pat’s doesn’t really deserve this, but I can’t resist. I love him too much. I’m going to bless him anyways. He’ll love this.”
Thank God I have such a brilliant wife. Her servant’s heart is contagious. God knew what He was doing when He planned us. There’s another blessing I didn’t deserve. But God blessed me with it anyways.
2 Chronilces 26. Wow, what an astonishing chapter!
Uzziah was only 16 years old when he was made king of Judah. Imagine following a 16 year old king into battle! Yet, under his 52-year rule the kingdom saw a rebirth that hadn’t happened since Solomon. His fame grew. They knew his name in Egypt. His power grew. All because he “did that which was right in the sight of The Lord” and because he “was greatly helped.”
“Greatly helped.” I love that phrase. Aren’t we all? Without the help of The Lord, what could any of us accomplish?
Let me give you the Uzziah highlight reel:
He went out and “made war with the Philistines.” He didn’t just react to a people that hated God, he picked a fight with them! He build tower after tower after tower. He designed sheilds, helmets and body armor. It says “he made engines of war.” Terminators? Robocops? I don’t know, but whatever it was, it crushed his enemies. He was a skilled farmer and “loved the soil.” This was an incredible man!
It says Uzziah was “marvelously helped…”
It would be great if the story ended there, unfortunatley, it does not.
It says Uzziah was “marvelously helped… until he was strong. For when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly and was unfaithful to The Lord, his God.”
Uzziah entered the temple and tried to burn the incense only the priests were supposed to burn. You see, you cannot do everything yourself. Some things are meant to be done by others. The priest (shockingly) stood up to Uzziah (of course he did have 80 other priests back him up). Azariah the priest said, “It is not for you to do this.” Uzziah could’ve have said, “You are right. I am sorry. Forgive me, Lord!” and oh, what a king that would’ve been. But instead scripture says Uzziah “was enraged.” Immediatley, he was struck with leprosy. He was therefore forced to live the rest of his days seperated from everyone and his rule went to his son, Jotham.
Pride. Anger. My mom would say he “got too big for his britches.” Uzziah is the king of If Only. If only he would have done this. If only he would have done that. Try your hardest to not be an If Only kind of person!
When we think things are going great and it’s because of all OUR hard work, then we need to step back and say: Forgive me Lord, all the glory goes to You for without You, I can do nothing. What was I thinking Lord? You are everything!
Be Uzziah in the sense that through a humble servant God can accomplish marvelous works. Do not be Uzziah in the sense that remember who it is that’s really in charge.
Never forget that we are all “greatly helped.” And thank God for that!
Sorry this got a little long in the tooth. This message was gleaned from Matt Chandler’s message @ theresurgence.com
I don’t have any money. But what I do have, I’ll give to you.*
Peter said this to the lame beggar at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The man had been handicap since birth. Every morning he was carried and set down at the gate where he would beg. This was his life.
One morning, He saw Peter and John pass by and asked to recieve alms. Peter stared him down, “Look at us!” The beggar got excited. He thought he was going to get some money! “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – WALK!” In an instant his legs were strengthened and with a LEAP, the lame man walked. I imagine he probably did more than walk too. I don’t have any scripture to back this up, but I figure he most likely moonwalked.
Sometimes we ask God for something and He gives us something else. If God gives you something else, you can bank on that something else being much much better.
Sure, some extra money would’ve helped this man. No doubt about it. But God, through Peter, gave the lame man something far greater than he could have ever imagined: a new life! God is in the business of making things new and better.
One last thought: Could any other name have healed that man? In the name of Moses! No. In the name of Abraham! Nothing. In the name of Caesar! Give me a break. Only the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God has power. Just the name, folks! No other name EVER could done one little thing to help that man.
Be on the look out. If you ask God for something. He may surprise you with something… else. Something Beautiful.