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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Restored" :: Challenge Report to Lanse Free Church

“Restored”
Challenge Report
July 13, 2014
Acts 3:21

[On Sunday, our group that went to the EFCA's Challenge Conference shared stories of our adventure there, what we learned and experienced. Afterward, I shared these brief comments.]

Thank you, Challenge Group. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with our group and with the Challenge Conference in general.

I just want to share a few things in brief to pull all of this together and focus us, as a church on the next several weeks.

I invite you to turn in your Bibles with me to the book of Acts chapter 3. The book of Acts chapter 3, this morning. I want to focus our attention on verse 21. Which includes the word “restore” as part of God’s Big Story that our students learned about all this week.

As you’ve heard, it starts with CREATION. God started the story by making the world and making us, and it was GOOD.

But then SEPARATION, we soon got off track. We sinned and rebelled against our maker which caused a fatal separation between us and Him. And there is no way we can get back on our own.

But God, thirdly, made a PROMISE. A promise of a savior to come, a promise to bring glory to His name, a promise to create a people for Himself to display His glory.

At times, God’s people believed the promise, and at other times they did not.

That’s the story of the Old Testament.

And then there was a time of SILENCE. Between Malachi and Matthew, no new scripture. No prophets. Just silence. But God had spoken, and some were waiting. And even though God was silent, He was still moving. He was still active, preparing the world for the birth of a baby.

A baby who brought RESCUE.  The Lord Jesus came on the scene, and He lived and died and lived again to RESCUE us from our sins.

Our group learned that we are rescued to community and rescued to live and tell the story of Jesus to the world.  In this part of the story, it’s our job to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

That’s the part of the story we’re in, but there is still another part to come! The end of the story, the culmination of the story, where this story is all headed.

Restoration.

This is the story that we get the song from: “Peter and John Went to Pray.”

Peter and John went to pray;
they met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
and this is what Peter did say:

"Silver and gold have I none,
but such as I have I give I thee
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"

He went walking and leaping and praising God,
walking and leaping and praising God.
"In the name of Jesus Christ 
of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

That’s the story (vv.1-10), and it’s amazing. Healed in the name of Jesus!

But do you know the rest of the story?

Look at verse 11.

“While the beggar held on to Peter and John [he wasn’t going to let them go], all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade.

When Peter saw this, he said [aha! A chance to preach the story of Jesus!] ‘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?

[And then he tells the story...]

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. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 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. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.  But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.

[PROMISE!]

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord [RESCUE!], and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. [And that’s send him BACK. V.21 Our key verse for today.]

He [Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

[PROMISE] 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. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.' Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 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.' [PROMISE!] When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."

Would you pray with me once again?

One of the great stories that came out of Challenge was the story of Kessler Park.

Our students did a prayer walk there.

But other students did a service project of pulling out discarded tires from the park.

This park was supposed to be green space for all to enjoy.  That was how it was designed. GOOD.

But people had basically turned it into a dump.

And our Challenge Students pulled out 4,000 tires from that park this week. 4,000 tires. The city workers told the conference that it would take them 3 weeks of manpower and equipment to do what our students did by hand in 4 days. 4,000 tires.

RESTORATION.

They were helping to return the park to what it was intended to be.

And that’s what God is up to in His story.

He is returning the world to what He intended it to be in the first place.

And He’s doing it through His Son.

This little miracle of healing the crippled beggar was just a glimpse, just a foretaste of the restoration that God has planned for the whole world.

This world that we live in is profoundly broken. I’m amazed more and more each day at how broken we and our world truly are.

But Jesus is in the restoration business!

“In the Name of Jesus Christ...rise up and walk.”

And why shouldn’t he walk and jump and praise God?!

We have everything to celebrate.

And this restoration is coming, just as God promised so many years ago.

That’s Peter’s main point to the crowd. He tells them where they went wrong in crucifying Jesus, but He also says that it’s all been a part of the plan. PROMISED plan.

And if they repent and allow themselves to be rescued by Jesus, then times of refreshing will come (v.19). Doesn’t that sound good?

But there is still a part of the story that hasn’t come yet. And it’s the part when Jesus comes back. V.21

“He [Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

RESTORED!

That’s going to be our Hide the Word Memory Verse for the next 2 months. Acts 3:21

“[Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

Jesus is in the restoration business.

We’re going to make that the theme of our Good News Cruise this year, as well.

Keith alluded to this last month.

Just like car enthusiasts like to take an old beat up vehicle and restore it to it’s original condition (and sometimes even better), that’s what Jesus wants to do with us (and someday with the whole world).

“He [Jesus] must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

That’s what Family Bible Week is all about, as well, isn’t it?

What’s the tagline for our Bodyworx Medical School?

“Sin is the disease, Jesus is the cure.”

Restoration.

That’s what our church is all about.

Living and telling the story that God is telling from the creation of the world till now.

Three very quick points of application.

#1. BELIEVE.  Take God at His word and believe the promise.

Do you believe that Jesus will return and restore everything?

Our Challenge Group does, and we want to live like it.

#2. ANTICIPATE.  And by that, I mean to long for the return of Christ, long for the restoration of everything.

And when you are longing for it, you’re going to live differently.

The last speaker on Thursday night said that we should live with the end in mind.

He said that if the kids knew for a fact that they were going to meet their future spouse at Challenge, it would change the way they lived that week.

They would interact with people differently. Some would take more showers and brush their teeth every day!

In the same way, if we believe and we long for coming of Jesus to RESTORE everything, it will change the way we live right now.

We’ll get committed to bringing friends to Family Bible Week.

We’ll actually open our mouths about Jesus to those at the Cruise-In.

Anticipate.

And #3. PRAY.

Verse 21 isn’t really the end of the story, either.

Peter and John get arrested for this healing and this preaching, and they have to go before the Sanhedrin.

But they are not intimidated. They know that Jesus is going to restore all things, so they obey Him now. Peter goes on to say, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

And they could see that Peter wans’t going to back down. So they threated them and sent them out.

And what do you think they did next?

They held a prayer meeting, of course.  Chapter 4:23-31

And after trusting God with the problem, they prayed (v.29), “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.  Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (vv.29-31).

Pray.  Let’s pray that God would stretch out His hand and do mighty things through the name of Jesus.

Let’s pray that He would enable us His servants to speak His word with great boldness.

Let’s pray that God would fill us with the Holy Spirit and we could live the story and tell the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ!  Who remains in heaven right now until the time comes for God to restore everything.

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