ACTS – The Acts of God
Our work, as volunteers for Christmas Palooza, was to get a great picture of little ones sitting on Santa’s lap last night. That was our assigned post, Randy and I. We were beside the camera, trying to get kids of all ages, from infant to big kids, and their parents to TURN from looking at the crowd, the synthetic snow that was falling (yes, we had that, too!), the music, and all the rest of the distracting goofiness around us. What fun!
It was a fun evening to host the community in a free fair with games, food and pictures with the guy in red. The maze the people traveled through ended with singers at the nativity. TURN, look at Jesus! was the message of the evening. Over a thousand came last night and it’s not over! Our church will open the doors at 2pm today for another round of hosting. But that’s not all, they will also finish with a few hours on Sunday after worship services! This is one of the greatest outreach opportunities Randy and I have experienced…helping others find and follow Jesus by seeing Jesus in us…getting them to turn their eyes to focus on the One who created us and provided a way to save us was the goal.
Randy and I did all kinds of silly antics trying to get the babies and kids to TURN their eyes toward the camera so that the best picture could be taken for the family. We were exhausted after only a few hours of non stop Santa sitting, telling and picture taking. We cannot count the times we smiled and said, “LOOK this way!” The lines were long because this guy in the red suit draws quite a crowd! But what an opportunity!
There was another instance where a crowd gathered to see a man who couldn’t walk previously in life, be healed completely. His joy of being restored to full health sent him dancing in the Temple courts praising God. Can you see it? Those gathered dropped what they were doing to TURN to see this man praising God. More and more people did the same thing. What is going on here?
When Peter saw he had a congregation of people, he began to tell them about God. He reminded them of WHO their God was, for they had forgotten over the years. He also brought Jesus to their attention and boldly told the story of what God’s people did to Jesus only weeks earlier. Look, listen, TURN your faces to God! Peter passionately preached using God’s act of healing the man as a way to draw the attention of the crowd to God. That’s how God works! (It’s not about us!)
As hard as we worked to get the eyes of children to look at the camera, we should be ready for opportunities to passionately tell God’s Story of His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son. Look this way! Repent, TURN to God, His Story, His Message and be saved.
Acts 3, The Message
Turn to Face God
12-16 When Peter saw he had a congregation, he addressed the people:
“Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus. The very One that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in his place. You no sooner killed the Author of Life than God raised him from the dead—and we’re the witnesses. Faith in Jesus’ name put this man, whose condition you know so well, on his feet—yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes.
17-18 “And now, friends, I know you had no idea what you were doing when you killed Jesus, and neither did your leaders. But God, who through the preaching of all the prophets had said all along that his Messiah would be killed, knew exactly what you were doing and used it to fulfill his plans.
19-23 “Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.’
24-26 “All the prophets from Samuel on down said the same thing, said most emphatically that these days would come. These prophets, along with the covenant God made with your ancestors, are your family tree. God’s covenant-word to Abraham provides the text: ‘By your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ But you are first in line: God, having raised up his Son, sent him to bless you as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways.”
Think about it…
–There are many distractions today. Does the crowd decide for us what we will do, who we are and where we will go?
–Peter told them two choices were presented by Pilate to be crucified: Jesus, who did no wrong and was the Son of God and Barabbas, a thug, murderer, thief, and rebel for hire. And you chose the evil Barabbas. Peter also explained; “But God used it to fulfill HIS plan” of saving all of us. YOU have a chance to repent, turn to God and be restored to a full relationship with God! Grace.
–God wants to save, restore, and bless with His best. Repent, it’s not too late. TURN from the world to look at Him. Focus on His wonderful face!
One more thought…
–It was interesting and challenging to get a whole family group to TURN and look at one focal point! When all eyes were looking the same way a great picture, wall worthy, was made. I wonder if it frustrates God when members of His family are looking in different directions instead of focusing on Him?
–How many of God’s leaders today are tenaciously, continuously shouting, “TURN, look this way? God’s way.
–What is the picture of His church? The posture of our bodies in worship and the direction of our eyes tell the story.
Dear Heavenly Father,
There are so many thoughts about You this morning! It has always been about You, is about You and will be about You for eternity! You are God and we are not. Let us TURN and look at You, focus on You, and see You working all around us. May all we do and all we are be in Your Name for Your glory. Your are amazing, Lord!
In Jesus Name, Amen.