No Reason to Run Out Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
No Reason to Run Out
Have you ever run out of Gas? I guess that I have been lucky because I have only run out of gas once in my life. I can still remember what happened because it was embarrassing and inconvenient. I was in business for myself. I had purchased a restaurant, and a truck came with it; it was an old truck and the gas gauge didn’t work. Naturally, I ran out of gas at a busy intersection; and I had fish in the back of the truck, which could spoil quickly because it was a hot day. Well, I called Sierra and she brought me some gas and saved the day, but I learned my lesson and I have never run out of gas since then.
Have you ever heard about Christians running out of Gas? It happens. Nothing is more embarrassing or dangerous than believers running out of the fuel of the Holy Spirit. The believers in the book of Acts learned quickly the lesson of needing a refueling. Time had passed since Pentecost and the great initial experience that they all shared.
Pentecost was a unique experience, and it energized the new believers. They were on fire for Christ, and they witnessed with boldness. But they also met with hardships and persecution. Those difficult times cost them because as they went about the business of living Christian lives, they expended a great deal of spiritual fuel. But they recognized their need for a refilling and they came to the right place for help.
Let’s read our text for today and see what happened to the people of God.
Our text begins just after Peter and John had healed the lame man at the temple; after that, they spent the night in Jail for preaching the resurrection of Christ.
23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
There were three things that are evident about these early Christians:
1. First, They were pulling a heavy load.
2. Second, They realized their need for God’s strength.
3. Third, God responded to their request.
Let’s begin our Bible lesson today by observing that these early believers were pulling a heavy load. They had to give up a lot to live for Christ. Some gave up homes, families, jobs and friends; they faced hardships and danger. It’s not that way for us; we live comfortably and we can worship God as we desire, but it’s not the same everywhere.
Every day, Sierra and I pray for the persecuted church, because there are vast numbers of Christians in the world today who are being persecuted for their faith. There are organizations that have been established to help them, like The Voice of the Martyrs. But many still suffer as much today as they did two thousand years ago. But do you know that in those places where there is persecution, that the church is growing more rapidly than it is here in the United States?
The same was true for that First Church. The Church began in Jerusalem, and all the believers lived there, but when the persecution began people left and they took their beliefs with them; and that’s how the Gospel was spread. These early believers did not take the blessings of God and hold on to them selfishly. They shared with each other in a remarkable way. Those who had possessions sold them and gave the money to those who needed it.
Last week, we read about the healing of the crippled beggar. Peter said to him, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Peter gave the man more than he wanted.
These new believers were passing on to others what God had given them. They shared the good news. It was the Gospel that was having an impact on the hearts and minds of men and women.
Peter had healed the lame man and he was walking, and leaping and praising God. A crowd of spectators had thronged around the man and the other disciples. They were amazed and were ready for some explanation. Peter immediately recognized this as an opportunity to preach his second sermon. He began by asking them a question, “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this?” It was a Jewish audience, so he made reference to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but he quickly brought the spotlight to bear on God’s Son, Jesus. He described Him as the one delivered up by Pilot; whom they denied. He said that the Jewish mob at Jerusalem had killed the Prince of life, but God had raised Him from the dead. Peter declared that it was through His name that the lame man had been healed.
In his sermon, Peter explained that Jesus was the Messiah, and he called upon them to repent of their sins and to believe. There was a large crowd gathered around Peter and John as they stood speaking in the temple court, and they were standing firm in the face of stiff opposition. But there were some who did not like what they were saying; the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees seized them for preaching to the people that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. That was a doctrine that the Sadducees were violently opposed to. Peter and John were thrown into the prison and held until the next day. However, we are told that as the result of his second sermon, five thousand men believed.
The next morning the Sanhedrin met to discuss the problem. The Sanhedrin was a council of Jewish leaders, made up largely of scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, and they had the power to imprison and punish all those who broke the religious laws and customs. About the only thing that they couldn’t do was to sentence a man to death; they needed the consent of their Roman rulers to do that.
When Peter was brought before the Sanhedrin, he was ready to preach and being filled with the Holy Spirit, he began his third sermon. He boldly asserted that the lame man was healed by the power, authority and in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
It was a heavy load for Peter and John, and it took a lot of courage for them to stand up to those powerful men. There are times when you and I feel like we are pulling a heavy load, and it takes a lot of fuel. If you have ever owned a boat or a travel trailer you have had a good example of how much a heavy load affects your fuel consumption; the heavier the load the more gas you use.
Well, what about our spiritual life? I believe that it takes a lot of spiritual fuel to live as a Christian in our world. There is such a thing as spiritual burn out. I have experienced it first hand. You can get involved in so many things, working for God that you simply run out of Gas. It’s embarrassing and there is a lot of guilt that comes from failing in your service to Him. But, we don’t need to run out of fuel, and in a few minutes, we will see why.
I believe that most of the time we run out of the fuel of the Holy Spirit because we are just trying to do too much; more than even God wants us to do. But there is another reason that we fail and run out of fuel and that is that Satan is working against us. The more danger we are to Satan, the more opposition we will receive from him. Those who do nothing are not his enemy, and they won’t be bothered by him. He is after the Christian who is carrying a load and working for the kingdom of God. Take courage when he opposes you because he is afraid of your influence.