'You know what I miss . . . a good ole fashion gospel message. Seems like I don't hear em enough. After all,
the gospel is good news,
and reminds us of who Jesus is,
what he did on the cross,
and just how much he changes our lives.
It was Peter who preached the first Christian sermon, who stood and told a huge crowd in Jerusalem about Jesus. Think of it--the guys are all looking at him, and then back and forth at each other... Andrew, Thaddaeus, Bartholomew. One apostle says to the other, 'What's got into Peter? I mean, of course we love him, butthis guy can't act like he has it all together now! You heard what he did, I heard what he did, right? Now he stands up and tries to preach about Jesus...seriously?'
Step a little closer. Remember that Peter had been part of Jesus' inner circle, along with disciples James and John. He was headstrong, outspoken and impulsive, and how he loved Jesus! So full of faith was Peter that when Jesus told him to come to him on the Sea of Galilee, Peter literally stepped out of the boat, and walked on water to get to the Lord. And yet, even when Jesus warned that he would deny him to others, Peter was so shook up by Jesus' arrest, that he did indeed deny his relationship with the one he adored-not once, but three times.
Then Peter watched Jesus go to the cross and die, but more importantly, Peter saw the risen Lord, and among other occasions, ate breakfast with him on the shore one early morning. Standing on the Mt. of Olives, Peter watched Jesus ascend into Heaven, and wondered again to himself what he would become.
But this time Peter remains faithful. He is among the 120 expectant folks gathered together in the upper room, waiting as Jesus had instructed. First they hear, then see and feel the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes everything, lights a fire in Peter, and he stands to correct some in the crowd who suspect the spirit-filled believers are drunk.
Open your Bibles to read his radical sermon in Acts 2.14-41.
Check out these key verses: "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." It was a fact they all knew . . . friends, they knew that Jesus did the miraculous. He taught and lived different than any other rabbi they had ever heard about or known.
Peter continues, "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah."
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call."
How had Peter gone from Peter-the-Denier to Peter-the-Powerful Preacher?
Peter knew the truth of Jesus Christ the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit equipped him to tell the story-so convincingly, that 3,000 people responded and put their trust in Jesus that day.
Realizing who Jesus is, deciding to place our trust in him - recognizing he alone is the cure for the malady of sin and brokenness in our lives - changes us too. Radically.
The following poem captures one soldier's changed heart and mind, and really impacted me:
"Lord God, I have never spoken to you, but now I want to say how do you do?
You see God they told me you didn't exist, and like a fool I believed all this.
Last night from a shell hole I saw your sky, I figured right then they had told me a lie.
Had I taken time to see the things you made, I would have known they weren't calling a spade a spade.
I wonder God if you'll take my hand, somehow I feel that you'll understand.
Funny I had to come to this hellish place, before I had time to see your face.
I guess there really isn't much more to say, but I'm sure glad God that I met you today.
I guess zero hour will soon be here, But I'm not afraid since I know you're near.
The signal, well God I'll have to go, I like you lots, I want you to know.
Look now this will be a horrible fight, who knows I may come to your house tonight.
Though I wasn't friendly to you before, I wonder God if you'd wait at your door.
Look I'm crying, I'm shedding tears, I'll have to go now, God, goodbye.
Strange now since I met you, I'm not afraid to die."*
Penned by an American soldier in Viet Nam, it shows how an understanding of who Jesus is, even a very simple one, can change us radically.
Truly, Jesus is a Game Changer.
Grab onto him.
'Faithful God" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUaS1Y-jyMk
O, how I wish I had been there that day that Peter grew up!
How I wish I had been there to hear a powerful message by a fully-convinced man that Jesus Christ. is. who. he. said. he. was. He was then, he is now a Game Changer!
*given to Ravi Zacharias