Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Transformed Life

Today’s topic is exploding within my heart. I can hardly contain myself! Today we get to talk about the glorious power of God! We get to see the transforming power that happens when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. I can’t wait any longer, so lets get started.

In previous posts we have seen Simon Peter as grateful and eager but still very impetuous. His behavior was unpredictable at best. Although he had the best of intentions, his follow through left much to be desired. His heart was in the right place but it didn’t stop his flesh from causing him to fail.

Several posts ago we saw Simon Peter fail greatly while denying Christ. Then we saw the grace that restored his faith and set him back on the right path. Today we look at the man God promised he would become. Today we see exactly what Jesus meant when he called Simon Peter the “rock”.

When the day of Pentecost came, all the disciples were together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like rushing wind came down from heaven and filled the whole house. Divided tongues of fire sat upon each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in different tongues. Those standing near them, people of all kinds of dialects, heard their own language being spoken.

The crowd was filled with confusion. They were all amazed and perplexed. They began asking one another what this could be. Some believed it must be the wonderful work of God. Others began to mock, claiming them to be drunk with wine. Here is where we see our friend Simon Peter’s new nature. We see the beginning of his new life as a Spirit filled, transformed believer. No longer the wishy washy, all over the place person he once was. A new power had been given to him and a new life was set in motion.

Get your bible out and read Acts 2: 14-39. (I know, I know, it’s a long passage of scripture. Humor me and do it anyway!)

First Simon Peter rebukes the crowd and denies the accusation. "These are not drunk, as you suppose!" This was Simon Peter’s response. Can you imagine his anger boiling right below the surface? How dare they mock the power of God!

He then proceeds to quote the prophet Joel who had prophesied about the last days. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God. That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men see visions, your old men shall dream dreams." In the end the prophet Joel says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Simon Peter, our unpredictable man, begins a bold testimony of faith about the one who truly saves, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Finishing his speech with a strong declaration, Simon Peter says this, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

When the crowd heard his testimony, the people were cut to the heart. They asked the disciples "what shall we do?"

Have you ever been cut to the heart by the knowledge of your own sin? Have you had that kind of feeling of regret and remorse set in? It takes hold of you. The gravity of what shape you are in causes the beating of your heart to become deafening.

I can picture their response as they spoke the words, what shall we do? The horror, we have just killed the one true Messiah, what shall we do?

Simon Peter's response to the crowd was the same response we need now in our own acknowledgement of sin. "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

What a bold statement made by someone who had earlier feared being connected to Jesus. Simon Peter with the filling of the Holy Spirit was transformed and forever changed. He was given the power to stand up for what he knew to be the truth.

That day, from that speech, about three thousands souls were saved and became believers in Jesus Christ. Simon Peter wasn’t finished though, John going with him, he proceeds to the temple at the hour of prayer.

Seeing a man lame from birth at the gate, Simon Peter gives this man something more precious than the money he was begging for. Instead, he takes his hands and says “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Rising up to walk, the man entered the temple with them, walking, leaping and praising God.

All the people ran together to hear this man speak who had healed the lame man they had seen in front of the temple everyday. Simon Peter let no grass grow under his feet as he once again testified to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Two thousand more souls were saved and became believers.

The temple abuzz and believers coming to Jesus Christ did not go unnoticed. Soon the priests, captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, putting them in custody until the next day. Simon Peter does not cower, but instead addresses the rulers, elders, scribes, the high priest Annas and Caiaphas. With bold testimony he speaks with the power of Holy Spirit.

Acts 4: 8-12. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel; "If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

What does Simon Peter call Jesus? He calls Him the stone which was rejected by the builders. But instead of that stone being tossed aside, God used it as the chief cornerstone of salvation. Rebuking them, Simon Peter points out that they had crucified the one God had chosen to be the stone; they indeed were the builders who rejected the stone. Then he goes on to proclaim the only way to be saved is through that very man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Are you beginning to see the power of the transformation that occurred in Simon Peter’s life?

Here was a man who wanted to do the right things, who wanted to be strong and bold but could not. Not until he had the Holy Spirit within him, could he stand so strong for the Jesus he loved so dearly.

Beloved, it is the Holy Spirit within that carries the power to do the unthinkable. So often we try and try and try, only to fail and fail and fail. We proceed, doing things in our own power, not drawing on the one that can really change things.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit belongs to the Spirit not us. His fruit is all of these wonderful things listed in this scripture. If we want this type of fruit in our lives, we must live empowered by the Spirit. The transformation that occurs is dramatic, and overwhelming if we let it change us.

Living within us, making His home in us is the Holy Spirit, the third part of the trinity of God. This is not something to be looked upon lightly. We can be over comers. We can be strong and powerful for our Lord Jesus Christ. But it won’t be us that does it; it will be by the yielding to the Spirit that it happens.

Transformation is ours if we want it. The power lives within us and wants to be the life force that guides us if we let Him. The question is will we let Him?

5 comments:

Andrea said...

AMEN

Joe Anderson said...

This is good stuff. You are a great writer. I want to encourage you to keep on for the Lord and realize that whether you know it or not, people are watching, praying, and listening. In Christ, Joe.

Beth in NC said...

Great post Sherri. Have you ever noticed in the Old and New Testament what happens when the Holy Spirit comes UPON people -- not just within? Power! Hallelujah! I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit. He is our Comforter, Teacher, and Guide.

Bless you,
Beth

Pastor Andy said...

Hey Sherri, good post. I understand you're saying that Jesus' calling of Simon as the rock was revealed in his proclamation on Pentecost.
I've got another thought on Jesus calling Simon the Rock, also.

First, when you look at Matthew past that experience, Jesus continues to call him "Simon", and whenever he's called "Peter", it's the commentary calling him such. So it's odd that Jesus said, "You are Petros", but then continues to call him "Simon".
I wonder if Jesus called Simon "Petros" (or rock) b/c 1) Simon answered the question Jesus asked about who he is, and 2) if instead of changing his name, as God did Jacob, He was actually giving Simon a title. "You are a rock, which I will use as material to build my Church." But everybody then took it as a literal name change. B/c the Church isn't built upon Simon, it's built upon Jesus.
And second, the authority that Jesus gave Simon in Matthew 16 (keys to Heaven, bind/loose), Jesus also gives to the rest of His 12 in Matthew 18:18.
So if we were to look at it this way, then imagine Jesus saying to everybody who acknowledges and accepts Him as Lord, Savior, and enters a relationship with Him, "You are a rock". Like, "Simon, you are a rock. Here are the keys..." "Sherri, you are a rock. Here are the keys..." "Andy, you are a rock, here are the keys..." And so everybody who makes up the Church is a rock, for we're material with which Jesus is using to build up His Church.
And if such is in fact correct, then it really does (or should) help us to realize our responsibility and what it means to be rocks that build Jesus' Church.

Hey, if you get a chance, please stop by my blogger site sometime: http://dearpastorandy.blogspot.com/

I've also got a link on there for my site where I'll soon blog on my rock idea.

Sherri Watt said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!! I appreciate you reading and giving me feedback.

Andy,
As a sister in Christ, in love I would say be careful with this idea. I do see your point but I do not see this description or interpretation in scripture. It is very easy to have a great idea and then put together how it might fit but that is the way that people get off track. I would just suggest praying over the idea and asking God to comfirm the correctness to you. I know that when I am working through scripture if I ask God to confirm something for me, he does it usually in more ways than I even need. I will be praying too.

God Bless!