We all have a faith story, whether we realize it or not. God has changed and is changing our lives. It's an ongoing thing. He never stops changing us until we join him in glory. If we stop changing, it's not because God stopped, it's because we stopped allowing him to work.
You have to have a personal story, transformation by God to share with others if you are going to share what God has done and is doing with others. You have to have been touched by God.
Our passage this week in the book of Acts is about Peter. Peter's story starts long before Acts. When he was a disciple of Jesus, Christ foretold that Peter would be the foundation of the future church. I'm sure Peter had no idea what Jesus was talking about, but in Matthew 16, we read:
I wonder if this moment meant a lot of Peter then. If he thought, "I'm the rock!" Or did he scratch his head for a moment, then move on. I'm sure Jesus did and said a lot of things that made the disciples scratch their heads, this moment may not have been any different.
But now, in the book of Acts, Peter probably was thinking back to Jesus words as they all spent some time confused. If you haven't had a chance to read Acts lately, I recommend you do. It's such a great book.
That is where our passage for today comes in, "Peter's words pierced their hearts." I'm not sure about you, but that's always been my dream for my words to pierced someone's heart and soul and point them towards God. Not for my own glory, but for God's Kingdom.
Peter spoke to the people out of his personal interactions with Christ, what he had seen and experienced. That is why his words affected so many people.
I had someone ask me the other day why I work motherhood and Abigail into so many of my sermons. The truth is, being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever done. Seminary did nothing to prepare me for it. I learned in school how to counsel people in their marriages, how to support people through grief, how to help people deal with tragedies, and even how to help those suffering from fertility issues. But the school didn't help me learn how to be a Godly mother.
It's not a knowledge issue. I "understand" how to be a parent, I event "understand" what goes through my daughter's head, because she is a lot like me. That's the issue though. She is a lot like me. She is strong-minded, strong-willed, independent, and never stops talking. I stand before you this morning admitting to you that God is having to teach me every day how to trust him as a mother. There are some days that I think my beautiful daughter is going to be the cause of me never reaching sanctification.
I am not a morning person, and it's like she knows how to push every button to cause me to be aggravated before I even get out of bed, and especially before I have a cup of coffee. And she never does those things for her daddy. But then God gives me moments that I see her pure heart and love for other people, and I am reminded that by molding her to live like Christ, I am impacting not only her life, but the lives of others.
Friends, God is having to re-teach me how to be patient, kind, and grace-giving every day. Some of you may have thought I had all of that sorted out. I share my stories because they are what God is teaching me, and how God is pushing me to be more like Christ every day.
Remember, I can only share what I have. Right now, what I have is not only my pastoral job, but my life as a mother and a wife. How I live in my family is the biggest witness I have for the world, and I don't always do it so well.
My story of transformation though isn't finished. I'm not ashamed to say that God is still working on me, because he has already done so much in my life. I know he is not going to stop until I am molded without flaw.
I want to challenge all of you throughout this series to find ways to share our faith stories with other people. I know that may seem really scary, but I want to help make it easier.
How is God working in your life right now? If you take a moment a read through Acts 1-4, you'll notice that the early church spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through not just preaching but also through prayer and through spending time together. That time together gave them a chance to show new Christians what it meant to follow Christ. They also were able to answer questions and encourage one another.
In chapter 2, Peter preaches and people respond by giving their lives over to God. Just as Christ predicted when he said that Peter would be the rock that Christ's church would be built.
Read Matthew 16:17-19.
- What do you think Jesus meant by "keys to the Kingdom of Heaven"?
- How do we share with others that Heaven is open to all if we receive God's truth?
- When was the last time you shared with someone the things God was doing in your life?
Read Acts 2:36-41.
- How would you have felt if you heard Peter's words that day?
- When was the last time something pierced your heart and brought you to the feet of Jesus?
- What can you pray for today that will cause the Holy Spirit to move in your life?
Read Acts 2:42-47.
- -What do you picture when you read this description of the first Christain community?
- How can we create a community like this?
- How can we invite people who have never been a part of the Church to join us into our Christian family?
Pray and ask God to show you, someone, this week that you need to start reaching out to over the course of the next 5 weeks, getting to know, praying for, supporting, and being the church for.