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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Sermon - Be a Courageous Witness

Acts 2:14-41

Pastor Shim Habte, Willows First United Methodist Church
Willows, CA

Is there any evidence that we are Christians?

One time a lady went by a highway toll booth and handed the booth operator enough for the car behind her as well as her own. She asked that the operator give the driver a business card. When the next person, a woman, drove up to the booth, the operator told her what had transpired and handed her the card. The woman took the card with amazement and took it home to show her husband. The card had the name and address of a local church. She told her boyfriend, an atheist, and out of curiosity they went to the church the following Sunday. Long story short, they both gave their lives to the Lord and became active members of the church.

After Jesus rose from the cross, He told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. He told them they would be His witnesses after they received the power from the Spirit. His disciples met in the upper room, praying for the gift to come--but this time there were one hundred twenty of them, all in one accord. Can you imagine being in total accord with 119 other people, all at the same time? As they prayed, suddenly the Holy Spirit came. It looked like tongues of fire sat on each head, and they began to speak in other languages.

"Upper rooms" were often on rooftops. People around could hear them. Some laughed and said the disciples were drunk; others stood there amazed as they listened to these disciples speaking in their own languages. During Pentecost, the population of Jerusalem swelled by the thousands--Jews and proselytes from all over the known world descended on the city. Each of them heard the disciples speaking in their home languages, praising God and telling of His wondrous love.

Peter--who days before had been denying he ever knew Jesus and had gone into hiding, stood up and waved the crowd to silence. He told them they were not drunk--it was, after all, only nine o'clock in the morning. He told them God had poured His Spirit into them. He pointed out into the audience and told them they had crucified God's Son. And he told them God had raised His Son from the grave.

A murmur started in the crowd. "What can we do to be saved?"

A group of Muslim clerics and Christian ministers got together one time to discuss and try to understand each other's way to salvation. The Christian ministers said their way of salvation was to confess your sin, repent (be sorry), and be baptized, even if their sins were many, and they would be forgiven. The Muslims were amazed. They wanted to know more, because there was no such provision in their religion.

A wealthy Chicago physician went to Africa every year to a time to give free medical help to the people there. After a time, he told his wife he felt called by God to go to Africa full time. She told him she would support him. His friends told him he was out of his mind to leave a lucrative practice, but they went. He said the love of God compelled him.

Wherever you are, God has put you. It's up to you to follow Him where you are and wherever He leads.
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