Astonished at You
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 1, 2002, 17:33
Astonished At You
Have you ever looked at the calendar and noticed all of the celebrations that take place each year? Recently I took an extended look and noticed the following. See if any of these make your list of “Must Celebrate” items. . .
International Tuba Day: in honor of those who endure the hassle of handling a tuba in order to make beautiful music
Picklefest, Atkins, Arkansas: Includes a pickle eating contest
International Sing Out day , May 25th: sing out everything just like in old musicals, no talking, just singing
Superman Celebration , June 10-13, Metropolis, Illinois: They have a 15 foot statue of the hero there . It is the superman festival to end superman festivals
Jim Picnic: June 13th Grants Pass, Oregon: Motto: to celebrate the Jim’s and Jimmies of the world for their vivacity, impulsiveness, and similarities
We celebrate. . .we like to. . but when was the last time someone celebrated the great things the church does ?
In Acts 3:11-16 we read of the early church once again. The early church astonished the city with the demonstration of the power and message of Christ. The very words suggest an impact which left people dumbfounded with amazement, as if shocked. There was such an excitement that the church could not be ignored.
It is that same element of astonishment that is missing from the church today. The ordinary, routine, and predictable are what people expect from church in our culture. Churches today are admired, patted on the back, or ignored, but seldom do we astonish. When you compare the early church with the church of today you see the contrast.
There are some things that happened when the church was brand new that we probably won’t see again. At the same time there are characteristics that should be a part of the church here and now. .
Can we be an astonishing place today? Things happened in the early church that caused astonishment. . ..it is described like this. . . “amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12)
Let’s check out a few things that happen when people are astonished by the church and the ministry of the church then and now. First we see that Astonishment creates attraction...
“all the people were astonished and came running to them” (v.11)
From the inner court of the temple the Jewish worshippers ran to the eastern porch and thronged Peter and John. These people did what we long for people to do. They literally ran to where God’s word was being preached. Why ?
There was evidence in the lives that had been changed. . The preacher had been changed. There was a lame man who now was no longer lame (3:1-10). In other words, people were different, there was evidence that something was going on.
A group of Christian laymen involved in missionary work approached a small village near an Amish settlement. Seeking a possible convert, they asked the Amish farmer, “Brother are you a Christian?”
The farmer thought for a moment and then said, “Wait just a few minutes.” He then wrote down a list of names on a tablet and handed it to the man. “Here is list of the people who know me the best. Please ask them if I am a Christian. I know what I would tell you, but they have seen me live”
In the presence of the people there was a powerful demonstration of a powerful message.
No advertising campaign can compare with results. This was in the same old location (the temple) yet the same worshippers in the same old place suddenly turned into a fellowship of astonishment. Lives had been changed.
Next we see that astonishment lives with expectation “Why does this surprise you?” Peter asked the onlookers (v.12a) . A people of faith ought to expect the astonishing.
Peter reminded them that they were Israelites, sons of Abraham, everything about their heritage was astonishing. Yet they embalmed it rather than embodied it They remembered it rather than repeated it. The church should live with the expectation of the unusual. More often than not, the church expects nothing to happen, and nothing usually does. Usually if the unusual happens we want to know what is wrong!
A New Testament church should expect the supernatural, those things that God does should be a way of life. We should learn to see it and be astounded by what God is doing. The routine, the ritual, and the predictable should be the exception
Next notice that astonishment gives God the glory! The source of everything is the glorified Lord Jesus. It does not happen because of “our own power or godliness” (v.12b).
We must always confess that the power to
do the things that happen does not come from us, but only from God. Whatever God does is an act of sheer grace. It is only on the name of Jesus that we find that we can be made truly whole (v.16). When the church is doing it right, the astonishing fellowship constantly points to the name and person of Jesus.
Russ Blowers is a minister and an active member of the rotary. Each week at those meetings a different member gets up and gives a brief statement about their job. When it was his turn he tried to summarize the work of the church. I like it, it reminds me of how astonishing the church and God really is. He said, “I’m a part of a global enterprise. We have branches in every country of the world. We have representatives in nearly every boardroom and parliament across the globe. We are into motivation and behavior alteration. We run hospitals, feeding stations, crisis pregnancy centers, universities, publishing houses, and nursing homes. We care for our clients from birth until death. We are into life insurance and fire insurance. We perform spiritual heart transplants. Our Founder and organizer owns all the real estate on earth plus an assortment of galaxies and constellations. He knows everything and lives everywhere. Our product is available free for the asking, and yet there is not enough money in the world to buy it. Our CEO was born in a hick town, worked as a carpenter, didn’t own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by his enemies, walked on water, was condemned to death without a trial, and arose form the dead,. . .and I get to talk to him everyday”
That is astounding ! Perhaps it would be good for us to remember these things from time to time as we strive to be all that God has called us to be in the world. Think About it !
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