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    Apr 15, 2018

    The Power of Deeds

    The Power of Deeds

    Passage: Acts 3:1-16

    Speaker: Pat Botelle, Lay Speaker

    Series: Signs of Resurrection

    Category: Resurrection

    Our deeds have power when we give credit where credit is due as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians: “and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

    The theme for last week and this week’s sermons is “Signs of Resurrection.” If you were with us on Easter, you heard Pastor Vivian talk about Resurrection stories. She spoke of the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and how they plan to rebuild their church after the congregation experienced the loss of twenty-six worshipers in a mass shooting. She also told the story of Goshen UMC in Piedmont, Alabama. That church was devastated by a tornado on Palm Sunday in 1994. A week later two hundred worshipers came together to bear witness to not only the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but to the resurrection of their own congregation and possibly the resurrection of their faith.

    Throughout the gospels, there are resurrection stories. Stories of how Jesus brought new life to those whom others had given up on. Jesus not only healed people physically, he healed their souls. Jesus showed his disciples and followers what it meant to be reborn, resurrected.

    But the resurrection stories don’t end in the gospels. They continue throughout the rest of the New Testament. The book of Acts has several resurrection stories, the most famous is the conversion of Saul. Our scripture lesson today tells another resurrection story.

    Chapter 2 of Acts ends with the conversion of three thousand and the establishment of the community of believers who share everything—better known as Pentecost. Today’s scripture immediately follows that story.

    One day Peter and John go to the temple to pray. This was not some random act, daily prayers, multiple times a day, were very common. Outside the temple is a beggar asking for alms because begging is the only way he has to provide for himself; you see he has been crippled since birth.  Peter and John have no money, but Peter gives the man something else. He gives the beggar back his life. Peter heals him in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter wants the beggar to know under whose authority he was healed.

    Scripture says the beggar clung to Peter and John and the people were astonished. Peter addressed the crowd and asked, “Why do you wonder at this or why do you stare at us?” Peter reminds them of the events of just a few months ago, the trial, death and resurrection of Jesus. And then Peter says: “And by faith in his name [that is the name of Jesus], his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.”

    In many of the healing stories in the gospels, Jesus asks the person who has gotten his attention what he or she wants and when they tell Jesus, he responds by healing them and telling them that it is their faith that has healed them.

    I bring this up because Peter’s healing of the beggar is a little different. Nowhere in this story is the faith of the beggar mentioned. We know the beggar praises God after he is healed, but did he have faith before? Did it matter to Peter if he did? It didn’t. Peter could not help the beggar by giving him gold or silver, but he could heal the man because Peter had something much more valuable to give him. The beggar was given new life and Peter made sure everyone knew where the power to accomplish such a deed came from.

    In preparation for this message, I read a sermon on Acts 3 by Jeff Strite. In it Jeff tells this story:

    I’m on Facebook and on one of the preacher forums I recently read this interesting question:

    “Suppose there’s someone who wants to be a part of your fellowship. A non-believer. This person says they are looking for community and they love yours. They’re committing to be at 90% of worship services; they’ll join prayer meetings and will pray. They’ll commit to clean living, volunteerism, and daily devotional times. They look like the ideal member, with one snag—“I want the community and am willing to jump in whole heartedly. But I don’t believe in God. I want to, but I’ve read too much Carl Sagan[1] and spent too much time watching science shows on TV. I can’t make myself believe, but I want to be a part of this community. I’ve read the Geisler[2] books you gave me, and he seems intelligent, but I still can’t bring myself to believe.”

    The post ended with this question: “How would you counsel such a person? How would your church treat him?”

    Ok. Let’s start with a couple of questions: Could this atheist become a member here at this church? Of course, he couldn’t – he’s an atheist. You’ve got to be a Christian to become a member here. But, if he walked through that door, how would you treat him? Would you welcome him? (yes) Would you pray with him? (yes) Would you take him out to eat or make sure he has food at the carry-ins? (of course, we would)

    I  was a little shocked by one of the preachers who responded to the post by saying this:

    “I would say that he or she should go join a club.”

    Seriously? He doesn’t want this guy in his church? How sad is that?[3]

    So now my question to you is “Would we welcome him or her? Would we pray with him? Would we take her out to eat or make sure she has food from the food pantry?” Jeff was sure of the answers for his congregation. Are you sure of the answers for our congregation? We don’t always know how our deeds will be viewed, but we need do them anyway.

    So, let’s talk about what powerful deeds have you witnessed? What powerful deeds have we done as a church? (short dialogue with the congregation) [VIM, Food Pantry, Library, Mission of Mercy Lunch groups, Community Lunch, Funeral lunches, Shower ministry]

    Remember the church that was destroyed by the tornado in Alabama? RUMC sent a VIM team that went to Alabama in the mid-1990s to help the community recover from the tornado. I don’t know if they worked on that specific church, but we did have a hand in helping the community come back.

    How do we tell people what power is behind what we do?  We certainly do not want to sound “preachy” or “holier than thou.”

    Peter is intentional about telling the beggar who healed him. Peter says, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Most of us would not be comfortable using words like this when we do something, but Peter lived with Jesus and witnessed firsthand his teachings and miracles. Jesus’ teachings were part of Peter’s DNA. Those words were easy for Peter to say. It was also part of the culture to call upon the name of gods to help with any number of situations. The beggar and the people at the temple probably knew who Jesus Christ of Nazareth was. They either had firsthand knowledge or probably knew someone who did, and they had heard the stories. But we can’t assume that people we interact with know anything about Jesus.

    Just like Peter, we help those in need, not asking if they believe because that is not our job. Our job is to love our neighbor and to care for the poor, the lost and the lonely. We do this, not for our own glory or so we feel good, but because of what Jesus did for us.

    Our challenge today is to connect Jesus to what we do, and we need to be intentional about making that connection. I know when we serve funeral luncheons several family members will come into the kitchen and thank us. One time I remember one of us saying, “It’s our pleasure.” Then, realizing how that sounded, tried to explain. The family member understood, but it was a little awkward. So now we say something like “It’s what we do.” 

    It is our faith, our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means to us, that empowers us to serve. One thing we can do to make the connection with why we do what we do is to say a short prayer before we start preparing lunch or serving at the food pantry or whatever. Something like: “Thank you God for this chance to serve our neighbors. We know that it is through your son’s sacrifice that we can serve. Amen.”  Or this one I found online: “Lord, may I honor you today by serving others.”[4]

    At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus directs his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[5] The book of Acts tells how the disciples responded to this commission.

    Just like the apostles, we are called to make disciples as well, and we do that by sharing the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We share the good news through our words and our deeds. Not as preachers, but as ordinary people doing ordinary things, with one exception, we love because Jesus first loved us. Our deeds have power when we give credit where credit is due as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians: “and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”[6]

    [1] Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, cosmologies, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. (from

    [2] Norman Leo Geisler (born July 21, 1932) is a Christian systematic theologian and philosopher. He is the co-founder of two non-denominational Evangelical seminaries (Veritas Evangelical Seminary and Southern Evangelical Seminary). He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University and has made scholarly contributions to the subjects of classical Christian apologetics, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, ethics, and more. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 90 books and hundreds of articles. (from

    [3] What Do You Have? Contributed by Jeff Strite on Jan 14, 2018.


    [5] Matthew 28:19, New Revised Standard Version,

    [6] Colossians 3:17, New Revised Standard Version,