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Acts #33 (chapter 9;32-35)
The Book of Acts
The Personal Ministry of Peter
Acts 9:32-35
 
One of the things to keep in mind as we study the book of Acts is that it moves back and forth primarily between the ministry of Peter and the ministry of Saul/Paul. 
 
In the first seven chapters, we see primarily Peter along with some of the other notable characters such as Stephen and Barnabas, and in a negative way Ananias and Sapphira. 
 
Then chapters 8 and 9 focus on the salvation and call and preparation of Saul.  The at the end of chapter 9, as we see in tonight's study, the emphasis shifts back to Peter where it will remain through chapter 12.  Then from 13 to the end of the book, Paul dominates the picture.
 
Now I think it important to contrast the earl ministry of Peter in the Gospels with what we find here in Acts because all of the failures and mess ups that we've come to expect from Peter are no longer characteristic of his life once the Holy Spirit comes. 
 
And even though Peter is always a dominant character wherever he shows up, now he is this dynamic and powerful apostle who is, not only the leader of the church, but the leader of the other apostles as well.
 
And in reality, from Peter we learn all kinds of lessons about how to serve and minister, but positive and negative ones. 
We learn how not to do it in the gospels and how to do it in the book of Acts.
 
So tonight and next time, what I want to do is just pull from the narrative here in Acts some of the principles that made Peter's ministry so effective.  And before we look at this text, I want to look at something Peter recorded for us in 2 Peter 1 as he nears the end of his life.  There Peter shares some of the more inward and personal characteristics that a person really needs to have if they are going to minister effectively for Christ. 
 
1 Peter 2:12-21
 
First, in verse 12, we see
 
 - personal concern
 
Peter genuinely cares about the spiritual welfare of those to whom he ministers. He is not satisfied to just teach and walk away.  He says, "I want you to know this. That's why I'm repeating it.  I know you've heard it before, but I'm going to keep reminding you because I care about you."
 
The second thing that he expresses here is
 
- personal urgency
 
In verse 14 he is telling them, "I know I'm about to die.  My time is short to do what I need to do."
 
He knows he doesn't have long, and he wants them to remember what he's taught, even after he's gone.  (verse 15)
 
The third thing that characterized Peter's ministry was
 
- personal experience
 
verse 16
 
I'm not giving you secondhand information.  I'm telling you what I know. By the way, as he explains in verses 17-18, he was talking about the transfiguration. 
 
Then he adds to that the fourth things which is
 
- personal knowledge
 
Any spiritual experience we have must be validated with Scripture or it is to be rejected.  If what you've experienced is not consistent with the teachings of Scripture it is not from God and that's what Peter says in
 
verse 21
 
In verse 19, he calls this "a more sure word." More sure than what? Experience. So Peter says to begin with as I look at my own life there are four things that are needful. Personal concern, personal urgency, personal experience and personal knowledge, and if I have those four things I'm ready for an effective personal ministry.
 
Now go back to Acts 9 and let's see how effective it was by pulling out some of the keys that made his ministry effective. There are six of them that we will cover over the next couple of weeks.
 
First of all, he was
 
1. Involved
 
verse 32
 
It is very difficult to be effective in doing the Lord's work if you aren't willing to get involved in the lives of people, so notice what we read about Peter. 
 
Literally, "he passed through all". You get the idea Peter was just going all the time.  He was active and maximizing every opportunity.  He was involved.
 
Now keep in mind, because of the conversion and transformation of Saul, verse 31 tells us the church had peace.  That means Peter, as well as the other apostles, were at liberty to move and he took advantage of every opportunity. 
 
All of that speaks to us of a very important principle and that is we have a limited time to do what we do and we are to take advantage of every opportunity God gives us.  You just can't do ministry without being involved with people. 
 
And I will tell you what I've observed in church work:  it's hard to get people involved and because of that the same ones wind up doing everything.  A couple of dynamics are at work in that.  First, those who are most involved are those that are the most sensitive to what needs to be done. 
 
But on the other side of that, God doesn't trust His work to just anybody.  God keeps His richest and choicest ministries for His busiest saints.
When God's got a job to do, He doesn't go up to the dusty shelf of the dilapidated, lazy, non-functioning Christians and say, "I think I'll dust off Joe and give him that job."  No!  The work is too important to do that.  So God uses people who are already in the mainstream flow of what He's doing. And that's why some people have abundance of ministries while other people are sitting around saying, either, "I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing" or "I don't want to get involved."
 
By the way, there are only three groups of people in a church in that regard:  those that make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened! 
 
But everybody who's active seems to be able to find the time and energy to do what the others who are sitting around should be doing. And God blesses them in the doing of it. 
 
Peter, with all the burdens he carried and all the responsibilities he had, was a busy guy and yet God kept opening new ministries. There was never any end to it.
 
Now the good news is God will use anyone who is available.  But if you really want to get in on the blessing of God and be fruitful in the ministry of Jesus Christ, then you've got to get involved.  Start right where you are and once you prove to God you can be depended on, He will load your wagon!
 
And when you've got so much you think you are overloaded, you will learn the secret of depending on the power and strength and Spirit of God. 
He will make you able to do whatever it is He gives you to do. But the secret is to get up and get going. Get involved in what it is that the Spirit of God is doing.
 
Then, in verse 33, we are given an example of what that ministry of involvement looked like.  Peter eventually makes his way to a place called Lydda.
 
It's an old, historic town called Lod in the Old Testament, and is still called that today.  It's about ten miles east of Jaffa or Tel Aviv. It was a very city in the first century because it was right on the trade route from Egypt to Babylon going east. And a lot of the goods that were dropped off at the seaport of Joppa went to Jerusalem right through Lod. So it was a very important kind of a mainline town.
 
And there was a gathering of the people of God in that place.  They are identified in the text as "saints" which simply means they were saved folks. There was a group of Christians there. 
 
Then in verse 33, the text zooms in on one of those saints in particular who is named Aeneas. He was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years.
Typically, when Scripture refers to someone as being paralyzed, it is a picture of a hopeless situation and I think that was probably true of this man.
 
But there's about to be a marvelous miracle because Peter chooses to get involved.  And the power and reach of that miracle was so dramatic that according to verse 35, everyone who came in contact with this man after the miracle got saved.  
 
 
Now think about the ripple affect that is demonstrated in these two verses of Scripture.  One guy named Peter decides to get personally involved in ministry and he reaches out to one individual  who then affects multitudes.  We have no way of knowing how many is referenced there in verse 35, but I think it safe to say a significant number came to the Lord through this healing.
 
All of that to say, when you get personally involved, the repercussions are far-reaching. Think about that in regard to the fair ministry next week.  The gospel will be shared one person at a time in a very brief encounter and yet, that person who gets saved will take with them the life-changing message of the Gospel an they will begin to touch people and the ripples will flow in amazing ways.
 
Just get involved! That is the first and most basic characteristic of personal ministry. 
 
Second, make sure your ministry
 
2.  Honors Christ
 
Any ministry that has any eternal effect and bears any kind of spiritual fruit must lift up Jesus Christ.
 
verse 34
 
Let's look at the second part first.  Peter tells him to do two things.  First, he says "arise".  And th eman immediately arose. 
 
Aeneas exercised his will in response to the statement of Peter and that act of faith in the word of God healed him.
So Peter says, "Arise", this man obeyed and he arose immediately.
 
The second thing he said is, "Make your bed."
 
Now they tell me that what he says in the Greek language, because of the construct of the sentence and the verb tense that is used, is best interpreted as, "Once and for all, make that bed up".  In other words, he's not going to be needing it anymore.   
 
And that guy got up, and I assume he made his bed. The cure was total, it was complete, the man would make up his bed for good. That whole part of life was done away.
 
Now those are two things that are not incidental, but are not the main thing to see.  The primary thing that really jumps off the page is that Peter says, "Jesus the Christ heals you."
 
That is a great statement, not only for what it says, but for what it doesn't say. It is Peter's disclaimer to any power at all. See what he's doing?  He doesn't come in and say, "I'm here to heal you and Jesus is going to help me." 
 
Instead, he makes sure that all the credit, all the honor, all the glory goes to Jesus the Christ alone.
And the same is true in our ministry as well. Any ministry that has any lasting value  must give the glory to God!
 
Whatever is being done to His glory is being done by Him. You know what Paul says in Ephesians 6:10? He says, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." You have no strength elsewhere.
In Ephesians 3:20 he says, "Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all you that we can ask or think according to the power that worketh in you."
 
It's not you, it's Him. And then the next verse says, "Unto Him be glory in the church." The glory's not ours. We can't say I did this for the Lord and I did that. You haven't done anything for the Lord. It's only what the Lord did through you. Anything you tried to do was not worth doing to begin with!
 
Later in 1 Peter 4:11, Peter will say, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. If any man minister, let him do it as the ability which God gives that the glory may belong to Jesus Christ in everything."
 
The effective servant only wants to lift up Jesus Christ. Peter didn't want any followers of Peter. He said Jesus Christ makes you well. He gave the credit to Jesus. 
 
No wonder we read what we read in verse 35.
 
And notice, who did they turn to? The Lord. Effective personal ministry consumed with the exalting and honoring the Lord. Aren't you glad they turned to the Lord? After all, Peter couldn't help them!  And neither can we! 
 
Well, there's lots more to see about Peter's ministry, but for now, If you want an effective personal ministry, just do two things: get involved in what God's doing already and live to lift up Jesus Christ.
 
Let's pray.
 
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