There is an old story about a young boy walking the beach at dawn. He noticed an elderly man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the man, he asked the elderly gentleman what he was doing. The gentleman said that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,” countered the boy. “How can your effort make any difference?” The elderly gentleman looked at the starfish in his hand and, throwing it into the safety of the waves, replied, “It makes a difference to this one!”
Life can feel a lot like that beach sometimes, can’t it?
As Christians, God has called each one of us to change the world. You and I were made to make a difference, to make every day count. But when we look at the world we live in, it seems so impossible.
Many of us look at the moral condition of our nation and it breaks our hearts. We want to do something about it, but we wonder what difference one person can make. We consider the demoralizing times in which we live.
- Nearly 2 billion people are desperately poor
- 1 billion are hungry
- 5 billion people without Jesus
- 24,000 children die every day from preventable diseases.
- Earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes devastate neighborhoods and nations.
And in the midst of it all, here we stand. You want your life to matter. You want to make a difference. What can you do to make every day count? You take a look around you and you feel like that little boy standing on the beach.
This is precisely why we have to make every day count and I know we can if we want to!
So how can we make every day count?
I have 120 answers to that question.
As we open the first pages of the Book of Acts, we find a gathering of believers huddled together on the second floor of a quaint Jerusalem building.
These men and women weren’t athletes, CEOs of multimillion dollar corporations, celebrities, or Nobel-prize winners; rather they were small town, simple folk—fishermen, tax collectors and soccer moms—120 of them in all.
Yet these ordinary men and women became part of a movement that exploded like a just-opened fire-hydrant from the streets of Jerusalem and spilled into the ends of the earth. The Jewish authorities of the first-century accused them of…
“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too
How did they do this, they were not powerful or influential they were just normal people like you and I how did they make their lives count so much that they impacted the whole world? More importantly, how can we do it again?
Gamaliel, one of Paul’s instructors and one of the wisest rabbis of his day, said this of this young sect of Jewish/Christians
So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”
Each and every page of the Bible is alive with God being involved in the lives of people and especially the book of Acts showing us that God is always up to something big!
He still is. We have to believe that.
It was the disciples’ belief in God and faith in Jesus that spurred the Christian movement into the districts of Rome, the streets of Paris and ports of Athens. It is that same fervor that has Christians in every part of the world sharing their faith, some at the cost of their lives
If we truly believe what they believed and do what they did, we can make every day count, we can change the world!
Over the next few weeks, we are going to talk about how this small group of believers in the Jerusalem church made their lives count, made every day count and matter for something. We have to start with what they believed because if we understand what they believed, then we will understand what a difference it made in their lives and with this belief they made a difference and made their lives count every day. These simple beliefs affected their priorities and their passions in other words what they did and why they did it!
- JESUS IS RISEN
First, they believed that Jesus is risen; this gave them a message! Luke starts Acts 1:1-3 with these words…
In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is risen. He was crucified. He was buried. He rose from the dead. They saw it for themselves. They believed it. It changed everything. When the ground beneath the Old Rugged Cross was tinged red with the blood of God, all of Jesus’ followers were disheartened and disillusioned. I think the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, spoke for everyone when they said…
We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.
Anytime people start talking about “hope” in the past tense, you know they are in trouble! When Jesus came alive and walked out of that grave, hope came alive…everything Jesus said came alive, every word was real every hope was real, eternal life was real, overcoming death, hell, and the grave was real, living for eternity with God was real…
The most hope-filled words are these…John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
God loved and gave so we might have life…Jesus risen gave the church their message
- Jesus rules – This gave them their mission
Before Jesus ascended Luke tells us in Acts 1:3
“speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
And that the disciples had a mission to fulfill Acts 1:8
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
At first the disciple’s mindset was small they thought the kingdom was about Israel but their being filled with the Spirit being able to share the things Jesus had taught, lived, and said was about a bigger kingdom, a kingdom that God would rule in the hearts of men. There was no doubt in their minds that Jesus is in charge, that He is Lord
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
He rules delivering people from the power of sin, this world, the devil, healing, blessing setting people free because there is no power greater.
Jesus is called, “Lord Jesus” over 100 times in the New Testament. The disciples were amazed when he calmed the sea and even the wind and waves obeyed him it was easy for them to believe he was at creation and is the author of all things created and has authority over every natural thing by His supernatural power…every ounce of power and authority resides in Jesus and that is easy to call him Lord.
As Christians our mission is to recognize His kingdom, His lordship and to advance His kingdom!
Unfortunately, many Christians today only want to follow Jesus when it’s convenient. We say, “I’d like to help people and serve others like Jesus, but the kids have soccer practice and I’ve got house work, plus the lawn needs mowed.” There’s always some other priority that takes precedence over Jesus.
Family, that kind of half-hearted dedication just doesn’t cut it with Jesus. If Jesus is the Lord of your life, then live like it! The statement “No, Lord,” is a self-contradictory statement. If you can say no, he’s not your Lord. If he is your Lord, then you can’t possibly tell him no. The answer must always be “Yes, Lord!”
When we fully devote ourselves to carrying out the mission of Christ, we will make a difference. You’ll begin to impact people’s lives in ways you never before imagined. Jesus is ruling. If we believe that, then let’s live like it! That is our mission too!
- Jesus is returning – their and our motivation, the disciples were always looking for His return
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
Those disciples spent the rest of their lives with an eye on the clouds and ear for the trumpet. They waited anxiously for the day of His return, and it motivated them to make a difference while they still could.
Countless attempts have been made to predict when Jesus will return. The one thing you can trust when it comes to prophecy pundits who claim to have the answer is—they’ll be 100% wrong 100% of the time. Jesus may come today, tomorrow or a thousand years from now. No one knows. But whether Jesus returns before you die or you die before Jesus returns the point is the same…our time is limited! The truth is….any one of us here today could die before the end of this sermon. I could die while preaching it. Today. At any moment.
It’s so easy to wake up in the morning and think about today as just another day….an average day where you go about life concerned with your to-do list, preoccupied by appointments, thinking about your own wants and needs.
On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. On the average day, we don’t consider death and we don’t think about God very much. We don’t think about what matters most. But there is nothing average about today or any day. The Bible says…
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
Each of us here today has been given this once-in-history opportunity called life—complete with summers and songs and gray skies and tears. It has a first day, a last day, and hopefully a few thousand in between. You’ve been given this one life and this one opportunity to outlive your life. You want your life to matter. So live your life in such a way that the world is glad you did!
Jesus is returning. Whether we live to see that day or not, that fact ought to motivate us to make every day count. You were made to make a difference!
When that elderly gentleman walked out onto the beach, he could have taken one look at the myriad starfish lining the shore and shrugged, “What’s the point?” But he didn’t. And like that man on the beach, the first followers of Jesus changed the world one life at a time.
They knew that that if they could make a difference in the hearts and lives of individual people, it could change everything. They knew that what they were doing, no matter how impossible the task might have seemed, was going to make a difference for time and for eternity. Like them, you were made to make a difference, you are called to make every day count!
What if you did? It’s worth a try, don’t you think?
If you have truly made Jesus Lord of your life if he is your savior and you have surrendered your life to him then you too have a message, a mission, and a motivation to change the world.
If you have not accepted Jesus then I challenge you this morning to make that decision…if you have and you just haven’t been involved in the message, mission, and motivation that can change the world please come and allow the Holy Spirit, who we will talk about next week to fill you and enable this fire inside of you