Awhile back I was preparing a sermon, and as I sat in my study the Holy Spirit whispered into my heart, "You hypocrite! How can you possibly go and preach this sermon? You haven't talked to a lost person in months. You don't even know who the people in your neighborhood are who are lost."
I told my wife, "Honey, I don't know if I can preach this sermon this weekend. How can I challenge the body to reach out to lost people if I'm not doing it?"
My wife and I prayed about it and decided we would allow the Holy Spirit to convict us as I studied the Word, and then we would respond accordingly. That Sunday I confessed to our church, as I preached, that I would be listening to God's leading and learning alongside them. After that Sunday we went home and realized there were ten families in our neighborhood that we knew, but we had no idea if any of them knew Jesus. So we invited them to our house one night to talk about God.
We wrote a letter inviting each family. Two days before, not one person had sent an RSVP. We started making phone calls, and nine of the ten showed up at our house. We opened the discussion by asking the group, "If God were here tonight and you could ask Him any question, what would you ask Him?"
For 45 minutes each person shared honestly. We didn't answer their questions that night but invited them to come back the next Monday night. They kept coming back again and again for a year and a half to talk about God.
I shared this story about our seeker group one day at church. After the service a man named Doug asked if he could come to the group. He said his wife dragged him to the service, and the only other time he'd been to church was on his wedding day. Doug came week after week with his questions, until he got a job out of town. He bought a speakerphone, and we continued our talks with him via mobile phone.
Eventually we lost touch with Doug. One Sunday I told Doug's story in church and shared how we had reached out to him but never knew if he responded to the Gospel. On Monday my phone rang with a call from Doug. He'd listened to my sermon on the internet and happened to be flying into town that week.
As we sat down to coffee, Doug shared with me how he'd been attending a small church in his new city. During communion a few weeks earlier, Doug gave his life to Jesus.
He said, "You gave up on me, but Jesus didn't! He's been chasing me down. Would you baptize me, please?" Doug stayed in town until the following Sunday. That's when I stood before the congregation and finished Doug's story.
God does amazing things if we will just let Him. Maybe you have a "Doug" in your life or some neighbors you talk with on occasion. But you don't have any idea what they think about God.
When the apostles John and Peter healed the lame man in Acts chapter 4, it’s a beautiful picture of the healing we can receive in our souls to make us whole. And there’s only one person who can do this. Not Muhammad, not Buddha, not the Ten Commandments, not the Pope, not Marx, not Freud, not yoga, not tolerance, not enlightenment, science, or philosophy. Only Jesus can transform us from the inside out.
In this message, Pete Briscoe teaches from Acts 4 about how experiencing the sheer power and love of the indwelling Christ leaves us compelled to tell lost people about the beautiful, saving grace of Jesus.