Bold

This is the rough draft of Pastor Steve’s message from the “Erased” series on July 28, 2019. You can also watch the message here. We hope you find this helpful as you pursue your next steps in Christ.

When I was a boy scout we needed to sell items to raise money for our troop.  I hated it. I hated going door to door. I hated putting up a stand somewhere.  I remember staring with popcorn. Not a bad product right? It was just super hard for me as a kid to go up to a complete stranger, in my uniform, and sell them something.  “Hey, want to buy this popcorn random stranger?” After the popcorn sale, to mix it up, guess what they came up with? Hey, let’s go door to door and sell light bulbs? I mean really?  This is where you insert one of those obvious puns right. Light bulbs. Whose bright idea was that?  

Can you imagine how many light bulbs we did not sell?  Turns out in central Indiana there wasn’t much of a niche for light bulb sales.  It was really hard for me to go door to door and sell that stuff. I lacked any kind of boldness.  I lacked any kind of passion. I felt very ineffective. I really believe that the average Jesus follower, many times, feels the same way when it comes to being bold in their faith.  I believe we can all agree that we are not here to sell Jesus right? Jesus is not a product. Jesus is a life changer. And even though many of us have experienced the life change of Christ, why do we struggle sharing that?  Why do we struggle with boldness about Christ?

Today we are wrapping up a series where we have been looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and in the lives of Christ followers.  We’ve said that it’s too easy to ERASE the impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And maybe that erasing isn’t intentional? It happens because we didn’t grow up in faith.  We didn’t grow up in a tradition that talked about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Or maybe we have heard of him, but we gave up out of confusion or frustration.  I want us to step away from ERASING Him.  

So, here is a question we’ve been asking over the past few weeks.  What do we know about the Holy Spirit?  Today, let me give you a couple. He gives us the power to be bold in our faith.  He gives us the power to not be afraid.  He gives us the power to stand up for what is right.  He gives us the power to tell our story. In fact, God wants to give us the power in our faith that we are not fearful like a kid pushing light bulbs.  You with me?

The Bible is loaded with real life experiences of men and women who acted bold.  And every single time, that boldness came from God’s Holy Spirit. The book of Acts, if you have never read, is a great place to see this.  One day, two of Jesus’ disciples, John and Peter are walking up to the city gate. And at the gate is this man who was begging for money.  As John and Peter get closer to him, he asks them for money too. We get the understanding from Act 3 that everyone knew this guy.  Everybody knew he couldn’t walk, Everybody knew he begged for a living. He asks John and Peter and they basically say, ‘Hey man, we don’t have money for you. But we do have something far better.  They spoke these words over the man. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.

And guess what.  He did. Right there in that moment, he walks.  He is so excited that he runs around. He’s praising God.  He was running around so much that the people around him said, ‘hey wait, isn’t that the dude who was paralyzed?  Isn’t that they guy who begged every day?” They came to the conclusion that it was. And Acts says that people were amazed by what happened to him.  In that moment, crowds press in and John and Peter connect with what happened with Jesus.  This power is not our power, it comes from God. And this power is available to all of us through Jesus Christ.  It says that 5,000 people followed Christ that day.  

However, not all of the reactions to their preaching or this man’s miracle was positive.  The religious leaders grabbed them in the middle of the night and threw them in jail. No more of this preaching in Jesus!  

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”  Acts 4:5-7

In other words, who gave you the authority to do this?  Where does your power come from?

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.   Acts 4:8-10  

Since you asked, we are going to tell you.  We come in the name of Jesus. We acted in kindness for this man in the name of Jesus.  You guys remember him right? You rejected him remember? You falsely accused him and crucified him.  Well guess what? He didn’t stay dead. He’s alive and he empowers us through his Holy Spirit to do what we did today.   It is the power of Christ that healed this man. Since you asked, there you go!  

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men,  Acts 4:13

When they looked at these guys, they saw courage.  When they hear these men, they saw faith. So much so, that it confused them.   How can that be? I mean look at them. They don’t look the part. They don’t act the part.  They are just ordinary people. I love that! You know why? It gives us hope. Let’s go back to our key question.  What do we know about the Holy Spirit?  He gives us the power to be more than ordinary.   You know why we have to talk about the Holy Spirit?  You know why we understand this? Because it is only with the power of the Holy Spirit that you and I can ever be more than ordinary.  It is only with the power of the Holy Spirit, that lives in us, that you and I can rise about the junk of our life.  

We have learned that the Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Godhead.  We have learned that Jesus gave him as a gift to continue the work of Jesus on this earth.  When you and I follow Jesus, The Holy Spirit take us residence in us to help us be more than ordinary.  It’s his power that helps us be better dads. It’s his power that helps us be more generous. And if you and I want to have some courage in any area of our lives, that work comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I can be extraordinary in life because of his work and power in me.  

...they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.  Acts 4:13-14

They had been with Jesus.  I love that. When these men saw John and Peter, they noticed that they had spent time with Jesus.  They were influenced by Jesus. They could see and hear that these men had been impacted by Jesus. You know why that was so challenging to me when I read that?  It made me wonder. When people see me, do people see Jesus? Here is a challenging question for all of us. When people look at my life, do they get a sense that I belong to Jesus?  Let’s just pause there for a moment. Do they?  

So, the religious leader ordered to leave the room and then they had a closed-door conference.  “OK guys, this is serious. What are we going to do with these guys. Everybody in town knows this is a miracle.  I mean, the guy who’s walking, that’s pretty strong evidence. We can’t deny that. But we have to keep this from spreading.  So, here’s an idea. Let’s bring them back in the room and order them to not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore. Ah, that’s good.  Let’s bring them back in here and give them that ultimatum.” So, Peter and John come back in.  

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4:19-20

My daughter Ellie has come up with a new expression in our home.  It’s this (spitting noise). Any time she doesn’t agree with something (spitting noise).  Anytime she thinks I’m being ridiculous (spitting noise). Anytime she doesn’t agree with someone else in the family (spitting noise).  You with me so far. Now, after years of raising her and weeks of hearing this expression, I think I have it translated. This expression (spitting noise) could be translated into these words;  “duh?” Or maybe “ha!” Maybe “whatever?” Maybe even “no way?” 

Here is what is funny.  When I read of this response that Peter and John gave these guys, I thought of Ellie.  In boldness and power, I see them saying, “you want us to stop talking about Jesus?” They responded (spitting noise).  You want us to stop acting in boldness and power?” Their response (spitting noise). We are not going to obey you. No way.  Whatever. Duh. Ha! You can tell us what you want us to do (spitting noise), but we choose to obey God. In boldness we are going to stand in the name of Jesus!  How do you like that translation?  

And I’m not making light of this powerful verse at all.  I’m just saying that there will be moments in your life where maybe like John and Paul, you have to allow the response of others to roll off of your back.   When people see and hear your story of faith in Jesus, like here, they may respond in a way that is not what you expected. They may respond in indifference.  They could respond in anger. They could light you up on social media and call you narrow. When those moments happen, you have to be like John and Paul. I stand in the name of Jesus Christ.  I stand in the power of the Holy Spirit that gives me boldness to tell the story, my story, of Jesus.  

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.  Galatians 1:10 (NLT)  

How awesome is that?  At the end of the day, we are called to live or the approval of God.  What would happen in our lives if we actually were focused on his approval rather than the approval of those in my social circles?  

When I was processing this message, I began to ask this question.  What does boldness look like? I mean, we probably all have different perceptions of that right?  Maybe some positive and others are negative? For some of us, we may think that true boldness in getting up on a stage like this and speaking the truth.   Maybe we think boldness is only left to those who are more extroverted kinds of people? Maybe when we think of boldness, we think weird. It’s that Jesus follower that always talks Jesus but can’t connect with people on anything else.  

When I was in college, I thought bold meant weird.  I met a handful of people who loved Jesus and talked Jesus.  They were bold, but they couldn’t talk normal to people. I went to a Christian college and I remember this one skinny blond haired guy.  He had tall 1990’s hair and he was bold in his faith in Jesus and was not afraid to tell others. I admired that. I wanted to be bolder. I’m not like that but I wanted to be more like that.  

But, to be honest, in his boldness he had the tendency to come off weird.  Just being honest. He was acted weird because he loved Jesus but he couldn’t relate to his peers.  He came off weird because he had no filter. I remember one of those weird moments when he walked into the mailroom.  We all hung out in the mailroom to check our mailboxes and to eat and hang with others. So one day, mr. blond guy walks into the mailroom and he got frustrated with the Coke machine because it ate his fifty cents.  So he acted weird. In a bold preacher voices he starts praying and talking to the Coke machine. He was loud and obnoxious and made it clear he wanted his fifty cents back; from God. For the record, that’s not bold, that’s weird.  And by the way dude, see that envelope on the coke machine? Just fill it out and the school will give you back your fifty cents. It says it right there.  

So, I get it that we all have some perceptions of boldness.  So, as we grow in faith we have to let go of some of those perceptions and ask this.  What does real boldness look like? Here are a few statements rooted in experience and scripture.  First the negative. What boldness is not.  It’s not loud.  We can’t equate bold with boisterous.  It’s not overbearing.  Boldness does not give us permission to run over people.  It’s not the ability to shout others down with what is truthful.  It’s not fake.  People see through fake in a heartbeat.  It’s not weird.  Boldness is not an excuse to act weird or talk weird and then connect it with Jesus.  Those are NOT boldness.    

What boldness isA response full of truth and grace.  Again, look at the life of Jesus.  Jesus never compromised on any truth-EVER! Yet, he was able to show truth and love people at the same time.  A life that is genuine and humble.  Again, just as much as people can sense fake, than can sense genuine.  I believe true boldness is found in realness and authenticity. Those values are rooted in a heart that is humble.  I’m humble when I recognize what I know and don’t know. And I love this. A faith that is courageous and risky.  True, boldness in Christ is going to put you in some places that make you uncomfortable.  It’s uncomfortable because maybe that is a relationship that you don’t jive with. It’s risky because you are going to be challenges to speak up or stand up for values or truths.  In fact, if you don’t find yourself in places at times where displaying or communicating your faith with others is a bit challenging, then you aren’t being risky enough. 

So, John and Peter are bold in their message.  They are bold because of the Holy Spirit. So, what happens?  The religious leaders can’t figure out a way to punish them so they let them go.   They are released and they headed back to their community of Jesus followers. Then they begin to pray that God would empower them even more.

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  Acts 4:29-30

So, Jesus, we realize what we just went through and it could have turned out very differently.  However Jesus, we are asking this. Enable us! Give us more opportunities to speak. Give us the words to speak.   Please give us more of your Spirit’s power. We want to speak with boldness. They want more so they ask for more.  

That takes me back to our question.  What do we know about the Holy Spirit?  He gives us boldness when we ask for it!  These guys in the NT are living and breathing this on the front line.  The church has barely existed. They are on the cutting edge of God rocking and moving in history.  They are seeing miracle after miracle. They are seeing thousands following Jesus. And they dare to say, “Hey Jesus, enable us more.  Help us with more.”

Think about that.  If these guys who walked and talked with Jesus in the flesh, are asking, where does that put us?  It puts us in the place of deficit too. It puts us in a place of asking too. If I’m to be honest, I’m not enough.  There are moments in life when I don’t care to bold. I’m too tired to be bold. I’ve tried to be bold and feel like I keep failing in that relationship.  So why be bold? Even when I stand here, I’ve had those moments in my head where I think, “Why put all the time into this? Why challenge people with truth?  Some people won’t care. Others will agree but do nothing about it.” I have those moments and I believe you do too. So what do we do?

So, let’s learn from their example.  Let’s ask God for boldness. When we pray, let’s not hesitate in any way.  When you don’t know where to be bold, ask!  Maybe you’re not even sure where to start in your faith?  You’re not sure where to be bold. Then ask where. “God, I don’t know where you want me to stand up.  Will you show me?” He will show you. He will show you it’s at work. He will show it’s in your neighborhood.  When you don’t know with whom to be bold, ask!  “God, I’m not ashamed of my faith, but who?  Who needs to hear? Who needs to see the hope of you in my life?”  Ask. And when you do, God will put in front of you a family from soccer.  When you ask, God will draw you to a friend at the gym. We are called to ask, and ask, and ask.   

When you don’t know how to be bold, ask!  “Hey God, I’m not sure how to begin this conversation with them?  I know they are struggling, so I want to point them to you. But I don’t know how.  So God, I ask that you show me how?” And what we see here and from the experiences of believers, God gives you the words.  That’s his power. When you don’t know when to be bold, ask!  “God, I want to encourage them.  God I want to lovingly challenge them.  When God?” And guess what? God will show you when.  God will give the opportunity over a cup of coffee. There’s the when.  God will show you when. All of a sudden you get that random text from out of nowhere.  There is you when. None of that happens if we don’t ask. John and Peter, they asked. Look!    

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit... Acts 4:31

They were filled.  What does that mean?  God gave them the power they needed to be bold.  God gave them more of the Holy Spirit’s power. I don’t fully understand how that supernatural transaction, but we see it over and over again in scripture.  Here is what I can see. God uses my story. He uses my circumstance. He uses my brokenness. He uses my gifts. He gives us the power to do what he calls us to do.  He gives us the right words. He puts us in the right relationships. He creates the right circumstances. And with that, he covers it with his power to pull all of the pieces together.  They were filled with power and look what happened.  

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31

Because they asked, God showed up. Because they asked, God gave them what they needed.  Because they asked, God showed up and through them, made a difference. The Holy Spirit gave the words to be fold in their faith and point people to Jesus.  Listen, no matter who you are. No matter what your When you experience the goodness of God, don’t you want others to know? Of course you do. We all do.  

I want your life to be like that.  I want my life to be like that. And as much as we have seen God move in this church in 3 ½ years, I’m not content.  I want God to do more. I want our church to be bold in both truth and bold in grace. I want our church to boldly point people to Jesus.  

Reflection Questions:  

  1. When people see and hear my life, do they see Jesus?  If not, what do they see?

  2. Am I really bold in my faith?    Why or why not?

  3. What is one relationship that you have that God is calling you to be bolder in your faith?  

  4. Are you willing to ask God for boldness today?   How will you ask God today to give you his power and boldness to live more than an ordinary life?  

As we close today in prayer, let’s dig into these questions in our own life.