Forty years is a long time. In 1977 quarterback Tom Brady was born and Elvis died. The Apple computer went on sale and Star Wars premiered Episode IV. Jimmy Carter was president and Rocky was a hit at the box office.
No one knows how long 40 years can seem better than the lame man in Acts 3. For more than four decades he had been carried each day to the gate of the temple to beg from faithful Jews. Many passed by, a few dug deep into their pockets to find spare change, but anything more was rare and unexpected. Until that day that everything changed.
What started as a normal day—the same as every day for more than 40 years—took an unexpected turn when two strangers approached and spoke. Apostles Peter and John were walking their normal route to the temple, winding their way through the vendors and beggars strategically placed at the entrance.
When Peter said those special words, everything changed. In the sight and hearing of all, these words rang like a bell, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” The lame man leapt; he who was carried, walked. The one who had been carefully placed was now standing. Begging turned to praising!
An ordinary day turned extraordinary! This lame man hadn’t planned to meet God, but that is what happened. Jesus Christ of Nazareth invaded his comfort zone and everything changed. Just hours ago, his expectations were too low. He didn’t factor God into the picture; he just planned to live life without God.
What would our lives look like if we expected God to participate? Do our expectations leave room for God, or is the dial-tone life we’ve come to know all we plan to experience? Let’s leave room in “today” for God to change everything!
While returning from an overseas trip, I was impressed by the people waiting in line to enter the U.S. It wasn’t so much their appearance, as the important documents they were carrying. Passports of many colors and languages were produced along with various kinds of visas—all to establish identity and citizenship.
I couldn’t help but think about another kind of citizenship. In the book of Philippians, Paul calls attention to our “nationality” saying, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (3:20). And as heavenly citizens there are both rewards and responsibilities.
An eternal home and unbroken fellowship with our Savior are just the beginning of blessings for the Kingdom citizen. Freedom from the penalty and power of sin in addition to the Spirit-filled and abundant life right now make anything else seem dull by comparison. But there is a “down side.”
When we received our heavenly citizenship, we traded in our former identity. Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son….” As upstanding citizens of the kingdom of darkness, we “…were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:2–3).
Renouncing our former government and its leader placed us in a state of spiritual “war” which affects us daily. God’s enemy has become our enemy. Satan has determined to render us powerless to stand against his schemes. But God has equipped us with more than adequate defenses for the battle.
Ephesians 6:10–20 gives a picture of our defensive equipment. From belt to sword; helmet to shield we are well dressed for the spiritual battle. Satan’s dangerous darts are no match for us equipped and empowered for service to our King.
For the remainder of the summer, our Sunday morning messages will focus on our enemy’s Dangerous Darts and how to defend against them. One important defensive strategy is not to be caught alone. There is strength and encouragement when we gather as a group. Let’s determine to know our spiritual armor and how to use it in order to be effective in the battle!