Today's devotion is dedicated to someone I knew a long time ago who recently passed away. It was sad news to hear that he died and I wish I could have told him that I wrote a sermon about him. In honor of Harold's life I am posting this message that I wrote and gave about seven years ago.
Read Acts 4:1 - 12
People will always try to intimidate and discredit our faith. Since we are in Jesus Christ we cannot let the world intimidate us or make us keep quiet. Jesus Christ can and will bring true peace, joy and happiness to your life. The Gospel message of Jesus is a wonderful message to proclaim!
This passage reminds me of an event in my life that I would like to share with you. Before I became a Christian you could say I was a little “rough around the edges”. As a young man I used to play bass guitar in a local heavy metal rock band and one of our favorite places to play and hang out was called Aardvarks. To say this place was classy would be deceiving. It was a second home to a number of other people who were a “little rough around the edges.” During this season of my life I became friends with many people in the bar and with other musicians in bands that played at the club as well. When I became a Christian in the early nineties needless to say I lost touch with many of my “so called” friends at the time.
When I became a Christian in the early 90s God got a hold of me completely. I was a sold out young man of God. I turned my life on my old ways and began a new life. I joined a Christian fellowship at the college I attended called Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I quickly made many new Christian friends (one of whom is now my wife) and I enjoyed the new life I had in Christ. One day a friend from Intervarsity asked if I would like to go see his band perform in town and I said that I would love to. He then informed me that they would be playing at Aardvarks; my old stomping grounds. I was a bit apprehensive about going back but I felt the Lord giving me the green light to go.
After a lot of prayer and a little anxiety I decided I would go. I put on my boldest Christian t-shirt (which was a black t-shirt with the face of Jesus Christ and a crown of thorns on his head printed on it) a pair of Jeans and a leather jacket and headed out to what I felt at that time was the depths of hell. Upon my arrival I saw many old faces which I had seen not seen in almost a year. Some enthusiastically acknowledged my presence others shunned me and went about their normal business.
I walked in my and friend’s band was in the midst of their set. I found a place to stand and watch him perform. Once he finished his he came over to talk to me. He said, “You have to check out the band after us, they are simply amazing.”
I agreed to stay and watch. They were indeed a great band. However during their set the lead singer started talking to the crowd. He started talking about how religion, Christianity in particular, was for the weak minded people who needed a crutch. He started on a speech about how Jesus was just a myth in history and Christianity is nothing but a bunch of people who are trying to oppress people with rules and regulations. He was bashing the Church and organized religion in particular. He talked about corruption and how Christmas is the governments ploy to get consumers out and spend money. I began feeling a little uncomfortable because I didn't agree with the guy on the stage. As he continued his tirade against Christmas, the church and Christianity, he blurted out, “Does anyone actually believe this whole Christianity thing?”
The place literally fell silent and I had one of those moments where I felt the Holy Spirit empowering me to do something I would never have done in my own strength. I nervously raised my hand. I figured I had a big print of Jesus on my shirt so why try to hide it my convictions. It was at this moment the singer points at me with a scowl on his face and he says, “You come up here.”
I did not know what he was going to do so I prayed that God would use this moment to bring Him glory. I reached the stage and the singer got in my face handed me the microphone and mockingly said, “Tell us what you think Christmas and Christianity is all about.” I thought, "Really? You want me to share the Gospel message? Cool!"
I was Shocked at the opportunity I was given. I began to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. I shared what he had done for me and how He will do the same for everyone in the bar if they would believe in faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. I spoke of Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and His death on the cross.
At the conclusion of my ten minute evangelistic moment you could literally hear a pin drop. I handed the mic back to the singer and he seemed a bit perplexed but he went back to performing as the band started playing their next number.
I walked through the crowd of people some made snide remarks, others just laughed at me, and many just ignored my presence and my message. With my heart pumping and adrenaline flowing I walked to the back of the bar and just tried to blend in to the woodwork. When suddenly a guy who I recognized from a band we used to play with came up to me. His name was Harold. He was pretty tipsy at this moment and he said, “I heard you got all religious. I wondered what actually happened to you.”
I shared again what had happened to me the past year since Jesus Christ came in to my life. He looked at me with glassed over eyes and wobbled back and forth and said, “I know my life isn’t what it’s supposed to be and I don’t think God could ever forgive me for what I have done. But would you do me a favor?”
I responded, “Sure, you name it.”
He said, “When you go to bed tonight, will you pray for me? Pray that I will change my life.”
I said, “Harold, I have been praying for everyone in the bar since Jesus made me knew. But yes, I will pray specifically for you and I believe if you repent of your sins God will forgive you no matter what.” We chatted a little longer and he went back into the bar. I felt it was time to leave so I headed home and said my prayer for Harold.
A couple months later I went to California to go to Bible College. When I came home for Christmas break I ran in to my an old who used to play drums in my band. We talked a bit and I asked about the old gang and what had been going on. As usual nothing had changed. Then I remembered my conversation with Harold the year previous.
I asked, “I talked to Harold last year at Aardvarks and I lost contact with him. Whatever happened to Harold?”
Duane chuckled a bit and said, “He found God and he moved to Florida. I heard he is playing Christian music nowadays.” At that point I silently rejoiced because I had seen the power of God work through His Holy Spirit. Satan and the world tried to intimidate me that evening in the bar. But God in His infinite wisdom empowered me to share the Gospel message with about 200 people and He used me to help lead one lost soul into the Kingdom of God.
This is what happens when we allow God to consume us and empower us by the Holy Spirit. He will give us His strength to do what we never thought we would ever do. We see this happen with Peter here in Acts 4 and throughout the book of Acts. He will open doors for you if you are willing and open to his will.
Unfortunately I do not know what Harold is up to today. A few years ago I spoke with one of his relatives and she said he was playing in the Church band in Florida. I may not know where he is physically today but I do know God has changed him and He has his hand on Harold’s life.
We are God’s people, we will face persecution. Whether it’s physical harm, intimidation, or being shunned; trials and tribulations are inevitable in the Christian life. Jesus said in John 15:18-19 18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Let us not be intimidated by the threats of the world but let’s go out and boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ because you never know the impact it may have on someone's life.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.