On June 2, 2019 I preached at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is the transcript of my sermon below.
It’s Better Than Winning the Lottery!
Acts 3:11 – 26
Have you ever wished you could win the lottery? Maybe you believe that if you could only win the lottery all your troubles would be gone. I’m sure some of you have thought this and maybe you even believe it. But is winning the lottery all it’s cracked up to be? Is money really capable of making you happy? Hear the stories of three individuals from an article on THEPENNYHOARDER.COM titled “From Rags to Riches to Rags Again: 21 Lottery Winners Who Lost Everything” and see for yourself…
David Lee Edwards split a $280 million Powerball jackpot with three others, a win that came while he was unemployed and living in his parents’ basement. After taxes, he received a lump sum of $27 million. He bought a $600,000 house, a $1 million fleet of cars, a $78,000 watch, a $1.9 million jet, 200 swords and other medieval weapons, and a $4.5 million fiber-optics installation company. He also married a woman 19 years younger than he was.
Within a year, he had spent $12 million. The house was soon lost to foreclosure, his wife was arrested for stabbing a boyfriend, and David died at age 58 in 2013.
Sharon Tirabassi, of Hamilton, Ontario, won $10.5 million in 2004. She treated friends to vacations in Cancun, Las Vegas, California, Florida and the Caribbean. She got married and bought a house for $515,000 — and got a $360,000 mortgage loan rather than paying all cash. She bought numerous cars, including one that cost more than $200,000, and gave millions of dollars to family and friends.
By 2007, half of her money was gone. By 2008, with her husband in jail for a DUI, Tiribassi lost their home. Now, to pay the rent and support her kids, she takes the bus to her part-time job.
Lara and Robert Griffith won £1.8 million ($2.1 million today) in the Lotto in 2005. They bought a home for £670,000 ($790,000), along with a Lexus 4×4 and a Porsche convertible. Robert paid for his band to have a record made, and Lara splurged on designer handbags. They set up a beauty salon business.
Then, six years later, Roger disappeared with the Porsche and Lara discovered suspicious emails on his computer. He denied having an affair, but the marriage ended, the money was gone and now Lara is an employee at the salon they used to own.
Money, it can be a blessing and it can be a curse. I am sure the crippled man in our passage today would have been one who would agree that money does not bring true happiness.
Read Acts 3:1 – 10
In Acts 3:1 – 10 we meet a crippled beggar (we do not know the name of this individual) who was handicapped from birth. We read that he would daily sit at the temple gate called “Beautiful” and beg for money. Pastor and author R. Kent Hughes wrote in his commentary on Acts, “His begging post was one of the best spots in the entire city because (of its location). It was the perfect place to solicit funds.” He continues, “Judaism considered almsgiving a meritorious art. So, the man’s position at Israel’s religious center would profit him well.”
Everything started off as a regular day for the crippled beggar until three o’clock in the afternoon where his life would be forever changed. As the Apostle’s Peter and John approached this man, Peter tells the beggar to look up at him. As the beggar looked at the Apostle in anticipation to receive a gift, Peter says, “I have no silver or gold”. Upon hearing this I am sure these were words that the beggar did not want to hear, but when the Apostle says, “…but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” He is forever changed at that very instance.
At this point the author and physician, Luke, describes in detail the miraculous event that takes place as the man is completely restored to health. Luke writes that he “jumped to his feet and he began to walk.” At this very moment he did something he has never done in his life. He began to stand and walk on his own. He then ran and jumped and praised God for this miracle. He was elated! When the onlookers saw what was happening, they were all amazed.
The crippled man got more than he bargained for on this day. What started out as a regular day where the man was hoping for some spare change, ends up being healed of a lifelong handicap.
What is Happiness?
This healing account recalls the topic of happiness. What constitutes happiness? Where does one find true happiness? Is it found in money, power, sex, love or circumstances? No! True happiness is found in Jesus Christ. If you were able to go back two thousand years and interview the crippled beggar, do you think he would say, “Well on the day I met Peter and John all I wanted was some money, but instead I was healed of my lifelong handicap. I wish those guys would have just given me money.” I would have been much happier! I he would say that. At this point in this man’s life, I believe he could have cared less about money, what he found this day was far greater than a few coins of silver and gold.
Is this true for you? Is your happiness rooted in things like money, power or status? Or is there a void in all of us that can only truly be satisfied by Jesus Christ alone? Nothing can bring true peace and joy than a life devoted to Jesus Christ. So today I want to make sure that everyone who hears this message understands to have true happiness in Jesus Christ and what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
Read Acts 3:11 - 26
In Peter’s second sermon since Pentecost he responds to the people’s amazement by taking the focus off himself and directs it to Jesus Christ. He stresses the importance of knowing that Jesus was the one responsible for the miracle. Peter clearly presents the Gospel message by proclaiming this Jesus is also the same man who died on the cross for the sins of the world and He was raised again by the power of God. Peter spoke about repentance and about Jesus who was both the Son of God and fully man, He is the Messiah spoken of in prophecy.
Peter tells the onlookers about the Gospel of Jesus, it is important for us to understand that this truth still applies to us today. Jesus Christ is both man and God and He gave His life for you, so you would not have to face the penalties of death. He died and He rose from the dead to show that He had indeed conquered death for our benefit. We need to repent of our sins and believe in faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior and God. Without Jesus we don’t have Christianity and to be a Christian you need to have a personal relationship with Him.
Peter also addresses the issue of sin. We are all sinners, according to Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is something that we cannot change. Sin is a disease we are all born with. However, in verse 24 of this same chapter it says, “…and are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We are sinners by birth, but we are declared righteous by Jesus to those who believe and put their trust in Him. Sin and repentance are big issues. We must all deal with our sin issues; this is all a part of being a Christian. James Montgomery Boice writes, “We need to realize that we are all to blame for the death of Christ in one way or another. Even though we were not there at the time Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified, it was our sin that took him there.”
But we are not forever condemned as Peter talks of repentance. We may be guilty of sin, but we also know that God will always forgive us if we repent and flee to Jesus who is our refuge from sin. Repentance is more than feeling sorry for what you did. Sorrow is not repentance. Repentance is feeling sorry enough to quit doing what you are doing wrong and turning your back on it and turning to Jesus. Peter makes it clear that we all need to “repent and turn to God.” Repenting and turning to God go hand in hand, you can’t do one without the other.
Lastly, Peter’s sermon speaks about forgiveness. Because of our past sins most of us live our lives carrying a heavy load of guilt. We may get stuck in the past and start thinking that what we did could never be forgiven by anyone, especially a Holy God. The truth is just the opposite. People may never forgive but God will always forgive if we truly repent. Only God is capable of forgiving sin and He will forgive willingly if we confess, repent and seek forgiveness. We may live our lives in guilt, but God wants us to be free from the guilt of past sins. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God has forgiven you of your sins.
Peter’s sermon is the Gospel message. Trusting Jesus Christ, confessing, repenting and seeking forgiveness in Jesus Christ is the only way to finding true happiness. So often we go looking for ways to make ourselves happy. So often we tell God what would make us happy (a little more money, a new car, understanding parents, a new job, a bigger house etc.) but God knows that these will not bring true happiness. We may think that silver and gold will make us happy, but when we see that God has far greater plans and purpose for us, and it is exceedingly more valuable than anything we could ever imagine.
Today, if you have never sought a personal relationship with Jesus Christ would you consider it today? Do you feel a little tugging at your heart that is telling you that it’s time to stop clinging to the sin in your life and turn it all over to Jesus Christ? If you say yes, then know this is the Holy Spirit calling you to Jesus this very moment. Jesus wants you to repent and He is eager to forgive our sins. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you have been a member of a church, or how many church or denominational committees or fellowship groups you belong to. Jesus wants you to enter into a relationship with Him and to forever submit your life to Him.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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