21. Trapped In Transition

Reading Plan

If you’re looking to dive deeper into what the Bible says about this topic, here’s a suggested Reading Plan, one passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:

  1. MONDAY: Acts 1
  2. TUESDAY: Acts 2
  3. WEDNESDAY: Acts 3
  4. THURSDAY: Philippians 1 (Paul writing from prison)
  5. FRIDAY: Philippians 2
  6. SATURDAY: Philippians 3
  7. SUNDAY: John 14

eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection/journaling, too!

Sermon Notes: “Trapped In Transition” ⤵️

Pastor Steven’s sermon text is the end of the account of the healing of the lame beggar in Acts 3:

9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”

Acts 3:9-12, NIV

If you want to be a preacher, pay attention to the transitions.
When you read the Bible,
pay attention to the transitions.
If you want to have peace,
pay attention to the transitions.

A lot of the miracles happen in the transitions: not when they get there, but when they are on the way.

Life is Lived in Transition

Pastor Steven shares a story about his visit to Alcatraz: You can see San Francisco but there’s 1.2 miles of water to get there. The real torture was being able to see freedom but not be able to reach it.

Transitional miracle: I’m not all I’m becoming yet but I’m not who I used to be.
Like while recovering from addiction: you’re not stuck in the behavior now but you don’t feel free from it yet.
I need God to show up while I’m in transition.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:4-5, ESV, emphasis mine

“Wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit” —> Wait for it; don’t force it.
If you go out on
your plans, you go out on your power,
But if you go out on
God’s plan, you go out on God’s power.

The Book of Acts is a story of transition for the early church, especially Jewish converts who were used to the old way of doing things. Peter and John are in transition between Jewish sacrifices and the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus: the BETTER sacrifice.

God Shows Up in Transition

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.

Acts 3:1-2, NIV

Everything here is transitional:

  • Acts is moving from a description of the early church [Acts 2:42-47] to a demonstration of the Holy Spirit [Acts 3:1-10].
  • The man is in transition, he “was being carried”
  • Peter and John are entering the gate into the temple

God doesn’t wait for church to start before he starts working.
He shows up in transition.
If he wants to bless you on the way to church, he will.
If he wants to bless you in the parking lot, he will.
If he wants to bless you while you’re still struggling with something, he will.

Do you pay attention in transition?
Or are you just focused on getting from
here to there?
When you’re
unstable, you’ll grab on to anything.
That’s why they put the gift shops at the exits of exhibits.
That’s why this man set up at the entrance to beg.
That’s when the devil tries to get you.

When did the devil try to tempt Jesus? As he was transitioning into his ministry and as he was transitioning to the cross. You are most vulnerable in transition—the devil shows his hand and reveals that God is leading you somewhere big.

Redirection of Focus

3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Acts 3:3-6, NIV

When we ask God to change our lives—we really don’t know what we’re praying for. The man was looking for change, and Peter was about to give him change, but not the change he was looking for.

Shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have. Not every change is what we’re looking for—it can be disruptive.

The change isn’t in a nickel, it’s in a name.

Just because you can’t feel God doesn’t mean he isn’t in you.

This is the first healing miracle since Jesus ascended into heaven. Peter might have said: “In the name of Jesus I don’t know what I’m doing but I know whose name I’m doing it in.”

The Difference Between Change and Transition

7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

Acts 3:7-8, NIV, emphasis mine

Change can happen that quick—
NIV: “instantly” and “jumped”
ESV: “immediately” and “leapt”

When we pray for change, we mean we pray for the kind of change we like: a promotion, a raise, a husband, etc.

There’s a difference between change and transition: The man has the ability to walk but not the experience to know where to go. He can’t go back to begging: who would give alms to him now that he can walk? He received his miracle but it didn’t immediately fix everything in his life.

Deliverance is a miracle, discipleship is a mindset. One is a change, the other is a transition.

Success comes from understanding the difference between change (external) and transition (internal).

The enemy will set up at the gate of your life to steal your change when you’re in the middle of transition.

What good is it for God to change it if he doesn’t change me?

Am I in transition between this and that? Transitions are the greatest opportunities for both temptation and growth.

The glory used to reside in the temple but now it resides in us.

Holding On and Letting Go

In order for the man to reach out his hand (to grab Peter’s) he had to let go of his cup (to beg).

Paul said: I have not made it there yet.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

Philippians 3:13, ESV, emphasis mine

Don’t hold on to something that’s hurting you, that won’t carry you forward.

The question isn’t do you have the strength, but who will you cling to? The Greek word krateo (“to cling”) is the same word translated “to arrest” when the guards take hold of Jesus. [The beggar clung to Peter, we cling to Jesus.]

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