Sunday, May 31, 2015

Follow Into Acts

into   ACTS

Stop thinking you have nothing to give.

Acts 3:1-10

New International Version (NIV)

Peter Heals a Lame Beggar

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 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. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
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.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 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.

What an amazing change has been wrought in the life of these disciples since the coming of the Holy Spirit.  These twelve have stood on a porch and preached about the Lord to large crowd. 3000 people were saved and baptized in a day. More importantly, their own resolve and faces are set to follow their Lord and Savior. He is no longer here. He has left them to go back to the Father. Something about their Lord not being in their presence any longer seemed to change these fishermen and tax collectors. Thy seem to realized that it on them to keep this going. This message of the Kingdom of God is real to them now. They aren't focused on someone rescuing them from Roman rule. God wants to rescue them from the rule of sin in their hearts. Now they understand. Now they know what to say. Now they realize what they have to offer. And, that has made all the difference. 

What about us?
Do we realize what we have to offer? Do we truly realize what the message is about?
Is the Kingdom of God a reality in our hearts and minds? Has the Holy Spirit fallen upon us?

It is usually as we go about the normal routine of our daily lives that the opportunities to explore our gifts and abilities arise. We find out what we have to offer while simply doing what we do. That's John & Peter are doing. It sounds like they are going to church. Three in the afternoon was prayer time in the temple on a daily basis. Think of it as Wednesday night prayer meeting. It just what you do. You go. On the way there they come across one of those everyday situations. Somebody in need. The need we read about is not something we commonly come across. We come across beggars everyday. They call us up looking for help. They stumble to our front door or our offices. This man cannot stumble anywhere. He can't even walk. He has to be carried to the temple gates everyday. His friends or family leaves him there and comes back to get him, everyday. What's it going to hurt? Maybe someone will stop and bless him with a few coins. It's not like he can go anywhere or hurt anybody. 

You've seen it. But, look at it again. How many times do people we run into have this need to be fulfilled, but it not the right need. It's not actually what they need. They seem to miss the mark when it comes to having their particular need satisfied. Maybe they've given up on the idea that the thing they truly need can actually be given to them. 

Therese Daoud is an Israeli woman with just that kind of story.
The tell the story of this devout Christian woman who believed she was given a sign that she should fore-go medical intervention and instead pray. Miraculously when she arrived at her next screening five months after her initial diagnosis, doctors discovered her tumor had completely disappeared. “If someone had told me this story, I would have said that both the patient and doctor were psycho. It’s impossible,” Dr. Jacob Bickels told Israel’s Channel 2 of the high school science teacher whose violently spreading cancer simply disappeared with no treatment whatsoever. “I felt pain in my foot, ankle, along with swelling.  At first I ignored it,” Daoud recounted. Doctors ran an MRI and discovered a large tumor the size of an orange. She was taken for an immediate biopsy which further revealed that the tumor was a malignant sarcoma and spreading fast. “It was a huge shock,” Daoud told Israeli television. “I started thinking about what my life would look like without a leg.”

Many of us know the horrors of being diagnosed with cancer. We have either experienced it first hand or know someone who has or is going through it. Not taking treatment or going through surgery is not a decision you make simply because you heard the story of someone else who did. You need to truly feel as if that's what God wants for your life. The point here is that people going through trying circumstances such as this can feel as if the possibility of their need being met will never happen. They will never be healed. They will never walk again. They will never experience life without pain. So, they look for something else. Lets just see if I can get enough money to get something to eat. Instead of focusing on what they really need, the desire to meet a baser need is what comes forth. A focus might surface on drowning the sorrow. Alcohol is needed for that. A focus might come out of the pain on ending it all. A gun might be needed for that. Sorrow turns to depression. Depression turn to anger. Anger turns to desperation. Desperate people do desperate things to meet those needs.

The man on the steps of the temple seems desperate to me. He also has given up on asking for someone to heal him. He has asked again and again. No one seems to be able to bless him with that favor. So, life has come to the point of simply asking for money. Maybe someone can help him get a bite to eat with the few coins a stranger will toss his way. All hope is lost. This is life now. Sitting here by the this temple gate with nothing more than a hand to toss toward anyone that will stop and listen.

Today, there are two such people who will stop and listen. This beggar of a man looks up into the faces of John and Peter and asks for a few coins. Anything they can spare. Peter looks straight at the man. This is one of those blunt moments. My dad asked me the other day is he could be blunt with me. I paused for a moment. "Well, usually when you get blunt, I have to go crawl under a rock somewhere." In the course of trying to meet people's need there will be moments when we have to direct. Sometimes blunt. The purpose is not to hurt. The purpose is to get their attention so as to make sure they are listening. Peter wants to make sure this man is listening. He wants to make sure he truly realizes what is going to transpire here in these next few seconds. What is going to happen will change his life forever.

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.”

What do we have to give others? Do we have what they need?
There is a feeling that courses through us that suggests we don't have anything good to give. Don't believe that lie. You have plenty to give. There is much good that can be done. The question now arises - Do you want to do any good? Do you want to follow your Lord and Savior? Our Master & Friend is leading us to people who are lying there without any way to get up. They have given up on seeing their healing become a reality. You and I have the answer to what they seek. We have a Savior who can heal their sin sick soul. By his stripes we are healed. By his sacrifice we find the hope we are seeking. 

In the everyday of life, he leads us. 
He leads us to people who need what we have to offer. 
Hope. Healing. Purpose. A new lease on life. 
We just have to be willing to be used. 
The Kingdom of God is within you. Follow & Share.

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