Walking and leaping and Praising God
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Acts 3:1-3:18 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
Sermon Series: Acts of the Apostles
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I. Miracles Occur in the Everyday events of Life
Now Peter and John were going up to the Temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a certain man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. Acts 3:1-3
Often, when people are looking for a miracle to come into their life, they think it will take place in a sterile setting, and many times that is the case, but the majority of miracles which come into a persons life happens when they are about their daily living.
Peter and John were probably not thinking when they went to the Temple to pray that something dynamic was about to happen, they were about their daily business, it was in the afternoon, three o’clock, and they were intent on talking to God in prayer.
David said in Psalm 55:17 Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur. Now, hopefully, that is not how you would describe your prayer time, as being a time to complain and murmur. David does reveal to us the three prayer times the Jews observed. They prayed at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. The last, the evening prayer, was when the largest crowds would have gathered at the Temple.
A. Miracles are all around us.
On the way to the Temple, Peter and John had a God opportunity. They encountered a man who was crippled since birth. He had a hopeless situation, one for which the doctors could offer no hope. So each day he would be taken down to the Temple gate called Beautiful, where he would beg for his living. You can imagine the tragedy of this situation. No where to work, no welfare system to offer support, and with age, losing relatives to help provide the needs. This definitely was an individual in needs of a miracle. I wonder how many people we pass by each day that have a need, perhaps not as pronounced as this lame man, but in need of a miracle all the same. People who keep their needs stuffed inside thinking there is no way things can possibly change. We have them right here in the church
B. If you need help, ask.
As Peter and John passed by, the man reached out, he asked for help, for alms. Almsgiving was considered by the Jews as a meritorious act. Reaching out and helping the poor, and for those who were pious, this would be an ideal location to demonstrate their piety.
What we can see from this lame man is that he reached out and asked for alms. He let people know that he had a need. How often do we have needs in our lives, yet we never tell anyone about them, hoping people will discern the need. Often we hear people complain concerning the insensitivity of people to their needs, yet they have never expressed them. One of the marks of the early church was they shared with each other, not just in their financial needs, but in everything and I would take that to be they shared their lives, their needs.
II. Miracles require a Response.
And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping. Acts 3:4-8
A. You Need to Change Your Focus.
As the man begged for alms, he was scanning the crowd for faces which looked like they might be willing to drop something in his cup. A face here, one there, and on and on he stared, calling out for alms for the poor. As Peter and John were called to, apparently the lame man was not finding them as those who would contribute so he looked beyond them but Peter looked at him and said, “Look at us!”
We see people that are so focused on their own need they miss the point of the miracle which is available to them. One thing that helps people who have needs in their lives is to involve them in helping with the needs of others. To change their focus, off of their problem and to look at a much broader picture. The result is they not only have their need met, but they pick up a cause which enables to them help in the needs of others. In life, we can focus on our needs or change our focus and open ourselves up as prime candidates for God’s miracles.
B. The best place to focus is Jesus
The lame man was told they had no money, but that they did have something they could give. They took a step of faith. How many of us would have done what they did. When the moths fly out of our wallet or purse, would we look for another alternative to the need? Silver and gold have we none, so look for someone else who can meet your need. Or would we change our focus from what we have to focus on what Jesus has?
This is what Peter and John did. We cannot meet your need from what we have, no one has been able to meet the need, but we do know someone who can, and by the way, he has also authorized us to meet your needs, so in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, walk. I wonder how many more miracles we would see if people would come to Jesus and ask Him for His help rather than trying in our own power. What right to Christians have to miracles in the name of Jesus? In Luke 10, when Jesus sent the seventy out, He told them in verse 8, 9 And whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ In Mark 16:15-18 Jesus told his disciples, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.
The lame man had every reason to reject this help. The doctors could not help him, he probably though God had forgotten about him, and the Nazarene, Jesus, to which name Peter and John were proclaiming healing in, well, it was well know he was executed on a cross. But if you want a miracle…
C. You Need to Take a Step of Faith.
We can talk ourselves out of a miracle, or we can take a step of faith and check it out. This was the decision the lame man had to make. At the end of his rope, was there any other decision but to put his faith in Jesus. I would like to say everyone feels this way, but we know this is not the case. For the lame man, it was his, and it says after he was seized by the right hand, he immediately had his feet and ankles strengthened. His healing was instantaneous. What the normal process of healing would have taken, months of therapy to help him learn how to walk and strengthen his muscles and bones, was accomplished in a moment by the miracle working power of God.
D. Our Response should be Praise
The lame man, now healed, went walking and leaping and praising God. He made a visible demonstration of the healing power of God. He did not hide it, he did not creep away to enjoy his healing in private, but went amidst the crowd to let them know what God has done for him.
We also need to give testimony to the miracles God brings. It has the ability to strengthen other people in their faith, and to lead people to Christ. It is also an important key in spiritual warfare. Revelation 12:10-11 says, Now the salvation and the power, and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.
What miracle has God done in your life that you could give testimony about? (Take time for testimonies)
III. Miracles Should Draw Attention to God.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. And while he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.
A. People who know you are most effected.
We can read of the miracles which happen around the world and we can rejoice for the power of God, but they do not have the same impact on us as much as they have upon us when we know the person to whom God has reached out and done a miracle. The lame man, now healed, was seen by the people who knew him, people who had put money in his cup, people who have supported him over the years, praising God for the healing he had received.
B. God’s Power will draw a crowd.
Here in Acts, we see God’s miracle working power has drawn a crowd. They had come to the portico of Solomon’s court in amazement at what they had witnessed. Here was the man who was just healed, clinging to Peter and John, living proof of the miracle which had just taken place which now sets the stage for a deeper working in the lives of people.
IV. Miracles Open the Door to God’s Word.
But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of Life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced before hand by this mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
A. People need to know who does the miracle.
This was how Peter started the miracle, it was not the work of the apostles but the work of Jesus who brought about the miracle of this lame man. Too often people have the tendency to look at the man or the woman who says the pray, who proclaims the healing, who speaks the word, and as a result it gets clouded as to who is doing the miracle. Peter made it plain, it was not either John or himself, it was through the name of Jesus. Peter spoke to them in terms of what they would understand, it was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who brought the healing that glorified Jesus. The points to the covenant which God had made with the people of Israel, he is pointing out those who looked forward to the promised Messiah whom God was sending to them.
B. People Need to Know Jesus.
The focus Peter is drawing the people toward is one on Jesus. They knew Him, many had probably seen Him when he came into Jerusalem, probably some were there for his crucifixion, and had heard the word of His resurrection.
Peter told them of the servant Jesus. This would be in reference to Isaiah chapters 42-53, and in particular Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Here the prophet Isaiah said that God’s servant, the Messiah, will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 20:28 The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. He also said in John 6:38 I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
Peter points out it was by the name of Jesus this man was healed. He then tells them, this is the same Jesus whom they had chosen to be put to death asking from Pilate for the release of a murderer, Barabbas, in his place, calling Jesus the Holy and Righteous One. The word holy, in the Greek, meaning to be separated to God, and the word Righteous meaning to be innocent of any crime.
Peter then tells them, the one they put to death, the Prince of Life, has been raised from the grace by God to which they are witnesses. If this claim would be untrue, that Jesus had not been raised from the dead, it would have been easy to prove by producing His body, but they could not because they knew the tomb to be empty. Therefore, the apostles testimony was undeniable. Not only was there no body to produce, but Peter has the evidence of the miracle working power of God through the name of Jesus Christ, the lame man, who was standing with Peter and John.
To soften the blow of all this truth, Peter points out to them what they did, they did in ignorance. I wonder, how often do we make statements, how often do we do things that we should not have done, that dishonor God, but we have committed those things in ignorance. Fortunately, God sends people like Peter around to enlighten us, then we have to give account for what we know.
Next week we are going to talk about the remedy for their ignorance, the sin they had committed. It gives us something to think about doesn’t it? What sins do we committed, not by knowing commission, but the sins of omission, the things which we don’t know about, things which are counter to the rules and heart of God? And then, knowing we do those kinds of things, what are we going to do about it?