In Isolation Thoughts 2

Sunday 7th June 2020

Music: YouTube-‘Peter & John Went to Pray’ Play any one of the animated versions.

Bible Reading: Acts 3.1-11

No Cash BUT!

From the previous chapter when the Holy Spirit was released on the world, we saw that when the day was over, there were thousands who turned to follow Jesus. In the excitement of the day, we often miss the verse that tells what they did after. They studied with the Disciples, they celebrated Communion and they prayed. Here in this chapter it opens with the scene setting of Peter & John going to the Temple at the Hour of Prayer- three in the afternoon. The new leaders of the church were setting an example to the new converts, they continued to pray. They also went to the Temple, the house of God to do this. Were they alone or were they joined by some of the other followers of Jesus?  What happened next showed that their faith had a practical outcome, it was not just a theory or knowledge, it had a practical application. Let’s use some headings:

Aware of a Need

Answered with Power

Amazed at the Outcome

Aware of a Need

How long had the lame man been brought each day to his place on the path leading to the Temple. This was a common practice. As people approached the Temple to worship or bring a sacrifice, they would pass the unfortunate people who were handicapped in some way. Their minds were focused on the act they would perform in the Temple, minds that would be open to help those less fortunate. For some it would be a salve to their consciences, to others it would be an act prepared for in advance. Whatever the reason, it was part of their duty, so done willingly or not, it meant that men and women would be able to survive and buy some food. This man, at the Beautiful Gate, had a problem, he was lame and depended on others to support him every day. He had been lame from birth, so had been begging for years. This day was no different for him, placed on the route to the Temple, asking the passers-by for help. Into his vision came these two men, known to us as Peter & John, just two more men going to the Temple. He must have had some hope when they stopped next to him. What would they give him? He expected some coins to add to his daily total, were they wealthy and be generous to him?

Is there a lesson for us today? To use a well-worn expression describing our situation, we are in ‘unprecedented days’, there is much fear and need around us. How do we react? Or how should we react? Firstly, we should be praying about the situation. Often in the Bible we read of people in difficult or fearful situations, who prayed to God for help. How about Elijah on Mt Carmel, facing the ranks of idol worshipping priests, with a nation living in a long drought and a King & Queen who would have been very happy to see him dead. What did he do? He prayed and God answered. The church of Christ still needs to be prayer centred and we all have a part to play in this act. Secondly, we need to go around with our eyes open to see the needs of others. The media is full of stories of volunteers who are doing exciting things to help others. Some are walking around their gardens to raise money; others are out on the road delivering vital supplies. Often we see that it is church members and organisations who are in the forefront of the action. The churches are the leaders in foodbanks. Does this remind us of the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told in His day? The minimum we should do is pray and look for opportunities to assist others.

Answered with Power

The lame man’s expectation was shattered when these two men, who had stopped, said they were penniless. He was now looking for the next person, these two and to stop wasting his time. They had no money to give him so please move on, please don’t block me from the sight of those who might be willing to help  they didn’t budge, they continued to talk to him, they had asked him to look at them, but they didn’t have what he wanted, money. Did it cross his mind that they were making fun of him, they were teasing him with hope and then dashing it, would it give them a laugh? Then Peter says, ‘in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!’ It is entirely possible that the man had heard about Jesus as He was a regular visitor to the Temple and the city, he possibly had heard about the miracles that He had done. He had even healed the lame! For some reason, he had not met Him, so he remained at the roadside. Peter held out his right hand, so it was decision time, what should he do? His primary aim was to get financial support, they offered him none. Now he was being told to walk, something he had never done before in his life. Here was a hand being held out to him, an offer of help. He decided to take it, at that moment he felt things happening. His feet and ankles were working, they had been useless to him but now were becoming strong and he felt a power that was new to him. As the hand held his, he began to rise up and stand. It didn’t stop there, he could walk for the very first time, it was a strange experience, he tried out his legs and found he could walk, leap about, it was a wonderful feeling. His first act was to go into the Temple and praise God.

For us today, we still have a powerful God who does not change. A God who still can change lives that are needy because of sin. What brought about this miracle? It happened because two men were aware of o need, they had an answer to that need which came from God in mighty power. They offered hope to a man, yet he had a choice to make. Would he take hold of the offered hand? Would he have faith in their help? Would it work for him? Today we still have a message of hope, a message of salvation which we can tell others. At the same time, there has to be a response. The man could have rejected the hand and remained lame, continued begging, it had the safety of what he knew each day. He decided to take the offer and his life was changed, we need to make the offer to people that Christ will change lives.

Amazed at the Outcome

This action had taken place in a very public part of the Temple road, so the crowds around could see what happened. They saw the man who had been lame, walking and leaping with his newfound freedom. He couldn’t contain his excitement. He was running about, praising God and it caused a commotion. Not only was he so excited at what had happened, the crowd also were filled with amazement and wonder. He was a man they knew, as he was always at the roadside begging, now he was walking and running about.

Finally, we change the emphasis, put ourselves in the place of the healed man. How do we show our lives have been changed by an experience and a meeting with Christ? Do we walk and leap and make people aware of a difference in our lives? Here was a man whose life had been totally changed, he had been taken from the gutter and given new hope which resulted in him giving glory to God. We should be giving glory to God for the change in our lives, people will then have to take notice. This could lead to their lives being changed. Remember, a few days before Peter & John were fearful, hiding with the others in an Upper Room, but with the power of the Holy Spirit now had changed  to being bold and willing to stand up for their faith and pass on the news of salvation in Christ we too must be bold and strong in our witness and see the change that it will bring in others.

Music: YouTube- ‘My faith has found a resting place’


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