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Spirit Filled: WALKING AGAIN

Acts 3:1-11

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 

It must have been tempting for these early disciples to settle down into a “First Church” mentality. It would have been incredibly easy to just focus on preserving the institution or the organizational aspects of having 3000 people accept Christ in one day. Of course many of those folks were from out of town so they would leave and take the message of Christ with them. 

The intent of Jesus Christ in calling 12 men to follow Him for three years was simply to staff a movement that would spread around the world until He returned. The message is still being told and still changing lives and we are still waiting for His return. 

In this story we see two of those first disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit going to the Temple to pray during a traditional Jewish daily prayer time. In the early days of the church the Holy Spirit was given in unusual power to aid in the demonstration of connecting people to the message. There are several schools of thought about the subject of healing in the early days of Christianity. Some would teach that these signs and wonders referred to in Acts 2 were given just for the early days of the church so that Christianity would have a great impact as it made its initial introduction to the world. 

I know that in the last fifty years or so that the church has become largely silent on this issue. I believe this to be because of the excesses and advent of the faith healers that clog the television airwaves with their brand of ministry. The emotionalism combined with over the top affluent lifestyles, gaudy TV sets and the appearance of mishandling offerings and funds have caused many of us in the grassroots to stay far away from being connected to the so called faith healing movement. 

We are called in the Bible to call for the leaders in the church and anoint people with oil for their healing. God has many ways to heal. Sometimes He heals physically but God is in a bigger and far more important healing business. He heals the souls of men and women. 

The point is that when this story took place there were men alive that had unrepeatable intimacy with Jesus Christ. There was also an atmosphere of expectancy when faith was in its floodtide. These two things combined to produce effects which were unique. 

William Barclay says, “The real question is not, “Why have miracles stopped?” but, “Have they stopped?” It is the simple fact that any doctor or surgeon can now do things which in apostolic times would have been regarded as miracles. God has revealed new truth and new knowledge to men, and through that revelation they are still performing miracles. As a great doctor said, “I bandage the wounds but God heals them.” For the Christian there are still miracles on every hand if we have the eye to see them.” 

It is important to know that this story has two meanings. It is a demonstration of God’s healing power but it is also a parable or metaphor for what happens when we are healed spiritually from the lameness of sinful living. 

1. This man’s lameness was healed

I believe with all of my heart today that this room is filled with people who feel trapped in some area of their life. There is something in your life that makes you identify with the term lame. More than anything else today I hope that through hearing this story you will be able to reach out to Christ and believe that He can and will make you whole. 

If Jesus were to visit you today what would you ask Him to fix in your life? What is it that you wrestle with and that defeats you spiritually? I would like for you to take a moment and think about that question. 

2. He looked in the right direction

 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 

Knowing where to turn for help is critical no matter what our need may be. It is amazing to me where people will turn when they are looking for spiritual help. There are a lot of people in today’s world that will never turn to the church. It is critical that those of us that have been in church for a long time here this point.
Peter and John had been with Jesus. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. There was nothing in their lives that was off base or askew. They were in a place personally where they could represent Jesus Christ and His power to transform lives. 

It is a constant battle that Christfollowers must face. We must never allow ourselves to become weak, anemic and apathetic about our relationship with Christ. When Christfollowers and churches become apathetic and lukewarm we become distasteful to those around us. That is quite the picture of the church world today. 

All of this was made possible by the power of Holy Spirit. Many centuries ago Thomas Aquinas once called on Pope Innocent II while he was counting a large sum of money. “You see, Thomas,” said the Pope, “the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.” “True, holy Father, “said Thomas, “and neither can she now say, ‘Arise and walk.’” 

One pastor was pouring his heart out on the ignorance and apathy of the modern church. One lady nudged her husband during the sermon and asked, “What’s he talking about.” The husband replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” 

May God help us as a church to be on fire for Him. May we be so in love with Jesus Christ that we are filled with His ways and pursuing His agenda for our community.
If you are hurting today or have something that you want help with I implore you to take it to Jesus. Take it daily to Him. Take it often to Him. Hold on and have faith. Don’t’ let go of Christ’s ability to heal. 

There’s an old song that says this: 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will seem strangely dim in light of His glory and grace. 

He looked in the right direction and he received a lift out of his dilemma. 

3. He received a lift out of his dilemma   
     
 7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.

When you and I bring our needs to Jesus we need to realize that we are bringing our needs to the Great Physician and Sovereign Son of God.  He is all powerful and there is nothing that is too hard for Him. 

On this day, Peter and John were God’s representatives. When Peter said to him “Get up and walk,” the man no doubt was hesitant. Peter was never known for patience and in typical fashion he grabbed him by the hand and began to hoist him up. (Hey Buddy, you’re healed) At that moment everything came together instantly. One commentator wrote: 

“Perhaps only physicians can fully appreciate the meaning of these words; they are peculiar, technical words of a medical man. The word translated feet is only used by Luke, and occurs nowhere else. It indicates his discrimination between different parts of the human heel. The phrase ankle or ankle bones is again a medical phase to be found nowhere else. The word jumped up describes the coming suddenly into socket of something that was out of place, the articulation of a joint. This then is a very careful medical description of what happened in connection with this man.” 

It was an instantaneous coming together. Healing doesn’t always happen that way but what a wonderful story of the possibility and power of God to move on our behalf. 

I love the action of this story. Can you somehow picture it with me today? This guy has been sitting here begging for all of his adult life and perhaps even when he was a child. He was born with this physical challenge or handicap. When it came together he was overcome with emotion and lost all of his inhibitions. 

8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. 

You just wonder what people must have thought. He had been carried to the steps of the temple for decades. Those that attended the daily prayer services all knew him by sight if not by name. It must have been shocking to see him walking and very unusual for someone to interrupt the prayer time with loud praising of God. It was not a normal day at the temple. 

Maybe it was a day like this in the life of songwriter Charles Gabriel who penned these words in 1905.

In lovingkindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.

He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiv’n, He lifted me.

From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
O praise His Name, He lifted me!

Now on a higher plane I dwell,
And with my soul I know ’tis well;
Yet how or why I cannot tell
He should have lifted me.

When your life is lifted from the hurt and pain of the things that make it lame you too will be filled with a song of praise. 

4. He was given a new life 

 9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

This man went from a life of lameness and begging to survive to a new life of healed feet and ability to stand and make a living. He was given a new life.
Once there was deadness now there was life. 

Once he couldn’t walk and now we was walking and leaping and praising God.
Once he was a beggar because there was nothing else he could do but now the possibilities were unlimited.

What is it today that God could do in your life if you would let Him?

Someone once said that the greatest commentary on the Bible was the Bible and in this story you have to read the whole chapter to really understand it. 

Peter’s commentary: 

He explains where the power came from to heal

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. Acts 3:12-13 NLT

There was no personal gift or power in Peter and John. The gift of healing is not a gift given to a few special men or women so that they can go around conducting sensational services in big arenas. The gift of healing was and always has been the gift of healing! To explain that I would say it this way; the person that is in need receives the gift of healing. The gift of healing is given to those with the need. In this story it wasn’t Peter and John that had the gift it was this man who received a gift of healing from the Lord. 

This is the dangerous digression trail that many have gone down. It is a perversion of the truth of God’s word. We love a big sensational story. We love to go where the emotions run high but in the end you and I have to go where the Bible takes us and the story here is not about the physical healing.  

Look again at the scripture. 

This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! 

 16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.  17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 

The message is not about healing physically but about being healed internally and spiritually. 

He calls them to repentance and spiritual healing not physical healing 

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. Acts 3:19-20 NLT

He points them away from sinful living to a new life   

Like he did in his first sermon delivered a few days before this incident Peter once again uses the scripture to support his message. 

 24 “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. 25 You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants[f] all the families on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.” Acts 3:26 NLT

Don’t ever forget that the message of Jesus Christ is to move you away from your sinful ways to a life of newness.

Peter never mentions or makes a big deal about the healing. It was really an opportunity to preach the life changing message of Christ. 

Often we try so hard to move away from the adversities of life. We will go to great lengths to spare our physical life on this earth and somehow think that if we can be physically perfect that the rest of our life will fall in place. 

The Bible teaches a very different message. Sometimes the adversity we are going through is exactly what we need to draw us closer to God then we ever would be if our lives were flawless and free of pain.  To be honest this healing was no big deal. Sure God can heal physically if He chooses to but He is much more interested in us knowing His forgiveness. He gave His life that we might have eternal life.
There was a woman who was going through some very difficult and trying circumstances. She was experiencing major distress in her marriage, her job was very unfulfilling and was causing her heartache. She became so distraught over her circumstances that she felt like just giving up. She felt lonely, dejected and very isolated. She had tried everything she could to better herself, her marriage, things at work but it seemed everything turned out horrible for her. Finally she came to the point of exhaustion and felt there was no way out of her terrible circumstances and there would never be any more joy in her life.

One day she was sitting in her kitchen very frustrated and lonely. She sat there for a long time and just wept. Then she noticed a small sparrow had somehow gotten into her kitchen, so she opened the door thinking the sparrow would simply fly out the door. To her surprise the sparrow kept flying into the closed window that was just above the door. This distraught woman noticed several times that the sparrow would fly directly into the top of the window thinking it was an opening to freedom and each time colliding into glass of the window. This small sparrow after each time hitting the window would become weaker and weaker. The woman also noticed the sparrow hitting the window lower and lower each time he flew into the window until he got so weak that he couldn’t even fly, all he could to was walk. Then she noticed this little sparrow very slowly, simply walked through the door to freedom. As she observed this little bird walk through the door, the sparrow began to regain his strength and he flew off into the air free again.

It was as though God literally opened her spiritual eyes. She realized in just about every area of her life she was behaving just like this sparrow. She was trying in her own way to get out of the confining situations she was in, each time being knocked down in defeat. In reacting harshly to her family members - knocked down! Not giving her best at work - knocked down! Paying back evil for evil done to her - knocked down! Saying and doing things she knew were wrong - knocked down!

She finally realized that all she had to do was do just like this sparrow - to very humbly walk in the power of God’s grace and mercy and allow Him to work out all her heartaches and difficulties.

A study of 300 highly successful people like Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, Mahatma
Gandhi, and Albert Einstein revealed that one-fourth had handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs. Three-fourths had either been born in poverty, came from broken homes, or at least came from exceedingly tense, disturbed situations.

You see has much as we would like it we don’t always get our way or experience freedom from the challenges of life but at the cross we find hope.
At the cross we find a promise that there is coming a day when we will assemble in heaven and the things that discourage and devastate us here will be on more. In the meantime we wait with hearts turned upward and with great faith.
Dr. W. A Criswell, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas Texas, said on one occasion on an airplane flight he found himself seated beside a well-known theologian. He desperately wanted to start a conversation and they did get to talk. The man told Dr. Criswell about how he had recently lost his little boy through death. Dr. Criswell listened as he told his story: He said he had come home from school with a fever and we thought it was just one of those childhood things, but it was a very virulent form of meningitis. The doctor said we cannot save your little boy. He’ll die.

And so this seminary professor, loving his son as he did, sat by the bedside to watch this death vigil. It was the middle of the day and the little boy whose strength was going from him and whose vision and brain was getting clouded said, "Daddy, it’s getting dark isn’t it?" The professor said to his son, "Yes son it is getting dark, very dark." Of course it was very dark for him. He said, "Daddy, I guess it’s time for me to go to sleep isn’t it?" He said, "Yes, son, it’s time for you to go to sleep." The professor said the little fellow had a way of fixing his pillow just so, and putting his head on his hands when he slept and he fixed his pillow like that and laid his head on his hands and said, "Good night Daddy. I will see you in the morning." He then closed his eyes and stepped over into heaven.

Dr. Criswell said the professor didn’t say anymore after that. He just looked out the window of that airplane for a long time. Then he turned back and he looked at Dr Criswell with the scalding tears coming down his cheeks and he said, "Dr. Criswell, I can hardly wait till the morning."

Sometimes we find ourselves in discouraging circumstances that leave us feeling hopeless and even alone. 

Today I am not going to point you to a “faith healer” somewhere but I will point you to the cross and the Son of God that hung on that cross to demonstrate His love for you and me. 

Benediction: “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23  (God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.)



2010/06/13