March 17, 2013
INTRODUCTION – We have been recently exposed to the raised standard of financial health and prosperity via the Dave Ramsey Course – specifically: 1. Absolutely no debt; 2. Savings acc;t of at least 3 mos. Of one’s salary; 3. Diverse investments for retirement; 4. A lifestyle of liberal giving.
The feeling for some of us older folk is that we are so far off the standard/mark – – because of starting too late – – why try?! Every time we start making some traction, a car blows up or someone lands in the hospital with huge medical bills, or …….
Many times we believers feel the same when we read accounts of powerful ways God has worked through his people in days of old – like the one we are going to read today.
The fact is we cannot fulfill our mission if we do not overcome our unbelief, and learn to be His instrument for His healing, delivering and saving work – – all of which is just as needed today as it was 2,000 years ago.
It’s time to stop using what happened in our past or what didn’t happen, as an excuse for what we’re not tasting in the present.
As we jump into Acts ch. 3 and look at the account of the healing of the lame man I want to share 4 lessons we can learn from this story that can help us get closer to the mark or standard or expectation of our Lord for using us in this day to reveal His power and glory.
I. Interpreting Interruptions – vs. 1-3
A. This prayer meeting started at a specific time. Was a regularly scheduled prayer meeting. And you get the idea that Peter and John regularly attended it. Perhaps they even helped lead it. And if they are like some of us, they might have been walking up the steps to the temple at 2:59 p.m.
B. Very possible that Peter and John had gone to this prayer meeting many times and had passed this beggar many times; and perhaps at other times had dropped a coin in his cup. But this time Peter somehow knew God was going to act/show up!
C.. Some interruptions can be distractions. Sometimes they can be divine appointments. Accountability can help us discern the difference (Peter and John)
D. This man had no idea or expectation what so ever that he could be healed. He had been this way for all of his life (40 yrs). It was his financial/material need that got him in a place where God could meet a far greater need. Sometimes I get very perturbed that so many people in our nation are so obsessed with the economy and their financial security – oblivious to their spiritual need or that God might want to break into their reality. But as we’ve seen in the Bread of Life ministry – – it is often the financial/material need of people that brings them into relationship with people who can help meet their spiritual need – – and perhaps physical/health needs that they have lost hope of ever seeing met. A lot of people just learn to limp through life and figure their condition is just here to stay – kind of “their cross to bear”.
So may the Lord help us freshly interpret every interruption and request according to His will; and may He keep us from the mindset that would have thought – – this guy has always been a lame beggar and always will be.
II. Boldly Proclaiming Christ/Healing in Jesus’s Name – vs. 4-6
A. The man was probably shamefully looking down (vs. 4)
B. This lame beggar was used to being ignored. No expectation of engagement, only of receiving a coin. (vs. 5)
C. Peter could have focused on what he didn’t have. On that particular day, he might have rushed out of his home to be on time and forgot his money belt. Instead of focusing on that, he focused on what he did have.
Have you all taken an inventory lately of what you do have in Christ?
I Cor. 3:21-24 “So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”;
II Cor. 4:7, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;”
II Cor. 6:10 “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.”
D. No wishy washy, politically correct language here – – “In the Name of Jesus Christ”
E.. Peter really didn’t ask. And there were times where Jesus didn’t ask, but commanded. Same with Paul. Not a formula. Just strong sense that this was something God wanted to do through them, and that they had absolute authority over this condition.
May the Holy Spirit wash each of us clean of this new agey “co –exist” “I’m spiritual, but not religious” willingness to say the God word, but not the Jesus word mentality that is so prevalent on the Central Coast!
There is power for healing and deliverance and salvation in one name and one name only! There is only one name under heaven by which men might be saved! Only the name of Jesus makes demons shudder!
Bill Johnson said once that, “You didn’t have a good day till you confronted the impossibilities of life and saw them yield and bow to the name of Jesus.
In the Name of Jesus Christ – the Nazarene – Walk!!!!
III. Expecting Results – vs. 7
A. After Peter spoke healing to this man, they could have just walked on in to the temple, and hoped something happened, or maybe even hoped at least this person wouldn’t be offended at God if he didn’t get healed. Instead Peter with great faith and expectation lifted this man up on his feet. Please note the lame man’s feet and ankles were strengthened in response to that action of Peter’s. Not before.
B. Now we can’t manufacture this kind of faith and expectation/confidence. But we can experience it. It is what God wants for each of us.
Holy Spirit cleanse us of our unbelief and lack of expectation for You to show up!
IV. Ripple Effect of Healings of Long time obviously ill folk – vs. 8-10
A. Clear physical instantaneous healing – he leapt, he stood upright, he walked (vs. 8)
B. Glory to God through his joyful praise – “praising God” twice – – (vs. 8,9)
C. Crowds filled with wonder and amazement – – they knew his history; (vs. 10) they knew this was a miracle!
CONCLUSION – 4 concluding observations 1. Continual congregational devotion to prayer allows the standard to be raised – – continual devotion to prayer raises the bar of spiritual power for healing (1:14 “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” 2:42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”)
“The power of the Church truly to bless rests on intercession – asking and receiving heavenly gifts to carry to men.” E.M. Bounds
“If added power attends the united prayer of two or three, what mighty triumphs there will be when hundreds of thousands of consistent members of the Church are with one accord day by day making intercession for the extension of Christ’s kingdom.” J.R. Mott
2. Total buy in of the congregation raises the bar or increases the anointing for healing (2:42-47)
3. Shouldn’t overlook that both Peter and John were in the inner circle of Jesus’s inner circle. They weren’t perfect, peter’s failures were especially obvious. But they were responsive to Jesus from the very beginning; and their long time responsiveness resulted in confidence and bold faith. It had nothing to do with their titles as apostles. Everything to do with their long cultivated intimacy with Christ.
Application to young men and women
Bill Johnson reminded us that “Children do not get a “junior” Holy Ghost.”
4. Read Bill Johnson’s books for healing; but a greater need might be to read E.M. Bounds or some of the other giants of the faith about prayer.