Summary: Handling change can be a big deal. But by God’s power Jesus makes changes that can create Christlike character in us.
What is the biggest life change you have ever experienced?
All of us go through life changes. Some changes come and go without much notice, but sometimes these changes completely alter the course of our destiny in life.
Think of crisis events in the lives of people you know and love. Physical crisis points such as serious illness or death; birth of a handicapped child; moral failure such as adultery or suffering through a divorce, even economic crisis points like the Enron bankruptcy where so many people lost all that they had saved to retire on… These kinds of life changes challenge us deeply and reveal the very core of our character and value systems.
But there are also sudden changes that are positive that happen to people: a sudden windfall through an inheritance, or discovery of a hidden treasure; or a great job opportunity, or as in our study today, an unexpected deliverance from some life long difficulty.
Some great changes in life are hard to put a price on, aren’t they? How much money is your eyesight or the ability to walk worth to you? To lose or gain such things is impossible to measure with silver or gold. We need to remember that when we think of our relationship with God and the benefits of being a member of his family.
In Acts 3 we meet a man who had been lame since he was born. He probably never played sports. Imagine what growing up was like for him. Imagine what it was like for his parents. His daily schedule consisted of being carried to the temple where he sat and begged for help from those that came to pray. He became a fixture there. The people even began to know his face. I wonder what they thought of him. Some probably were regular contributors, and others may have avoided him completely. Beggars are not a very sightly bunch. And think of the contrast here. What is the name of this gate where he sits each day? The Bible tells us that this is the Beautiful Gate.
Why put him there at the temple? Why not on the steps of the First National Bank? Or in front of the local Hospital? Or in the market place? The answer is obvious, of course. The Jewish religion taught the people to be generous toward the poor and needy, (God’s word taught them this), and what better place to find a handout, than on the steps of the place where the people of God go to pray.
And here it is, three o’clock, time for afternoon prayers. There he sits. In come the faithful. It’s just another day like all the other days. The crowds are coming up the stairs and the lame beggar is begging for them to give him a few coins so he can have what he needs to see another day and do it all over again like he has done day after day after day for years. But this day there will be a major change. It was the kind of change that only happens when broken humanity and the power of God come together.
Peter and John are among those going up to the temple at this hour of prayer. The Bible specifically says in verse 3 that the beggar saw them and began asking them for charity. How do you feel when someone asks you for help like this? We get people who come by here asking for help all the time. We get calls from people who are just going through the yellow pages calling all churches. Some of them are really good at it. It is hard to distinguish the truly needy from those that abuse the system, if you know what I mean. But it is fun to help people. There is something fulfilling about it even when it is temporary. I once saw an older fellow looking in the garbage can outside of McDonalds and I asked him, “Are you hungry?” He looked at me funny like and in a humble way just said, “Yeah.” I asked him to come in with me and took him through the line and told him, “Order anything you want.” He did and I sat with him a minute and told him God loved him and I hoped he would think about that. He couldn’t read so a tract was useless. I just tried to encourage him to go to church and seek the Lord. Who knows?
This man in Acts 3 was an established beggar with his own place of begging. He was known by those that frequented the place and his condition was as real as his need. He asked the right people for help that day.
Peter and John both looked at him. He’d seen that look before. It meant he was about to get something. You could always tell the ones who will help from the ones that won’t. The ones that help look at you. Others look away. These guys were looking intently. The beggars eyes drop. He’s not supposed to stare back. Peter says, “Look at us!” Yeah, this was good, they were going to help for sure! You can just see this beggar looking up, holding his hands up toward Peter and John at this point. But what happens next was the last thing he expected.