Summary: In this brief story I want to notice four principles for thriving in our spiritual lives no matter the circumstance.
Healing At The Beautiful Gate
Acts 3:1-10, 16
Last week we left the disciples looking up into the sky at Jesus who was ascending to be at the Father’s side.
In Chapter Two the amazing story of the Day of Pentecost. Visible presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. A Gospel sermon from Peter that focused on the fulfillment of OT Prophecy. A realization by those present that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. They were cut to the heart and asked, “What shall we do?”
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
3,000 people were baptized that day and the church was born. The rest of the chapter gives some details about the life of that first church and the fact that they were growing rapidly.
Our text for today follows that great event. In this brief story I want to notice four principles for thriving in our spiritual lives no matter the circumstance.
1. Establish a Rhythm of Prayer and Worship (1)
Acts 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.
Peter and John were Jews and they followed the pattern of Hebrew prayer times - even as they became followers of the Messiah and Christians. Peter and John are often together in Scripture. They were partners in the fishing business (Luke 5:10). They prepared the last Passover for Jesus (Luke 22:8). They ran to the tomb on Resurrection Morning (John 20:3-4). They ministered to the Samaritans who believed on Jesus (Acts 8).
The prayer times were traditional and had been practiced for centuries. Remember Daniel prayed three times a day. Jospehus tells us that the stated times for worship were the early morning for prayers, the ninth hour (3:00 pm), and the evening sacrifices at sunset.
An established rhythm of prayer is one of the most difficult things to do today - we are multi-taskers always running behind - lots of noise around us … but it should be our effort to ground ourselves in the Word and in Prayer.
It is a time like we are living in now that we realize that the troubles of life are bigger than we are - we need to trust in the strength of God to get through.
Establish a rhythm of worship and prayer. Another principle for thriving in our spiritual lives is...
2. Engage the World Around You, Particularly the Broken (2-5)
Acts 3:2-5 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
They approached the temple, they were near The 'Beautiful Gate'. There is some uncertainty about which gate this is, but many scholars believe it is the “eastern gate” that led into the court of the women. Made of Corinthian bronze, Edersheim says it was richly ornamented; and so massive were its double doors that it needed the united
strength of twenty men to open and close them.
The beggar asked Peter and John for money, but they had none to give. It would have been easiest to just walk by. I admit that I walk by many of the ‘professional beggars’ today. I know it’s a judgment call, and you might think poorly of me for it. I think we should seek to help people who are genuinely in need and help them make steps forward in life.
Lloyd Ogilvie tells of walking the streets of Edinborough and noticing a woman who was a professional beggar. He noticed she looked for a certain kind of person likely to give her something. She stopped him and told him a terrible tale, and he gave her some money. The next day he came by she stopped him again, but looking at him said, “Oh, I’ve done you before. On your way!”
With no social system in place to help - and a belief of some religious people that a physical problem meant that God was repaying you for sin - beggars in the first century were in a much more dependent situation than today. Peter and John did stop and were willing to engage the man who asked them for funds.