Summary: Isn’t life based solely upon the laws of nature and cause and effect? Most of the time, yes -- but sometimes God surprises us.
Our Surprising God
1. This week has been a rough, depressing week for many people.
2. Keith & Aimey Williams were through an awful ordeal…
3. Last week, a teenager in our community committed suicide after losing a brother a year ago in an accident…
4. Hundreds of Engineers and White Collar workers at Delphi were informed (or are in the process of being informed) that they would no longer work there.
5. Kokomo Pottery announced it was closing and that means more job losses.
6. The word to describe the week might be "bleak."
7. Webster defines "bleak" as, "exposed and barren and often windswept…lacking in warmth, life, or kindliness : grim: not hopeful or encouraging."
8. Like some of the Psalms, many of us were praying prayers of Lament.
0. For most of us, this is a bleak period in our lives, but some people live a gloomy existence from the time of birth.
10. Such was the lot of a beggar who was born lame. For forty years, he begged for money so he could live his limited existence in a day before wheel chairs, office jobs, or government help.
11. But one day God had a pleasant surprise.
12. Sometimes God does that: he blesses us unexpectedly.
13. Some would argue that there are no surprises, just chance.
Main Idea: Isn’t life based solely upon the laws of nature and cause and effect? Most of the time, yes -- but sometimes God surprises us.
I. The MIRACLE Itself
According to Acts 2:43, the apostles worked many signs and wonders. This one is detailed for us because of its unusual impact. The logical reason that this miracle had such a great impact was that just about everybody around knew this man.
A. This Man Was Disadvantaged from BIRTH
1. We’ll call him Moshe; born lame.
2. Moshe could not approach the altar in the Temple
3. Lev. 21:17-20a, "Say to Aaron: ’For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect…"
4. Forty years old-- Moshe had been begging here for decades…
5. Many beggars in Israel: considered a job; these were handicapped people, not like modern day "homeless people," many of whom are alcoholics or drug addicts or unstable
6. Relatives or friends carried Moshe to the Temple area every day to beg, and then
carried him back. Moshe was more fortunate than were many other beggars.
7. Gentiles could go to the outer courts, women to the women’s court, and men into the men’s court, but usually prayed in the women’s -- about the size of our parlor
8. He was placed at a strategic spot: the Beautiful gate
Show map of Temple area
John Stott explains, "Because Luke names it ’the Beautiful Gate,’ it is probably the one made of Corinthian brass which Josephus said, ’greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold.’ It was about seventy-five feet high and had huge double doors."
B. God Used Peter To Miraculously HEAL Him
1. Peter and John, two of the "inner three" were walking into the Temple courts
2. It was three o’clock in the afternoon; this was called the "hour of prayer" and followed the afternoon sacrifice.
3. According to Wikipedia:
"…Biblical references suggest that King David and the prophet Daniel prayed three times a day. In Psalms, David states: "Evening, morning and afternoon do I pray and cry, and He will hear my voice" (55:18). As in Daniel: "[...] his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he had done before" (6:11).
Orthodox Judaism regards halakha (Jewish law) as requiring Jewish men to pray three times daily and four times daily on the Sabbath and most Jewish holidays, and five times on Yom Kippur. Orthodox Jewish women are required to pray at least daily, with no specific time requirement…"
4. Moshe had just arrived when who walks by but Peter and John, the Apostle.
5. Consider this: Jesus had passed this way many times, yet this man had never been healed; did He miss Jesus? Did he not have faith then? Or simply God’s timing?
6. The beggar asks Peter and John for money
7. Peter, I believe, was led by God to work this miracle (not merely a whim); when we read about "gifts of faith" in I Corinthians, it probably refers to instances when God gives us faith like this, only with Peter it was common place… as a matter of fact, there was a time when God so empowered him that his mere shadow healed people.