It was a day, just a day like any other day. His brothers had gotten him out of bed and gotten him dressed. And on their way to work they carried him to his usually spot at the tem-ple gate. It was just a day, the sky wasn’t any bluer, the birds didn’t sing any louder, the sun didn’t shine any brighter, it was just a day. Just a day, like any other day. And yet before it was finished it would be unlike any other day in his life.
It was just a day. And as he lay with his shrivelled twisted legs extended in front of him he thought of all the days he had laid in front of the temple gate and how those days stretched out like an endless horizon before him.
It was just a day. And he looked down at the useless limbs stretched out on the blanket in front of him. They were his, but they weren’t even a part of him, he had never felt them, never moved them. Never ran as a boy, never walked as a man. And today was just a day, no better and no worse then all the other days that had made up the life of this poor crip-pled beggar. But without his knowledge and without his consent today would become the day he would never forget. And today would take him from being a beggar destined for an obscure life and obscure death, and would propel him into immortality. Who was he we don’t know. The scriptures re-veal nothing about his life up to this day, and nothing about his life after this day.
But today, this day, this ordinary day would be written about by a doctor and read about by millions upon millions of peo-ple all over the world. The man and the day are written about in Acts 3:1-11 that Mike read for us earlier in the ser-vice. And really is summed up in Acts 3:7-8 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strength-ened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
What a day. A day that would never be forgotten. And this morning we are going to look at that day.
The story is told in the book of Acts, which is the 5th book of the New Testament. The author is the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke and that is Luke, who was proba-bly a gentile doctor. Scholars place the writing of this book around AD 65. It was written to tell what happened after the resurrection. This is indeed the rest of the story. It is a great book, it’s here we meet Paul, the story of the church begins here and we are introduced to the personal power of the Holy Spirit. If you have never read the book of Acts you need to.
So what do we learn from this story and from the main char-acter?
Acts 3:2 now a man lame from birth 1) He Had a Problem. here was a man with a problem, he was a cripple. This was-n’t a subject open to discussion. It wasn’t debatable, it wasn’t abstract or iffy, instead it was definite. Now a man crippled from birth.
It wasn’t his fault that he was crippled. Sometimes our mis-fortunes have only one person to blame and that is us. We smoke and die of lung cancer, hey don’t stand there shaking your fist at God demanding “how could you do this to me.” you’re paddling your own canoe. You abuse alcohol and get cirrous of the liver or drive your family away, your fault. Commit adultery and your spouse leaves you, don’t blame everyone else ok. But as far as we know it wasn’t this man’s fault that he was lame.
And as far as we know it wasn’t the fault of anyone else ei-ther. Sometimes there are others who are responsible for our problems. We know for instance that children who are born to people who smoke or drink, or take drugs during their pregnancy are more apt to have problems then other babies. Sometimes physical abuse will occur, or an accident will happen for which someone else is to blame. My friend Rod Lewis is a paraplegic, because a doctor who had been party-ing prior to the delivery goofed and severed Rod’s spinal cord when he performed the caesarean. But there is no evidence of that here. All we know is that this was a man who wasn’t physically whole. He wasn’t everything that physical man is supposed to be, he was a cripple he couldn’t walk. In today’s climate where everything has to be said in the politically cor-rect way we would say that he was “physically disadvan-taged” or “physically challenged”. I have a friend who is bald and he says that he is “follicley challenged” does that mean that someone who is short is “vertically challenged”.
Now most of us are whole physically there are very few of us who have problems with a serious physical handicap. But we are all born with a spiritual handicap. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glo-rious standard.
None of us are born worthy to enter into the presence of God. We are born with a bent toward sin, with a streak of rebellion. We try to achieve goodness, but we can’t quite reach it on our own.
We aren’t spiritually whole, we are spiritual cripples. Or to be politically correct we are “sin disadvantaged” or “right-eously challenged.”
But there are other areas in our life that we are not everything we should be. Whether it be matters of relationships, self-control or forgiveness, we aren’t always what we could be or should be. I don’t think anyone of us would be willing to say we always get it right.
As a church I don’t think in this environment that we are all that we could be without a home of our own to do ministry in. Children’s ministry, youth ministry or adult ministry.
Acts 3:2 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.
2) He Was Honest In His Evaluation.
This man didn’t fool himself; he knew he was a cripple. He’d come to grips with that a long time ago. And it was a rough time to be handicapped. There was no social security or Medicare.
It was a time and an age when physical prowess and the quest for perfection abounded. The Romans had their gladia-torial contest and the Greeks had their olympic games. And there was no sympathy and no place for those who weren’t quite as perfect as they should be.
Not every age or culture takes care of the less fortunate as is common today in our western society. Where else do they take those who are too old to work and unable to make a meaningful contribution to society and appoint them to the senate?
This man knew that he had limited potential, he knew that all the dreams and all the hopes and all the aspirations in the world could not make his dead legs function. He was honest in his evaluation; his friends were taking him out to beg. He wasn’t going for a walk, or to tap dance or play basket ball. He had accepted the facts. If he was going to survive it would be by begging. And he sought out one of the most profitable spots, the main door to the temple. The devout Jews came here at 9 am, noon and 3 pm. People coming to worship God, and he was trying to make them feel guilty. There’s a lot to be said for guilt, You ever notice one of the favourite spots for the Salvation Army to set up their Christmas appeal stands? Just outside the liquor stores.
Stevie Wonder makes beautiful music but he will probably never paint a sunset. Rick Hanson wheeled around the world in his wheel chair but he was honest and didn’t try to walk. Danny DeVito is a pretty good actor but he’ll never play pro-fessional basketball. And sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves and admit our short comings.
We will never get to heaven on our own. Never, never, never. We’ll never be that good, we’ll never do enough good, we’ll never, ever, ever deserve heaven on our own. And it is only when we are able to admit that, that Jesus Christ will be any good to us. The QE 2 is a really neat place, it’s full of people who are sick, or at least think they are. It’s like the guy who called the doctor and said, “I’m calling about my uncle Fred” and the doctor said, “I keep telling you, your uncle only thinks he’s sick” “oh but it’s worse now” replied the man, “now he thinks he’s dead.”
People go to the hospital for one of two reasons, 1) to get better, or 2) to ease their suffering. That’s it. Other then that there is no good reason to be in a hospital. The food might not be bad but it ain’t great. And the beds don’t look very comfortable, and the company is down right depressing. But if you are sick it is an ideal place. Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doc-tor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”
If you’re not sick then you don’t need a doctor, and if you’re not lost then you don’t need to be found. I wonder if anyone else here is as strong willed as I am. If you are that isn’t be-ing strong willed it’s being pig headed. I hate to admit to be-ing lost. I’d drive around in circle all days before I’d swallow my pride and stop someone and tell them I’m lost. And un-til you are ready to admit to the fact that you need Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour he can’t help you.
Until you are willing to admit that you can’t do it on your own there are areas in your life that you will not be able to fix. There are addictions that you will never overcome, feel-ings concerning others that you will never get control of and places you will never go for God until you are willing to ad-mit that you need God’s help.
Acts 3:5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting a gift. 3) He Asked with Expectancy
Now that is a positive attitude. He asked for alms and Peter said “look at us”. Now when I was in sales I knew when I had a sale. There were things that were said or done that told me “you got this one in the bag.” “This is a nice suit does it come in blue?” “Boy I really like this car can I get a cassette put in?” “Look at us” that was a good sign, why? Think about it what do you do when you see a bum on the street panhandling? Or you go to the mall and someone is standing there with a box for the minor hockey and you have no change? You look the other way don’t you? So the man gave them his attention, -expecting to get something from them. When we approach God in prayer we have to ap-proach expecting an answer. Matthew 7:9-10 You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!
Most of us are pushovers for our kids; we like to give things to them when we can. And when we come to God in prayer and ask that our sins be forgiven we have to expect him to forgive them. Not hope but expect. Christ will forgive us and save us and give us eternal life but we have to ask. We need to approach him. The beggar never would have gotten anywhere if he hadn’t asked. Christ has to be approached with a positive attitude. The beggar probably didn’t say “you probably don’t want to give me anything do you?”
And when we pray we need to pray with expectancy, how many people pray and when the prayer isn’t answered they think, “Well I really didn’t expect anything to happen.” Well Duh, then why pray?
Acts 3:6-7 But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. 4) He Believed.
Put yourself in his spot, everyday of his adult life this man had been carried to this spot to beg. Rain & shine, warm weather and cold weather. He had had days when he had collected next to nothing and other days when he had tripled his usual take. He had taken physical and verbal abuse from children and teenagers and adults. He had been ridiculed and slandered. But never had he ever heard anything like this. He’d asked for a crumb and been offered a banquet, had asked for a pittance and been offered his very life. How should he react, what thoughts coursed through his head? “Tens of thousands of people in Jerusalem and I get a fruit-cake.” or maybe it was “Oh no if I can walk then I’ll have to get a job!” What were his initial thoughts? Had he heard tell of Peter, John, or Jesus of Nazareth? We will probably never know. But this we do know, he believed Peter.
The scriptures say taking him by his right hand he helped him up. Didn’t grab him under his arms and lift him, took him by the hand and helped him up. Peter assisted the beg-gar to his feet, he helped him get up. And the man must have helped as well.
He put his weight on his legs and felt the strength course down his thighs. He did something he had never done be-fore; he pushed himself to a sitting position and then got to his feet. And as his muscles began to swell, and tingle with the unfamiliar tensions and movement he realized that he was doing the impossible, he was standing by himself. And slowly the realization dawned on him, this wasn’t a practical joke. These men indeed had more to offer him then silver and gold. For they had given him what nature had deprived him of, they had given him his legs. But only through his be-lief did this happen, and only by believing the words of this stranger was he standing.
What do you need to believe God for today? What issues are there in your life that you not only have to ask God to help you with but that you need to believe that he will do some-thing about those issues.
Acts 3:7b And as he did, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strengthened. 5) He Was Made Whole.
One minute half a man, the next minute whole. One minute crippled, the next minute healed. Just as his handicap had been beyond dispute so was his healing. Not even the San-hedrin and high priest could doubt or disbelieve what they and witnessed. How do you argue with success? Here was a man who had been crippled by a cruel quirk of nature, and yet now he was whole, just as if his handicap had never been. The skin which had hung loosely on useless muscles now clung to the well defined shape of thigh and calf muscles. The legs that had never moved now responded to every whim, the feet that had never felt now sensed the pebbles and dust that lay beneath them. Although we have a spiritual handicap we can be made whole. King David had committed adultery, murder and treason and yet in Psalm 51:7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Paul says concerning sin in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
When you ask for forgiveness your being is touched and you are made every bit as whole and clean as Adam was before the fall. It doesn’t matter what the sin, Jesus Christ is able to make you whiter then snow. The violent murderer becomes like as innocent as a new born babe. The foulest prostitute becomes as pure as a virgin. Twenty years ago Madonna had her first hit song and it said, “Like a virgin, touched for the very first time.” and although it had nothing to do with salvation it could have. Because that’s what happens when Jesus comes into your life, Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 5:17 What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
Every sin, every evil thought, word, or deed, every hurt, every scorn, shall be gone; it won’t even be history, because history is recorded. King David said it best in Psalm 103:12 He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west. How far North do you have to go before you start going South? As far as the North Pole, right? You go past the North Pole and you are heading South. How far east do you have to go before you are head-ing west? That never happens, regardless of how far you travel to the east if you keep going in that direction you are always travelling east. And that is how far away your sins have been placed when you ask for forgiveness.
God wants to answer your prayers and he may have already begun to answer your prayers.
Acts 3:8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. 6) He Was Full Of Praise
I like this; nobody had to tell him to go to the temple. No-body told him he should thank God but he knew he had to. His very first act was one of praise and thanksgiving. He was on fire and he wanted to share it with everyone he met. He didn’t consider if it would offend them, he didn’t wonder if it would drive them away, he wanted to tell them what happened in the name of Jesus. I can just hear him now, “excuse me sir, I don’t know you but a few minutes ago I was a cripple, couldn’t walk, couldn’t even more my toes, just laid there on the street and do you know what a man came up and said, “silver and gold have I none but what I have I give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth walk.” and guess what, well I suppose you can see for yourself, that’s right I can walk.” Had he been like some Christians know his first reaction would have been, “Oh no, now I’ll have to buy shoes, or great now I’ll have to get a job.”
It might not hurt you know if we got a little more excited about our faith, after all if you were drowning and someone threw you a rope you’d get excited. And if you had cancer and someone developed a cure you’d get excited. And if your team won the Stanley cup, you’d get excited. And we need to get excited about what God has done for us.
I don’t expect you to become someone else, but you know what excited is for you. When was the last time you ex-pressed that range of emotions in relation to your Christian walk?
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