Summary: Part 2 focuses on the keys to effectively stand in the gap for others.
Standing In The Gap Part 2
This message is part 2 from my series “Standing in the Gap”. Last week I shared with you what it means to stand in the gap using the analogy of crossing a bridge to illustrate the point. I conveyed to you the fact that when we stand in the gap for others, we act as a bridge between them and whatever it is that they need. When we looked at the Word of God, we focused on the prophecy that Ezekiel received from God. God told Ezekiel that He would destroy Jerusalem because of its sin. He gave Ezekiel examples of a lot of sins that were being committed in Jerusalem. Even though there was a lot of sin in Jerusalem, the real reason God had to exact punishment on it was because He could find no one to stand in the gap for it. Remember what was recorded in Ezekiel 22:30-31? It states: “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads, declares the Lord God.” God did not want to destroy Jerusalem and His preference was that someone would stand in the gap for it. However, when He searched for someone righteous enough, someone not taking part in all of the sin, someone who would be willing to step up and intercede for the city, He found no one. Not one man, woman or child was in a position to stand in the gap. If you make the comparison to our world today, especially what we are witnessing in America, we are headed in the same direction. If God were to visit America’s sins, would He find someone who was able to stand in the gap for America? Would He find you? Would He find me? In part 2 of this series, I want to ensure that the answer to that question will be “Yes”. When God comes to America seeking someone to stand in the gap, He will find you and me ready. By the way, in case you have not noticed it, God is already here and He is seeking someone to take the stand.
I. Keys To Standing In The Gap
Last week I focused primarily on the need for standing in the gap and this morning I will explain the keys to being able to do this effectively. Please turn with me to the third chapter of the book of Acts. I was listening to a sermon this week that my older brother Barry preached and he spoke of this story in his sermon and I thought it was an excellent example for what I am dealing with in this message. (Thank you Barry!) In Acts chapter three, we find Peter and John entering the temple to pray. As they were going in, there was a man lying at the gate who had been lame since the day he was born. Everyday someone would bring the man to the gate so that he could beg for money from those who were going in. As Peter and John came upon him, the man, without looking up at them, began begging for money. This man had been there everyday for years begging for money and not feeling worthy enough to look at those from whom he was asking money. He was not looking anyone in the eye as he begged for money each day. Because of his position in society, he basically kept his head down as he stretched his hands forward to receive whatever anyone would give him. It was hard to consider yourself an equal when you were lame and forced to beg for money in order to live. So this man sat there every day with his hands out and his head bowed down begging for money.
Before I tell you the rest of the story, it is important that you understand the environment in which this man lived. Whenever someone was born lame, it was believed by the people that either they had sinned in their mother’s womb or their parents’ had sinned and the punishment was being doled out on the child. Because people believed this so forcefully, it allowed someone who was lame to accept their condition without expecting anything different. Not only would they never expect to be healed, they actually lived their lives believing that either they or their parents had sinned and caused them to be born in their condition. So he lived his life thinking that his or his parent’s sin had caused him to be lame. Remember the story from the ninth chapter of the book of John when Jesus came upon a blind man and His disciples asked Him who had sinned, the man or his parents, that he was born blind? This was the teaching and belief at the time, that if someone was born lame, it was because either they or their parents had sinned. This belief not only negatively impacted the person that was lame, but also everyone else that saw him. When people saw him begging, they too believed that either he or his parents had sinned and that is why he was in the condition he was in. Because they accepted this, that his condition was his fault, their compassion was not often evident. It is difficult to have compassion for someone who put themselves in that situation. Think about it, how much compassion would you have for someone who made a million dollars and lost it all gambling? Not much, especially when you are struggling to pay your own bills. This was most likely the attitude of the people as they believed the man’s sins or his parents’ sins caused his condition.