Summary: In what kind of environment will God’s power flow?
READ: Acts 3:1-10
It’s 3pm in the afternoon (the hour of prayer in the Temple), Peter and John head up to join the throng at the great House of God.
And on the way in, as they came to the Gate called Beautiful (a gate inlayed with gold and precious stones, situated as an entrance in the Eastern side of the Temple courts) - they came across this man who had been crippled since birth. A man so lame that he couldn’t even hobble along with the aid of a crutch, but instead he had to be carried everywhere. And so he had some good friends who would carry him every day and lay him at this entrance to the Temple to beg from the people going up to pray.
YOU SEE he wasn’t allowed inside the Temple to join in prayer, because he was a cripple. Because of their spiritual pride they felt that he was blemished - not fit for the house of God. And so he sat on the steps and begged. And people gave him their loose change (to ease their consciences as they went to prayer!)
But, as Peter and John approached this particular day he saw them, and so he asked them for alms. (Peter and John had just recently been filled with the Holy Spirit, and so they were just full of joy and life - so this lame man felt sure to get a good offering from these guys).
Peter and John stopped as he spoke to them (not like everyone else who tried to get past him without looking), and Peter said to him: "LOOK AT US!" - perhaps the man’s head was bowed down, he never looked into the eyes of those who came by for fear of offending them. He didn’t want to embarrass, so he kept his head low - but here is Peter saying "Look at us!" So he looked up at them "expecting to receive something from them." Peter said: "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
With that, Peter took hold of the man’s right hand and lifted him up, AND IN THAT MOMENT OF TIME "STRENGTH" came into that man’s feet and ankle bones for the very first time in his life. And he lept up! And he began to dance around - before all the hundreds of Jews coming in for prayer - and he praised God!
What a great miracle! Don’t you love to hear stories like that of the power of God. Don’t you long to see God’s power move like that in our midst?
THE QUESTION IS, THIS EVENING: In what kind of environment WILL God’s power flow?
You see, I don’t think we need great complex ideas. I believe God usually deals with us very simply. "The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things". I can see some very basic principles here in this story that we must recognize if we desire to see God’s power.
1. GOD’S POWER FLOWS WHERE HE IS.
Sounds simple / obvious doesn’t it? God’s power flows where God is.
Look at this lame man’s predicament with me for a moment. He had been sat at the entrance of the Temple for YEARS (4:22 says he was "over 40 years of age"). The Temple was supposedly the very House of God - the "HOME" of God’s presence - and yet here he was all his life camped at it’s gates AND HE WAS STILL A CRIPPLE!
In all their religious fervour, there was NOTHING that these people could offer him! The best they could do was a few copper coins to ease their consciences as they passed by - an act of pity.
AND THIS WAS THE HOME OF THE GOD WHO CREATED THE UNIVERSE BY THE WORD OF HIS MOUTH? No, my friends! HE WASN’T THERE AT ALL. When Jesus hung upon the cross and uttered those last triumphant words "IT IS FINISHED", the Bible records that the curtain in the Temple (which for centuries had barred man from the presence of God) was torn in two, right down the middle, FROM TOP TO BOTTOM (torn by the very hands of God!) What did that signify? We usually hear it preached that it signified that because of the sacrifice of Jesus man could now enter the Holy of Holies - that’s correct, BUT THAT’S ONLY ONE HALF OF THE STORY! The curtain is torn away signifying that God’s presence is no longer veiled in seclusion, but now He has come out AND HE LIVES IN HIS NEW DWELLING PLACE - the one He has always longed for since time immortal - He dwells in the lives of them that love Him. WE ARE THE VESSELS OF GOD.