Sunday Morning Bible Study
July 20, 1997
Last week we talked about the kinds of things that were happening to this "continuing church", this church that clung so closely to the basics of the Christian walk (Acts 2:42 Ė Godís Word, fellowship, communion, prayer).
One of the characteristics of the church was Ė
Ö many wonders and signs were continually being done by the apostles. (Acts 2:43)
This week, we see an example of this.
:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple
Peter and John are buddies.
They were both fishermen, even partners in the same business (Lu 5:10), and had both been called by Jesus around the same time.
They were both part of the "inner circle", the ones closest to Jesus (Peter, James, and John).
Weíre going to see them doing a lot of things together as a team in the book of Acts.
The pattern I see in the book of Acts is for ministry being done as a "team".
Peter and John are a team.
Paul and Barnabas are a team.
Paul and Silas are a team.
At one point, Paul has a whole group of men around him, traveling from town to town.
In addition to his regular buddies, Silas and Luke Ė
(Acts 20:4 KJV) And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
Most of the miracles youíre going to see are done as a team.
Yes, God will use one person in particular.
But rarely will you see a lone ranger out there to change the world by himself.
God uses "togetherness".
Youíve now heard me talk about this for three weeks in a row.
We saw in Acts 2:42 that the church was committed to clinging to "fellowship", to having a "sharingness" together.
We saw last week that the church continued "together" (Acts 2:44), or literally "upon the same thing", and even going so far as to share all their worldly possessions with each other and with those in need.
A couple of weekís ago, I was really blessed to hear that some of you took me up on my "out to lunch" idea, and a group went out to lunch together.
This week itís worse. Iím actually going to ask you to talk to each other Ö now! (gulp!)
Iíve got some questions Iíd like you to ask another person. You donít have to get too personal. You can keep it kind of surface level.
Iíd like for you to get with a person you donít know real well (otherwise this is going to be very boring).
Whatís your name?
Whatís your favorite ice-cream (or dessert)? (important stuff to know!)
Where do you live?
Whatís your occupation? (donít be embarrassed if youíre a stay home mom)
What kind of family do you live in? Married? Kids? Single?
Whatís a simple thing youíd like prayer for? (please donít spill your guts this time)
Youíve got five minutesÖ
Where do we go from here?
If youíre a woman Ė the Ladies are having one of their monthly fellowships tomorrow night at the Wilsonís house.
If youíre a man Ė September 6, Saturday, Menís Outreach Dinner. More details to follow.
Our Bible Studies on Sunday and Wednesday nights are a little bit smaller, and a better chance to meet some people.
Singles on Friday nights, once a month on Saturdays.
Jr. & Sr. High on Sunday nights.
College/Career on Friday nights.
Thereís no reason not to be more connected.
:1 at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
The ninth hour in Jewish standard time is around 3:00 p.m.
Why do you think they were going to the temple at the hour of prayer? To pray.
There was no specific law that said how many times a person was to pray.
But the Jews eventually developed a tradition of praying three times each day, morning, noon, and evening. These were the third hour, the sixth hour, and the ninth hour.
Ps 55:16-18As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. 18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle [that was] against me: for there were many with me.
Even when David was having a hard day, he still prayed.
He found that when he prayed, the "battle" was turned into peace.
Itís interesting to see what kinds of things just "coincidentally" happened during these times of prayer Ė
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit at the third hour (Acts 2:15)
The lame man here is healed at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1)
Peter is praying at the sixth hour when God gives him a vision, showing him that Gentiles can be saved (Acts 10:9)
Cornelius was praying at the ninth hour when an angel tells him to go get Peter, leading to the salvation of the Gentiles (Acts 10:30)
Things happen when people pray.
Iíve begun to loose track of all the times in our church when some crisis turned around, or some person was healed, on a Tuesday.
Our menís intercessory prayer group meets on Tuesday mornings at 6:00 a.m.
Sometimes prayer is an intense spiritual battle, and just starting is difficult.
How many times have you gotten together with your friends to pray, and then you end up spending most of the time just talking, getting distracted, only to spend just a minute or two at the end praying?
I think Satan must think that we just donít get it, that we havenít quite got a grasp on just what a powerful weapon we have in our hands.
Itís as if weíre a little child playing with a loaded gun.
We look at it, we throw it up in the air, we look down the barrel, we make pretend noises "bang, bang, bang".
But weíre never really serious about aiming and pulling the trigger. After all, itís just a toy.
Sometime when we pull the trigger, nothing seems to happen.
But something does happen. And some of the things that weíre praying for can take about twenty or thirty shots before we see the full answer. But youíll never see the answer if you donít fire the first shot.
:2 And a certain man lame from his motherís womb Öto ask alms
This man is in his forties (Acts 4:22), and has been unable to walk since birth. Every day he is brought to the temple to beg.
The word for "alms" means literally "mercy", and this was how the Jews used to take care of the poor and disabled, by begging for money.
The temple would probably be one of the better places to ask for hand outs, especially if there were a crowd of people around, after all, the "religious" people would give if they knew people would see how much they gave (Mat. 6:1-4).
:4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
Why did Peter and John stare at this man? All we can do is speculate.
Something catches their attention.
God uses people with eyes to see.
Hereís this man that doubtless Peter and John have both seen before.
After all, heís been there daily for years. And theyíre not particularly new to temple worship themselves.
Perhaps they had seen him before as they followed their master, Jesus, into the temple.
But theyíve never really seen him like this before.
Itís not that they say to themselves, "Gosh, hereís a lame man, maybe we could heal him!"
Itís just that this time thereís something different about this guy.
Sometimes God seems to "point people out" to you.
Youíve seen them before, but now you know that God wants you to do something, to go over and talk to them.
I think itís also interesting that even though God has just used Peter to lead 3,000 people to the Lord, he still has time (and compassion) to reach out to a hopeless, lame man.
Do you walk around with your eyes "open"?
Are you looking for that person God wants you to reach out to?
:5 expecting to receive something of them.
Iím not sure this man expected anything more from Peter and John than just a few coins.
:6 Silver and gold have I none
No matter what you hear on TV, Jesus and his disciples were not wealthy men.
And no, Peter didnít just leave his money belt at home.
:6 but such as I have give I thee:
Just what does Peter have? Jesus.
We may not always have the faith to raise a lame person to their feet, but we do have Jesus.
Do we realize how important it is to share Jesus with others?
Do we really believe that as sinful humans, we donít live up to Godís standards?
Do we really believe that our sin has caused a separation between mankind and God?
Do we really believe that God loved the world so much that He allowed His only Son to come and die, and pay the price of our sins for us?
Do we really believe that all a person has to do to begin a relationship with God is to ask God for help and forgiveness, and that God will say "yes"?
Such as we have, we should give.
:6 In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
As the representative of Jesus Christ, with the authority given to him by Jesus Christ, Peter now commands the man to get up and walk.
:7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
God uses people with faith.
You have to admit, it took a lot of guts to take the man by the hand and lift him up.
What if he didnít walk? How embarrassing!
But somehow, Peter had the faith that God was the one leading him to minister to this man.
Faith is the ability to trust God, even when you donít see how something is going to happen.
The Bible says:
(Heb 11:1 KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Note -The feet and ankles werenít strengthened until Peter lifted him up.
It often works this way when God wants us to walk by faith.
The result weíre looking for doesnít come until we step out.
Real Life example:
(from Living Water, Chuck Smith, pg.123f)
Pastor Chuck writes this about the gift of faith Ė "Many years ago after a Sunday morning service, some young people wheeled their grandfather up the aisle to where I was standing. They asked me to pray for him. Since he was in a wheelchair, I assumed they wanted him healed so he could walk. So I prayed, "Lord, you are a great God Ė you can do anything. Itís nothing for you to help, whether we are weak or strong. Help us, Lord. We ask now that You would touch this man and that you would heal him. I pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the name above all names." While I was praying I had a very strong urge to lift the man up out of his wheelchair and to command him to walk.
"Now I admit that I had an argument with the Lord. I thought, Lord, is that you telling me to do this? Is it really you? And I hesitated; I was uncertain. I donít normally go around lifting people out of wheelchairs. Yet it was such a strong impression I finally did it. The Lord gave me the faith to ask that the man be healed and then command him to walk.
"When I said, "Amen," I lifted the man to his feet and said, "Now, in the name of Jesus, walk." And the man began to walk (much to my great relief!). He walked up the aisle and then trotted back. His grandkids got so excited they were almost doing handstands. They exclaimed, "Oh! He had a cold and we wanted you to pray that God would heal his cold! He hasnít walked in over five years!" I was glad they hadnít told me that before and I thought, Why werenít you more specific?
Later that same week, on a Wednesday night, I was in Tuscon, Arizona, speaking in a church that I pastored years ago. After the service a man came up to the front, pushing his wife in a wheelchair. She had suffered a stroke and he wanted me to pray that God would heal her so she could walk again. Of course, I immediately thought of the previous Sunday morning. I laid hands on her and prayed that God would heal her. I tried to pray the same prayer I had prayed on Sunday. I wracked my brain, thinking Now, what did I say? When I was through I patted her on the shoulder, encouraged her to continue to trust the Lord, and watched her husband wheel her out of the church. My son, Chuck Jr., who had been with me the previous Sunday morning, asked, "Dad, why didnít you lift her out of the chair like you did the guy last Sunday morning?" And I replied, "Son, the Lord didnít give me the faith to do it."
"If the Lord doesnít give you the faith to do it, I strongly recommend that you donít do it. The healing on Sunday was a gift of faith for that moment and for that situation. Such faith doesnít always come; it isnít there in every situation. And that is why you are able to recognize it as a gift of God."
Caution against presumption Ė
Some people will read this passage in Acts and go up to the next lame person they see and try to do this.
Iíve known a lot of disabled people who feel very victimized by overzealous Christians trying to prove themselves to be the next apostle Peter.
Donít go out and try this just to see if it works.
There are real lives involved here.
Donít try it unless God is really moving you to do it, and then youíd better do it!
:8 walking, and leaping, and praising God.
After Peter lifts the man to his feet, all he can do is to continually walk around, jump up and down, and give praise to God.
:10 filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
Warren Wiersbe writes:
It is easy to see in this man an illustration of what salvation is like. He was born lame, and all of us are born unable to walk so as to please God. Our father Adam had a fall and passed his lameness on to all of his descendants (Rom. 5:12-21). The man was also poor, and we as sinners are bankrupt before God, unable to pay the tremendous debt that we owe Him (Luke 7:36-50). He was "outside the temple," and all sinners are separated from God, no matter how near to the door they might be. The man was healed wholly by the grace of God, and the healing was immediate (Eph. 2:8-9). He gave evidence of what God had done by "walking, and leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:8) and by publicly identifying himself with the Apostles, both in the temple (Acts 3:11) and in their arrest (Acts 4:14). Now that he could stand, there was no question where this man stood!