This past week, I had the privilege of sharing with the Tuesday night Bible study where we discussed the significance of understanding “what is our mission”. We all have missions within this life but each are associated with periods in our life. Whether it is a mission to raise up Godly children or to be a good Sunday school teacher or a good pastor or preacher. Even in this quarters Holiness Today the editor in chief illustrates in his article A Ministry for Everyone, that “We believe that God offers guidance and direction to all of His children, not just ministers….God challenges us to find a place of meaningful service in His Kingdom work. He invites us to join together in His mission to our world.” (Moore, 2) There are missions throughout our lives which in some ways define who we are and what we do. Our Lord gave us a mission at the beginning of the book of Acts, to go and make disciples of all nations. This mission was explicit to not only the disciples of that day but you and me today as well. However as we discovered last week, our mission as a child of God is not fully revealed in our lives until we experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for everyone and that when we experience it in our lives, our Christian life experiences new promise and purpose that are impossible without him.
The other truth that was revealed in Tuesday night’s Bible study is that experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit is both daunting/scary step in our faith and few embrace this step in their Christian walk due to the calling that is associated with it. There are a few that have experienced this moment in their spiritual lives, and without a doubt experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit will forever change who you are as a believer. Just as your life was changed in a moment when salvation is realized so too is our life changed when the baptism from a power on high is experienced. So this morning, the title of my sermon is the question that we are called to consider, “are we expecting to receive?”. In this life we expect so many things. We expect to receive our paycheck at the end of the pay period. We expect to receive what we order on a menu when we place an order at a restaurant and the restaurant expects to receive payment for that order. This life is filled with expectation both from us and from those around us. So why is it that when we experience the throne room of our Lord that we no longer expect His hand in our life? Whether it is for our healing, our freedom from sin, our baptism of His Holy Spirit. So this morning “are you expecting to receive”?
Scripture – Acts 3:1-10 (ESV)
The Lame Beggar Healed
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Engaging the Word
We see here as Peter and John are entering the temple at the hour of prayer. You may be asking yourself why would Peter and John be entering the temple at all, when our Lord has been revealed in their lives. These men have received salvation in their lives through our Lord Jesus Christ, they have been baptized by the Holy Spirit as illustrated in chapter 2 of Acts so why do we find them entering the Jewish temple that day. Firstly not that they are not entering the temple at the time of sacrifice because the ultimate sacrifice has been made in our Lord. They are entering during a time of prayer because they know that prayer is essential to the life of the believer, because they saw their Lord do it time and time again. Their Lord entered the temple time after time not there to embrace the ritualistic nature of man but rather to give hope to man. That day as Peter and John were entering the temple they were there for two purposes; one to commune with our Lord in prayer and two to give hope to those who had none. So as Peter and John are walking into the temple that day, they are confronted by this lame beggar who had been at the temple since birth. This man as we discover at the end of Acts 4, had been at the temple for over 40 years. Many had walked past this man, in fact it is even likely that our Lord had perhaps walked by this man before. So why is it that our Lord did not chose to heal this man before, yet He chose to heal this man when Peter and John walk by? God’s timing is perfect. Whether we like to admit it or not, our Lord’s purpose is revealed in his timing and will. That day unlike perhaps before, 5000 were saved through the work of our Lord in ways that perhaps before would not have been revealed in the hearts of men. Our Lord picked this specific time for the lives of Peter, John, the beggar and those at the temple to reveal his heart. So today if you have been expecting to receive from our Lord in days gone by but have not and are growing tired; carry on for God is not a respecter of persons and even when we are faithless He is faithful. Keep knocking for our Lord will answer your prayers. It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow but know that God is faithful and He will answer your call, as we remain faithful to his calling.
Where are we looking?
In verse 4 we see that Peter directs the man to “look at us”. These are very important words to this man and to us today as well. Too often our spiritual attention is focused upon areas to which we lose the spiritual perspective. Focus our efforts upon the works of the church. We focus our efforts upon the fun fellowship of the church. We focus our efforts upon those things that are the fruit of our Lord and not upon the presence of our Lord. Then we wonder why our efforts don’t experience the blessings of our Lord to the extent that we see here in Acts. These three words that Peter spoke was for the purpose of God having the opportunity to speak into the life of this man that day. In last week’s bible study we were reminded of the disciples who too often saw the “kingdom of God” as an earthly kingdom and not the heavenly kingdom our Lord was desiring to reveal in the hearts of men. We were reminded of the agendas that too often man holds to only to discover it fall away as it is not revealed through the heart of our Lord. Here again today, we are reminded that if we desire to experience the revival of the Holy Spirit experienced in our life that we are called to look into the presence of our Lord. Not at the pursuits of man but at the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. That day as this man was sitting outside the gate of the temple he had to physically turn away from that which brought him assurance and hope (in the alms), and turn to that which held promise and yet a step of faith. Today we need to ask ourselves, what are we looking at? As we expect to receive, is our expectation based upon Christ and his glory or upon our agendas and desires?
Fixing our Attention
In verse 5 we see as the beggar was asked to look at Peter and John, he turns and “fixes his attention on them”. This man had been to this same temple since birth. He had seen men come and go. He had seen priest, perhaps prophets, and maybe even the Son of God and in this moment he knew that this was his opportunity to respond. This was his moment. So this man, is expecting to receive something from this men. He has no idea what. He had probably seen person after person pass him by only to see an coin thrown his way from time to time. For these men to call him and tell him to look their way, meant that they were about to give him something that was going to be special. That was going to be more than just another coin thrown at his pitiful situation.
So as this man fixed his attention upon them that day, what do you think his immediate response was when Peter said “Silver and gold I do not have but I give you what I do have, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” This man may have been perplexed. He had not heard these men preach. He did not know who they were. He did not know that they were disciples of our Lord. So in this moment, as Peter tells him that he is about to be healed do you think that this man was ready for what he was about to receive? Probably not, but God desired to us this man to reveal his glory to those who had crucified him. That day as this man was told to turn his attention to Peter, I am sure there had been times where he had been picked on. Perhaps people had thrown things at him. Perhaps people had talked about him. Within the context of that time, the Jews believed that suffering was the result of your sin, so this man may have even wondered what he could have done to deserve to be lame in this life. This man could have maintained his fixation upon that which he knew (his alms). He could have ignored Peter and John, thinking that they were about to pick on him. He could have chosen to just ignore them, but he knew that he was about to receive something incredible that day from these men. Today we have to ask ourselves, what do we fix our eyes upon? For many of us we have been coming to this same church, Sunday after Sunday, year after year and unfortunately have found ourselves fixing our attention upon those things that we know. Today our Lord is calling us to turn our fixation away from the known and turn our attention to the unknown. As Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” This morning, do you find yourself focused upon that which you know, or are you laying aside every weight and sin, running the race to win as you set your fixation upon our Lord Jesus Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
A Leap of Faith
As this man fixes his eyes upon Peter and John and is somewhat perplexed and overwhelmed by what is given to him, He is next given faith and asked to take a step of faith. Peter looks into the eyes of this man that day, takes him by the hand and tells him that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth he is to rise up and walk. Peter raises this man up to his feet and immediately this man’s ankles are restored. So in verse 8 we see as this man begins his step of faith by leaping up and beginning to walk. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that “we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight”. Why have we lost faith in the church? Too often in the church today we have found ourselves walking by sight because we have lost our faith. We are struggling in the church, so rather than pressing into our faith in Christ we look to music programs, great speakers, things that we can see not those things that we can’t see. Unfortunately it is the only the exceptional believer who is seriously engaged in walking by faith today. We fill our lives too often with the things that we can see in this life only to lose out on the promises we cannot see in Christ. Our Lord had such promise for that lame beggar that day, and he could have chosen not to believe what God was doing for him in that moment. He could have sat back down to that which he knew, but that day, I chose to take a step of faith and leap for God.
As we see here in these couple of verses it took two men to take a step of faith, to reveal a promise not only in the heart and life of one man but in the heart and life of 5000 other men and women. That day as these men answered the call of God upon their life to walk by faith and not by sight, they had no idea how God was going to use their mustard seed faith to flame a revival in the lives of those around them. Imagine what God can do with each one of us if we will just stop being scared of the Holy Spirit will reveal in our lives and take that step of faith. Imagine not only what will be revealed in our lives, but imagine what will be lost in the lives of those around us if we do not take that step of faith. Today the 5000 are waiting for each of us, if we will just reach out into darkness for Christ and when called to walk we leap for God.
These men, were not men of the church, they were men of God.
- They revealed their hearts as they expected to receive. They expected receive from our Lord as they looked to God. Not to the church they were standing in front of, but to the Son of God where all hope and promise is revealed.
- They revealed their hearts as they fixed their attention not on that which they knew but on the unknown that lay before them. They ran the race to win, fixing their eyes upon our Lord, Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Not on the programs, traditions and knowns of today’s Christianity but on the promise and heart of God.
- They revealed their hearts as they leap in faith. These men could have remained where they were in their spiritual journey but they chose to one reach out in faith where there was none and secondly embrace faith when given promise in Christ.
Today, are you tired of sitting at the doorway to the house of God, desiring radical promise in God? Are you tired of doing the same thing, Sunday to Sunday? Are you tired of seeing others experience the radical promise of God and not see that healing leap in your life? Today, God has promise for you in His Holy Spirit. Today our Lord desires to give you a radical life in a radical church if you will just take a step of faith. Today God desires to see you walking and leaping and praising God if you will just begin to walk.