November 18, 2012   Acts 3:1 – 16     Be Thankful

    It is a beautiful picture here to see men who love Jesus going to the house of the Lord to pray.  It is beautiful to see people go to church to meet with God and to worship Jesus.  The Psalmist said I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord.   The theme of Acts chapter 3 through chapter 5 is powerful Christian witnessing and miracles with the resulting opposition and resistance of the Jewish leaders.  Where God is blessing there are needs and often there is persecution or trials.   The Jewish leaders fruitlessly tried to stop and squelch the gospel.   The enemy may hinder the work of God but the gates the hell will not prevail.  We see Peter walking in the power of the HS and working miracles in the name of Jesus.  Peter is able to heal people like Jesus did.  He acted in the name of Jesus and we see the continuing of the ministry of Jesus upon the earth after his departure.   There is the continuing of the ministry of Jesus and the power of Jesus to help people.  Many people are coming to the Lord.   Lives are being changed and there is much to rejoice and to be thankful for.   This miracle happened as Peter and John was going to the temple at 3:00 in the afternoon to go to the hour of prayer.  The NT tells us to pray without ceasing.    Prayer is to be a priority of our life.   It is a good idea to pray in God’s temple.  Good public worship incorporates prayer.   So they are on their way to worship God, pray, serve God and good things happen when people do that.  They are going to the temple and there is a need and where there is a need there is an opportunity for God to do something special. 

     There was a poor lame beggar at the temple.  Perhaps he was a middle age man we do not know for sure.  One could only guess how many people turned away from him.   He is not a normal person and he does not fit into society.   His presence does not present a comfortable situation for most people.  He is different.  How many people turned away from him?  All he could do was beg for himself.   If you needed to beg where would a person go?  You would go where there are Christians and where people give.  There were 3 places in Palestine where beggars liked to go.    They would like to go to the houses of the rich and the main highways and to the temple.  You would want to go where there are people and where there are people with money.   The temple was probably the best place.   The crowds would throng the temple daily and many would come with thoughts about God.   I believe the people who are thinking about God are more likely to be giving people.   The giving of alms was important to the Jews.  Proverbs says he that turns away his ear from the crying of the poor will also cry himself and will not be heard.  

      Let’s think about this poor man for awhile.   Life is not fun for him.  He is totally dependent upon others.    For years his family or friends took care of him.  Perhaps someone would carry him every day to the temple gates to beg or perhaps they would put him on a little cart and transport him.  Someone needed to cook and care for him.  He needed help to bathe and have his clothes washed.  Day in and day out he goes to the temple to beg all-day and then back home again.  What a difficult life?   How would you feel if you were crippled like that?   I suspect that there were days he would complain.   Can you picture him saying some of the following comments?    I am sick and tired of begging every day.   Why me Lord?   Why was I born lame from birth?   Well some of the people were kind of mean to me today.  Some of them made some smart remarks and a lot of folks just ignored me.  Some perhaps went to another gate to avoid him like those in the story of the Good Samaritan where the priest passed by the other side.  Many would ignore him and turn from him.   Some days were no doubt pretty slim pickins.   He probably would tell his friends or family nobody wanted to give much today.   I expected a lot but I got nothing.   I can’t even buy supper tonight.  In fact I feel like I have been hungry for days with next to nothing to live on.  I can hear him say to his buddies you do not want to be in my shoes.   I wonder if this man was at the point of desperation.   God can meet us at our point of desperation.   We need to be careful at the point of desperation.  This man has been humbled.   It is better to be humble than proud.     It has been said that pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow.   A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.   God has worked in this man’s life. 

    There is good news because this man is on God’s list.   God has special plans for this man.   I like that a lot.   He has special plans for you and for this church.      He is a good candidate for what is going to happen because many people knew him after all he goes to the same place every day.   It was his home away from home.    If you gave money to a person several times you probably would remember them.    Can’t you picture someone saying I remember that guy I gave him a denarius every year for the last whatever years?    Every time I come to the temple I shell out for him.  By the way churches and people need to be very careful today on whom they give money to because there are so many who prey on others who really do not have a need or they use the money unwisely to try to satisfy whatever they are into.    I just saw on Nat Geo where there are professional drug addicts who are in Los Vegas who live on donations.     

    He was at the gate called Beautiful at the temple.    The beautiful gate inside of the temple was on the east side and separated the court of the gentiles from the court of the women.     It was large gate 75 feet high and ornate and according to Josephus it was made of Corinthian brass and was so big it took 20 men to close it.     The beggar was outside of the gate to beg.  The gate was used to let people in to the temple to pray.  A gate is used to pass through, to gain entrance for some and gates are used to keep others out.    To get closer to God you needed to pass through the gate.  To join others in prayer you needed to pass through and pray.  But this man was born lame and he could not join them.  He was stuck in the other court.   That is what I believe and what is believed to be where the money changers were.   Jews and gentles could mingle in the other court and that is where he was stuck.    So here is a beautiful gate with a very needy and sad person in front of it. 

     We see in him the condition of mankind without God.   He is a picture of you and me without God.   Can you see yourself like this man without God?   Without Jesus we have no righteousness.   We cannot enter into heaven without Jesus.   We need God in our lives.  We need his help and his presence.    Without Jesus because of our sinful nature we are wretched, poor, naked and blind.   Without Jesus we are strangers to the heavenly city and without hope.  Revelation 22 Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.    Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.     But Jesus can bring us through the gate of beautiful and into His blessings.     Through Jesus we can come in to the very presence of God.    

      Sometimes Christians spend too much time on the wrong side of the gate of beautiful. You do not have to be in church to be inside of the Gate of Beautiful.   Sin and unbelief and busyness keep us from entering the gate of beautiful.  Man’s lusts and pleasures that consume his time and causes him not to be a person of prayer keeps him outside.  Some complain, argue, and beg outside of the gate and Jesus says come on in.  Drop your murmurings and drop your doubts.  Come to the waters you won’t be denied.   The world sees this man and thinks his need is 5 bucks for supper.  Give him 5 bucks for a burger and he is all set for the day.  He can buy a sandwich at the local sandwich shop and his needs are met.  That is all you need to do is throw some money at the situation.  Just throw some money his way and everything is a OK.   Well that is not exactly correct is it?    God can see much deeper than the world sees and God sees past his external condition to the heart and his soul and God can change things.  He can do the same for you also.    Most men and probably this man wanted to be productive.     Most of us at least like to care for ourselves.  

      Peter looked at him and said look on us.  It is important where your eyes are focused.   The song writer says turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in his beautiful face.   We do not know how much this man trusted God day by day for his food.   Sometimes we just take our food for granite but God is one who blesses us with food to eat and we need to trust God for our food.    One could wonder if Peter had a few extra dollars on him if he would have just given him some money but God certainly had other things in mind.   God did not allow or give to Peter silver or gold at that point.   Sometimes we are more blessed without silver and gold.    The Psalmist said your word is more precious than gold yea much fine gold.  

      There were 2 needs here and silver and gold would not satisfy either need.   The man needed Jesus just like every man.  The man also needed to be healed.   Silver and gold would not meet those needs.    Peter also had no way of curing the man but he knew Jesus who could.   The man’s spirit probably began to be sad when he heard the words silver and gold I do not have.   Peter says in the name of Jesus, in the authority of Jesus, in the power of Jesus rise up and walk.  Come on in.  Leave that lameness behind.  Come on in and enjoy the beauty and blessings of what is on the other side.    Some day Jesus is going to say to us come up thither.   Come on up we are done with this life of struggle and sin.  Come on up there death and sorrow and pain are not up here.   There is glory here. 

       In the will of God there are times to say stand up and walk.   Stand up and walk toward God.   Stand up and be a man.  Stand up and be a woman of God.   Let God’s people go.     There is a time for the gate to open.    In the name of Jesus get up and walk.   It is quite a picture of healing here because he receives his coordination and balance right away.    He was crippled from birth from the womb and gets right up and walks and jumps.    He does not have to learn how to walk.    We do not need to stumble around or lay outside crippled, crippled with life or sin.  You can’t get through the gate of beautiful without the right password.  It is a simple word it is Jesus.   The lame man received the word and the person Jesus.  He looked, he expected, he stood up.  He could have said no.  He turned from his feebleness; he turned from his condition, he turned from his rags, to God.  He quit looking for silver and gold.  What a moment for this man!  What a blessed moment for him.  What a blessed moment for the church of God!   He passes through the gate of beautiful where he gazed longingly for years.  He passed through with the apostles and with the redeemed of all ages.  He entered into the temple and the house of God.  He found himself where no human hand or power could put him.  He found himself where he himself could never go on his own.  God lifted him from the dirt to walk like a man.  The man felt quite at home for he is walking and leaping and praising God.  May God give you the same blessing and joy on this earth.  May God move heaven and if need be hell for you.

      This is somewhat a picture of us each week.     We come to church hungry to meet with God.    We come with a desire to worship and feel and sense God in our life.   We may come tainted by the world and we may come a little down and needy spiritually.    We come and give and worship and God fills our cup.   He washes us with His word and Jesus blood.    His spirit ministers unto us.    When you walked in this morning did you come through the gate of beautiful?    When we come we enter the holies of holies.     We leave our fears, anger, doubts, lusts, and complaints outside and allow God to heal us and bless us.   We come to our Fathers table and worship and feast.   Come to the table.   Come and dine the master is calling come and dine you can feast at Jesus table anytime.   God is inviting you to come in.   When you come through the gate of beautiful and you come into his presence and get blessed then you can take some of the heavenly with you into the world and pass it on to others who are outside of the gate.  God visited this man and his life was changed.