Helping a Needy World Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Helping a Needy World
The book of Acts tells us in simple terms how the early Church functioned and affected its world. It must have been exciting to have been part of that small group of believers and to see first hand what God was doing to build the Church.
So far in our study of Acts, we have seen how the Lord provided for His disciples, and we have seen the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. That was a day which can never be repeated. There was a Church because the Holy Spirit had come to live within believers. He was indwelling believers, and He filled them with His love and power. Just as you and I cannot repeat Bethlehem, neither can we repeat Pentecost. But we do need the power of the Holy Spirit today. Thank God He is within the world; convicting the world and restraining evil in the world. We don’t have to seek Him; He is indwelling all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, we are going to look at an interesting experience in the life of the young Church-we are going to study the healing of a lame man. There are three things that we can learn as we study this very remarkable incident:
1. First, it will help us to understand what has brought the Church to this point.
2. Second, we will see that the obedient believers were praying.
3. Third, it will be shown that the world needs someone to reach out a hand of faith to the people.
Let’s begin our study by looking at what has brought the Church to this point.
The believers had been given a command and two promises. The command was to stay in Jerusalem. We read in Acts chapter 1 and verse 4, that Once when he (Jesus) was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. He said, “Wait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about.”
Promise number 1 was that they would receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them, John baptized people with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Last week, we studied how the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost; it was a wonderful demonstration of God’s power.
Promise number 2 was, Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go.
The disciples obeyed the command to stay in Jerusalem, and on the Day of Pentecost, they received the first promise. The Holy Spirit came in an astonishing way and they received the power of the Holy Spirit. While they waited for the Second Coming, they were to live lives full of victory and joy. To do this they would have to be obedient to God’s guidance. In chapter 2 of Acts, we read how the believers were obedient and God blessed them through His wonderful Spirit. When we read about the Holy Spirit, it is important to always remember that the Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is “Him”-God’s special way of being with His people. When we surrender our wills totally to Him, we enter into the life promised in Isaiah 1:19; there it says, If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land. This was God’s promise to Israel, that if they obeyed Him, they would eat the good of the land; but if they rebelled, the very next verse says they would be eaten or “devoured” by the sword.
Many Christians struggle in an attempt to be good and are even exhausted by their efforts because they have never truly surrendered their wills to His way. In too many lives the clay is trying to dictate to the potter what it wants to be.
In the 18 Th chapter of Jeremiah, it says that Jeremiah was commanded to go to a potter’s house in order to learn a lesson. There he saw that the Potter had two wheels or circular stones connected by a vertical shaft. He could spin the lower wheel with his feet, causing the upper wheel to rotate. This enabled both hands to be free in order to work the clay. Should the vessel become marred, or any impurity be detected, the potter would not discard the clay, but simply remold it into another vessel.
The lesson here, is that God has the right to remold His people; He can remove them, judge them, build them up or bless them. The clay itself has no power what so ever; and that is the way with believers-we need to allow God to mold us by being obedient to Him.
One of my favorite songs has these words, I’m glad He didn’t throw the clay away. I guess that I like that song, because God never gave up on me, and He is still forgiving me and watching over me. He is still molding me and working on me.
Now let’s read our text for today:
1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;
3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”
5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
6 Then 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.”
7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
We have seen that it was obedience that brought the Church to this point, so now let’s observe that the obedient believers are praying. Twice we have seen the importance of prayer in the Early Church. In chapter 1, they were praying when the Holy Spirit came, and here, in chapter 3, they are on their way to a prayer meeting. The encounter mentioned in verses 2 and 3 would have been very normal. It says, And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
Peter and John were going into the temple to pray, and to present the Gospel. This shows us that after the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John still went up to the temple to pray. All the believers, there in Jerusalem were Israelites or proselytes, and they continued to go to the temple to pray. It was three o’clock in the afternoon and the courtyard would have been full of people who were praying because this was one of the appointed times for prayer. At this time, the custom was for a priest to offer incense with his prayers