- Sermon Notes
Truth For a Change
Illus. To change or not to change…
This morning we open to Acts chapter 3, where we see a man, whose life is miraculously changed by God in an instant. There are facts about the man’s situation that are surely different than the facts of whatever change you may be facing today. The specific setting is surely nothing like anything you have seen, yet I believe there are truths clearly that are applicable for you and me. Through the text, we are given the details, but also some insightful truth for times of change, and this morning we will look at these truths and make it our aim to apply them in our lives today.
Read: Acts 3:1-16
At the end of Acts chapter 2, we read in verse 43 that after 3,000 people began following Jesus on the day of Pentecost and they were filled with awe at the many signs and wonders performed by the Apostles. When we went through Acts chapter 1, Peter and John were two of the 12 Apostles and here we see them doing the work here of apostles.
Hebrews 2:3-4, After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders, and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
The apostles had been commissioned by Jesus’ to preach the gospel to all the earth (Mt. 28:18-20), they had been told they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them to be witnesses for Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8). And here in Acts three we see Peter and John starting their witness to the world, right in Jerusalem. What we see at the beginning of chapter three is a miracle, as the chapter goes on, Peter uses it as an opportunity to give a sermon, and following the sermon, there would be persecution clearly seen.
We will look at each part of the story beginning this week, and in the weeks to come, but we do so with the understanding that the apostles throughout the book of Acts were going to change the world, they would be identified as those who were “turning the world upside down,” (Acts 17:6).
Their changing of the world continues here with a man’s changed life, and this leads us to the first truth for a change that this text gives you and I.
Align With God’s Agenda
Acts 3:1-2, Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been unable to walk from birth was being carried, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order for him to beg for charitable gifts from those entering the temple grounds.
The change that is about to take place is set up by giving the details of what was taking place.
Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, called the hour of prayer. The Jews observed three hours of prayer daily. There was a time of prayer at 9 A.M. in the morning, 12 P.M. in the afternoon, and at 3 P.M.
A devout Jew would pray three times a day.
Psalm 55:16-17, As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
It is at the evening time of prayer that the daily temple crowds would be at their largest.
So, Peter and John, with their mission and commission in mind to make disciples and be witnesses of Jesus to the world are on their way to the temple to pray when the crowds were at their largest, the ninth hour.
Next, we are introduced to a certain man who had been unable to walk from birth and was being carried to the gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful. The purpose for his position was to beg for alms, money, or charitable gifts from those who were entering the temple grounds.
This man is known as a beggar, and his daily routine was to be carried to the temple and beg.
Beggars in Palestine favored three primary locations: homes of the rich (Luke 16:19-21), main highways (Mark 10:46), and the temple. Of the three, the temple was the best site.
Not only were there large crowds, but the crowds at the temple were also interested in giving alms to the poor publicly in order to impress people with their ability to fulfill their religious obligation.
The Beautiful Gate was one of the favored entrances into the temple complex. Jewish historian Josephus wrote about this gate. It is identified as being 75 feet tall and made out of Corinthian brass, it was so large that it took twenty men to close it.
I picture the scene as Jesus presented what was shown by many in their day.
Matthew 6:1-4, “Take care not to practice your righteousness in the sight of people, to be noticed by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “So, when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, so that they will be praised by people. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your charitable giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
The scene is important to our understanding because what is taking place is very routine. The man is laid in front of the beautiful gate every day.
The man mentioned has never been able to walk. It is not as if he used to walk and can no longer walk, rather, his position, and disposition, or outlook on his life is, “this is just the way it is.”
He has always been a beggar; he has never had the strength in his legs to be anything else. And from Acts 4:22, we understand that the man was more than forty years old.
For forty years he had seen other people pass him by, for forty years missing opportunities, for forty years moved to begging daily as his only means, and his only mode of operation.
Illus. Passed by?
John 9:1-3, As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9, There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
For Paul, things did not change, for the man born blind in John 9 the works of God would be displayed, and for the lame man in Acts 3, we see here powerfully that though he had been begging for most of his forty years, God was going to do something new.
Isaiah 43:19, Behold, I am going to do something new, now it will spring up; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
The Lord was giving a new assignment to Peter and John, and they accepted it, they were aware of it…They saw the man and understood God was up to something in their interaction, He was doing something new.
Trust Jesus with the Change You Didn’t Ask For
Acts 3:3-7, When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple grounds, he began asking to receive a charitable gift. But Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us!” And he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not have silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!” And grasping him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.
The man gives them his attention, expecting to receive something… His daily desire was for charitable gifts, for money. But Peter said, “I do not have silver and gold…”
With these words, the man may have thought Peter and John were missing the point. Without silver and gold, he may have thought that they could not help him, they were not able to give what he believed was what he needed to get through.
Peter and John, he is asking for money, for gold, silver, for change. And he was going to receive change, but not the type of change he was asking for.
Illus. Change course?
The man had something specific he was asking for, alms, and it was the alms that had kept him going thus far, but the Lord had more in store.
Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
That is what the Lord did in the life of the beggar, exceedingly abundantly far beyond what he would ask or even think. I imagine that when he heard Peter say, “I have no silver or gold,” it was just another disappointment in a long list of discouragement and disappointment…But God was going to do something, that very day!
Perhaps this is similar to your situation today, perhaps you feel that your situation cannot change, you have heard from people that they have nothing for you, but I want to point you to faith, because you may have been in your present state day after day, for forty years…But today just might be the day that God does exceedingly abundantly, above what you ask or think.
Acts 3:7-9, And grasping him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they recognized him as being the very one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg for charitable gifts, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The man gets the change he didn’t ask for, that which is exceedingly abundantly beyond what he could ask or think, and his response is praise…He is walking, and leaping, and praising God!
The temple service was changed that day…The people in there saw him and recognized him as the very one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate begging for money.
He was changed, it was in the name of Jesus, he knows it, and he cannot help but to praise.
And I recognize that this type of change is the type of change that is easier to trust in. You see things go from bad to great, a praise comes out of you that you just cannot contain!
Other changes come about, ones that go the other way, ones that are difficult to understand, difficult to see how they fit into His good and perfect plan, when it takes all you have to simply stand…and that is where you have to remain in the place of trusting Jesus with the change you didn’t ask for.
Since our Lord is the Lord of exceeding and abundantly above, then it is imperative we begin trusting Him when the direction of the path isn’t headed down the course we previously mapped out.
When you do not have the product, just the promises. I encourage you to trust Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Walk by Faith as You Go Forward
As the man once lame, now stands with Peter and John, the people are amazed.
It is at this point that Peter points the people who are amazed not to their own power, but to Jesus.
Specifically, that what made the man well, what caused Him to stand after being a lame man, a beggar for his entire life was faith in Jesus’ name. That is what made him strong, that is what gave him the “perfect soundness” in the presence of all the people.
The powerful change that took place, was on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name.
Illus. The Name.
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
In the midst of change, you need truth to hold onto, to be aligned with God’s agenda, to trust Him in the change you didn’t ask for, and to walk by faith as you go forward.
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.