Sometimes when I am in church, I am blessed with two sermons at one time. One is the sermon being given by the pastor and the other is the sermon the Lord presses on my heart. Last Sunday I had one of those experiences as one of our pastors was teaching through Acts 3:1-10.* My mind was completely engaged in the sermon and I was feeling excited as I heard the concepts Pastor Brent shared. His sermon in a nut shell was, "God interrupts the usual with the unusual to do the undeniable."
This Biblical account is centered around a man who had been born lame. Because of this defect, he was not allowed to worship in the temple and would have been ostracized by his community because people believed birth defects, illnesses, or other afflictions were often a result of a person or his family's sin. He was unable to work and his needs were provided when people took mercy on him and carried him to the Beautiful Gate of the Temple so he could beg. Daily he sat. begging those who came to the temple to pray at the same time every day. The disciples came to pray as was their custom. And the man sat there day after day begging and begging...so used to people walking by that he no longer looked up as he begged.
However, this day was different. The disciples stopped and Peter looked down at the man and asked him to look at them. The man looked up and they told him they had no money to give him, but would give him what they did had. Then Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" He then took the lame beggar by the hands and raised him up. The man didn't just stumble up stiffly like someone who had not used his legs in a long time. He leapt up as his legs became strong. He took a few steps but his joy was so great that he couldn't contain it. He started leaping and praising God as he entered the temple for the first time ever to worship his God.
I love this man's response! I love his joy. I love it that God worked through the disciples to make this man whole. As I read through the gospels and Acts, I often find myself asking the same questions Pastor Brent posed in his sermon, "Why him?" "Why here?" and "Why now?"
God may have chosen this man because He knew the man would rise up and praise Him unashamedly and many people would see the undeniable power of God and be drawn to the Savior. Maybe God wanted people to see the joy and praise that flowed out of the relationship that healed. Maybe when Christ had been by there before, the man's heart wasn't ready to receive healing or Him, but now he was. Or maybe it was just God's will for it to occur on this day, at this time, to this man.
During the sermon I was pondering the fact that Jesus didn't heal every person and was wondering why He chose who He chose. That is when the second sermon began to unfold in my mind. Every person Jesus touched is someone I can relate to and this time it was no different. Maybe, God chose to heal the lame beggar to show me and possibly you that we are all lame beggars.
We were all born spiritually dead and as a result were defective in the sense that the part of us that was to connect our hearts to the heart of God was unable to do its job, just as the man's legs couldn't do their job. In and of our selves we aren't good enough to enter the family of God and we needed Jesus to give us a way in, just as the beggar needed someone to make him whole so he could enter the Temple. So often, we feel defective as a result of our sin or the sin that was inflicted upon us by others and it is God who can free us from that feeling.
We are also like the lame beggar, crying out for what we think we need, when what we really need is more understanding of Jesus. So many of us spend years asking God for things and we are asking amiss either because we don't recognize our true needs or we don't realize how big our God is.
We ask Him to make people love us, not realizing we already possess a love so rich it fills the deepest holes in our hearts so we can become more about giving love than receiving it.
We ask Him for acceptance, not realizing He has taken us out of the Kingdom of Darkness and accepted us into His Kingdom of Light and we are now called His chosen ones. We honestly can't be anymore accepted than that! All we have to do to feel accepted is to embrace the truth.
We ask for healing from addictions, eating disorders, and emotional pain, thinking if we could be set free that we could be close to God. But the truth is that by leaning in to Jesus and being close to Him we live out victory through His power being displayed through our weaknesses.
We ask for wisdom, not realizing that by having Jesus, we have been given the mind of Christ and we can tap into His wisdom by spending time with Him in His Word.
We ask God to free us from the crippling shame with which we are plagued, not realizing the way out of shame is bringing the shameful things to Jesus's light.
When we ask God for something, what we are often really needing is to draw near to Jesus and allow Him into the hidden parts of our lives so that our relationship with Him grows deeper, more powerful, and more satisfying. As believers, we have a God who takes the crippled and makes them whole. We have a God who can show us our true needs. We have a God who can help the unbelief that keeps us from seeing all that we already possess. Oh, that we would never ever forget that we have a powerful God with a great big heart whose resources are infinitely enough to meet our every need. Oh, if we only believed the truth, then we would be filled with the same uncontainable joy the lame beggar had. After all, aren't we are all just different versions of him?
*This sermon can be heard by going to http://www.riverlakeschurch.org/index.php/watch-and-listen/sermons/the-lame-beggar-healed
Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!