Today we’re continuing our message series “Church Without Walls.” In this series, we’re studying a church that grew explosively without any church buildings. We are studying the early church’s history, recorded in the book of Acts When we study Acts, we are not just studying it as a work of history, although it is that. We are studying Acts because we believe that God inspired the book to show us an example of how He desires to work in and through the church of all ages.
This morning’s message is entitled “God’s Power.” The book of Acts is all about God’s power. The early church needed God’s power to launch a movement that began with only 120 people into a world-wide movement of hundreds of millions of people. The people who lived in the early church era faced crises of many kinds, including severe persecution and martyrdom. So, it’s not surprising that Jesus himself introduced the theme of God’s power back in chapter 1 of Acts.
Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
The early church had a mission, which is the same as our mission. Their mission was to be witnesses for Jesus to the ends of the earth, so that everyone would hear the Gospel. In order to undertake and ultimately complete their mission, they needed the power of the Holy Spirit. We need that same power today to make an impact for the kingdom of God in our time.
Ephesians 1:18-20 (ESV) … that you may know … what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
God wants us to know, experience and share His power. The power that God makes available to us is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. God’s power is immeasurable, nothing is impossible for God’s power. Because we have the power of God available to us, we can give hope to a world that is anxious, worried and fearful.
Let’s watch a video called “Carriers of Hope.” God wants to use you, He desires to use our church to spread His hope to our world. As we study an account of God’s power in Acts 3 this morning, let’s not just read it as a story of ancient history. Not only is this story an accurate history of what happened, it is an example of what God desires to do through those who have the faith and boldness to believe God. Those who believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So, let’s get started. The first principle we are going to learn today is to …
Acts 3:1 (ESV) Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
What is a divine appointment? It is something that God desires for you to do and He has planned for that appointment or good work to take place. Now in one sense, all of our lives are filled with divine appointments. God has prepared all the good works that we are to do before we were born. I am using the phrase divine appointment as to referring to something that is outside of your normal daily routine.
Now, in this case, as in our lives, following God in our normal daily routines prepares us for extraordinary divine appointments. Peter and John, at this time, had a routine of going to the temple to pray at 3pm. Yet, this day, something extraordinary was in God’s plans for their lives.
Acts 3:2-3 (ESV) 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. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.
This lame man, who couldn’t walk for his entire life, also had a routine. Friends brought him to the temple area so that he could ask for money. Now we don’t know if Peter and John had noticed this man before or not. But on this particular day, he specifically asked for help from the apostles. What were the apostle’s options? They could ignore the man and continue on into the temple. They could give him some money if they had any. But Peter did an unusual thing, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit I believe.
Acts 3:4 (ESV) And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”
Why would Peter say that? Because the man was not looking at him. The lame man was probably calling out to every passerby and keeping his gaze averted to the ground. At this point, Peter knew that this was a divine appointment, that God was going to do something special. So, the man looked at Peter.
Just as it would have been so easy for Peter to miss this divine appointment, so it is easy for us to miss them as well. We all have routines in life and we tend to not want those routines to be broken. So, our temptation is to overlook or ignore the needs of others around us. Yet, the needs of others are often the beginning of a divine appointment if we pay attention.
What are we looking for in a divine appointment? We are looking for a need that God can meet His power working through us. Sometimes, we can meet a need simply with the natural resources and abilities that God has blessed us with. At other times, we need the supernatural power of God to meet the need, which is what happened in our story. Look for divine appointments in the needs of others.
Acts 3:6 (ESV) 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!”
Now we learn that Peter had no money to give the lame man to meet his request. It would have been so easy to dismiss the man. Yet Peter was sensitive to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. He had something much more valuable than money to give to the man. The power of God through the Spirit was inside of Peter, so he gave a command of faith. He told the man to get up and walk, in the name of Jesus, that is in the power of Jesus. Now those words took a lot of faith to speak. The only way that anything would happen was if God’s power broke through and healed the man. Actually, nothing happened immediately after the words were spoken.
Acts 3:7 (ESV) And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.
As Peter reached out and lifted him up, the healing power of God surged through the man’s body and he was healed.
Acts 3:8 (ESV) And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
You remember that this man had never walked before. He had been lame from birth. Now in an instant, his feet and ankles were healed and he was able not only to walk by to leap. All the while he was praising God for this miracle of God’s power.
There are two main ways to speak words of faith. The first way is way that Peter used, to just speak a faith command, as Jesus often did. To speak a faith command, you need to have heard from the Spirit and He has given you the faith to speak it out.
The more common way to speak words of faith is to simply pray a prayer of faith, asking God to meet the need that you’re aware of. It often is best to ask a person if you can pray for their need. Most people will give you permission to pray for them. I believe it is most effective to pray with them so that they can hear your prayer. If that is not possible or they don’t want you to, you can pray privately for them.
Ask the person to keep you updated on what happens and keep in touch with the person. Praying for people’s needs in their presence is a greatly underutilized way to release God’s power into someone’s life. You can pray in person, over the phone or in some type of video call. Don’t miss opportunities for speaking or praying words of faith.
Acts 3:9-10 (ESV) And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 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.
This encounter of the apostles with the lame man began with a simple interaction between three people. However, now that the man had been miraculously healed, many people in the temple grounds noticed and were amazed. A crowd began to gather. So this divine appointment which resulted in the healing of one man, now was morphing into an opportunity to impact thousands.
Peter and John could have just gone on with their prayers and gone home. But Peter recognized that God was giving them a divine opportunity to be witnesses to many more.
Acts 3:12-13 (ESV) And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? … the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus …
So, when Peter saw the crowd gather, he began to speak to the people. Now the natural reaction of people to the miracle would be to assume that the apostles had some supernatural power in themselves. Peter immediately gives glory to God for the miracle and then begins to talk about Jesus. Now the people he was speaking to at the temple were all Jews. So he tells them …
Acts 3:15 (ESV) and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
He speaks of their guilt in putting Jesus to death, but brings the good news of Jesus resurrection from the dead. Peter and John were eye witnesses of the resurrected Christ.
Oftentimes when God gives us a divine appointment, we may miss the opportunities that it opens up for God to work even more. We’re going to focus on the divine appointment of praying for a person’s need, whether for healing or any other issue. In our story, both the lame man and the apostles gave God the glory for the healing. Keep on following up with the person you prayed for until the answer comes.
Then, we also ought to be careful to encourage the person we prayed for to give God glory by sharing their story. And we can share the story as well. In that way, God’s power can impact many more people as the story spreads. Ask God to give you wisdom to use divine opportunities.
Acts 3:16 (ESV) And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Peter continues to talk about Jesus. He makes it clear that the man was healed through faith in Jesus’ power. Peter realizes that the ultimate goal in impacting people’s lives is not just a physical healing. But it is to introduce people to Jesus Christ. Next Peter transitions from the miracle that just happened in Jesus’ name to the appropriate response that the people gathered should have.
Acts 3:19-20 (ESV) Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
He calls the people to repentance from their sins. Turning away from the sin and putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the one who healed the man. The result would be the times of refreshing would come to those who believed. Refreshing from the Lord is another of describing being born again and being filled with the Spirit. Of course, when a person is saved, Jesus comes to live inside of them through the Holy Spirit. Peter takes advantage of this demonstration of God’s power to give a clear salvation witness.
Acts 4:4 (ESV) But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
Thousands of people heard Peter speak in the temple courts and many of them believed. The number of men alone was 5000. God used a simple divine opportunity with one lame man to bring salvation to many thousands of people.
Miracles in the Bible are often called signs and wonders. The provoke amazement, they are wonders and they point to something, so they are signs. As signs, they point to a supernatural God and His Son Jesus. Peter was very clear in his witness to emphasize Jesus, who is unique in all of religions. So, when you see God work a miracle in your life or the life of someone else, look for an opportunity to talk about Jesus. To let people know what they have to do in order to be saved.
Even the most dramatic healing, even raising someone from the dead is not permanent. Everyone will eventually die and enter into eternity. Only repentance and faith in Jesus Christ brings salvation. Have you ever noticed in witnessing that its easier to talk about God than to talk about Jesus? Why is that? Because God means different things to different people and is not offensive. Jesus on the other hand stands simply for Himself and is the one a person must believe in to be saved. Ask God to help you talk about Jesus more.
Today, we’ve looking at the account of the healing of the lame man in Acts 3. We’ve learned the principles of looking for divine appointments and then speaking words of faith. Oftentimes, the easiest way to speak words of faith is to simply offer to pray for someone with a need. When God meets the need, use the divine opportunities that God gives you to talk about how a person can be saved through Jesus. That’s what God’s power is all about.