Saturday, November 12, 2011

Practical Apps From the Book of Acts, Pt 3: Give Whatcha Got

Acts 3:1-10

1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer — at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man, who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

I want us to look at three particular aspects of this event and see what the Lord would teach us.

1. Peter and John did not have what was requested of them

Look in verses 2 and 3. Money is what the lame man thought that he needed most. Seems natural, doesn’t it since he was not capable of earning his provision? In this case, the apostles could not meet his request. They had no money to give. Have you ever found yourself in this place, where you would like to help someone, but do not have the means to meet there request? I know I have. Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”(Matt 5:42 NIV)

If you take His word seriously, then when you face a situation where you can’t give what the person thinks they need, you kind of go through an emotional turmoil. You know that you can’t meet the requested need but you don’t want to just say “sorry, can’t help” and leave it at that. So, what do we do? Maybe we need to ask ourselves this question: Is it possible that the Lord purposely put a person in our path that had a need we were not able to meet, so that person could have a deeper need met? And maybe it is a need that God could use us to meet? That brings us to point number two.

2. What the apostles did have, was given to them by the Holy Spirit. The result was that they could give something that was better than what was requested.

Have you ever read this account and wondered what would have happened, had Peter and John actually had some money to give this man? Would they just have given it to him and been on their way to prayer? That certainly could have been a good thing. I am sure that the man would have been happy just to receive some money. That would have helped him for a time. The apostles could also feel good about it. After all, they would have given what had been asked for and still made it to prayer on time. It would have all been very spiritual, right?

I know that I have done that many times. Doing only that which would meet the requested need, but not taking the time to see if the Holy Spirit was directing me to do something more, something that makes an eternal difference in someone’s life, not just temporal. It is obvious that what Peter did completely changed this man’s earthly life, but this event affected His eternal soul as well. In verse 8 we see that the man gave praise to God, not Peter, so apparently he knew where the healing came from. Look at verse 16

(Acts 3:16 NIV) By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

Since Peter was being led by the Spirit, not only did the lame man benefit, but so did others who were watching. It gave Peter a chance to preach a gospel message and it says in Acts 4:4 that many who heard the message believed. By the way, isn’t this a great example of Romans 8: 28? Again, what they received was not something temporal, but eternal. They received the gift of salvation. What could be better or more valuable than that? Now, on to point number three

3. We are only called to give that which we have already received.

It is important to realize that God does not ask us to give something that we have not received. For example, when it comes to financial giving, we are only asked to give a portion of what He has already blessed us with. Since this is not a treatise on financial giving, let me just briefly point out that in the OT they were asked to give from the first fruits of their labor. (Dt 18:4, 26:2) In the NT we are told to give with a cheerful heart (2 Co 9:7) and in proportion to what God has given us. (9:10) Nowhere does the Bible teach that we are to financially give something that we have not been given. I believe this principle holds true for all things that we are to give out. After all, how could we give out something we have not received? It is not like have a spritual credit card, where we can give it out now and receive it later. We give out grace to others as we have received it already.

In Mt 10:8 Jesus sent out the disciples to the lost sheep of Israel. He told them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out demons. They were only able to do this because they had been given this power by the Lord Himself. Jesus said to them, “Freely you have received, freely give.” But, you say, “Jesus doesn’t give us that same power, does He?” That has been a matter of some debate but there are things that we know that He has given all of us. What are they?

Well, if you are a Christian, then you have received:

1. Salvation by Faith – (Eph 2:8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

2. So, if you have been saved, it is through the gift of faith that God has given you. You have been given a measure of faith.

3. You have received the Holy Spirit – (1 Cor 6:19-20 NIV) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

So then, all of us have the Holy Spirit and He gives us gifts. In Romans 12:6 Paul states we have these gifts, “according to the grace given us” Lists of these gifts can be found in Romans 12 and 1Cor 12. Everything we have been given can be considered a part of the measure of grace we have been given, including spiritual gifts and talents.

A few examples of these gifts are wisdom, counsel, guidance, supernatural knowledge, discernment, exhortation, mercy, serving and yes healing,. Paul tells us that these gifts are meant to be used for the building up of the body of Christ. (Ro12:12) He also tells us that we all have different gifts given to us. We are only expected to use the ones we have received. I will tell you though, that when you open yourself up to be used by the Holy Spirit, He may give you a gift that you have never before had, in order to meet the need presented to you.

Then Paul goes on in Ro 12:9-21 to give you a bunch of ways that we give of ourselves in obedience and service to God. You see, what God really wants is for us to give our entire being back to Him, Body, Soul and Spirit. (please read them) Then in Rom 12:1-2, he says this, 2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Do you sometimes wish God would use you more than you are being used? Do you look at the example of the apostles and think, “Gee, I wish that God would use me in that way?” Well, a big part of receiving from the Lord is our asking Him. We should ask Him to pour out His grace abundantly and give us all that He desires for us to have. James says we have not because we ask not, but we also need to put some effort into the receiving and be ready and willing to give out what He gives us. Let me give you an example:

Acts 8:26-35 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31 "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." 34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

You see here that Philip was prepared. He was led by the Spirit, he knew the Scriptures and was willing and available to be used. Part of offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is that we spend time in bible study and prayer, receiving from the Lord so that we will be ready to give it away. When you do, you will truly understand what Jesus meant when He said that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20) When we do that, He will give us all that we need, in order to use us to “give” to others. So, let’s review these points




But let’s remember, it is our job to put ourselves in a place where we are ready to receive all that God wants to give us. And as we give it away, may God get all the glory!

God bless, Coach

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