By Beth Wyatt
I would like to preface this by saying that I am not up here to talk about myself, but I hope that through what I share this morning, that I can be an example of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. I am profoundly an introvert and would be a recluse if I thought I could get away with it. But the Lord has other plans for me, and I’ve heard Him with ears to hear. I stand in the midst of our gifted teachers and I am humbled. I am the coffee maker and love to be in the background. But I know it’s far more important to listen to the Holy Spirit and be obedient than to remain in my comfort zone. When I was initially asked to share this teaching, my first reaction was to say no. Not so much because I was nervous or felt unworthy. For me, it was because, for a year now, I have been experiencing a physical pain in my neck that sometimes complete side-lines me. The pain itself feels as if I have been smacked upside the head with a 2X4. I often cannot focus or concentrate and cannot hold a thought in my head of more than a couple of seconds. I thought I would have to decline because I simply wasn’t capable of doing it. Then I remembered how big our God is, and I could ask the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to fill me. I was willing to be obedient and allow Him to speak through my cracked little clay jar, and that is why I can stand up here this morning. Do you really know that you have received the Holy Spirit when you were reborn? And do you truly understand you can ask to be filled anew each morning?
We cannot see or hear the Holy Spirit, but He is very real, alive, and present. It is only through Him that we have access in prayer to the Father. He hears every prayer and thought we have. From the moment we receive Jesus as our Savior, we then live and breath in the Spirit. This is so important for us to understand! We can also count on Him for His power to come upon us as we have need, as we will see with Peter as he heals the lame man. And I hope I can be a good example of that need of being filled by standing up here today, completely trusting the Holy Spirit to speak through me, no matter the limitations I may have, or attacks I may encounter.
A quick refresh from Diane’s teaching last week about the acts of Jesus, before His ascension. She spoke of His request that the apostles remain in Jerusalem until He would send the promise of His Father and they are endued with power from on High…. the Holy Spirit! And, we learned, that though the work Jesus had begun while here, it carried on when the Holy Spirit arrived in a powerful way, equipping the apostles to perform signs and wonders. Not of themselves, but by the Holy Spirit through them. In Matt 12:38-39, Jesus made it clear that miracles manifested physically aren’t as important as the miracle of spiritual healings. I know that God still performs physical miracles today. I am an example of one. And that is a very good thing. But I was much happier when I realized I had not only been healed of a profound disability, a destructive force, sin really, of 38 years, He had also healed my broken heart and returned soundness to my mind and rescued my very soul. Since we’re going to spend far more time in eternity, His Power exhibited in our inner life, our very spirits is a far far greater thing.
I would like to begin this study in Acts chapter 3 by mentioning I was struck by the relevance between this year’s study being called Walking in the Spirit and this chapter beginning with the healing of a lame man…who then walked.
More about that in a minute. Its very important to begin each study in the Bible with the prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to give us the ears to hear, eyes to see and the heart to receive….
When I first attempted to read the Bible, it was pretty much gibberish to me, when I was reborn and did not know better, I read it as a book and received lots of stories and info but when I realized I held the Divine Word of our living God in my hands, that is when He began to speak to me of the deeper things …my life went from black and white to full-on technicolor, and remains so!
READ ACTS 3:1-10 A LAME MAN HEALED AND THE GATE BEAUTIFUL
I could have parked for days on just these first 10 verses, and I kind of did. What impacted me initially wasn’t just the fact that Peter and John healed a man lame from birth, but that it was a picture of all of us lame from birth! From the time of Adam and his sinful fall, all his descendants have been born lame and unable to WALK with God, and so sat outside the Temple, begging things of the world, hoping something or someone would fix us. Then one day the miracle happened, Jesus grabbed ahold of us and told us to stand up and WALK. He was calling us to the Kingdom. I truly believe we are all born with eternity in our hearts. See Ecclesiastes 3:11 “God has set eternity in the human heart.” Our deep-down desire is to return one day, and for all of eternity, to WALK with our God, Creator of all. Walk, leap, rejoice and praising God!
And I would be remiss if I didn’t speak about the actual healing itself. Remember it is Luke, a physician writing this. It brings to mind Psalm 139:14 which says, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made…” When you are born with everything working and then go lame, it is one thing. But, when you are lame from the womb and are instantly healed, many many things have to happen in an instant. Just a couple of things to think about are the bones going back into sockets and joints that hadn’t previously, muscle and tone restored, nonexistent neuropathways routed, and the brain brought into the picture to make it all work, balance, and coordination and so on.
It was interesting to me that this miracle of healing took place at the gate beautiful of the the Temple. I went to the Bible project site looking for a video, similar to what Diane shared a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t able to find one that talked just about the gates of the temple, but when I saw this one about the temple itself, I decided to show it anyway. (Bible Project video)
No wonder we, like the lame man began walking, leaping, and praising God as we were healed and reborn and we were able to enter the gates of His Temple for the very first time. It brings to my mind one of my favorite scriptures Psalm 100:4-5 “enter His gates with thanksgiving….”
There is so much in this chapter, but I do want to talk about the Gate Beautiful for a moment. It was enormous. It was 45’ high and had two doors each 22 ½’ feet wide equally 45’. It was a perfect square. According to Josephus, it was called the Gate Beautiful because of the amazing workmanship that went into making it. Much like the workmanship the Lord has put into us. It was made with polished Corinthian bronze and inlaid with gold and silver. The bronze was so highly polished it shone like a mirror. I wonder if the lame man, as he sat in front of it, saw reflected all the good, bad and ugly that he was… and that we are, in our own lameness. Until we are saved. I believe God called the gate beautiful because He sees us through the blood of Jesus and made in His image. He sees us as the beautiful creatures, He intended for us to be. The gate was also known as the Golden Gate and faced east. Its walled up now, by a group of unbelievers of a different religion because it is the gate from which Jesus will return when He comes to rule and reign. Those that walled up the gate are foolish to think cement and mortar could remotely prevent our Lord’s return.
It would be so easy to keep exploring all the different rabbit holes you begin to get pulled down as you search the amazing Word of God. But it’s time to move on…while we are with the lame man beside the gate, we were in the courtyard for the gentiles. Once healed, we move to the courtyard just inside the gate and I thought it fitting for this morning as we are in the presence of our sisters at the women’s Bible study, that we are now in the Courtyard for the Women. Fun fact ladies first! From there it’s the Court of Israel, then on to the Court of the Priests and on to the Holy of Holies. It almost seemed to me a picture of our walk of sanctification as we journey, mature and grow closer to God as we move through the Temple. Aren’t we always being called upward? Phil. 3:14 “I press on toward the upward goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus’”
READ ACTS 3:11-16 PREACHING AT SOLOMONS PORCH
We can see at least 2 things occurring: 1) the amazement and wonder of the miraculous healing by the people witnessing it happen. And 2) that they misunderstood the source of the miracle and wanted to revere Peter and John instead of God. They had entered the gate to Solomons Porch, which was quite large and could accommodate all those who were gathering, Peter was quick to correct the people, saying that the miracle was of God, glorified by Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit and not himself, and he used quotes from the Old Testament. The lame man was healed by faith in the name of Jesus. Much like the faith Jesus found in the woman with the unstoppable blood flow. In Luke 8:48 “Jesus said to her, daughter be of good cheer, your FAITH has made you well.” And in Luke 7:2-10, Jesus said to the centurion who asked that his servant be healed, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
It’s inspiring to see Peter’s progress. We know that his lack of faith had led him to deny Jesus 3 times, and we saw his faith wax and wane as he stepped out to walk on the water towards Jesus. When he took his eyes off of Jesus, and looked elsewhere, he immediately sank. Blessedly at the time of Pentecost Peter was reborn and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 3 begins with the word “now”. So, chapter 2 ends, and NOW immediately in chapter 3, we watch Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit take the lame man’s hand with absolute confidence. Isn’t Gods timing perfect? Jesus must have walked by this man many times and many times He could have healed him and chose not to. Could it be He purposefully had this miracle come at a time that would display His ongoing work, by the Holy Spirit through the apostles?
READ 3:17-26 STILL PREACHING AT SOLOMONS PORCH
Who nailed Jesus, our Messiah, to the cross? We all did. The Jews should not be singled out, or the Romans. Everyone, who has ever sinned, pounded the nails in. Did you happen to hear Pastor George’s sermon on Sunday? Powerful reminder of what Jesus endured for us! Because He loves us that much.
Furthermore, it is important to add that Jesus wasn’t crucified against His will. He died willingly and in obedience to God, His Father, completing His Father’s plan for our redemption. To this day, God is still working out His plan through the people of Israel. It is wise, as we watch and wait His return, to keep our eyes on the events that unfold in the Middle East. But that’s another whole teaching.
Gods’ response to our guilt is His grace. The lame man was representative of us all in our sinful, broken and lost nature. Through Gods grace, name of Jesus and faith powered, filled, and led by the Holy Spirit, every day, we are healed! Reborn to everlasting life. Back to the garden we shall go and Gods eternal plan.
TIMES OF REFRESHING
I don’t believe, in fact I know, we don’t have to wait until we are in heaven to experience times of refreshing. We can experience it now. God knew, and predicted for us, through the writings of the prophets, that Jesus would suffer and our part in that suffering. The remedy? Repent and turn to God. When we do that, our sins are blotted out and times come of refreshing while in the presence Him who saved us. A thought occurred to me this morning, as I was pondering
God’s great love for us, that John too played a roll in the healing of the lame man. John is known as the apostle of love and as he stood beside Peter, the lame man couldn’t help but to look at them both. The Apostle Peter and his tremendous faith and John Apostle of Love, both imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit.
The world, those unrepented will fall into greater ways of brokenness and lostness in a great tribulation. But God’s people will receive times of refreshing from Him, with HIM in Heaven for all of eternity. Imagine! Wont you please put yourself in the hands of Jesus a little more each day. It is a process to walk in the Spirit. Ask daily for a fresh filling. You are the daughters of the Most High God…WALK ON. Stay tuned for chapter 4, or better read ahead.