Today, in the book of Acts, the spacecraft is launched. The day of Pentecost in Acts 2 is over. The probe/church is readied, on the launch pad. It’s time for the H.S. to explode. The ministry of the disciples of Jesus Christ begins in Jerusalem, as Jesus said, READ Acts 1:8. The Church is on the launching pad. She is filled with the fuel of the Holy Spirit. Boom. Take off.
God organizes this “chance” meeting with the crippled man from birth sitting at “the temple gate called Beautiful” READ Acts 3:2. Peter and John show up and the amazing happens. Go about your day, just show up at your responsibilities, listen to the prompting of the Spirit to go to places where you have an opportunity to serve. May this be your constant prayer, “I’m showing up God, what you do with me, how you use me, whatever you want me to see, I’m here.” The disciples have no innate power, all power is from God through the H.S. Our only job: show up. You never know when the amazing will happen as you show up, ready for God to Act. Peter and John show up. The spark is the crippled man asking for donations at the Beautiful gate. Boom. The probe is launched. Don’t ever get tired of having a front row seat as the H.S. springs into action.
When you show up with a heart prepared to be used by the H.S. amazing opportunities of God’s power will come to you. Wherever you go, you are Christ’s servant. Just show up. One of my favorite stories of the amazing was at a graveside service for a young women in her 30’s, over 10 years ago… the woman (a relative of Connie D.) died in Spokane; the family arranged for burial here. The day came for the graveside, but the paperwork did not come through to bury the casket. The plan: take the casket to the grave, have the service, then the casket back to the funeral home. At the service was a sea of sunflowers, the woman’s favorite flower. The service was simple and respectful. Family and friends left. I was left with the funeral director. He needed to run an errand, so I volunteered to sit with the casket for 20-30 minutes until he could return. As I wait, I see a man walking towards me. As he got closer I could see a bouquet of sunflowers. “Uh, oh”. I thought. “He’s a friend or relative that missed the service. When he got to me I felt bad telling him he missed the service. I explained why I was there with the casket above the ground. After five minutes he stopped me and told he his story. He read her obituary; something touched him. He didn’t know the woman but was captivated by how young she was. He wanted to pay respect to her, so he stopped at the store, bought sunflowers, no idea they were her favorite, and wanted to arrive after everyone was gone. A tear formed in his eye as he asked me, “do you really believe in eternal life?” I spent 15-20 minutes talking about Jesus Christ, the cross, forgiveness. He enlarged his story about how his life was spiraling out of control. I never heard from him again, I don’t know if this encounter made any lasting difference, but I have no doubt the H.S. was at work arranging our “chance” meeting to talk about Jesus Christ, death and resurrection, with a casket as a prop.
Just show up. That’s how I try to live my life. It’s harder when I feel sorry for myself or lament why things have not gone as planned… I need the reminder that God is in control, I try to not be too controlling and get upset if plans change…Most days aren’t as dramatic as that in the cemetery that day, but it’s a rare day there isn’t some question, some opportunity to bring comfort to somebody ~ even a moment. In our crazy pandemic world I decided to call people a few days this past week ~ I got hold of Linda Carter and while nothing dramatic happened, my prayer is that I was an encouragement to her and appreciated her words as an encouragement to me… the H.S. doesn’t always have to be dramatic. The next person I got hold of was Ted Mellema, he gets lonely like so many people… I caught him in the hospital… I think it was the H.S. Many times I dialed I got nobody… just not meant to be at that moment.
Peter and John showed up. The crippled man is begging at the Beautiful Gate. Scholars don’t know for sure which gate this is, but many think it is the gate between the court of women and the court of Men… (show pics on screen) [This gate about 75 ft high, 20 men to open/close, explain about the walls, the gentiles, women, men, priests, high priest in Holy of Holies]
The beggar asks for money, the way it reads in Acts 3:2-5, the beggar is fishing hoping to get a bite… READ.
Why did Peter stop? I don’t know. But for me, I often don’t know the difference between the H.S. and my gut ~ I often say things to people or take action that seems right ~ or is it the H.S. I am amazed at how often I’m right, not because I’m brilliant, but because I have an instinct, or is it the H.S. I’ve told strangers to not take their life because I know they are thinking about it, about too many casual intimate relationships and how it doesn’t help them … A few months ago one woman praised me up and down for “saving her life”: I had made a phone call months earlier at just the right time asking about the state of her mind because of difficulties she was going through….all I did was show up….I don’t have any special gift not available to all of you ~ the H.S. is a gift to all, promised by Jesus Christ after he ascended to heaven.
I don’t know why Peter and John stopped, but surely it was the Spirit. They crossed paths with a crippled man going about the normal patterns of their day.
When you live by the Spirit, just showing up willing for God to use you, keeps a healthy perspective. We are spiritual creatures: a life guided by the Holy Spirit. READ Acts 3:6. I don’t believe Peter has innate power to heal anybody. Peter sensed in his spirit the H.S. would heal this man. That is an important distinction. Miracles are always at the discretion of God, no formula that if I only pray this way or have stronger conviction... Often we are called to live by wisdom, obedience to God. Miracles are God’s grace as well. A miracle is always at God’s determination. Never ours. We never know when a miracle will come (otherwise it would be a formula we could bottle).
God determined the time was right for a miracle in the life of the crippled man for the man’s physical healing, his spiritual healing, and the testimony it brings to God. Acts 3:7-8 describes a physical and spiritual transformation READ. He is thrilled to be able to walk, but it doesn’t stop there, he enters the courtyard to worship God. It is highly significant the man does not praise Peter and John, he praises God, he knows the power comes from the Lord. He is excited about the transformation. A miracle will do that…
Miracles are meant to be neon signs pointing to God almighty. Peter and John showed up… they respond to the guidance of the Spirit and spoke what they knew the Spirit was about to do, the healing of the man. He was healed physically and spiritually as he leaped about and praised the Lord. Since he had been crippled since birth, it is likely he had never been to the next court to praise God... These are barriers Jesus came to tear down. When Jesus was alive he talked about the temple being destroyed… Paul later wrote in Gal. 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all on in Christ.”… The impact of the miracle does not stop with physical and spiritual healing. Boom. The rocket is launched with this miracle, and the crowds see it. READ Acts 3:9-10. Therein lies the great purpose of the miracle. Peter and John showed up and have a front row seat to the people being amazed by God. It is up to the Spirit to continue working in the hearts and minds of those who are amazed by the power of God. Our only job is to show up and be obedient to the prompting of the Spirit, to listen to God speaking to us in our hearts/gut…. Sometimes he’ll choose a miracle, sometimes it is quiet.
All of you are called to the same ministry as Peter and John: just show up. Show up ready for the H.S. to be present. Listen to the Spirit and you may be prompted to speak in his name or Act in his name. Listen to the Spirit when the thought crosses your mind to give somebody a phone call or write a note. In our age of a lot of yelling, silence and listening seem to be a huge ministry. One couple this week felt a need to tell me about what they believed which they knew was not traditional Christian teaching. I felt no compulsion to “correct” them as they were miles apart from what I believe. In fact, they gave me examples of what I believed and then went ahead and told me why they didn’t believe the same way… They just wanted to be heard because they said they rarely tell people… I will likely have many more opportunities to be in their presence and I will pray they will feel a pull to ask me questions… some opening… I’ll show up when given opportunity…
Just show up. Listen to the Spirit. Ask the Lord to open your eyes, your mouth, or put wings on your hands and feet to serve. he may choose to use a miracle in dramatic fashion, he may want you to give your counsel, he may want you to listen.
In our upended world, part of our problem is everything is so different. Do me a huge favor… I respect everyone’s decision, but for those who choose to join us on Sunday morning, will you make this your prayer, “I’m showing up Lord, may your spirit lead us” ~ that’s it, showing up is a commitment and an attitude of expectation. As ministries are relaunched in the next few months, let’s just show up. Honestly, Chad and I are a bit lost because we don’t know dates, we can’t look at a calendar and make definitive decisions, so I say let’s be renewed by the timeless principle of just showing up and asking God to work and be amazed when we are allowed to be on the front line of his miracles, changed lives, needs met, encouragement, renewed understanding, blessings upon blessings.
Just showing up is a way of living out our faith. I love the way Acts 3 begins. The Church is on the launching pad at the end of Acts 2, and Acts 3 begins, “one day…” an ordinary day as Peter and John go about their patterns, but they are ready….
Boom, the rocket is launched. A crippled man is healed. The Lord is praised. Just show up and be ready to be part of the great adventure of God, fueled by the Holy Spirit to transform the lives of those who are ready to be touched by the power of God. Amen.