Friday, September 10, 2010

Butterflies - 5


We have to ask ourselves at this point in the study, What was the gift that Peter and John gave to this poor lame man?

Acts 3:6 6Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

The man was clearly there to beg for money, food, or any gift of value. Peter said, I don’t have “silver and gold” but what I do have, I give to you. We could certainly say that the gift was his healing. Watching that man jump up and down on those new legs and feet, his leaping around, and praising God, must have been a sight to see. Also, can you imagine being Peter and John, and seeing God do such a miraculous thing as this? But I am sure, that it was not the power God worked through them to heal this man that could thrill their heart.

But as we examine this story, we must realize, that the Apostles were not looking for people to bring physical healing to, though we see them doing that quite often. But their drive and passion was pointing people to the Lord Jesus. So, if the gift that Peter had, that he offered to this man was not healing, what was it? And the answer is Eternal Life. But there was a problem, this man couldn’t see the glory just inside the Beautiful gate because of his awful disease. He was consumed with it, and it had blinded his eyes, though the glory was right in front of him. We too will come in contact with people every day, that though salvation is right in front of their eyes, they cannot see it, because of all the things in their lives, and we have to do what I have heard a very wise evangelist say one time, we have to get people lost, before we can get them saved. We have to remove the thing that blinds them from the Love of God, in this case, it was this man’s desire to survive as a lame man in a whole man’s world. So the gift wasn’t the healing, that only served to help this man see the Lord, and his salvation.

But back to the gift for a moment. Eternal Life. There are people all through history that have given their lives, rather than denounce the name of Jesus, Why? There are people that have sold everything that they own in this world, and moved to a strange land, lived in mud huts, slept on a dirt floor, just for a chance to point someone to the Lord Jesus Christ, Why? It is because this Gift of Eternal Life is of more value than all the gold and silver in the world. Its value will last beyond the existence of this world as we know it, and its joy, runs far deeper, and surer than any happiness all the money in the world can offer.

Read this passage with me, I will add a little comment in parenthesis, but let God’s word move your heart as you read this:

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes (Because we being in sin, having no hope, and without God in this world, we were poor, and destitute in this world) he became poor (Not only did he die, but he bore in his body your sin, the sins of the whole world, and suffered the eternal judgment we deserved), that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Romans 6:23 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You carry in your heart, that precious gift of God, Eternal Life. When all the world is falling apart, when all around you is chaos, there is a deep abiding peace and Joy that floods your soul. When even death knocks on our door, we do not fear, for this life is eternal. Death is an early exit, and a blessed homecoming. Don’t ever think of our mission as a mobile hospital, bringing physical healing, and prosperity to man, but by using miracles like that, and preaching, and living for God, shinning for him in this sin darkened world. For the greatest gift we ever received, was God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And that will be the greatest gift you can ever offer to anyone in this world.

Butterflies! How beautiful God has made a worm like me. When you get to heaven, look for me, I will be fluttering all over, ever consumed with his wonder, love, and grace.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Butterflies - 4

Acts 3:1 1Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 3:4 4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

Acts 3:11 11And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

What now? Isn’t that a question to all believers? Now that God has saved me, now that I am standing, walking, leaping, and praising God, What Now? The Lord Jesus trained twelve men to serve him after he was gone. Over three years he told them all about the kingdom, all about the father, all about future events, and so much more, that John writes in his Gospel account, that the world would not be big enough to contain all the books that could be written about him. But it seems that, over and over, they were left scratching their heads. Now you can’t say Peter didn’t try, and try as he might, he seemed to always put his foot into his mouth. Peter, and the other disciples leave me hope. Sometimes I feel I just will never get it. Just when I think I got it all figured out, something, or someone comes along and proves me all wrong.

I am saved, I love God, I worship, I study the bible, and I give to the Lord’s work. But really, what now? After our Lord died on the cross, and it was told the disciples, that he had risen from the grave, they saw the Lord alive. He let them touch him, and see and feel the nail prints in his hands, and the hole in his side from the soldiers sword. He then told them what he wanted them to do. Then we read in John 21:3 :” Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” It hadn’t been very long since he showed himself to them, and in the delay between meetings, they didn’t know what to do, so off they go a fishing. The amazing thing in that story, was that these professional fishermen, spent all night, and caught nothing. It was then in the morning hours, that the Lord stood on the shore, and asked them the question, Children, have ye any meat? I mean, what were they doing out there anyway, was it for the fun, or was it to get food? Then the Lord said, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” And they got a net full of fish. It wasn’t for the fish, or the money that could be made from selling them, that the Lord did this. It was to change their perception of life. To take what he had taught them, and put the truth into action. For three years they heard the teachings from him, saw the miracles, saw the dead raised, and the blind to see. Was there anything that he could not do? Have we realized that he can do anything, that he is able. It is in this passage that Peter is brought into fellowship with the Lord again, and here he is given direction and purpose. He was to feed people spiritually. That could mean, to preach the gospel to the lost, teach the saved, encourage the weak, and yes, to help people change their perspective on life, or, simply to point them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We see them going to the temple at the hour of prayer. It may be that they were looking forward to a time of corporate prayer. Maybe they had expectations of an opportunity to preach the gospel, maybe it was to just be available for the next person that God loved as much as he loved you and me. Have you ever asked God to lead you to someone that needs Christ? Remember our last study, we concluded that not only is God able to do above all we can even imagine to ask, but will do so, when we ask. It may be that we don’t ask, because we know he will answer.

We see both Peter and John mentioned together in this story three times. One thing I glean from that is though we serve God ourselves, as we allow him to lead us individually, we are never really alone, we have others in his church that will stand with us in the work. This story with both Peter and John reminds me of when a brother and I would go out to the mall, or park, or door to door to share the gospel. He would talk most of the time, but I prayed. I would ask God to hinder Satan and his demons from clouding the mind of the person we were talking to. I would ask God to open his or her mind. I would ask God to give my brother wisdom to speak his word and message. That is what I see in John, he was the one that wanted to know more about the Lord, he didn’t want to miss one word spoken by him, and John wanted to be as close as he could. But Peter, always wanted to be right in the middle of the action. This is the way I see this miracle, They both fastened their eyes on this man, they both knew he needed to be turned toward the Lord. But there was an obstacle, he was lame. They both knew that this was possible with God, and John prayed, and Peter acted. Wow, can you imagine yourself telling someone born lame, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk”? And then yanking him to his feet, right there in public? That’s not only faith, but pure purpose. They knew what God wanted them to do, and he wants us to do the same, To go into all the world and preach the gospel, to turn people to God, help them change their perspective on life, and come to know real life in Christ Jesus. Maybe yanking someone to their feet is not the method God wants to use, but he does want us to be sold out to the gospel. He wants us to have the same perspective that the Apostles had, knowing that God is able to do above all that we think or ask, and knowing that he is able to use us to bring hope into other people’s lives.

One more thing we see in this story, is Peter and John, open to fellowship and discipleship. This man is beside himself with Joy, and the wonder of new life. We see him holding both of them. When someone is brought into the family, we need to care for them, and let them hold on to us until they learn they can hold on to God. All they know is that we know God, and they are desperate to know him now, they become hungry for his word, they have questions, and each new truth, is like a child tasting sugar for the first time. Never be the Christian, to shrug off a new or old believer that clings to you, and wants to know more. Feed them, Feed my sheep, that is what the Lord told Peter.

I go a fishing... Is it for men?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Butterflies - 3

“The Lame Man”

Acts 3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

In the passage of God’s word we have been examining, Acts 3:1-11. We have considered our lives like that of the butterfly. This is a miracle of transformation. We were transformed from the ugly, to something beautiful. From being bound to the pointless things of this world, to the mind blowing heights of God’s glory.

We then looked at the “Place” where we find the Lame man. It was just in sight of, but outside the Beautiful Gate. We were reminded of the wonderful place that has already been prepared for us through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We try to let this truth mold our perception of life as God wants us to see it. What limit does the Christian have in this world? With the promise found in Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”, and his promise in John 14:13-14 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” From these two verses, we are told that God is able to do above anything we can even imagine, and then, all we have to do is ask, and he will do it. So I ask again, why do we, who are such privileged people, why do we still crawl around on the ground as a hairy worm, instead of flying in the heights of God’s love and care, and power?

The verse I used for the header of this study, shows the “Butterfly” aspect of this lame man’s life. Just like in my life, all the bad things I allowed, and chose to do, Those things became who I was to the world of people around me. But when I was saved, it was not long after, that these same ones wondered with amazement that this man is a “Christian”. I was changed, my heart was changed, my desires were changed, and my actions were changed. Over the years of being a Christian, I have had to choose, whether to crawl on the ground like a worm, or fly in the heights of God’s power, love, joy, and his peace.

We can learn a lot from this Lame Man. He was not just a “Bible Person” that just happened to be here for the star characters in this story, Peter and John, to do their miracle on. This lame man was on God’s heart, and God sent his servants to help change the perception this man had on life.

First, we learn, he was lame from birth. What could he do about that? We hear the same thing from people today. I am sick, I ache, I am tired, I am so poor, and, I just am not able to serve God in my condition. So, many people with a perception of life based on the dreary things in their lives, the hopeless state of things financially, and the plain old lack of material things, they find themselves laying at the gate, just like this man, watching the people go by, talking to one another, about life, and business, and things happening in their lives, and things that God is doing in them. Then, as the people come out from that gate, this lame man, along with all those that see life through only their pain and sorrow, see the Joy, and hope, and purpose in the faces of all those that have entered, and experienced the wonderful things inside.

Second, we see that he being a son of Abraham, he was qualified to enter the gate, it was where God wanted him to be. But he went to that gate with another purpose, not to be close to God, and experience his great power and glory, but to beg for money. To get material gain from all those that come and go there. The same is true with many of us, we go to church, and if we were honest, it really is not to be close to God, to experience the joy his presence brings, but it is for some other reason, and the reasons can be many, not just to get material gain from all those that are there, though that too can be a reason, maybe it is to get the sympathy from others for our pain or horrible circumstance. But we leave, just as empty as we were when we came. And again, we have to ask, is this joy and peace only for a chosen few? Is the great victories, and powerful workings of God only for some? And the answer is obvious, No, his power is available for all his children.

Lastly, what we don’t see is an act on this lame man’s part, to enter the gate. It is Peter that drags this man to his feet. (We will look at Peter and John later). But as we read this story, we see this man look on them expecting to receive something from them, and Peter says these words: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” It was a call to change his perception of life. If we are so wrapped up in the material things of this world, and measure our quality of life, and thus our experience of joy, judging ourselves by the things we do or don’t have, or the physical condition of our bodies, then we will perceive life as hopeless, and then we will be powerless for God in this world. But Peter said, take your eyes off these material things, and get up and walk. It is here, and I have to allude to Peter for a moment, he really amazes me, but Peter grabs a hold on this man, and yanks him up to his feet, ( we will look at this later, but wow, what faith in a powerful God). One point I want to make is this, we too will hear God’s “Peter and John”, through the preacher on Sunday, the bible study on the radio, friends and family, and yes, even this Bible walkabout, and God will yank us to our feet, I know you have been there, hearing the word, inside your heart hearing his message, it is then that God has yanked us to our feet, and right then, you make a choice, to stay on your feet, to leap about, to praise God, and become a spectacle to the lost world around you… Or, you can say to yourself, I am lame man, what in the world are you doing yanking me up like that, and thus falling back to the ground, unaware of the beautiful wings God has given you, and beginning to crawl around like a worm again. But this man chose to “stand”, then to “Walk”, then to “enter”, then to “Leap” (a fool in the worlds eyes) but alive in his eyes, and perceiving Life through God’s eyes, he begins to praise him.

God wants to do great and wonderful things in your life. He wants the world all around you to see his spectacular light bursting from your life, but we have to respond to him when he yanks us up! Will you not come be a fool in this world’s eyes with me today, let us leap together, praising God anew, as he fills our heart with his joy and peace.

Stay tuned, there will be more.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Butterflies - 2

The text for this Bible walkabout is Acts 3:1-11. There we read one of the incredible stories of the Bible. The super natural sometimes goes beyond our human reasoning, and rightfully so, that is what makes it a “Miracle”! Sometimes God allows us to see his ability to do things that science cannot explain, and we see them with our eyes, but cannot reconcile with the science of things as we know them in this world. Faith helps us to realize just how awesome our God really is when we see them.

But, as we reasoned in our last study, in our minds as we read these stories, it is “Bible People” that these things happen to. I suggested that we look for the “Me” in the stories. You see, these Bible stories are like a treasure found. At first glance, they have a certain value. Just like this set of dishes we found at a yard sell. At first glance, they were unique looking dishes, there were a lot of them, and the price was really good. But as we got them home, we began to examine them, and realized, they were fine china, and there was a complete set of all the size dishes, and now they became even more valuable to us. Then, we researched them online, and found them to be a unique line of dishes, very valuable, and now, our find was even more precious. You see, the dishes never changed, but our perception of them did the more we examined them. My desire for me and you, is to take this story, and look deeper than the surface, and began to see the marvelous treasure that has always been there, searching until we see that the real treasure is not just what God has done in and for us, (as great as that is), but to realize something even greater, that “we” are ”his” treasure.

There are five subjects that I feel will be a profit to examine in this story. We will look at them in this order: 1) The Gate; 2) The Lame Man; 3) Peter and John; 4) The Gift; 5) The People.

The Gate:
Acts 3:2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

We all have a “Place” in our mind. We remember the place where we first met our wife or husbands. Or, where we had our first kiss. Where we were on 9-1-1. One place that should stand out in every Christian’s memory is the place where you met the Lord Jesus. Places are very important in our memories. Before we examine the Lame Man, let’s look at the place that will forever be in his memory.

The Gate where this story takes place, was called “The Beautiful Gate” that led to Solomon’s Porch. We will not have to dig down in the old testament histories to get meaning from this. Just the name is significant to our perception of this story, It was called the “Beautiful” gate. It stands in grave contrast to this lame man. To the world, he must have been perceived as ugly, and maybe even gross. This being the temple, some tolerance must have been exercised by all those that had to pass by him as they went in the temple. Then passing him, they entered this “Place” of beauty and worship. I am willing to guess, that the gate was so named, because of the splendor and beauty it must have had at one time, when Solomon set it’s porch, and garden. None the less, it was a reminder to our Lame Man, that there was something wonderful within that gate. Something wonderful indeed.

What strikes me when reading this story, is not how long this man was lame, or how he was healed, or what it must have been like to be Peter and John, and to exercise such power in healing him. What really impresses me, is where this lame man was, and where he was not. He was within sight of something beautiful and wonderful, but he was not there. He could only imagine what was inside, but not really see it. So his perception of life was based on the “Place” where he lay, just outside of Beauty, Joy, and Peace.

There Is a place like that to the Christian. Our Lord Jesus told his disciples about it in John 14. It is a place with many mansions. The word “many” being an unidentified number, and mansions indicating that someone was living there. We read of John’s description of this place in the Revelation, that the streets are pure Gold, and so pure, it was clear as glass. Imagine that. The walls made of every sort of jewels, and a radiance proceeding from God’s throne, brighter than our sun. Light and colors, the brilliance that our feeble minds can hardly imagine. The Apostle Paul wrote, after seeing heaven, that he saw things that were unexplainable in human language. That is the place that our Lord talked about to his disciples in John’s gospel, chapter 14:1-3. He then told them this: In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Now I know it pleases Christians to imagine Jesus, with a nail apron, and hammer and saw, and for the last two thousand years, he has been building each one of us our own mansion. But I suggest that, a view like that leaves us once again, laying at the “Beautiful” gate. It’s beauties and wonders, it’s joy and peace just inside, but we, laying outside lame and incapable of entering in and enjoying it all for ourselves. But if he is not building us a mansion, what did he mean? What he meant, was that we, that is you, and “ME”, that we didn’t have a “Place” inside this glorious gate. But he came to prepare us a Place there, to ever be with him. It was not to build us a luxurious house, that nails were used. It was to pierce his Holy hands and feet. To take the sin in my life, and yours, and pay for the penalty we deserved on the cross of Calvary.

But as many of us fail to understand what Great and Marvelous provision was made for us, What is already ours, we lay as a lame man just outside this Beautiful gate, imagining a big house full of luxurious furniture, and an abundance of great things. So then our perception of what is really ours as his children, has been molded by the things in this world we deem valuable, the silver and gold, the jewels and gadgets, the boats and cars. When what should mold our perception, and what would change our lives in this world and forever, is his Love for us, his Gift to us, and his promise to come for us, that we will ever be where he is! Heaven is ours. We just let the things of this world, and the circumstance of this life keep us from seeing it the way God wants us to see it.

There’s more… Wont you continue with me in the Bible Walkabout?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Butterflies - 1

I enjoyed walking through the greenway last year, and had a lot of time to think and pray. I saw many different butterflies, and it caused me to think about the spiritual application. I later shared these thoughts in email to my family, and some others. I thought I would share them here. There are five of them, i will share every other day...

Acts 3:1-11 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

What a wonderful story. We see in it: The power of God. The faith of these Christian men, and the healing of this poor man, (and that from an incurable physical ailment), All mixed together to show us that God is able, and that God cares for his creature. Also, the benefits of this miracle, is that the people saw God’s working, and give him praise.

Reading this story is much like watching a butterfly. What a remarkable thing that is. A worm, a hairy worm at that. Builds his coffin all around him, then closes it up finally, and dies. Really, he dies to this world. But then a miraculous thing happens. He is made alive, but bound with his grave clothes, as it were. So he has to beat his way out of the cocoon, strip away the clothes of death, and emerge into the very world he died to, a new creature. I would love to get inside the head of a butterfly. Once limited to the ground, and small bushes, now he has wings, he can fly, and no longer hairy, but he has beautiful wings. Now flying all over the place, he can see from heights never before dreamed of. New horizons, with food of his choice. When I watch one of these miracles, I see a creature that is filled with the wonder of his new life, and spends each day enjoying it.

Then I ask myself the question, why are we Christians more like the hairy Worm, and less like the Butterfly? Why do we crawl on the ground, vulnerable to life’s mishaps, feeling lost, and building our own cocoon?

Many times, I think we Christians do not revel in the wonders of our God, because of “Bad Perception”. What I mean is how we perceive things, people, and events in our lives. We choose to see only the bad, the dreary, and the negative aspect of the “Things we don’t have” “Faults in other people” and “The dark circumstances’ that are our lot today” And we fail to experiance all the colors, and flavor, and harmony of life all around us.

So, when we read this story in the book of Acts, we see the faith of Peter and John, the place he was at, the healing of the man, and the reaction of the people. But, what we don’t see, is “The Me” in the story. We read this like many other things in God’s word, and think, that only happens to “Bible People”. We need to remember, we are his “Bible People”

Paul prayed for us:
Ephesians 1:18 -20 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Spend the next few days with me in Bible study, and let’s look at this story with a different perspective.