27 Jan Get Out of Your Routine and Focus!
Acts 3:1-10 – One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth (and was more than forty years old) was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 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.
So here we have a story about a man who was born with bum legs. He couldn’t walk. He grew up with the idea that he was broken, that he was less of a man, that he was worth nothing more than the money he could beg. He had a good body, a good brain, a voice, a strong heart, arms that worked, and hands that were fine. Yet, because of this one disability, because his legs would not work, he made up his mind that he was of no value.
Instead of focusing on what he did have, he decided to focus on what he did not have.
Could this man have done more with his life than laying on the street begging? He could have worked with his hands. He could have run a business. He could have been a potter. The possibilities are limitless on what he could have done, but he was a beggar because he chose to focus on the negative instead of the positive.
The beggar saw Peter and John coming. He saw them coming. These guys looked like an easy mark. How often do you see someone and automatically think of what they can do for you; what you can get out of them.
I’ve been working with inner city residents, inmates, homeless, and addicts for almost 30 years now. Can you even guess how many times I’ve been asked for money, for stamps, for clothes, for furniture, for gift cards? I was even asked once for $150, so she could get her hair weave done.
The thing with this beggar is that he didn’t even bother to look up at them. He just held out his cup to beg just like he always did every day for 40 years. He didn’t care about the people who helped him, or gave him money, or supported him. He didn’t care about the ones who were generous or caring. He only cared that money hit his cup. Peter had to get his attention before he would even look up.
Now Peter and John were an odd combination in this story. They were opposites.
John was loving and patient. He sought the Word of God with all his heart. Peter was cray cray. Often Peter would misunderstand, or rush in, or jump to conclusions, or even deny Jesus when he was afraid. He even cut the ear off the guard when they came to arrest Jesus, but Jesus was like ‘Peter!, what’s wrong with you, man?’. And then Jesus stuck the guys ear back to his head and healed him.
Peter was always comparing himself to the other disciples. If someone was faster, or they had more than him, or they were promised a better life than him, he would point it out. Instead of focusing on his own journey, he spent more time watching what someone else had or what Jesus promised them. Jesus loved Peter so much in spite of his shortcomings because Jesus had an amazing plan for Peter’s life. Peter suffered a terrible death because of his love for Jesus. He was crucified upside down.
Yet Peter is the rock that Jesus built His entire church upon. Peter, who failed again and again, was the most enthusiastic. He was the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. He loved Jesus with all his heart and every time he messed up, he was eager to repent and try again. Jesus knew that Peter represented all of us. Repentance and forgiveness are the very foundation of the entire church.
We fall, we fail, we deny Jesus, we sin, we screw up, but when we recognize where we failed and repent of our sins, Jesus forgives us. A heart that yearns to be like Jesus will always stand out to our Lord. Just like Peter.
Peter said to the beggar, ‘I don’t have any money. We move from town to town and couch surf. But what I do have I freely give to you.’ They weren’t offering this man a few coins just to live and beg another day. They offered him a new life in Jesus Christ. They offered him healing by the power of Jesus.
How soon was the beggar healed? In a few days? In a couple of months? No. He was healed instantly! When this man was at his lowest, Peter reached out his hand and helped the man up. Jesus is with us even when we are at our lowest. Especially when we are at our lowest. More than anything, Jesus has a heart for the broken, the weak, the lost, the unhappy, the ones who have suffered loss, the brokenhearted. Those are the ones Jesus helps. Not the haughty, or the know-it-alls, or the rich who don’t need any help. Jesus is always looking for those who need Him, need a hand up, and are humble enough to admit they need help.
Now the part of this story that always get ignored and rarely ever even brought up, are the two friends of his who carry him to the temple every day. Now we are talking every single day for forty years. They pick him up at his house, carry him to the temple, drop him off. He lays there and begs all day. At the end of the day, they pick him back up, carry him back to his house, and then they go home. The next day, they pick him up at his house, carry him to the temple, drop him off. He lays there and begs all day. At the end of the day, they pick him back up, carry him back to his house, and then they go home. The next day, they pick him up at his house, carry him to the temple, drop him off. He lays there and begs all day. At the end of the day, they pick him back up, carry him back to his house, and then they go home.
Do you see where I’m going with this? They do this every single day for forty years. Why? Because he’s such a good friend? No. Because they are in on this. They get a cut from everything the beggar gets. His disability has become income for all three of them. His friends have become enablers and continue to hold him down in that situation because it benefits them.
Do drug dealers want you to get clean and move on to a good life? No. Do liquor stores want you to stop coming in every single day and sober up? No. Do your friends who party with you when you fall off the wagon want you to sober up and get clean? No. They want you to stay right where you are in life. High, drunk, poor, and without any hindrances like children, or a home, or a job.
The first thing the beggar did when he was healed was run into the temple and begin praising God. Then he told everyone who would listen what God had done for him.
This is what we do when God does something amazing and life changing for us. We give Him praise and glory and thanks. Then we tell others. We use our powerful testimony to help change the lives of other people we care about. When people hear our testimony and see what God did for us, they want to know God, too. We also get away from the so-called friends and people in our lives who want us to stay broken and dependent.
When I got saved, I got away from all my friends who did drugs and drank. God helped me before I even realized what was going on. He had a plan for me, and He took me to a new place where I could start over. One thing I realized is that everywhere you go there will be people who get high and drink, and want you to come with them into that lifestyle. But because I chose Jesus and continue to choose Jesus every day of my life, He helps me, He strengthens me, He pours His favor out upon me, He blesses me, He surprises me, and I will never stop seeking Him and trying to be more like Jesus every day.
For thirty years I have been telling people what God did for me. He saved me from a lost and broken life. Then He healed me from cancer and defied every single thing the doctor’s spoke over my life. So now when I see someone laying down, broken, begging, and unable to see what God has planned for them, I do just what Peter did, I reach down and take their hand and help them up. My focus is on Jesus.
Where is your focus? We can all continue to feel worthless if we want to. We can all think we have nothing to offer this world if we want to. We can continue to focus on what we don’t have and feel sorry for ourselves if we choose to. We can continue to think our sins are too big for the blood of Jesus to forgive if our pride tells us to. We can continue to believe that we have to depend on others for food, clothes, money and help if we choose to live with blinders on. Or we can reach our hand up and grab hold of the hand of the living God, the Messiah, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the One who heals, the One who restores, the One who forgives, the only Son of God, the One sent by the Father Almighty Yahweh, to save us, our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
He alone can save us. He alone can heal us. He alone can lift us out of the pit we’re in and set our feet on a new path toward wholeness and healing. He alone can offer us forgiveness and eternal life.