Thursday, June 15, 2023

           The early chapters of Acts leave us amazed at the kind of man and apostle that Peter had become.  It would have been almost impossible to imagine this kind of change in Peter on that night when he denied Jesus three times.  It would have been a stretch to think this sort of transformation would happen when he and Jesus spoke at the seashore after the resurrection had occurred.  But Peter ascended in leadership and loyalty in the opening pages of Acts.  The third chapter of Acts opens by telling us that Peter and John went to the temple to pray and encountered a lame man who spent his days begging for coins, scraps and leftovers at the temple gate (the gate called Beautiful in Acts 3:2).
            This beggar asked Peter and John for money too.  That request was as natural and as normal as breathing to the man.  He had done it for years since he had been lame from birth (Acts 3:2).  He likely knew all the tricks.  This spot near the gate was his office where he conducted his daily business of getting whatever someone could spare.  Peter spoke to the man twice.  The Bible says, “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” (Acts 3:4).  This first time that Peter spoke was a command.  Peter called for the man’s attention.  We usually ask for someone’s attention because we have something important to say or impressive to do.  Peter likely knew where he was going and what would come next.  He was about to offer this beggar a life-changing proposition.
            Perhaps Peter wanted to ensure, for a moment, that this poor man would pay less attention to the spare change and scraps that people tossed his way and divert his eyes and ears to what was about to happen.  A second time Peter spoke, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).  And the man did just that...he walked (Acts 3:8).  For the first time ever, this man used the feet and legs that had been lame and useless since birth.  He walked.  He jumped.  He praised God (Acts 3:8).  In the name of Christ, this man’s life changed in an instant. 
            In his own words, Peter spoke about the greatest gift that he could give.  That gift was, and is, an introduction to Jesus Christ.  Christ is our Savior, Healer, Forgiver and Transformer.  Spare change might have provided this beggar with food for the day but Christ gave him a new life.  We have the same opportunities today that Peter and John had in the first century.  We can introduce others to Christ.  We can offer Christ to others through the abundance of our faith and the grace we have been given.  Just as Christ changed this man’s life and limbs, He changes us today too.  He does not leave us in our sins, sorrows and spiritual sickness.  He comes to change us, to pronounce us well and to give us reasons to walk, jump and praise God.
            We have faith in Christ to give away—not to hoard or keep to ourselves but to share with others.  We can come to Christ as we are—just as this beggar did.  But we will not leave the same way.  We will not leave as we were.  Christ changes and transforms us and offers us something infinitely better than the sins we cling to or the silver and gold that the world sells to us.  He offers us a new life, forgiveness and the assurance that He is with us always and we can walk with Him through life’s mountains and valleys.  My two favorite keys on the keyboard I am using now are “backspace” and “delete.”  These two keys are good metaphors for faith.  We often have things that need to be deleted and Christ can do that.  He can blot out our sins and scatter them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He provides the grace for a backspace step to make right whatever we have gotten wrong, to set straight what we have left crooked and curved.
            In his own words, Peter leaves us thinking more about eternal matters than earthly ones.  The silver and gold of the earth and this life may enrich us for a season.  But fortunes can be lost, squandered and stolen.  Jesus warned about moths, rust and thieves (see Matthew 6:19-21).  Our treasure can truly be found wherever our heart is (Matthew 6:21).  Life is relatively short.  It is simply long enough for us to meet the Lord and to consider how and where we will spend eternity.  Everyone wants to go to heaven but the only way to reach heaven is by knowing and walking with the Lord and surrendering to Him in faith and trust above all other things. 
            Like the beggar in the story, we can easily find ourselves settling for life’s scraps and spare change when the Lord came to bring us abundant life (John 10:10).  The enemy would love to seduce us into settling for second-best and second-rate things like the world’s silver and gold.  But Christ calls us to something far more and far better.  He calls us to His side.  Be grateful for those men and women who have introduced Christ to you.  Pay that grace forward by introducing Christ to someone else.  Have a great Thursday!  Let’s worship together on Sunday!

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