Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
25 October 2020
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
I am well, but quite busy. By God’s grace I am keeping strong in the faith. I am still working from home with occasional visits to the office. I’m being there for my sister in Canada, and my friend and family here and in South Africa, encouraging them with prayers and for them to know God’s love and grace. In my Daily Bible Reading, which I started from Genesis during lock-down, I am now up to Samuel/Chronicles and Psalms, with daily prayers. The Word is what keeps me going. When I can I will return to church but still follow the services/readings. Go well, God bless, God is with us. Oh well it’s back to work and more Zoom meetings.
Reading: Acts 3, 4
Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.Acts 3:8
We are continuing to look at ‘Bruised Reeds’ and ‘Smouldering Wicks’ (Matthew 12:20) by studying this passage in Acts concerning the man who was paralysed from birth, miraculously healed, causing all the people to praise God, for he was over 40 years old (see Acts 4:21-22). Jesus is continuing the work He had begun (see Acts 1:1) by the Holy Spirit through His church. We will look at this under the following 5 headings.
(1) God’s timing
This is a massive topic in Scripture. Everything that God does is significant and it is significant that everything He does is in His time. We read about the Incarnation:
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.Galatians 4:4
There is a mystery about God’s timing that only He knows. This is the first miracle recorded in the book of Acts. Peter and John, and even Jesus Himself, would have passed by this man on a number of occasions – he was over 40 years of age – and yet he remained paralysed. But this day was God’s time to bless this man, to heal this man. This is looking at it from God’s perspective. Looking at it from the man’s perspective it was the time for him to respond in faith cf.
In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, ‘Stand up on your feet!’ At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.Acts 14:8-10
We are not told here in Acts 3:6-8 whether it was his faith or the faith of Peter and John that resulted in him being healed and for all we know it could have been the faith of all three!
(2) At the time of prayer
Things definitely happen when we pray: “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon.” cf. Cornelius:
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter’.Acts 10:1-5
Cornelius answered: ‘Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, “Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.”’Acts 10:30-31
Peter himself was praying when he was given a vision:
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’ The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean’.Acts 10:9-15
There are no end of examples in Scripture of things, even great things happening when God’s people pray. This is why it is so important for believers to have a disciplined prayer life with fixed times of prayer each day. If we say we will pray when we feel like it, it either will never happen or it will fade away. We have fixed times in general for eating our meals and for other things we do in life, likewise we should put daily appointments with God in our diaries, times when we meet with Him without fail – and watch how things will start to happen as a result.
(3) His ‘kairos’ moment
There are two words for ‘time’ in the Greek New Testament – ‘chronos’ (e.g. the time this man spent begging every day was seven hours) and ‘kairos’ (today whilst this man was begging a special opportunity arose for him to be healed). Paul gives us some insight into all this:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time (‘kairos’), because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.Eph. 5:15-17
Yes the days are evil but believers need to walk carefully, wisely, focussing on the Lord and by faith watching for every opportunity He presents to us. This is what this man did as also did the Canaanite woman, blind Bartimaeus, and a host of other bruised reeds and smouldering wicks. By faith they grabbed the opportunity Jesus was laying before them and their lives were transformed as a result.
The seriousness of the man’s condition is emphasised: from birth; and not just lame (walked with a limp), but helpless (he had to be carried) …. One of the most impressive features of Judaism past and present is the major emphasis it places on provision for the poor and disadvantaged (classically the widow, orphan and stranger – e.g. Deut. 24:10-22; Isaiah 10:2; 58:6-7; Jer. 7:6; Malachi 3:5). Alms-giving was therefore a principal act of religious responsibility … hence Acts 9:36; 10:2 and 24:17.
Up to this point in time his ceiling in life, his ambition, his whole reason for existence was to make enough money by begging, to get him the basics of life, food, clothing, shelter: where is our ceiling pitched?
Here are two men entering the temple, who hold the answer and the means to solving life’s issues, difficulties and problems, and all he can do is to ask them for money. We can ask Jesus for the very basic stuff of life, but does He want us to seek Him for so much more?
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Ephesians 3:20-21
Note there is no limit to the blessings God, wants to, and will pour out on us, if only we will by faith take hold of them when they present themselves. Look at the transformation that took place in some of those Israelites who by faith received what was offered:
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times (‘kairos’) of refreshing may come from the Lord.“Acts 3:17-19
I’m tempted to write “carpe-diem” but won’t because it is associated with a number of antithetical uses to what we are looking at here including Greco-Roman deities who favoured a ‘carpe-diem’ approach, and to celebrate the proud. Rather look for those God moments and seize them by faith. Peter and John came to where this man was at, they looked at him, stooped down to his level, took his hand to help him up, and to walk, leap, jump and to praise God. This is what the church must do today! Go to where people are at and help to bring them to where the church is at or should be at!
There is the story of Pope Innocent ll while he was counting out a large sum of money saying to Thomas Aquinas who had come to visit him: “You see Thomas, the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none’.” “It’s true” agreed Thomas, “and it’s also true that it can no longer say, ‘Rise up and walk.’”
Here we see the fulfilment of such Scriptures as Isaiah 35:5-6 (see below). The words (Anon. – circa 1870) from a famous old hymn brings home the importance of making the most of the opportunities God brings to us:
Have you any room for Jesus,
He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinner, will you let Him in?
Chorus: Room for Jesus, King of Glory!
Hasten now, His Word obey.
Swing the heart’s door widely open;
Bid Him enter while you may.
Room for pleasure, room for business;
But for Christ, the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter,
In your heart for which He died?
Have you any room for Jesus,
As in grace He calls again?
O today is time accepted,
tomorrow you may call in vain.
Room and time now give to Jesus;
Soon will pass God’s day of grace –
Soon your heart left cold and silent,
And your Saviour’s pleading cease.
(4) He praised God
Praising God is a definite indication of the Spirit of God at work in an individual. God inhabits the praises of His people. Churches that are growing and thriving seem to have this characteristic that they spend quality time praising and worshipping the Lord:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.Acts 2:46-47
This man had seen ‘lameness’ exchanged for ‘leaping’ and who wouldn’t praise the Lord in such circumstances. What would we rather do: spend our lives begging for money or praising the Lord?
“Now to be a Christian means to know that my sins are forgiven, to know God as my Father, to have new life within me, no longer to be afraid of death, to look forward to the glory that awaits the children of God. And one of the best ways of testing whether or not I am truly a Christian is to ask: Do I praise God?”
D. M. Lloyd-Jones – “Authentic Christianity”
In his great hymn, “Love divine all loves excelling,” Charles Wesley writes: “Thee we would be always blessing … Pray and praise Thee without ceasing … Lost in wonder, love and praise“
(5) All the people praised God also
Praise is infectious and the same result occurred when Jesus healed and forgave a paralysed man:
‘But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So He said to the paralysed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today’.Luke 5:24-26
Suffice is to finish with another great Charles Wesley hymn:
O for a thousand tongues to sing,
My great Redeemer’s praise;
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim;
To spread thro’ all the earth abroad,
The honours of your name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’tis life and health and peace.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.
To God all glory, praise, and love,
Be now and ever given;
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.
Quote of the Week
“If a matter is not serious enough to pray about, then it is not serious enough to worry about; and if it is serious enough to pray about, and we have prayed about it, then there is no need to worry about it.”
J. E. Gibbons
Verse of the Week
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.Isaiah 35:5-6
Gracious Loving Heavenly Father, we give You praise and thanks for all Your goodness. We worship You whose heart is for the bruised reeds and the smouldering wicks.
Father, thank You for all the great things You have accomplished over the centuries through Your Church. Lord may times of refreshing come again upon Your people that they might do the works that Jesus did as recorded in the Book of Acts.
Lord, we, in and of ourselves, are weak. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit. Let Your grace be sufficient and Your power perfected in our weakness. Lord we long for You to move in power, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ be held in high honour in our nation, in Jesus Christ, Amen.