Acts 3:6 | Divine Appointment

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Have you ever crossed paths with a person in a random setting or situation and that interaction changed your life forever? An introduction to a future spouse? Introductions to someone that later provided entry to a job opportunity? Introductions to someone that fixed a lifelong issue? Was this all fate or randomness?

God’s workings are a mystery. The people I have been drawn into relationships with are part of his design for my life. Some people have caused me pain but most people have been an encouragement and a blessing. In the same way I have caused pain to some and encouragement to others along the way.

Gladly we desire even expect God to give us blessings, but I have found what I desire from God rarely works out the way I expect. What I mean by that is that God’s gifts and God’s plan for my life is perfect even when I don’t understand or find it painful. Take for example Peter and John the beloved disciples making their way to the temple to worship when they are encounter a beggar who is clearly disabled. This beggar is doing his part asking for money, for charity, from the people headed to the temple. The worshipers need to do their part by providing money, charity, to the beggars they find on the way. The beggar’s life is not glamorous. Yet on this day his request for money is rejected for something greater.

5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Acts 3:5-6 ESV

Americans collectively give more than a billion dollars a year to Charities. This is in addition to the billions the US government pays out in food, housing, and medical subsidies each year. We are generous with money because we have it in abundance. Many people want the government to provide all needs to all people (free education, free healthcare, free jobs) but the world and the government cannot offer what God has freely given to all who would receive it. This beggar has crossed paths with two men who give him something greater than charity and greater than any earthly government.

8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:8-10 ESV

God used Peter and John in a random interaction to change this beggar’s life for the better. What about this divine appointment from Peter and John’s perspective? This beggar now healed provided attention and an immediate platform for them to preach Christ to the temple worshipers. How great is that? Read what happened next.

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. Acts 4:1-4 ESV

Peter and John were able to share Jesus to a large crowd many of whom believed in the message from God. But the disciples were also thrown into prison that night. Do you think Peter regretted the pain this beggar caused him? It was not the beggar’s fault but the outcome remained that a night in prison was the result this miraculous act.  Whatever hurt Peter and John received in their service to God seemed like nothing because they were excited, emboldened, and grateful for the opportunity to heal this beggar in spite of the night in prison.

18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. Acts 4:18:22 ESV

Divine appointments from God are available each day. Will you be the beggar or the disciple today? Your path may have already crossed with someone that changed everything. That beggar who was healed was a catalyst that saved thousands of people. If God changed your life would God be glorified and would others be saved? Are your prayers for blessings from God for selfish reasons or that God would be glorified? What about the other side of the perspective? Do you want to serve God if there is a downside that the world would be so angry that it might cost you freedom or friends?

This life is short. Healing all the beggars or ending poverty is not God’s purpose at the moment. God’s purpose is to bring glory to himself that we his children might be saved. War, death, famine, evil, hunger, and sin will be removed when Christ returns. However right now God’s divine plan and purpose is to call sinners to repentance for eternal salvation. Would you slow down to engage with others for God’s glory and blessing?

John 9:3 | Jesus Does Heal for God’s Glory

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A healing Jesus is important to the church and the body of Christ. Any small group within a church has a long list of prayer requests and a majority of those prayer requests will most likely be physical issues. Sickness, addictions, and all manner of ailments that trouble loved ones. So why does a good God allow these things into our lives. A better and much less selfish question is why does God allow debilitating disease, deformity, and death to be commonplace? We all know or we might be someone that is disabled in some major or minor way. Why does it seem that so many have cancer and yet many loose the fight even with much prayer? Is Jesus really a healer and does he still heal today? The answer is yes to both however we need to explore why Jesus heals and to what purpose.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3 ESV

When you study and review the Bible where Jesus or the Apostles healed or performed miracles they were always in such a way that the healing directed all glory to God. The healing of an individual established God’s authority to the person healed and to the witnesses. Never are healing and restoration simply or only for personal reasons. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise everlasting pain free living in this present world. Quite the opposite is true. God promises that the consequence of sin is death.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV

Review this most famous healing by Jesus where he brings to life a man who was dead and buried. Notice that even before Lazarus died Jesus knew the end result would be a resurrection that would give authority to God in mighty way.

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”… 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:1-4;38-44 NIV

Multiple times in this passage Jesus testifies plainly about the reason for bringing Lazarus back to life. It was for God’s glory that the people witness to it would believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. While profoundly important that Lazarus was resurrected to his family the primary point of the miracle was not about Lazarus. Sadly Lazarus is going to die again at some point in the future because our present bodies are under the curse of sin.

While I have witnessed friends and acquaintances give testimonies about how God healed them of cancer or some other issue I have also witnessed loved ones die much too young. I do not know why God chooses to heal or not. Some prayers are answered in ways that seem undesirable to me yet I know that God in his wisdom has always done the right thing. Paul has an answer that I do find acceptable. Paul was faced with a physical issue that he prayed for God to heal. Read here his perspective when God told him no.

though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 ESV

Boast in weakness? Boast in hardships? Content with disability? Why would Paul boast in such things? Because in that weakness and disability Christ could be glorified. Sometimes God does not heal because others can see him more clearly when we live a life that says God’s “grace is sufficient” even in this weakness. God’s grace is all I need. Come heaven or hell, life or death, God is enough for me.

If you recognize your weakness and limitations and are ready to put your trust in God’s grace now is the moment to turn away from your sins and trust in Jesus and his perfect power to give new life.