Listen in as JP teaches on Acts 3:1-10, the healing of a beggar. He teaches us that obedience leads to opportunities to honor God. When those opportunities come we should seek to give the greatest gift: the gospel.
We're continuing Acts today and starting Acts 3. A couple of weeks ago, I'm driving down the road, and my friend calls me. He has this testimony. "Man, I just tried this stuff, and it changed my life." I'm such a sucker for that testimony, especially when it comes to health supplements or something you can take that changes your life. It changed your life.
I have a friend who loves Jesus. He's a man of God. He is all about things that make you healthy. His testimony is credible to me. I'm leaning forward. I'm listening. If I'm honest with you, he always has these testimonies. You know these people. Something lately has always changed their life. They're doing Whole30. It has changed their life. You're like, "What do I do?" You just eat flavorless food for 30 days. "It changed my life."
For him, one time, he came over at night. I was having trouble sleeping. He was like, "Here are some essential oils. Put these on the bottom of your feet. You're going to sleep like a baby." I'm like, "This is witchcraft, bro." He's telling me this stuff changed his life. I'm like, "Okay, man. What is it?" He was like, "Have you heard of Metamucil?" I was like, "Yeah, my grandmother…" What?
My friend is quite a bit older than me. I don't want to tell you who it is because I don't want to embarrass John Elmore. Anyway, he's like, "You have to try this." I don't know what's worse, that he's coming at me with this claim, or that as soon as I get off the phone with him, I'm going to go on Amazon Prime and order some.
That is the testimony. Whenever you find something that benefits your health, we are so prone to talk about that. That is one of the fastest travelling testimonies out there. "You have to try this latest and greatest. I went to GNC. This diet…" Whatever. "You have to get on this bandwagon. This stuff will change your life."
I'm wondering if you have ever had this thought. I have this thought often. How did we get here? I mean in this room specifically. Why has Christianity spread from these 11 guys in Acts? They were cowards, these rejects of rabbis. Nobody would take them as their students. Jesus shows up, spends some time with them, and these 11 guys take a message forward that has spread all over the world. Thousands will gather in this room and in other rooms and in rooms like this all over the world right now this morning. How did that happen?
Let me ask you a question. I want you to raise your hand if you would say, "Jesus changed my life." That's my story. I'm raising my hand. Would you raise your hand if Jesus changed your life? That's how it happened. That's how this message has moved east to west, covering continents, covering the globe, landing us in a chair this morning where we're gathered to be instructed from the Scriptures and to worship Jesus. He changed many of our lives.
Now, we have a message. We carry that message forward. One of the ways this message moved forward in the first century church rampantly was through healings. People who couldn't walk could walk. People who couldn't talk could talk. People who couldn't see could see. People who couldn't hear could hear.
As folks saw that, they carried that message forward. Those individuals who were healed pointed to Jesus. I'm going to hopefully show you from this text this morning that we have a responsibility there, what it is and what it isn't. We're talking about the miraculous healing that occurs in Acts 3. I'll be in verses 1-10 this morning. On Tuesday, I taught exorcism at The Porch. On Sunday, I'm teaching faith healing. It has been quite a week of theology for me. I'll just read this account to you, starting in verse 1.
**"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 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."**
As I teach from this story, in verses 1-2, we're going to look at where opportunities are found for us. In verses 3-8, we're going to look at what we have to offer those in need. In verses 8-10, we're going to look at why miraculous healings occur. To set this up, in Acts 1, if you're just joining us today, Jesus said, "The Holy Spirit is going to come on you, and when he does, you will have power," and it happens.
In Acts 1, these 11 men who were just common, not very educated, not super bright guys, all of a sudden begin to speak in foreign languages they had never learned. People are seeing miracles, and the church is being built up, so much so that it says in Acts 2 that over 3,000 heard Peter preach and believed. That's about the number of chairs in this room right now. This is the entire church at this time.
Imagine if we had a gathering of every single person on the planet who claimed faith in Jesus Christ, and it would only be the number of chairs in this room. That's the church at this time. In Acts 2:42, you see this beautiful picture of the church. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the breaking of the bread, to having things in common, to meeting each other's needs, and to fellowship, assembly. The assembly, the church is being built. It's so beautiful.
This is the same tradition that we get to take part in today. Now, in Acts 3, it's like the church is saying, "Now what? What do we do now?" What's interesting in this time is you have the Way, or the Christian church. They just fold into the Jewish tradition. The tradition of this time is that there would be a sacrifice at sunup, a sacrifice at sundown, and at 3:00 p.m., you would go to the temple to pray.
Peter and John are just doing that. They are just doing what they know to do out of faithfulness. It says, **"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer…"** That's the ninth hour. In the Jewish calendar, you would begin counting at sunup. The ninth hour would be 3:00 p.m. **"…at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth…"** This is not a man who was hit by a camel or something of that nature.
This was a man who, every single day of his life, has woken up, and he can't walk. His lot in life in this season is that his friends come around him, and they carry him to a place where he can beg for money. That's what he does day in and day out. There is an allegory, an example that I want to give you here for sin.
This is a great picture of our lives before Christ. We are doing the same thing over and over out of boredom, not knowing anything else is out there. Sin robs you of your creativity. You go the same bar. You get caught in the same affair. You're looking at the same websites over and over and over, not realizing that decades are going by.
**"Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts."** This gate called Beautiful is a gate in between the Gentile courts and the courts of women, where the women or anyone could gather, but specifically, women could gather there. In between was this beautiful Corinthian bronze gate. There was a gold gate. There was a silver gate. The bronze gate was the one called Beautiful because of the amount of attention that had gone into his detail.
The important thing about this gate that we need to know is that you would cross through this gate carrying your tithe, carrying your alms. This was an important part of Jewish worship. You would give some of your money to those in need and to the temple. This guy is opportunistic. He knows where to sit. He's sitting where people would have to walk by, wanting to give money. He's hoping that they want to give some to him.
This would be like someone sitting back there by the tithe offering box. There is a silver box back there where you give your tithe. If there was someone underneath it with their hands out saying, "Hey, as you give to God, would you give to me?" That is what this guy is doing. It's not dissimilar to when you leave here, sometimes, on Sunday morning, there is someone standing at the corner right there, knowing that a church gathers here. Christians are supposed to be generous. About 3,000 of them are going to drive by. They're opportunistic.
That's this guy. He is being opportunistic. He is gathering, hoping that someone will give him money here. What I really would like to point out to you is that these men are just being faithful. They're not seeking out opportunities. They're doing their disciplines. They're being Christians, and opportunities are placed before them by God. These extraordinary men were doing ordinary things. They were being faithful. My first point is really an observation from this text and much of Acts and the gospels.
1._ Opportunities open out of our obedience._ After the first service, Ryan said, "Six O's, man. Take that, First Baptist." That is quite the alliteration. Opportunities open out of our obedience. It just happens. I'm sorry. This is a supernatural miracle that is about to occur. It pours out of normal worship and discipline. It's like Jesus talking to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3. He says, "You've found identity in me. You've been faithful. You've done what I asked of you. Therefore, doors have been opened."
It's like the apostle Paul saying in Colossians, "Hey, pray for us as we're faithful that God would open doors for his ministry." As Christians go to work, go to daycare, sit at table for dinner, this Christian life should invade every avenue of our lives, not be this thing that we compartmentalize to Sunday or some program we attend. Everywhere we are, we are being faithful, and God is placing opportunities in front of us.
There should be an auditing of our week happening right now. How many contractors, how many employees, employers, coworkers, peers, lunch appointments did we go to that were divine appointments? How many interruptions did we have that were divine interruptions that God put in our path as we were being faithful that were actually opportunities for the supernatural to occur, for something incredible to happen in them?
This is so different than the faith healings that you see on YouTube and TV and whatnot. A lot of times, you'll see guys go to the mall, and they'll gather someone around, and they'll make somebody's leg grow or something, and everybody will go, "Oh, man, that's amazing!" They're seeking it out. It becomes a spectacle. It becomes about them. "Look at the power I have."
This is very different from that. This is just men going to church and God placing someone in front of their path who has need. The spectacle is going to be something much bigger than the healing itself. This is different from the Benny Hinn Crusades, going nation to nation, healing people, seeking it out, creating this, "Hey, look! Look here!"
You never see that here. That's not what is going on here. I liken it to a prayer that Todd prayed often early on and again this Tuesday at staff prayer. It's simple this. It's a beautiful prayer. It has impacted my life. It says, "God, I know you're going to do something incredible today, something miraculous, supernatural, amazing today. Father, I pray that as a body, we would be so faithful that you might choose to do it through us."
That prayer is biblical. It comes from 2 Chronicles 16:9. It says, "The eyes of the Lord go to and fro, looking throughout the earth for hearts that are fully his." "God, we know you're supernatural. We know you're amazing, God. We know you're going to do incredible things. Would you capture so much of our hearts, so much of our minds, so much of our egos that you might choose to do some of those things through us?"
We're not looking for a miracle. We're focused on faithfulness. Multiple times throughout the Gospels, Jesus says that people who… He calls the generation wicked. He says, "The reason I'm calling you wicked is because you look for a sign." He says that in Matthew 12 and Matthew 16. It's repeated throughout the Gospels.
"You are a wicked generation because you're looking for a sign. You want amusement. You want entertainment. You will get no sign other than the one of Jonah," which is this. It is that Jesus would be buried in the grave and, on the third day, resurrected from the dead. He's like, "You need no other sign." Mercifully, he gave us others, but he said, "You should need no other sign. It's a wicked and perverse generation that needs a sign."
As you're faithful, God places opportunities in front of you that you would look for them. Every interruption is divine. Every appointment is appointed, is divine. I think about times when I'm tempted toward frustration. There was one time Monica and I were on a date. I was taking her on a date. I wanted it to be really nice, so we went to IHOP. Don't judge me.
Sometimes, breakfast sounds good for dinner. We did that. We went to IHOP, and we had been sitting there for 30 minutes, and no one had attended to us. It was fine because we were just staring into each other's eyes. That's just what we do. Anyway, it was fine. Eventually, the server came up. A young man came up and said, "Can I take your drink order?" Of course, we had our order ready.
We got our waters and then made our order. He was going off of memory. He wasn't writing it down. Some might be impressed by that. I never am. Just write it down. We're complicated. We're going to change things up. It's going to be special, so write it down. He didn't, and after we ordered, 45 minutes go by. Truly, it was the single worst dining experience I've ever had.
At this point, he's just ignoring us because he's embarrassed. After 45 minutes, he comes up with two meals very different from our meals. It's not like the order was wrong, but we got someone else's food. I ordered pancakes and got a sandwich. I asked and said, "This is not our order, which is okay, but is it somebody else's order?" He was like, "No, this is your order." "Great. Great. It's our order."
We eat it and wait another long time for the check. I'm tempted toward frustration. In my spirit, I feel frustrated. I feel like I need to teach this guy a lesson. He's expecting 15 percent. Oh no. I'm asking God, "What does obedience look like?" As I'm asking, I'm hearing, "Well, what have I shown you?" I pay for the meal, and I have a $100 bill, and I give it to him as a tip.
I just say, "This is grace. Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when you don't get what you deserve. Grace is when you get so much more than what you deserve. Can I tell you how I, in my life, have received grace?" It was an opportunity for faithfulness, one that maybe in that moment I did okay in, but as I look back on my week this week, I'm so sad to tell you that there have been lots of engagements, lots of people I have talked to.
Now, as I look back, hindsight is 20/20. I see that God had placed them in my path, and I wasn't faithful. I didn't engage. I didn't have the spiritual conversation. Someone left our house just this week, and I went, "Man, I didn't get to share the gospel with them." It's not that I didn't get to. I didn't take that opportunity.
Why? It's so simple to say, "Hey, let me ask you before you leave. Do you have a faith? Do you have a church you attend? Is church a part of your thing?" Those are such simple questions. Why didn't I ask them? We should be faithful in the opportunities that come out of our obedience. That's what Peter and John are doing here. In verse 3, it says,
**"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."**
Let me just make some observations out of this text. First, we see here that the apostles are not rich. Every now and then, you're going to hear a prosperity teacher try to tell you that Jesus and the apostles, in their ministry on earth, were wealthy men. It says here they were not. "I do not have silver or gold to give you."
There is something unique happening in this day. I want you to hear me on this because I've been skeptical of the point I'm about to make. In the first century church, ministry is happening in a unique way that it doesn't happen in the same way today. I have heard that, and I have sat out there, and I'm like, "They lack the spirit. Sensationist…" if you know that word.
It's just this idea that there are two extremes that come out of this. I want to be really clear here. The first extreme is a heresy, and it says the reason you are not being healed is because you do not have enough faith, that God desires to heal everyone. That's heresy. It's not true. People die. We are healed now through the resurrection. There is something different happening.
There is a second one that is equally as grave as the heresy that you also must hear. This is the second heresy. "God no longer heals people." I mean, healing like this. I'm talking they can't walk. Now they can walk. That kind of healing absolutely still happens today. God is not done doing those kinds of healings.
However, there is something unique happening in the apostolic age. Here is what is happening. There is this unveiling of the kingdom. Jesus, when he is here, is saying, "Hey, let me show you. Let me give you a glimpse of the healing I belong to. This is a place where there is no weeping. There are no tears. There are no hurts. There are no diseases. There is no sickness. There are no deformities, no maladies of any kind in this kingdom. Let me undo the curse of sin in this moment so that you might carry a message forward." More on that in just a moment.
This man here is expecting something, but these two guys give him so much more. God, through these two men, give him so much more than he could ever ask for. God still very much operates in this way. You pray for one thing, and he gives you something very different than what you prayed for. As life goes on, you look back, and you're like, "Wow, I see what God was doing there now. I didn't even know to pray for that."
2._ Generously give a greater gift._ For those who have been placed as an interruption to your day, in your path, ask, "What is the greater gift I can generously give? That greater gift for us is the gospel. It's an eternal healing. It is a forever with God in his kingdom. That is a greater gift that we can give anybody who asks anything of us that we can give them the gospel. When somebody comes up to you and says, "I'm dying of thirst. I need a glass of water." "Cool, let me tell you about Jesus." That's not what I'm saying.
I'm saying, "Here's a glass of water. Now, let me tell you about Jesus. I want to try to meet your physical needs so I can meet your real need that you may not know is a need. To do all of that, I have to engage you. I have to have a conversation with you. I have to have enough compassion not to just give you what you think you want but to take time out of my day and my space and my ministry and my life to engage you on a much more personal, intimate level."
Can I tell you something crazy? I lived this passage in the geography in which it happened. Recently, Todd and I had the opportunity to go to Israel. As we were walking from the Mount of Olives toward the temple, relatively toward the gate called Beautiful, there was a man in our path whose friends carried him, place him in the path, legs tucked up underneath him. He could not walk, and he asked us for money.
I see him from afar, and there is Todd. I like to think of Todd as Peter and myself as John. You know, the one Jesus loved. I'm just teasing. I asked Todd, "Are you ready? Are you ready to tell this man to get up and walk?" He responds in Todd-like fashion, "If that's what God wants me to do, that's what I'll do." A mutual friend of ours went and gave the man a dollar and walked on. He says, "I'm confident that's not what God wants me to do."
What he meant by that was, "I'm confident that God doesn't want me to not engage this man and to simply feel better about myself in a moment by handing him a dollar and going on about my day, not really caring for him but just giving some drive-by act of kindness." As we begin to talk about this specific passage in Israel, he just said what I began to tell you. Jesus' ministry, when they were healing people, was a foreshadowing of the kingdom.
Now, after the resurrection, after the apostolic age, we now have a greater message that, as Jesus was dealing with the effects of sin…deformities and sickness and ailments…we get to deal with the cause of sin or share about how the cause of sin was dealt with in us. That is, Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.
He may heal someone or he may use a greater story of them walking through their sickness and disease, worshipping, leaping, and praising God in the midst of suffering. He does both. That's not a cop out. I'm not speaking anything away. That's theology. That is true, not only to our experience but also to what the Scripture teaches.
I love what these guys do. There is some application here. They say, "Look at me." What he does is he takes control of the situation. The guy says, "Hey, can I have some money?" Peter says, "Look at me." See, some of us are terrified that somebody is going to come up to us at the gas station and ask us for a dollar.
We pull up and see and think, "Oh no. Please don't come up and ask me. What am I going to say?" Then they're like, "Excuse me." "Oh no. I wasn't prepared for this." That's a very different outlook than, "God, I know you're going to place people in my path. I know you are. I am expecting you to."
"Excuse me. Can I have a dollar?"
"I don't know. Can I have a conversation?"
"Excuse me. Can I have a dollar?"
"Maybe. Can I tell you a story?"
"Excuse me. Can I have a dollar?"
"Good question. May I ask you a few questions before I just give you a dollar?" You took control. It switched.
"What? You're not afraid of me? What? You're acknowledging me as a human being? What? You're not going to fall into my ploy of just wanting some drive-by generosity?"
I'm not saying that is true of everyone, but it's a whole different level when you just say, "You need a dollar? Sure. What do you need it for? Can we talk? Do you have time to share your story with me? Can I share mine with you? Let me ask you a question. What do you believe? What do you believe about God? What do you need a dollar for? Can I go get it? Oh, you need it for a bus pass? Here's the deal. I can't get a bus pass, but I can run in here and buy you a Gatorade, and we can have a conversation if you want."
See, that's a completely different thing. One has the aroma of Christ, just seems so true of his followers. At Watermark, we're constantly hit up, as you can imagine, so we have birthed this incredible ministry called our Charis Ministry. We have multiple asks a week, sometimes several every day.
You can imagine we don't just say, "Oh, you need rent? Here is rent." That's not what we do. We say, "Oh, you need rent? Help us understand why. Who are you running with? Where are you plugged in? Where are you connected to? How did you get in this situation? How can we help you never get in this situation again? How can we really love you in a way that is greater than the love you are asking us for?"
Sometimes, people hear that, and they are restored, and they're plugged in. I heard a just incredible story of a man who came into this place who did not have a place to live. He was living out of his car. Now, he's leading a Community Group and doing an incredible ministry. I just heard that story last week.
Sometimes, it's the double bird, lots of profanity, lots of confusion, lots of frustration. "Why can't you just help me?" "No, you don't understand. We want to, but in a way that is much greater than what you're asking for." We have Charis. Then we have another incredible ministry. If you're like, "I want to see healing today." It's called QuestCare. That's why I'm wearing this tee shirt, QuestCare Clinic. It is a clinic we are partnered with, part owners of. It's just down the road.
Every single week, they see God healing people, both their physical ailments and their spiritual ailments. I reached out to my friend Christy at QuestCare and said, "What would you want to tell Watermark," and she said this. I'm just going to read you her words. "I would want our church body to know that their city is hurting. Patients walk in our doors every day because they know something is wrong, but they can't really tell for certain what it is.
Every day, we listen to their chief complaints of allergies, asthma, ankle sprains, and infections, but we also hear their stories of physical and sexual abuse, drug addiction, sexual identity issues, abortion, torture, terrorism (yes, terrorism), mental health disorders, homelessness, and prostitution, stories that we have a hard time processing at night when we go home because it's traumatic to even listen to, let alone experience.
I would want our church to know that our city is hurting, and our people are broken, and the need is great. I would also want them to know that the Lord is healing that brokenness right before our very eyes, that in his sovereignty, it's no mistake that these men and women are walking through our doors when they do. He brings an Arabic-speaking Muslim through our doors the same day we have an Arabic-speaking Christian volunteering on our site.
He allows a girl to have a cough so she can come in to find out she's pregnant with a doctor who will tell her, "Congratulations," rather than, "I'm sorry," with a quick fix. He interrupts a man on his way to the strip club with an ear infection so a bunch of Christians can point him toward his true identity. Daily, we get to watch as the body of Christ intersects the needs of our city, meeting their physical immediate needs and pointing them toward their eternal ones.
We meet people who would never set foot in a church building and get to introduce them to the church body instead. Jeremiah tells Israel to be about the welfare of the city they're in. We're a triage center, sitting across from the city of Dallas, looking it in the eyes, and caring for it. Dallas is being healed inside our doors, and it's happening because Jesus' body is there doing it."
Amen to that. She goes on to say, "You don't just have to applaud it, but you can be a part of it. You can come to an open house twice a month, every third Thursday or first Friday. If you're not going to hear any of this, just go to questcareclinic.org and hear the stories and see with your own eyes what God is doing there." Jesus is still very much healing people, and he lets us play an incredible role. Verse 8 continues.
**"Then he** [the man who had just been healed] **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."**
3._ Miracles make way for the message._ This was so true then and is so true today. It's very much true today. Miracles make way for the message. This man goes from being lame his whole life to now walking, leaping, and praising God. This is a miracle. Neuroreceptors in his limbs that had never fired his entire life are now firing.
Muscles that were atrophied that weren't actually there are being created as a new creation. They are strengthened before his eyes. His ankles become weak, sending signals up his nerves to his brain, saying, "You need to now move these things that have never moved." He's walking, and he's leaping, and he's praising God, and it is a miracle. It's not normal. By very definition, there is no such thing as a normal miracle. A miracle cannot be normal. It's a miracle.
Miracles of Jesus and his apostles always point forward to that kingdom. They always point forward to that new creation of a world that doesn't need healing, a world without sin, a world without pain, a world without tears. God does not do pointless miracles. Every miracle God accomplishes is for a purpose greater than the miracle in and of itself.
Someone who does a miracle for entertainment or amusement is a magician. I just saw a movie, _Now You See Me 2_. It's a movie about magic, about magicians. In the movie, this guy freezes the rain. The rain stops in mid-air (spoiler alert, if you haven't seen it), and he says, "Not even God can do that. I'm doing something that even God can't do," which is hilarious. In its stupidity, it's hilarious.
God made every single one of those raindrops. He ordained them to be suspended in air before creation. He spoke them into existence. The very water that formed them he spoke into existence, but God doesn't do miracles for entertainment. He doesn't do things for amusement. He does miracles to move a message forward, to authenticate a message and its messenger.
If you've experienced a healing… I know some of you have. "We looked at the X-rays, and the tumor was there. Then the next day, the tumor wasn't there. The doctors were dumbfounded. They said, 'We've never seen anything like this in all my history of medicine.'" I hear that story. I've been a part of that story.
What you have to ask if that's a part of your story or if you've heard that story or if you've seen that story is, "God, why did you do this? Who do you want to save? Who do you want me to share with?" Do you hear what I'm saying? God never does a miracle or saves someone only to save that person. He always saves a person to save people. He always heals a person to heal people. That's what God does.
Even the thief on the cross, as he stayed there with Jesus, has nobody to share with except this one person his voice reached. Jesus never saved one person only to save one person. If you're here and you've been saved, you've been saved for a purpose. If you've experienced a healing, if you've seen a healing, God is either trying to save you through that healing or someone else in the room through that healing. Ask him, "God, what do you want to do?"
That's the greater miracle, not allowing someone 10 more years to live but allowing someone to live forever and ever and ever in his kingdom. That's the greater miracle. Nobody has to go to hell. They can go to be with God forever. Why? Why doesn't he heal every believer? Let me ask you. Does he heal every believer?
We did a wedding here a couple of weeks ago. We were here for the rehearsal in the chapel. The bride's father was sick. He had been sick for some time, but he had taken a turn for the worse on that particular day, and it didn't look like he would be able to walk her down the aisle. Before the rehearsal, I just prayed, "Father, would you heal him? Would you restore him? Would you restore his mind and his body? Would you heal him? That's what we would love for you to do."
The next day, the wedding was that evening. At 2:00 in the afternoon, just hours before the wedding began, the bride caught word that her father had passed away. They had a very close relationship. It was a very sad situation, mixed emotions, as you can imagine. I'm asking her, "Are we going to do this? Is the wedding still going to happen? How are you feeling?"
She's an incredible woman of God, walks and abides closely with Jesus. In a way that no one ever had, she asked me, "I want you to share the gospel." As I went down through what I was going to say in the ceremony, she was like, "Where is the gospel? Where are you going to put the gospel?"
It was incredible that as I started that wedding, I got to say, "Today, we're celebrating two weddings. One is this one we see, and it is a celebration. Feel free to take joy in this couple who have built their marriage on the foundation of Christ. Take joy in them. The second wedding is her father is now united to his Bridegroom, Jesus, forever and ever. It is a celebration in heaven.
We're sad here absolutely. Any time someone leaves for a long period of time, you're deeply sorrowed. You miss them. You want to be with them. You want to talk to them, laugh with them, play with them, sit with them. It's okay to be sad. Jesus wept at Lazarus's tomb, but make no mistake about it. He is healed.
I prayed for healing yesterday, and today, he is completely, fully healed. God gave us something greater than we even knew to ask for. He is in glory. Don't embarrass yourself to say things like, 'Well, he's looking down on this wedding today.' No, he's not. He's distracted by a much more beautiful wedding than even that of his own daughter. Glory. Glory. Hallelujah."
I left that couple in a way I don't normally do. I left them up there. I said, "I'll be right back," and I walked down and said, "Now, let me talk about where her father is. Let me talk to you about how he got there. Let me share with you the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ and how he has died for your sins, and God raised him from the dead so you might be with him forever."
Here in Acts 3, this is a great miracle, but there is a greater one coming, a really incredible one coming. Wait for it. Here's what I want you to see. Do you remember how many of you raised your hands at the beginning of this message and said, "My life has been changed by Jesus"? Do you remember that? Hands went up everywhere. Why?
You have now a greater story than this man leaping and praising God. That's the part that is not happening today, the leaping and praising God part. We're changed, and then we go back to the mundane. That is never meant to be. You see it. Do you know what is happening? The explosion of the church we see in Acts… It has spread, but in my finite wisdom, it seems to be pumping the breaks here in America.
In Africa, it's spreading like crazy, not because of healing but because of life change. In China… China will soon be the largest Christian nation on the planet. Here in America, it seems to be slowing down. It's the leaping and praising God of Christians that seems to be slowing down, that is slowing this movement.
God didn't save your 10 or 20 years. He saved you forever for a purpose. In summary, opportunities open out of our obedience. Generously give a greater gift. Miracles make way for the message. I heard this story this week. Our high school students just got back from Camp Barnabas. If you're not familiar with Camp Barnabas, it's an incredible ministry to kids with disabilities. It's where they go to camp, kids who couldn't normally go to camp because they can't walk or have some sickness or disease or a chronic situation or a terminal situation.
It really can be a sad service opportunity. It can be a very difficult service opportunity. Some of these kids can't go to the bathroom by themselves, can't eat by themselves. Our high school students say, "Hey, we will go and be the body of Jesus Christ." There was one girl who went who wasn't a part of our body.
She had been to Watermark once. She had heard of this opportunity, and she signed up and went. She said, "I want to go because serving makes me feel better. It makes me feel good to serve." On the first night, they were sharing testimonies. As she shared her testimony, it was clear that her story was still being written.
She said, "There is an emptiness inside. I don't know if I believe in God. I'm here wrestling with, 'Is God real?' I'm here because I wanted to serve and to feel better about myself." Others saw an opportunity, as they were being faithful, to engage her, to love her, to share with her. They generously gave a greater gift, more than they knew to give.
As God, in his sovereignty, paired her with a young man named Carlos who was non-verbal, meaning he couldn't talk… He could make sounds, one or two syllables. She loved him, cared for him, as she herself was being loved and cared for. One night, they were singing, praising God, singing worship, and she looked over at Carlos, and Mia saw that her camper was singing full worship songs, every word, every syllable, in tune.
She said, "It's a miracle." She said that a peace overwhelmed her, that this God who she was questioning now became so very real, and her life was changed. Shortly thereafter, she had an allergic reaction, and her throat was closing. My friend David got a call saying, "It's an emergency. It's not looking good."
That's never a call you would want to get in a situation like that. They went, and she had taken two EpiPen injections, and as she began to recover from this horrific situation, he asked her, "If you were to die… Today, you almost died. If you would have died, where would you be?" She clearly articulated, "David, I know that Jesus Christ has died for my sins, that God raised him from the dead. I've been healed. If I would have died today, I would have woken up in glory forever and ever and ever and ever."
That's amazing. Is that not an amazing miracle? That's a miracle. Yes, Carlos and the singing is awesome. It's a miracle. She's going to be in heaven. She's now a part of this body, getting to serve Jesus Christ with us. What an incredible miracle. If you raised your hand, you've experienced the same miracle. Tell the world. Tell everybody. Be ready to give an account for whatever interruption he has for you. Let me pray that you would.
Father, we thank you for the greater gift that we have received in Jesus Christ, that you allowed him to die on our behalf, for everything we've done wrong. There is no choice we could have made that you can't forgive us for in a moment, that you haven't already paid for on the cross, that you can restore us and make us new from the inside.
Father, we thank you for your Holy Spirit, who is still very much at work. Help us not to be a people who look for the sensational but to be a people who walk in obedience, ready to respond, naturally or supernaturally if you desire, to any given situation that you might place in our paths. Would you allow that to mark us, God? We know you're going to do some incredible things today. I pray that you might choose to do them through us. In the name of Jesus, amen.
**"While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: 'Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'"**
Next week. We'll get to that next week. It's going to be incredible. The story is getting good. I know that you came into this room with all sorts of things going on. You've experienced things. You've lived life. If there is anything we can do for you, we want to be the body of Christ to you. We want to come around. We want to help you, not forsake you, not leave you, not abandon you. I assure you that you will run from us before we run from you.
We're not afraid of you. We're not afraid of what you've been through or where you are. If you're at a place where you're just like, "Man, I just need someone to pray for me. It was just a rough week. Marriage is tough. Work is tough." Anything, if something is difficult, we can just pray for you. Every single week, you have an invitation to come up here.
We have a team of people up here for no other reason than to just get to know you and pray for you. We would love to do that. If we can follow up with you, please let us know in that Watermark News, that section of the Watermark News. Please tell us anything that is going on, anything we can pray for you about or follow up with you this week about. We would love that opportunity.
It was so fun to be with you. I will see you guys next week. Have a great week of worship.