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Proper Behavior in THE CHURCH

“And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; this man had been lame from birth.” (Acts 3:2)

I wonder if he had ever stood aright; if he had ever looked another man in the eye.

“who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.” (Acts 3:3)

He noticed them. He saw them.

“And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." (Acts 3:4)

Peter and John did something different with their eyes: they fixed…fastened…their eyes on him.

Have you ever experienced this: when the Holy Spirit directs you to a person - fixes your eyes on someone? Do you know what that means? It means it’s their time for a touch from God. This is how I do ministry. I literally ask the Lord to aim me at someone.

Peter issued a command: “Look at us.” “Look” is a Greek word that means to really perceive. So, Peter commanded him to scrutinize them. This was to help the lame man receive. God often has us do things that may not make sense but which are designed to enhance receiving.

The man...perhaps in response to the command - pure obedience - or perhaps because good begging dictates eye contact, obeyed him.

“So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” (Acts 3:5)

There is a lot in that sentence. How often do we wake up, go out into the world and expect to just survive? And that's just what happens. How often do we go to a “meeting of the Body of Christ” and merely expect to keep breathing and stay out of trouble (usually by hiding the cuts, bruises and pain in our souls) – and that’s all that happens. We punch in and then when all the “stuff” is finished, we punch out.

In contrast, how often do we see our daily lives...and our minutes even as opportunities to receive from God OR for someone else to receive from God through us?

“So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” (Acts 3:5)

Every spiritual encounter involves elements, it seems to me, that are found in this one verse. The potential receiver HAS GOT to participate or nothing will happen. In other words, passivity doesn't work in this Kingdom.

So, the lame man gave something: his focus and his heart was open. He expected something; he expected to RECEIVE something and he expected it would come from them.

This man is a picture of us - born in sin...lost...lame, if you will, from birth going places, positioning ourselves to get what we think we need - expecting something to happen, but willing to settle for less than what we really need: HEALING, RESTORATION, LIFE!

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’” (Acts 3:6)

Peter said to him, (I paraphrase) “I know you expect some coins. I don’t have any of those. I have something MUCH better.” This man...he was expectant...anticipating; he was open to receive. He knew he was needy.

“And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” (Acts 3:7)

The word “took” indicates that Peter seized him gently (with passion yet gently) by the hand. Remember the dynamics here: God set Peter and John to looking at this man. Then the man asked for something and expected to get something. Next, Peter addressed him... offering what God had for him and commanded him to receive it. Then Peter reached out....and prompted an obedient response.

What is the lesson here? People need to know what to do.

Peter grabbed him and lifted him and instantly his feet and ankle bones got something they always lacked. They were weak; God made them strong.

Again, this man is a picture of each of us. In terms of salvation: we were spiritually dead…weak…adrift. We were somewhere, doing something to get what we thought we needed. This, I believe, is why people do all the things some of us did.....drinking, drugs, lying, meanness, selfishness....(the list is endless).

We were somewhere, doing something to get what we thought we needed but we were wrong. What we needed was life from God. Someone came along.... refused to give us what we asked for and instead...offered life and we took it! We were raised from the (spiritual) dead.

What did the FORMERLY lame man do in response to having received infinitely more than he expected he would receive?

“So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them; walking, leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)

Not your basic “church behavior” even in those days. He didn't serenely fold his hands, bow his head and pray silently...his lips barely moving. That boy leapt!!!! He sprang forth. Remember: he most likely had never walked, lame from birth, yet – healed - he sprang forth!

He used something he now had...that he never had used before. Can you see the parallel? He was not content to just be able to walk.

God strengthens and heals our torn lives. Let's use them!!!!

He stood and walked. You know, I believe that sometimes praise can simply be doing something that you couldn't do before the Lord fixed it. So...let’s say you could never trust anyone and God comes in or let's say you could never truly love and God comes in ***

or let's say you could never see yourself as mattering to anyone and God comes in..

You can praise Him by simply loving someone.

You can praise Him by simply trusting God through someone.

You can praise Him by simply believing that if He gave you HAVE value.

I suppose my point in all this is that if we weren’t encouraged to fully enjoy and fully express our joy in the one place we should feel safe to do so (wherever the Church gathers) how can we truly glorify God?

And how will we experience Him to that degree if we don’t first receive healing, restoration, etc. from Him? Further, how will we receive these things if we don’t ask for them and how will we feel free to cry out for restoration and healing if we are not free and feel safe to admit that we are needy and poor in so many ways?

I choose to surround myself with brethren that will allow this to happen and that will both hold me up when I’m weak and allow me to do that for them when they need my strength.

Pastor Michael McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, TX

© 2002

(For use with permission)

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