(The western wall, the only remaining part of the Temple in Jerusalem.)
In Acts chapter 3, we read about the healing of the lame beggar.
Picture the scene with me. It was three o’clock in the afternoon and there were crowds of people arriving at the temple for one of three regular times of Jewish prayer. In they came, through ornate gates, congregating with purpose, greeting friends and family. The temple area also attracted beggars, each one living in hope that religious piety would produce charity.
And so we meet our ‘certain man’, a man lame from birth, who had been brought here early and deposited near the entrance to the temple. Over the years, he had become a fixture at the Temple, part of the furniture, all but invisible to the regulars.
Today he catches someone’s eye. When the lame man sees that Peter the Apostle has noticed him, he extends his hands in anticipation of coins. How disappointing it must have been to hear Peter’s words, ‘I have no silver or gold’. Empty pockets mean a wasted trip and a hungry night ahead.
But the Apostle isn’t finished.
‘What I do have, I give to you.’
And in a God-ordained moment, he takes the man’s hand and lifts him to his miracle. Joints and ligaments that had never borne weight are immediately strengthened as trepidatious steps became joyful and abandoned.
Suddenly, this insignificant, invisible life becomes a display of the miraculous, a living testimony that Jesus the Son of God is alive and His Spirit is working.
And all because Peter and John gave what they have.
All because they had something to give.
Let’s not forget that there were a lot of people at the Temple that day. Many, I am sure, were well-meaning, sincere worshippers. Perhaps they dropped a coin or two into needy hands on the way to their religious appointment. Perhaps they quietly prayed for these poor souls and wished them well in their hearts.
Or maybe they had their own personal problems on their minds as they approached this hour of supplication. And who can blame them? We all know how relationship difficulties, financial worries or health problems can preoccupy us, even at church.
But not Peter and John.
Fresh from Pentecost’s power, they are filled up and sold out. God had done something new in their lives, something dynamic and extraordinary. It was fresh and real and recent. In that upper room, God had shown up in power and glory, fulfilling ancient promises with the precious gift of His Holy Spirit. They had witnessed the miraculous and experienced the life-changing presence of God.
And so Peter and John had what this man really needed.
Don’t get me wrong, good advice can be very helpful. Compassion and empathy are beautiful and essential qualities. Taking time to listen is vitally important. But when someone is hurting, broken, sick or lost what really matters is who I believe Jesus to be and what I know He can do.
Today, even in the middle of our mundane, ordinary lives, God wants to do something new. He wants to fulfil promises and answer prayers. He wants to meet us in our waiting and surprise us with His goodness. He wants to do more than we have thought or imagined. He wants to give us an ever-increasing revelation of how good and able and willing He is.
Otherwise, what do we have to give?
Sure, we can dust off stale stories of things God did decades ago in our lives. We can hand out our hollow theories or opinions or ‘something really good I read in a book’. We can post platitudes with hipster fonts or some celebrity preacher’s Sunday soundbite.
Or we can meet the need around us with an introduction to the living, powerful God we know.
We can have testimonies to share that are hot off the press and daily bread that is fresh out of the oven. We can offer real faith in a real God. We can give out to others from the overflow of our own personal walk with God and all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in our lives.
And He wants to start today.
He wants to do something new. He wants to surprise you. He wants to give you a fresh experience of His love and goodness and transforming power.
So, wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, thank God for every good thing He has done in the past. But covet a new testimony of His goodness as well. Don’t be content with old testimonies. Ask God for a new touch, a Rhema word from the Bible, a miracle of healing or deliverance or provision. Then, in every situation, you can share with others what they really need.
His name is Jesus. And, you know Him.
He is alive and He is powerful and He is working on this planet to change lives.