Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10

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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10 – 04/11/2016

Acts 3:1 (ESV) Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 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!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 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.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse one…

V1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

I have been looking forward to this passage of scripture for some time, the reason for this is that it brings back happy memories of my Sunday School days back at the Gospel Hall in Roberton Street in Chapelhall back in Scotland. In common with many Sunday Schools of that day we sang a song that was based on this passage of scripture, the lyrics were as follows…

Peter and John went to pray;
they met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
and this is what Peter did say:

“Silver and gold have I none,
but what I have give I thee.
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He went walking and leaping and praising God,
walking and leaping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Which is a simplistic approach to what happened here in this scripture and I am a simple guy so that suits me fine. (Perhaps we should stop the article here) Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and I am sure that if I went back to that hall being an adult those benches, whilst familiar would not seem as long or as large. I am also sure I would have many memories of lessons learned and happy memories of somewhere that was part of my growing up and very much a safe place for me as a child. You see, as an adult I realize what a sacrifice this family did for where they lived, the loved that generation enough to go collect them from their various homes andddliver them there and back so they could hear about Jesus. Awesome testimony!

I love the words used by Luke the Physician that states that Peter and John began this account by stating that Peter and John were still observant of the “hour of prayer” that they took every opportunity to be in communion with God. They wanted to be immersed in prayer for the mission that they were on. I don’t doubt for a second that they would have taken any opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus if the occasion arose or were questioned by the assembled leaders that were there. (If you have read ahead you will know that God was going to give them that very opportunity) I believe that these guys were truly on mission because they were going into a place that could conceivably be fairly dangerous for them. Whatever the reason they went there, we know that they did and they went there, they went to pray and they went at the ninth hour. (3pm)

V2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

Luke even narrows it down to the very gate that they entered in. This was no fable or made up account that was designed to embellish this new found faith. The veracity of the details listed tells us that this is a true account. Josephus described the self-same gate made of brass from Corinth and was over seventy feet high and was regarded as beautiful.

Back in those days there was no welfare state as the Romans would not be seen to be encouraging the idea of the Government giving money to those who could not support themselves so the ones who were unable to asked alms (donations or free will offerings) from the folks who were going to prayer and today was no different.

V3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

The poor man thought he was seeing two devout Jewish men so he decided to ask for support from those whom he thought might be able to help him. This practice was established even at the time of Jesus as he had a lot to say about the Pharisees and the way they gave alms and their hypocrisy…

Luke 11:37 (ESV) While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

And what Jesus was saying was that they loved to look religious and get the “holy kudos” from the ones whom they wanted to notice them. It was a self-congratulatory pat on the back kind of deal and these type of people were those who instituted a noise being made when a larger donation went into the temple. It was the same when they gave to the poor, there was no humility or care for the person, and it was all about how holy they looked. I am sure this man knew this but he needed the help and he had no pride left and was reduced to asking passersby for spare change in order to make sure that he could eat that day. He was hoping for some coin to fix a temporary need but look at who God put in front of him. I can only imagine how much he must have prayed to God about his infirmities and I can only imagine how soul destroying it must have been to have to do that on a daily basis, seen as the lowest of the low and being at everyone’s feet level having the dust of the world in your face day after day.

V4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 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!”

He asked for something that was going to fix his immediate need however God had much bigger and better plans for that man. Peter decides to engage the man and asks for him to look at them, the man then has enough faith to know that he would be receiving something from this interaction (Imagine the level of people who just walked by him or stepped over them as they were too busy with him to get to their “religious duty”. That pricks my heart because sometimes we can be like that and be too busy with “doing things for God” to actually do the ministry that God has called us to.

Another question I have is do we have faith like this man? This man was at his bottom, you can’t get much lower than breathing in the dust of the people who view themselves as better than you and begging for scraps not much unlike a dog seeking the favors of those who God has put on their hearts to give. Pride stripped away and reliant on the good grace and mercy of God and knowing that whatever he receives really comes from God.

What do we expect from God? How strong is our faith? If we had all of our comforts stripped away and it was just you and God would you have enough faith to expect God to provide for your needs? God will and wants to bless us much more than we are often times willing to ask. This man was hoping for some small coin to maybe buy some food but God had a plan to make him whole.

Peter had no money that was true, but he did have the authority to heal the sick and that was given to him by Jesus (Luke 9:1-6) and Peter rightfully attributes the healing to the one who healed him rather than seeking an audience or claim any credit.

There are two parts to this sentence that I would like to highlight…

  • I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. – God was above the temporary cash flow issue that man required to solve this man’s problems, when we look at our issues from our elevation we often times cannot see how God would remedy our situations.
  • In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! – God was going to do a supernatural work in his life that even the most religious scholar could not explain logically. They couldn’t explain what Peter did because Peter acted in faith based on what was inside him. Peter knew how to heal the sick in Jesus name because the Holy Spirit prompted him to do it.

V7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

As soon as Peter said “rise up and walk” the man went from being lame to being whole. Strength filled his legs and God strengthened his bones and this was achieved and noticed by the man when Peter took him by the hand and had him literally standing on his own two feet. We see enormous faith in Peter in lifting him up knowing he was healing him and the man in allowing himself to stand on his own two feet when he previously had not been able too. Can you imagine what this man was feeling, the hope, the expectation and finally being able to walk and how amazing that was? Let’s see how he was reacting…

V8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Not exactly quiet about it was he? Here is how he celebrated…

  • And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, – He associated himself with the ones who had shown him Jesus.
  • Walking and leaping – He wasted no time in using this new found gift from God, how do you use your gifts from God?
  • And praising God – He attributed the praise to the one who healed him, we don’t read about him “walking and leaping and praising Peter”

V9 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.

What a living, breathing testimony! There was no denying who the guy was who they thought he was as they had all seen him at the gates, he was recognized (v10) as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate and we read in Acts 4:22 that he was forty years old at that point and God used that time of faithful obedience to prayer by Peter and John as a gateway to healing this man of an infirmity that he had suffered for four decades. Do not discount the simple obedience that you have to God’s will in your life, you may not see it but God may be placing you where he needs you to be to do a mighty work in His name!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses eleven through sixteen when Peter begins speaking in Solomon’s portico as people begin to ask questions about this miracle. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Don’t eat that fruit! – Genesis 2:10-17

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Don’t eat that fruit! – Genesis 2:10-17 – 03/22/2016

Genesis 2:10 (ESV) A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter two verse ten…

V10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.

In this part of the scripture we learn more about the Garden of Eden and what a luscious place that it was. God truly did provide all that his children needed and the original plan was far from what we see today in our fallen decaying world.

When we read this description of the garden it is designed to give us an eye-witness account of how it looked and explain that there was plenty water and plenty of nature as it was created in its beauty.

V11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The rivers are given names that would have been replicated in the post flood world, the rivers will probably not be in the same place as they were post flood because of the great geologic changes that the flood caused and it is perfectly possible that new rivers may have been called pre flood names.

I equate this to American city names; I see when I am researching the area around here that often times cities are named after where the people came from. An example of this is where I live in California is named after a city in South West England. Is it the same place? No, but it carries the same name.

We also see that there are gold and precious stones in the original creation and we know this is before the fall of man because Adam is not displaying a greed nature and is not digging up those gold or precious gems to stockpile them. That comes much later! Even if he did, he would be the richest man in the world (of a population of one!) You could put a case that Adam was already at the pinnacle of man; he was the smartest, the handsomest and the one who was closest to God at this time!

V15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

I love that work was part of God’s original plan! It kinda flies in the face of those who preach that if you will be faithful to God then you will lack nothing and God will grant all of your wishes and desires of your heart like some big Genie in the sky.

I am not mocking the notion that God provides, please do not misunderstand what I am saying, however I believe that God makes supplication for our needs and not for the whims and fantasies of our hearts because our hearts are deceitful and wicked and will often will not seek after the things of God and will want to seek after selfish gains and ambition.

You will notice that God doesn’t say, I have created all this wonderful, so just laze about under that tree and eat all day. God establishes the pattern even from the first book of the bible that his people are to be diligent at work, to do their best to be without criticism, to be people of integrity and an example that makes others question “what is it about those people that make then who they are?”

V16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Like every good parent, God allows man to make choices and basically gives them only one rule that they have to abide with. He allows them a choice of all the trees of the garden except for the “forbidden fruit”. Right from the beginning he allowed man to be a creature with free will as God does not wish to have robotic or zombie worship, he seeks our love and obedience rather than dead religion.

God allowed us to choose whether to go with him or against him and although we have a sin nature that has been passed down from Adam, we still have that choice today and the choice is whether to go with God or go against him. God told the man directly the only way he could mess up and as we learn temptation was too much. God states what the choice was and what the repercussions were.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses eighteen through twenty five when we see God’s compassion on man when he makes him a helper. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

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Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

Isaiah 40:21 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 

Today in the US is Columbus Day and they celebrate the man who was looking for the Indies and came across the Americas. There has been a lot written about the Portuguese mercenary sailor who petitioned the King of Spain to sponsor and fund his journey to the Indies with tales that he could bring back a bounty of riches from the Indies.

This was not a popular opinion in that day with some Catholic theologians who still preached that the earth was flat and you could sail off the end if you went far enough, hence why Columbus had issues finding someone to fund his expedition. He was right in the idea but where he fell short was the measurement of the world, seasoned sailors were of belief that the earth was not flat a belief that Pythagoras popularized before the days of Christ. The bible as stated above does state long before telescopes or exploratory sailings that the earth is a circle, it is spherical and that it was created by the one who knows it best, God!

Which is why I laugh when I hear atheists call Christians “Flat earth society” or decriers of science because in many ways the scientific community is catching up to what the bible has been stating for many years.

I do wonder where Columbus got his unshakeable faith that the world was round despite what the people who were controlling the money of the Crowns of Europe were telling him, I have never met the chap and have very little literature to tell me if this is the case or not but it may just be possible that he had heard this prophet in Isaiah, written a good length of time prior to the birth of Christ, it is a good question and may be the case, however I wish we as Christians had such unshakeable faith at times.

Jesus said all we need is a mustard seed faith, a mustard seed one of the smallest seeds that grows into the tallest of plants! Let’s look at two examples of faith from two disciples Phillip and Andrew…

Mark 6:30 (NKJV) Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

They werein a pickle huh? They had real need that 5,000 men required fed, and Jesus knows the hearts of the guys he is working with and knows who still needs work and his disciples first reaction was to move the problem away and send them away once the preaching was over, and as Christians we will often times choose the path of least resistance but will that bring glory to God? Jesus had other plans to show the power of the father.

We have two responses and if you do additional reading in the Gospel of John 6 verses 4-9…

John 6:4 (NKJV) Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

Answer one is Phillip who saw it from the world’s perspective and was calculating what they DID NOT HAVE and how this could not be done, for me this was an astounding lack of faith in Jesus based on what they had seen at this point. Contrast this to Andrew who had that mustard seed of faith and stated what they DID HAVE  and despite not fully understanding how it could be achieved, he presented the loaves and fish to Jesus saying “from my perspective this isn’t much LORD but I submit these into your hands”.

How much more abundant would our lives be if we were like Andrew? If we had “faith like Columbus” that God could achieve heights in our lives that everyone had told us could not be achieved then many more modern day miracles would be achieved and God would be given much more glory! I am reminded of a story that involves the legendary preacher Charles Spurgeon…

Spurgeon was mentoring a young pastor who said to him, “I have been preaching for a few months now and no-one has got saved,” to which Spurgeon replied “Do you expect them to be saved?” and the young pastor replied “no” and Spurgeon replied “that is your first problem”.

We have to be real in our faith, be all in and allow God to work within us and achieve such heights that it is obvious that God did it, sometimes I believe that is why God uses us because he knows that despite our talents he will get the glory.

My exhortation to you is to have faith like Columbus, sail to the edge of your boundaries and allow God to work and do that work in your life.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE