Acts 3: 1-8
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.
So Peter and John are on their way to 3 o'clock prayer when they are asked for money by a crippled beggar who is sitting at the entrance the temple. I’m sure the temptation was to ignore him, to pretend he’s not there. After all, they had somewhere to be, they had a prayer meeting to get to – they don’t have time to be stopping for a chat with some beggar.
That’s not what Peter and John did. They stopped. They gave him their full attention.
We need to be open to divine interruptions. It’s good to make plans and be on time for things – but at times God will interrupt our plans with people and situations that He wants us to bring His healing power and presence into. God has appointments for you to keep this week that you even know about yet.
What I love about this story is that Peter and John weren’t holding a big healing crusade in church, they didn’t get their white suits on and hype up this whole healing thing. They were just going about their business. They were doing their daily routine, when God interrupts it and does something great through them.
I remember one day when I was ministering in Lurgan and was due to be somewhere for lunch at 1.00 pm. At 12.55 I was driving through a housing estate and as I passed a particular house I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper: "Stop, call in and see them."
This house was owned by couple who never came to church. I only knew them because maybe 4 or 5 months earlier I had visited one of them in hospital. So I wasn't thrilled about the idea of calling in unannounced. Plus, didn't God realise I had only 5 minutes to get to where I needed to be? However, again he said: "Stop, go and see them." So I pulled over the car, knocked the front door and when the wife opened the door she just burst into tears.
She said: "I’m so glad to see you. My husband is due to go into hospital for a scan this afternoon and we’re both absolutely terrified. Would you come in and pray for us?"
I learned a lesson that day. Be looking and listening as you go about your daily routine; be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
That’s how Jesus did it. He didn’t hold big tent meetings or healing crusades. He just encountered people as he walked and met their needs, whatever those needs where.
That’s how Peter and John did it here in Acts 3. They're just going about their daily routine when they meet someone with a need and they bring the healing power of Jesus into the situation.
And that’s how God wants us to do it – as we spend our days in school, work, shopping, university, among family and friends. Wherever we encounter people who are in need, God wants us to bring His healing power and presence into the situation.
He could do it without us. He could have healed this guy without the input of Peter and John. But He has chosen to work through His people.
If Peter and John hadn’t stopped what would have happened this crippled man? Nothing. He would still have been crippled. Nothing would have happened, his life would have been the same.
And if we don’t stop and pray with people, who knows how many people could have been healed but won’t be. God has given us authority and power – but with any power comes responsibility – and we have a responsibility to do what God has called us to do.