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Life: Hope shared

• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for May 25 focuses on Acts 3:1-10.

Someone once said, “Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.” Many circumstances in life can make us prone to doubt. The diagnosis arrives, and the cancer is stage 4. You are close to retirement, and the company where you’ve worked all your life closes, which causes you to lose your pension. The addiction seems stronger than the one fighting it.

In the doubting seasons of life, we need to see hope in action. We need to know God is at work in our world and cares about us. Those who live with hope often recognize more quickly those who need hope. Acts 3:1-10 demonstrates this truth.

The need recognized

Peter knew what it was to be without hope. He had betrayed his master at the time Jesus needed him most. Peter must have wondered if Jesus ever would forgive him or again allow him to be part of his work. Because of Jesus’ unfailing love, grace and mercy, Peter was offered hope and called again to follow Christ (John 21:15-19). Jesus gave Peter the job of taking care of God’s people.

Jesus returned to heaven and left his mission in the hands of his followers. Peter was now the leader of this small band of believers. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were in Jerusalem doing what they knew to do. They carried out their daily routine.

The Jews had a habit of prayer three times a day—9 a.m., 3 p.m. and sunset. As Peter and John made their way to the temple to pray one afternoon, they saw a crippled man being carried to the gate known as Beautiful.

This was one of the favorite entrances to the temple. The gate was known for its splendor, height and location. It led from the court of the Gentiles into the court of women. Being at this particular gate may have increased the disabled man’s likelihood of getting more money from those who came to worship.

Luke records the man was carried here every day because he had always been crippled. He made his living by begging. He had no hope of living any other way (Acts 3:1-4).

Peter and John may have seen this man many times, since they often were in the temple area with Jesus. Perhaps on this day, both disciples looked straight at the man with different eyes.

As they came near, the man asked for money. What he received was far more valuable than silver or gold. The disciples didn’t see a man who needed money. They saw a man who could walk if he would accept the power of God at work in his life.

As recipients of hope, we know it is hope in Christ others truly need. Often, we only ask for what we feel is possible, reasonable or doable. The man didn’t ask for healing because he may not have thought it possible. So he asked for the only thing he knew to ask for—money.

The request exceeded

There is a great lesson for us in Acts 3:6. Peter and John recognized what they didn’t have. The man asked them for silver and gold. Their pockets were empty. But it wasn’t money the man really needed.

They gave the man what they had—hope in Jesus Christ who could change a man’s life forever. It wasn’t the power of Peter and John that made a difference in the beggar’s life. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).

Using only the man’s right hand, they helped him to his feet. Those bones, muscles and ligaments that never had held the man up before now were made strong. The beggar walked, jumped and praised God. No longer was he confined to a mat outside the gate called Beautiful. No longer would friends or family have to carry him anywhere.

God be praised

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

The light of Christ shone brightly in Peter and John. The light of Christ helped the crippled man find wholeness and health. His praise was not directed toward Peter and John. He was praising God.

The man’s life became a testimony to all the people in the temple courts. Because he was there every day begging, many knew his story. They never had seen him walk. Now, he was not just walking but jumping.

The people “were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (Acts 3:10). They heard him giving praise to God the Father for the healing work in his life.

It seems in our day, we don’t expect God to act. When he does, our response often is, “Can you believe it?” There are many in our world that live “crippled” lives because they don’t know there is another way to live.

We who live in hope can share the hope within us to a lost and dying world. Christ in you is the hope of glory. Who hears your praise? Who is drawn to God because you give God thanks for his work in your life? God is not asking you to give others what you do not possess. Give what you have to those in need. Show someone today that “hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.”

       
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