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A national magazine reported that there are approximately 1.5 million homeless people in our country. You’ve seen them on the freeway exits and entrances holding cardboard signs. You’ve seen them pushing their shopping carts around town.

You’ve seen them, and perhaps your heart has gone out to them — to those who are homeless and hurting — to those who beg for change and cry for help. You’ve seen them, and perhaps your heart has been angry with them. Those lame people. Didn’t they see the Help Wanted sign at Burger King? Why don’t they get a job?

You’ve seen them, and perhaps your heart goes out to them one moment, and is angry with them the next. I believe the passage before us sheds light on how we are to respond to the hurting people around us.

During World War II, a little church in Strasburg France was bombed by the German Luftwaffe. When the war concluded, the people in the community cleared away the rubble, and found a statue of Jesus, the base of which was inscribed with these words: Come unto Me, all ye that are weary. It was remarkably preserved except for both hands, which had been destroyed. Hearing of this, the sculptor whose work it was immediately offered to replace the hands. But the pastor wisely declined.

And so it was that the statue was returned to its original position in front of the Church, but with a new inscription which read: He has no hands on earth but ours, for we are His Body. It’s true.

We are the Body of Christ. If Jesus is going to reach out and touch a lame person — a beggar, a hurting individual — it will be through our hands. He will use us. In our text, I see three key components which will help us deal with the hurting folks around us.

Sensitive Hearts

No doubt Peter and John had glanced at the lame man many times. But this particular day, something took place deep within their hearts which drew them to him. It was a moment of the miraculous. It was a time for ministry.

So too, with you and me. When you drive by the fellow who is asking for help, and you know it is not merely general cultural guilt being imposed upon you, but a spiritual dynamic taking place deep within you, you have a choice to make: You can say, ‘Wait a minute. The Lord is doing something here.’ Or you can look away, adjust your radio, and drive on.

Now, understand this: as the lame man sat in the Gate Beautiful, Jesus Himself probably walked past him a number of times. This tells me that Jesus didn’t minister according to need, but according to obedience. Turn to John 5 . . . A whole lot of hurting people were lying by the pool of Bethesda, each one hoping to be the first in the pool when the water stirred, for the first one in would be healed.

Jesus went in the back way, found the man furthest from the edge of the pool and healed him (John 5:2-9). If I had been Jesus, I would not have come in the back way and talked to one man at the rear. I would have gone to the front, looked at everyone and said, ‘Everyone stand up! You're all healed!’ Why didn’t Jesus do that?

I suggest it is because He didn’t minister according to the needs He saw, but according to the directive of His Father, Who said, ‘There's one person I want You to touch at the pool of Bethesda today.’

And that’s why Jesus was so at peace in Himself, and why tranquility radiated from Him. For, although Jesus was accused of being a glutton, a winebibber, and a friend of sinners — He was never accused of being busy or frazzled. He didn’t act according to the needs He saw. He acted in obedience to what His Father said.

So too, when we do what He tells us to do, we won’t be weighed down or stressed out because His burden is easy; His load light (Matthew 11:28-30). He won’t overwhelm us with the needs we see, rather He’ll direct us specifically. ‘You have a $10 bill in your pocket. Give it to that person,’ or, ‘Give some of your time to that man who needs to hear about Me.’

Listen to the voice of the Spirit and, like Jesus, you will respond not out of compulsion, but out of compassion.

Discerning Minds

‘Give me some money,’ the lame man said. ‘Silver and gold have we none,’ answered Peter and John. Really? Hadn’t at least 3,000 believers sold their goods and pooled their money? Peter and John must have had access to lots of money.

Were they lying? No. I believe this is what Peter and John were saying when they said they had neither silver nor gold: ‘For you, sir, silver and gold have we none because your need is not for a coin or two, or a ten or a twenty. Your need is more profound, You need to be healed.’ Impacting Words

As Peter grabbed the lame man by the hand saying, ‘In the name of Jesus, stand up and walk,’ I wonder if at that moment he thought, ‘What if nothing happens? Here I am, the leader of the Church. What if I say, ‘In the name of Jesus, walk’ — and he falls down? It’s not going to look good on my application for Pope.’ But Peter’s words were impacting. He told the lame man to walk, and the lame man did just that.

Why? I suggest three reasons . . .

Peter and John were men of preparation

Where were Peter and John when this event took place? They were on their way to the Temple for prayer, as was their custom. Often we’re confronted with an opportunity to touch someone in order that he might take steps physically or spiritually — but because we have not built up a history of prayer, we are impotent and miss the moment of the miraculous.

Turn to Matthew 17 . . . The disciples asked Jesus why they were powerless to cast a demon out of a boy brought to them for healing. Jesus answered, ‘This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’ The disciples probably scratched their heads and thought, ‘How were we to know that a demonized boy would be brought into our presence? We didn’t have time to fast.’ And perhaps with a smile on His face, Jesus may have said, ‘That’s the point. You can’t wait to begin fasting until it’s time to minister. You need to live a life of prayer and fasting.’

You see, when the moment of the miraculous opens before you, it's too late to say, ‘Boy, I better get my faith together.’ Unless there has been a backlog of prayer and the Word, of fasting and seeking — it will be too late.

Perhaps you’ve seen a lame man. Your eyes became fastened to him, and you knew it was an opportunity to share — but you felt impotent and powerless. Was it because you were not a person of preparation?

Precious people, be in a place where you are constantly being prepared, because you don't know what's coming an hour or a week or a month or a year down the road. You don’t know when your colleagues at work are going to say, ‘I need something from you,’ even as this lame man did. You don’t know when your neighbors are going to come to you crying and brokenhearted. You don’t know when your kids are going to need you to minister powerfully in the Spirit. I don’t know when those moments will be, but I do know this: Like the disciples, we’re powerless unless we’ve been prepared.

Peter and John were men of impartation

Peter and John had been filled with the Holy Spirit. You can look at the lame people with whom you work, the homeless who come your way, the hurting folks who surround you every day — but unless you are filled with the Spirit, you will have neither impacting words nor a healing touch.

Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Go to Jerusalem. Wait for the promise of the Father for you shall receive power when the Holy Ghost comes upon you. And then you will be My witnesses,’ (Acts 1: 8).

How thankful I am to be linked to a body of believers where so many of you hunger and thirst for more of the Lord, for more of His Spirit.

Peter and John were men of authorization

In addition to the power of the Spirit upon our lives, we need authority, the OK, the green light — for a miracle to happen. You might drive a Corvette with a 400 cubic foot engine under the hood. When you drive, the ground shakes, people stare, folks drool. You’ve got power. But when you come to a red light, it doesn’t matter how big your engine is or how much power you have — you’ve got to stop.

So too, many of you have been empowered by the Spirit. The ground may shake and rattle all about you, and that’s terrific. But until the Lord turns the light green, until He says, ‘Now is the time to deal with that man, or give to that person,’ you can rev your engine all you want, but you won’t make any progress.

On the other hand, you might drive a car like my Volkswagen Beetle: even though the light may be green, there’s no power when you hit the accelerator. You see, to cross the intersection of the supernatural, we need power and authority; and when those two points come together at a given moment, the result is a miracle.

In the tiny compartment of a passenger train sat a young Lieutenant in uniform. Next to him sat his commanding officer, a crusty old General. Across from him sat a beautiful young lady. Next to her was her grandmother. As the hours passed, an attraction developed between the young lieutenant and the young lady. They were laughing and talking and enjoying the trip when suddenly the train went through a long dark tunnel.

Midway through the darkness, the sound of a kiss was followed by the smack of a slap. As the train emerged from the tunnel, the four travelers looked at each other with a variety of expressions: The young lady was delighted that the lieutenant would kiss her at that moment, but puzzled as to why her grandmother would slap him. The grandmother was angry that the lieutenant had the audacity to kiss her granddaughter, but grateful to the General who slapped the young man in line. The General was proud of his lieutenant for kissing the young lady, but confused and smarting from the slap of the young girl. The lieutenant was hardly able to contain the laughter within him, as he alone knew what had actually transpired in the tunnel: Under cover of darkness he had seized the moment to kiss the girl and smack the General.

Seize the moment, folks! Watch for the moment of the miraculous when the Lord will use you in this dark tunnel of time to slap the Enemy in the face, as you heal a hurting world.