Better Than Coins
Better than Coins
We look for daily provision, but God wants to give so much more.
Looking for Coins Looking for Comfort Looking for Christ
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 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. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 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!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 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.
Have you ever had one of those times in life where you really, really hoped for something, and if you would only get that thing, you thought you would find some peace, or happiness only to be given something even better than you could have expected?
I know many people have a story of something like that. They had a need, or a longing for something. And that desire for whatever it was never came, but instead, something even better came. We have all seen some of those videos of kids seeing their military dad or mom surprise them with a visit when they were assumed to be overseas.
I wonder how those kids started the day. They probably were thinking of their parent, perhaps wishing they would get a phone call or email. The longing for a loved one can be overwhelming. I can imagine that a child who has missed their parent for months would be looking for any kind of contact with their parent. These are probably normally letters or emails or the occasional phone call.
Those kids we see in the videos started their day most likely wishing their parent would call or something, and then receive the wonderful surprise of not the phone call or email or video call, but their parent coming into their classroom at school or some other place. I still tear up whenever I see those videos. When we are expecting something we greatly need or desire, and instead are given something monumentally better, we respond with such great joy that it can manifest in tears, just as we see in videos of people returning home safely.
In our passage today, we see just that. A poor man, who had to be carried each day to a place where he could sit and beg for a living, is simply hoping for a few coins to meet his daily needs. He had become a fixture there at the Beautiful Gate. In the next passage, this is clear because people recognized him as the one who sat there at the gate.
He was looking for a few coins, something he could use to buy some bread or otherwise maintain his poor life. His expectations were not much. He probably knew about how the day was going to go, after years and years of sitting there. He probably knew how to size up the people who walked by, who would be more likely to give him something, who would be more likely to pass by, turning their head to pretend they didn't see him, who would be likely to mutter something rude as they walked past.
All he wanted was a few coins. And he probably notices that Peter and John seem joyful, there is something about them. They probably seem like the type who would help a brother out. He just wants a few coins today. His prayer may have literally been “Give me this day my daily bread”. All he wanted was to survive.
How many times are we like that? We look to God for just enough to get us by. We come to church on Sunday morning, after a week of working hard, and dealing with people and problems all week, and we simply want to be recharged or refreshed to make it through another week.
Sometimes we, like the man at the Beautiful gate, have daily needs. Perhaps we need to come up with the rent, or the car payment, or money for food. Sometimes we have an unexpected expense, like a car breakdown, or a needed home repair. Our prayers in those situations can be simply to have that need met. In those times, we can be a bit like the lame man, just looking for a few coins.
A few coins from the pulpit to get us through the week. A few coins for the rent, the car payment, or some other need. A few coins would just get us by. A few coins would help us meet the need. A few coins would relieve us of the concern for the moment. A few coins would be enough that we could simply make our lives more bearable.
But what those coins represent are comfort. What we are really looking for is comfort. All of our daily needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, they are all for our comfort. If any of those needs go unmet for a day, we will still survive, but may be uncomfortable. God has so much more for us. He doesn't want us so focused on the daily grind that we lose sight of what is most important: Eternity. The Kingdom of God. His will.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said Matthew 6:31–33
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This means not looking for coins, not looking for comfort, but looking for Christ. We need to be daily seeking Him and the Kingdom of God. If we do, then He promises to take care of our other needs. Our God is a God of provision, Jehovah Jireh, the Provider. He is a God of healing. But as wonderful as it is to have our daily needs met, and as wonderful as it is to have His healing touch raise us from a bed of sickness, how much more awesome and wonderful is Jesus Christ, our Savior. Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who brings of the Kingdom of God. We must be looking not for coins, not for comfort, but for Christ Himself!
I started out by sharing about when we have a longing for something, a desire. I’ll share one of mine with you: Jenelle and I have been married 201years. When we had been married for a few years, we took a vacation and went to Walt Disney World. During our time there, we went to the Beauty and the Beast stage show. As we were walking out, the show having ended, and the music still playing, we were walking behind a family.
Holding her daddy’s hand, the little girl was dancing and swirling. She must have been enraptured with the fairy tale story, and was in a dreamworld, I’m sure imagining herself as Belle, dancing with her prince. And right then I was filled with a great desire, not just to be a daddy, but to have a daughter. I craved it. I saw the little girl there with her daddy, and that is what I wanted more than anything else.
A couple years after that, I found myself working at Walt Disney World. We still didn't have children, and as much as it was a joy to work there, I was constantly seeing little girls in their princess dresses, and the desire to be a daddy grew and grew. The employees I managed knew I wanted to have a girl. They also knew that Jenelle and I were frustrated at not having children. We had the desire, but for whatever reason, we were unable to conceive.
During our time living in Florida, we started attending a Christian & Missionary Alliance church there. The pastor preached expository messages, taking us carefully through scripture, challenging us. I began to eagerly read the Bible, trying to grow closer to God. It was a wonderful time. We became active in the church. Jenelle started attending a bible study there. And one night, as the ladies were sharing, Jenelle poured out her heart and our longing for children. The ladies prayed for Jenelle that God would heal and we could have children.
Jenelle had been seeing a doctor to try and find out what the reason may be for us not conceiving, and one day Jenelle got a phone call from a nurse at the doctors office. She said Jenelle needed to get in right away to see the doctor, because he had discovered something on an ultrasound. It sounded serious, and we imagined all of the worst things it could be. This was about a week after the ladies had prayed for Jenelle. Concerned about what the doctor had found, we called everyone we knew to please pray for Jenelle, there was something wrong. Everyone prayed.
Jenelle went to the appointment and told me that the ultrasound had picked something up. However, it would be ok in about 9 months. She was pregnant, in less than two weeks after the ladies prayed for her. We came into our Sunday School class that week, and all of those who were praying for this serious thing heard the news with great joy and excitement.
Two years later, Jenelle gave birth to our second daughter while we were attending Trinity Bible college. We had the privilege to do our internship back at our Florida church, and during our time there were delighted to recount the story of our first baby and before we left that summer, we discovered that we would be having a third. Something in the water in Longwood, Florida, perhaps.
So here is the point: Early in our marriage, like most newlyweds, we sometimes struggled to have the coins we needed. In our desire to grow our family, we were looking for comfort. But when we finally came to a place in our lives where we were truly seeking Christ, we found something even greater: The Kingdom of God. Seek first the Kingdom of God and the coins and the comfort will come.
Several years ago, I came home and the girls had just finished watching Beauty and the Beast. The same music that was playing as we left that theater in Florida many years ago, when I watched the little girl dancing up the sidewalk, was playing as I walked into the house and there in the living room saw not one, but three little girls dancing and swirling in their princess dresses. God brought to my mind the desire put in my heart that day many years ago and I realized that the desire had come from Him, and that he had done for me exceedingly and abundantly above all that I can ask or think.
I’m not saying God will always give us exactly what we want. But when we seek him, what he has for us will be so much better than what we imagined for ourselves. When we study God’s word, and work to make his thoughts our thoughts, we often discover that our desires are growing, or maturing, into biblical thoughts. And at some point, as we go through our journey of faith, we see that what we really needed most was Jesus. As we grow more to understand Him, we begin to realize that He is really all we need. Everything else, all the other provisions, blessings, even family and friends, fade in comparison to our Lord Jesus.
The lame man at the gate beautiful was only looking for coins and comfort, but he was given so much more. He was looking for a means to make it through another day, and the power of Christ working through Peter and John gave him the ability to earn his own coins. I was reminded of the saying, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” In this case, it was give a man a coin, and he lives another day, heal the man and he can earn his own living. The real story here is that if we point a man to Christ, and he responds in faith to receive the gift of salvation, he will have eternal life.
What was the reaction of this man?
The man leaped. This reminds us of a passage from Isaiah 35:5–6
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
God has so much more for you than coins. He offers eternal life, abundant life. The coming of Jesus was only the beginning. The Apostles were being used by God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to impact the world. The message could not be more clear. Man says, give me coin, but God says, “Seriously? Coin? that’s what you are looking for? My child, I have so much more for you!”
Peter recognized that as wonderful as the healing of this man was, it was not the main thing. The people gathered around, and just like in Acts 2, Peter recognized that the people were there having been drawn by the power of God and that he once again had a congregation of people to present the message to. Just like on the day of Pentecost, Peter warned the people of their sin problem. It says many more believed.
So what does this sermon say to you today? What are the coins you’ve been begging for, when Christ would be pleased to grant you life eternal and life abundant? What coins do you need that will provide more than a daily existence? What comfort is greater than the comfort and security of eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord? What comfort on this earth compares to Christ?
Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you!
Do you open the bible for a verse a day to get you through, or do you look into it to search the depths of its vast riches so that you will be closer to God, more like Christ? Do you come to church for a recharge to get you through the next week of the rat race, or do you come for springs of living water, that don’t quench your thirst for a moment, but give you that you will never thirst again? Do you pray for a moment of peace in your hectic life when God promises you peace that passes understanding? Are you so worried about the coins and comfort that you miss out on Christ?!
Friends, we serve a God who knows. He knows, Isaiah said. He knows your struggle. He knows your heart’s desire. He knows what you need to survive the upcoming week, and He has every answer. He says to you this morning to Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the coins and comfort will be added to you!
And the God of the Bible, who always kept His promises, still keeps His promises. Seek first the Kingdom of God! Seek first His righteousness! Seek His righteousness because your own righteousness is but filthy rags! The only Righteousness is that of Christ! And we clothe ourselves in Him. Be good! Be Holy! Seek righteousness! Allow God to chisel you into His masterpiece! There is so much more to life than just getting by day to day.
I am not standing here today to throw you a coin or two that you might make it through the week with your batteries recharged. I am offering you so much more. I preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified! Don’t take His salvation lightly! He purchased you for a price! Live as though He is Lord! Live as He commands. Show your love for Christ in this way, that you keep his commands! You can experience His righteousness! You can experience the joy of the Lord! You can be good, because by the blood of Christ, He makes you good!
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
And just as God offers more than coins for you to take with you, don’t accept less than what is His to give! He wants you to experience all that He has for you, so open up your heart, soften it towards the things of God, and allow Him to move so powerfully in your life that nothing can hold you back from being all that God created you to be.
I want to read a passage from Isaiah. It relates to the coming of the kingdom of God. It gives us a hint at what that Kingdom is like. I ask that you sit back and close your eyes and listen to God through the prophet Isaiah. He is the God who knows. And he promises what this passage says to those who seek Him:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
What are the coins you are looking for? What comfort are you seeking? We have prayer rooms available if you want to pray. God wants to provide for your needs. More than just your daily needs, though, He wants to provide for your deep longing. Every person has a deep longing, a gaping hole in their heart that must be filled.
We try to fill it by acquiring coin and comfort, but it can only be filled by Christ. come to Christ. He is the only one who can fill your longing. He is the only one who can make you whole. Stop looking to get your coins. the problem with looking for coins is when they don’t come when we want, we take over and try to make happen what only God can do.
What are you trying to accomplish that only God can do? What in your life needs to be surrendered to Him? Are you trying to get your own way no matter what, leaving God and His plan for you as one of those things that you will get back to some day? Surrender to God. I speak to Saints and sinners. You must surrender your life to God. You must die to yourself daily.
What are you anxious about? Seek God, and he will give you peace.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.