[dropcap cap=H]ave you ever made the statement or said to yourself, "It's time to make a difference" or "I've got to change that area of my life"? Knowing something needs to change and getting encouragement from others can help get us started, but how are we going to sustain a new action or activity for the long term? Romans 12:1-2 says the secret lies in changing the way we think. It's about renewing our minds.[/dropcap]
So, you might be thinking: "I understand I am God's Plan A. I believe He accepts me, loves me and wants to use me to impact the world. I recognize that a serious problem exists: a vast majority of professing Christians are sidelined as mere spectators, unengaged in God's Kingdom work. Now, what am I going to do about it? What CAN I do about it?"
The reality is we all have talents and spiritual gifts that God has given us to share with others. But there’s something people need more than our gifts. They need God Himself. They need His presence, power and love, which come through in the daily actions and words of our lives. People need our intimacy with God because they need God. And the more of Him we have in our lives, the more of Him we can share.
The problem, of course, is that we can’t give what we don’t have. How can we expect to give the gift of His presence when we haven’t spent much time in His presence? Furthermore, how can we expect to give the gift of His presence in a consistent way if we haven’t consistently received it ourselves?
In Acts 3, Peter and John were going to the temple for their regular time of prayer. At the same time, a crippled man was being carried to the temple gate where he sat every day to beg for money. When he asked Peter and John for money, Peter replied:
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).
On one level, this is a great New Testament story about God’s ability to do His work through the daily lives of His disciples. Peter and John were going about their daily routine when an opportunity for ministry came up. It wasn’t a pre-planned activity or a ministry event; they just responded to a divine appointment that God had set in their path…as they went.
But there are a couple of other ministry principles that flow out of this passage as well—if we’ll look just a little closer. One principle is this: You can’t give what you don’t have. Peter and John could not give this man silver or gold because they had none.
This principle may sound so incredibly obvious that you could lose sight of its powerful application to your life. But I have often been reminded that I cannot share God’s presence with others if I haven’t had much intimacy with Him myself. I can’t give what I don’t have! I can try to fake it. I can produce a counterfeit that lacks the power of God’s intimate presence. And I can try to appear spiritual in the eyes of others. But if I’m not close to Him, I can’t bring Him close to others—and they’ll be robbed of that life-giving power that flows from Him through me.
A second principle we can pull from this passage is really the converse of the first principle: You can only give what you do have. Peter and John gave what they did possess—the healing presence of God in their lives. When they showed up on the everyday scenes of life, God showed up too.
So, where did this powerful presence in their lives come from? You only need to glance back a few verses to Acts 3:1 to find out. It tells us they had a regular time of prayer. They were regularly spending time with God, drawing from His endless supply of love, power and wisdom. Healing flowed out of their intimacy with God.
The greatest gift you and I could ever receive is the gift of God’s love in the form of an intimate relationship with Him. The only way we can receive this gift is to spend time with Him. And the greatest thing we could ever do with that gift is to share it with others, not hoard it for ourselves.
It really is true:
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