A new sign for a new year

By B.J. Funk

What sign are you under? No, not that sign! Not those horoscopes that Christians want to avoid! It’s another kind of sign, one that rests often only in our mind, yet colors our daily lives and our future. This sign may be called “Not Capable,” “Not Worthy, or “Not Pretty.” Your sign may even be more descriptive: “Never Gets a Raise,” “Never Voted as the Best in Your Field,” or “Failure as a Mother/Father.” The signs we walk under place negative thoughts into everything we do. We already know before we get out of bed that our sign will follow us all day long. Defeat defines us before we drink our first cup of coffee.

“Let’s Change That” is your new sign and, based on a true story of a crippled man’s healing, a new sign is actually a possibility for you. In fact, most of us live much of our lives embracing the wrong sign! Let’s change that!

In Acts 3, a crippled man claimed the sign of “Beggar” for years. Crippled from birth, he never dreamed there could be any other life for him. Every day, someone took him to the Temple Gate to beg. It was an easy job. He sat on a mat, asking money from conscientious Jews and Gentiles who went into the Temple to pray. Devout believers of God observed three daily times of prayer, and sitting at the Temple Gate had likely brought a nice profit to this beggar’s family for years. I can only imagine all of the signs this beggar wore each day.

A scene in his home may have started as soon as the sun rose, and the family gathered for breakfast. “Who will take Beggar to the Temple today? I took him yesterday. It’s not my turn!”

Another responded. “Not me! Sitting all day makes him fatter and fatter. It’s disgusting to lift him these days! Some days it’s not even worth it. Have you noticed Beggar hasn’t been bringing in as much money lately?” Imaginary signs of “Fat,” “Disgusting” and “Loser” fell over Beggar, who is never even given a name in this story. How would you like to sit on a mat all day long? How would you like to be named according to the circumstances of your physical body?

God, however, viewed this man in another way. Beggar was God’s child, and all along, God had another name in mind for him. The story takes a dramatic change one afternoon when Peter and John, disciples on fire for Christ, walked past him at the three o’clock hour of prayer. It would be the last time Beggar would endure the humiliation of looking up at those who could stand. It would be the last time he would endure the discrimination of the sign “Only Good for Family’s Profit.”

Peter approached him. “I don’t have any money, but I have something else I want to give to you.Because of Jesus Christ and in His Name, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

Effortlessly the man, taking Peter’s hand, stood up. Immediately, his ankles and feet became strong! He actually jumped to his feet, and followed Peter and John into the Temple walking, then jumping, all the while praising God! The crowd in the Temple had known Beggar for years,and everyone was amazed! Peter used the opportunity to preach a powerful sermon which eventually landed both Peter and John in prison. That didn’t matter to them. They continued to live under their own sign called “Courageous and Bold!”

Maybe it was then that someone recognized the name of the Temple Gate. Wonder why it took them so long? The Temple Gate was named Beautiful! Nobody had ever noticed that Cripple’s name had been labeled with the wrong word starting with B. All along, while the world named him Beggar, he sat under a sign called Beautiful! It’s as if God had been saying to him, “Don’t give up. You will have a new name. Look up at your real name. You are beautiful to me.”

What about you? Have you been sitting under a sign labeled by someone else? Have you become what the world names you? As long as you hold out your hand to the world, asking others to validate you by their standards, you will never measure up. What gate does God want you under?

Throw away your negative signs from the past. It’s a brand New Year. Look up. Name your Temple Gate. Get rid of disbelief, and watch God bring new faith and hope to you into 2012!