Acts 3:11-26 (quoted below)
I love this story of Peter and John going to pray and healing the crippled man, although I can’t think of it without singing it. (Sing along with me now… “Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way, he asked for alms and held out his palms, and this is what Peter did say: ‘Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I Thee, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.’ He went walking and leaping and praising God…”) What a great story! Sometimes knowing a story in song since childhood can be a hindrance, though. It becomes so familiar I don’t think about it, really.
And how often do I read beyond the story and meditate on the words Peter said in response to this great opportunity the beggar’s healing opened up for Peter to share Christ with the crowd at the Temple? The passage is below if you’d like to pause and read it.
The main reason I am considering this particular passage today as a Lenten devotional is verse 19: “Repent , then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”
There are so many reasons to repent. Let’s brainstorm some reasons: God invites us to repent, and tells us to repent… sin is destructive and turning from it stops the destruction… feelings of guilt and shame…to make loved ones happy… fear of judgment…. Well, that was harder than I thought.
Anyway, this verse brings out several reasons to repent and benefits of repentance:
1. “Repent then” – in this specific circumstance, the listeners had participated in demanding the crucifixion of Jesus. They acted in ignorance, Peter says, and God used them to accomplish his purpose, but they committed a terrible wrong and needed to repent.
2. “Turn to God” – repentance is in fact “turning” - away from sin and toward God. We are not able to turn toward God when we are moving in the opposite direction toward sin. (Hebrews 12:14, Romans 3:23 and many others.)
3. “so that your sins may be wiped out” – Amen! Hallelujah! Freedom from the penalty and the shame.
4. “that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” – this is the whole reason this passage jumps out and calls to me today. Times of refreshing. From the Lord. Can we grasp that? Turning from sin is not only about escaping the penalty of sin (which is ultimately death), it is not only about duty and obedience, it is about entering in the presence of the LORD and being refreshed. Times of refreshing. This is what I long for. And this is what results from repenting, from turning toward the LORD. Times of refreshing with Living Water (John 4) that satisfies in a unique and astonishing and complete manner impossible by any other means. He, that is Christ the Lord, is Himself the reward, this day and every day.
I am constantly challenged and inspired to move beyond going through the motions of religious practice because I’ve always done it, because it’s the right thing to do (not that those are bad reasons), because people expect me to do it, because it’s my job, because I get to go to heaven, etc., and to focus on the incredible blessing HERE and NOW of knowing Christ. He is worthwhile in and of Himself.
Also, the benefits of living a godly life are so much greater than the benefits of living an ungodly life. Here and now. It bears repeating that being Christian is not about giving things up. It is about lavishly receiving. As Peter says later in the passage, “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
“To bless you.”
Here is the passage:
Acts 3:11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
17 "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent , then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'
24 "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." NIV
Have times of refreshing come from the LORD as a result of your sins being wiped out?
How have you been blessed by being enabled to turn from wicked ways?
PS – I am compelled to revel in a few additional choice morsels in this passage:
· His servant Jesus (v.13) – “servant” – this is how the Holy Spirit teaches us to view Jesus. I want to be “His servant Kimberly.”
· Disowned the Holy and Righteous One (v.14) – the people Peter is addressing are going down in history forever as the ones who disowned the Holy and Righteous one. Please don’t ever let that be me!
· Author of life (v.15) – okay, I love that description of Jesus and all that it means. I just have to let my mind run on that for a moment…
· It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. (v.16) – powerful words on healing