“The Third Chapter of Acts” – almost sounds like the story after the headlines. For me, in the 1970’s, it was the group “2nd Chapter of Acts” that redeemed my musical taste away from Earth Wind & Fire and Fleetwood Mack. It was my personal revival after a three year wandering in the desert while I put off letting God take over. But what happens after the revival, and the excitement is yesterday’s news? We live in a culture that would just as soon wait for the next wave – the next flavor of the month being handed out to us by a god we call “the Market”. The witness of the disciples, on the other hand, goes forward in power…
     The Witness of Healing. The man had made a lifestyle out of dependence on others – sitting at the gateway to the Temple, right where people would be thinking about their relationship and “obligation” to God. A prime spot for begging when so much of the Torah and the Prophets exhorted giving to the poor.
Then comes Peter and John…having no silver or gold (not much giving from those 5,000 new converts?), and instead of money for a bill, they give him power to live differently. They dealt with him decisively: “Fixed his gaze upon him” (characteristic of a deliverance), demanded that he look at them, and commanded “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk!”  Them he “seized him by the hand” and helped him up.
Well, the people immediately wanted to treat Peter and John like rock stars. But I like Peter’s statement, “Why do you gaze at us, as though by our own power and piety we made this man walk?!?” This wasn’t for their entertainment – it was to prove that the REAL God had raised up this guy Jesus, whom they had crucified, and that they needed to,

        “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  Acts 3:19-20

 Jesus is presented here as the “prophet” who would be the great divider of Israel – those who listened to Him would have life, and those who did not would be destroyed! What impresses me here is that Peter nailed what it was that was keeping them from the “presence of the Lord”, and invited them to turn away from it.
     How often do we do this with others? – Nail the thing that is keeping them from following Jesus Christ and invite them the give it up? We mostly hear about believing in Jesus as something to just add to our other values in life. But I have found that there just isn’t room in my life for walking with Him as a disciple without giving up something, and it’s really not that hard to figure out what God wants me to kick out so that He can have His right place. The first thing for me back in the 70’s was the toxic music. Lately it has been control of money. What is in God’s place in your life that you need to let go of in order to follow the real Messiah? Do it. Turn away from it, and as it says, “…times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord.”

1 Comment

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