Advent Devotion for December 19
Candle Lighter says: “Now repent of your sins and turn to God,”
Response: “so that your sins may be wiped away.”
SCRIPTURE: Acts 3:17-26, 4:1-4
17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ 23 Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’
24 “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today.25 You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”
4 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000.
SOME THOUGHTS: Have you ever been in a situation where you wondered about something, analyzed it, studied it, got other’s opinions, and were dead wrong in your conclusion? I know the answer is “yes.” We simply didn’t have enough information or we had a pre-determined conclusion of the way we wanted it to come out. Such has certainly happened to me. In Peter’s sermon to the Jews in this passage, he reminds them of the message of the prophets regarding the Messiah, whom they had killed. He makes a strong plea for the people to repent of their sin and receive the Messiah. The message resonated with the people and 3,000 came to faith in a day. Now he speaks to another crowd. In case these people had forgotten, Peter ties the powerful passage in Deuteronomy, in which Moses, the greatest man of the Old Testament in the Hebrew’s eyes, clearly identifies the Prophet, which God will raise up from the Jewish people. The admonition is to pay careful attention to this Prophet from God and hearken to his every word. Peter again draws on their knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures in that he reminds them of the first prophet, Samuel, and his message and then the covenant God made with Abraham which extended all the way to them. As to be expected, the religious leaders opposed Peter’s message that through Jesus there was resurrection of the dead. The truth went against the grain of the Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection. Once again, this situation is not unlike the world we live in. Any number of people all around us reject Jesus’ atoning death for their sins. They hear some second-hand information about Jesus and draw a conclusion, a comfortable undemanding conclusion, something they can live with and not have to change. I drive past a sign in a yard every day with the phrase “science is real” and I’m thinking, “but the Creator of science isn’t?” However, we have since discovered some things about science in fact are not true. By dismissing the whole idea of Jesus as the Son of God and His atoning sacrifice on their behalf, the unbeliever finds it easy to go on living their lives, missing the greatest story ever told. The birth of Jesus upset the apple cart, then and now. Ultimately it involves yielding my will to the Savior and bending the knee to the King of kings.
MUSIC: I Wonder and I Wander by Audrey Assad (YouTube)
PRAYER: O God, who art faithful and just to forgive us our sins, mercifully grant unto us that we may be delivered from the bondage of our sins, and may one day rejoice in perfect liberty in our very Fatherland, which is in heaven. Amen.