Although you are reading these notes during the second week of the new year, I am writing them on new year’s eve. At this time, our thoughts tend to turn instinctively to new beginnings and clean starts. How many of us can remember the feel of receiving a brand new jotter at school, and the determination to look after it; to keep it clean and neat? But as with life in general, we quickly began to fall short of our best intentions.
Well, I think these words from Acts 3:19 are a wonderful text for the new year:
‘’Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins…’’ The Message.
The last verse in the chapter speaks about the ‘blessing’ of such repentance (26) ‘’as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways.’’ The Message. Although Peter was preaching to a great crowd, he knew that there had to be an individual, personal response, and he spelled that out. He also was quick to say that there are grave consequences for people who reject Christ (23). This must never be forgotten. We must not allow it be sieved out of our preaching. As already noted, the early sermons in ‘Acts’ share certain common characteristics. In addition to the ones previously mentioned, we also find in today’s reading the note of fulfilment. God’s great purpose to bless people with forgiveness of sins centres in Jesus; and He, in coming into the world, has brought to pass numerous prophecies. Furthermore, He will come again. We can be sure that if all the prophecies concerning His first coming have proved accurate, the remaining ones that concern His second advent will. ‘’For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again…’’ The Message. It’s only for ‘’the time being’’. It’s like you’re watching a play, and the Star has left the stage for a time. But He is still there in the wings – out of sight, but very much there – and He is preparing for the last act, when He will return to centre-stage for the blockbusting conclusion, and a tumultuous (eternal) ovation.
PRAYER: Lord, may I live this new year as a new person in you.