Read Acts 3
Focus on verse 19-20
One of the worst feelings I have experienced is when I am driving down a freeway with just enough time to get to where I am going, and I miss my exit. On a freeway one cannot simply turn around. One must proceed to the next exit in order to turn around, and sometimes the next exit is five or six miles up the road. Those five or six miles now become ten or twelve additional miles to cover. With slowing down to exit, turn around, and reenter the freeway, that gives me about fifteen additional minutes during which I can pound the steering wheel while I remind myself how stupid it is to miss an exit, and how dumb I am going to feel walking in to my meeting late, and how much dumber I will feel explaining that I’m late because I missed my exit! What I want most at that point is to be able to turn around and go back – immediately!
In today’s reading Peter and John create a bit of a ruckus in the temple by healing a lame man who for years sat by one of the gates of the temple each day to beg for handouts. The excitement of this formerly lame beggar praising God while running and jumping around near Peter and John, began to draw a bit of a crowd, so Peter did what any good preacher would do…he preaches another sermon. In this sermon he explains how it was not any power they had which had caused the man to be healed, but that it was the power of Jesus Christ who the Romans had just a few weeks earlier crucified, but who was now alive again and that this was all part of God’s plan. He then challenges the people do what anyone, who upon realizing they were going the wrong way, would do – turn around!
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, (v. 19-20).
Repentance is a word that in the original Greek language was a military term that essentially meant “about face”. The idea behind repentance is that when we realize that our life is moving away from God, instead of closer to God, we turn around and begin moving in the opposite direction. In most cases this involves a fairly major change in lifestyle, habits, and attitudes. Later on in the New Testament the Apostle Paul uses the term “renewing of the mind” in his letter to the church in Rome. He writes,
“Do not be confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Perhaps one might think of it as an about face within one’s mind, or even simply a change of mind. This can be more difficult than it sounds, particularly if we have deeply ingrained habits and attitudes, but one need not be discouraged, for with God all things are possible. If God can heal the lame legs of a man through the words of Peter and John, He can change the mindset of the most stubborn among us to bring it into conformity to His will. All we have to is to take that first step of turning the wagon around by agreeing to allow God to do whatever it takes.