David Guzik’s weekly devotional, based on a verse or two from the Bible.

Fair Warning

Fair Warning

For Moses truly said to the fathers, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22-23)

An excited crowd gathered on the temple mount in Jerusalem, because a familiar beggar was miraculously healed of his paralyzed legs. As the formerly lame man walked, jumped, and praised God, the people ran to see the reason for the excitement. Peter took this opportunity to preach to the crowd, and his sermon had so many remarkable parts:

Fair Warning

Peter got their attention: Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? (Acts 3:12)
Peter gave the glory to God: Why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? (Acts 3:12)
Peter preached Jesus: His Servant Jesus (Acts 3:13)
Peter spoke to them of their sin: whom you delivered up and denied (Acts 3:13)
Peter preached Christ crucified: and killed the Prince of Life (Acts 3:14)
Peter preached the resurrection: whom God raised from the dead (Acts 3:15)
Peter preached the continuing work of Jesus: His name…has made this man strong (Acts 3:16)
Peter preached the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jesus: those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer (Acts 3:18)
Peter preached repentance: Repent therefore and be converted (Acts 3:19)

After all that, Peter then pointed to a specific prophecy, spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18-19. The prophecy was that God would send a Prophet like Moses – and if they did not hear that Prophet, they would be utterly destroyed from among the people.

It was important for them to hear that the Prophet predicted by Moses was in fact the Messiah, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Some in that day thought that it might be someone different from the Messiah, but Peter made it clear that they are one and the same.

Peter also gave them the strong warning: every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed. I suppose that some people would accuse Peter of being a “hellfire and damnation” preacher. Peter told them, “If you reject the Messiah Jesus, the Prophet Moses predicted, there is no eternal hope for you, you shall be utterly destroyed.”

In one sense, this was fulfilled in less than 40 years when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. But these inspired words from Peter did not primarily concern building or cities, but every soul.

It is an unpopular and sobering thought but love for every soul compels us to say it: all who reject Jesus, who will not hear Him, will be destroyed, and utterly so. Peter loved his hearers enough to give fair warning of an unpleasant truth. May God give us the same love and boldness.

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

Times of Refreshing

Times of Refreshing

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before (Acts 3:19-20)

As he did in his first sermon (Acts 2:38), Peter called upon his hearers to repent. He told them to turn aroundin their thinking and actions. In the previous verses Peter spoke directly to them about their sin, but he didn’t just want to make them feel bad. That wasn’t his goal. The goal was to encourage them to repent and believe.

Times of Refreshing

It’s good to remember that repentance does not describe being sorry, but describes the act of turning around. And as he used it before in Acts 2, here also Peter made repent a word of hope. He told them that they had done wrong; but that they could turn it around and become right with God.

It wasn’t only a call to repent, but also to be converted: Peter knew the necessity of conversion, of God’s work of bringing new life to us. Being a Christian is not “turning over a new leaf,” it is being a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

One writer says that be converted is better translated, “turn to God” – or, even better, “flee to God.” This connects with the image of the cities of refuge in the Old Testament – we run to Jesus as our place of refuge.

Peter went on to describe two benefits of repentance and conversion. First, that your sins may be blotted out: This was the first benefit of repentance Peter presented to them. The one who repents and is converted is forgiven their sins, and the record itself is erased.

Those sins are blotted out. This has the idea of wiping ink off of a document. Ink in the ancient world had no acid content and didn’t “bite” into the paper. It could almost always be wiped off with a damp cloth. Peter said that God would wipe away our record of sin just like that.

The second benefit of repenting and turning to God was so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. In speaking of “times of refreshing,” Peter referred to the time when Jesus will return and rule in righteousness. The ultimate times of refreshing will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ returns in glory. In a lesser (though glorious) sense, God sends times of refreshing to His people today. We should pray for and believe God for seasons of revival and refreshing.

Every sensible person wants their sins to be blotted out. Every weary person wants God to send times of refreshing that may come from the presence of the Lord. If you have repented and been converted, ask God for the true experiential possession of these, in confidence that this is your birthright as one of God’s children. You can talk to God about this today.

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

In Jesus Name

In Jesus’ Name

And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16)

As Peter preached to the excited crowd, he felt that he had to explain to them how the man was actually healed. After all, here was a man who was probably a well-known beggar at the temple courts. We don’t know if he was well-liked, but after begging in the same place for many years, he was probably well-known. When the one who could not walk was now walking, leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8), it demanded an explanation.

In Jesus Name

Peter told them how the man was healed – in the name of Jesus: His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong. Peter said that it was in the name of Jesus that this man has been made whole. Jesus was the reason he could walk, jump, and praise God.

To say, through faith in His name means more than that Peter said the words, “in Jesus’ name.” Many people have the custom of ending their prayer with the words, “in Jesus’ name.” This is based on the promise Jesus made recorded in John 14:13-14: And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

But to do something “in Jesus’ name” means far more than to say those words at the end of our prayer. For Peter, it meant that he consciously did this (Acts 3:1-7) in the authority and power of Jesus, not in the authority and power of Peter. In fact, Peter would not even take credit for the faith that was exercised in the healing (yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness).

In Biblical thinking, a name isn’t just something that you call someone. The name can express a person’s nature or character. There is a sense in which the power of a person is present in their name, and their character is available in the name of the person.

Peter insisted that this amazing miracle was done through faith in His name. This should be a pattern for us in our life for God. When we, as God’s people, really do good in this world, we should do it through faith in His name. We are always tempted to do things trusting in something or someone else.

– We often trust in good intentions.
– We often trust in talents and gifts.
– We often trust in material resources.
– We often trust in reputation and prior success.
– We often trust in hard work or smart work.

Instead, we must always trust in and do good through faith in His name.

Today, make a choice: to live in do good in Jesus’ name, not your own.

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

Prince of Life

The Prince of Life

But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14-15)

We see many remarkable things in these two verses from Peter’s sermon to the excited crowd at the temple courts.

We see that Peter recognized Jesus as God. When Peter referred to Jesus as the Holy One, it was way for Peter to exalt Jesus as God. The term Holy One is used more than 40 times in the Old Testament as a high and glorious title for Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.

Prince of Life

We see that Peter boldly told his hearers of their sin. Peter told them that they rejected Jesus but asked for a murderer to be granted to you. One of the ironies of the crucifixion of Jesus is that while the crowd rejected Jesus, they embraced a criminal and a murderer named Barabbas (Luke 23:13-25, John 18:39-40). Peter boldly confronted this audience.

We see that Peter made his preaching personal. In this sermon at the temple courts (Acts 3:12-26), he used the word you or your at least 11 times. He wanted his message to hit home in a personal way and wasn’t afraid to make his appeal directly to everyone.

We see that Peter knew Jesus was the Prince of life. What a wonderful title for our Savior! Only does Jesus received this glorious title. It means that Jesus Himself is the authority, the ruler, over all life.

It is a wonderful truth for us to proclaim – Jesus Christ is the Prince of Life. This is true because Jesus has life like no one else; no one could take His life from Him – He had to give up His life (John 10:17-18). This is true because Jesus won life for His people on their behalf – He didn’t just win life for Himself, but for His people. This is true because Jesus gives life abundantly – the Prince of Life can give life. This is true because Jesus sustains our life, and He rules over life. In every sense, Jesus is the Prince of Life!

Consider the hard truth that Peter confronted his listeners with: they killed the Prince of Life. In one aspect, this is an outrage – killing the One who is the author and ruler of life itself. On the other hand, it is an impossibility, because what can death possibly do to the Prince of Life? He who rules over life can never be harmed by death. Man’s attempt to kill Jesus was both an outrageous sin and a fooling impossibility, because Jesus is the One whom God raised from the dead.

Of course, the Prince of life could not remain in the grave, and the apostles were united witnesses of the fact of His resurrection.

The witnesses prove the fact – Jesus is the Prince of Life. Is He the ruler and monarch over your life?

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

His Servant Jesus

His Servant Jesus

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. (Acts 3:13)

As Peter preached to the excited crowd, He began by connecting two thoughts. First, he spoke of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In this, Peter clearly spoke to them about the God of Israel, described in the Hebrew Scriptures. Then, Peter connected a second idea: This same God had a wonderful Messiah, whom Peter called His Servant Jesus.

His Servant Jesus

– We admire the focus Peter had on Jesus. The greatness of Peter’s sermon is that it was all about Jesus – not on Peter nor on anything he did, but all about Jesus.

– We admire that Peter called Jesus by a glorious title: the Servant of the Lord. The first thing Peter said about Jesus in this sermon drew attention to the idea that Jesus was the perfect Servant of the Lord, the One spoken of in familiar passages such as Isaiah 42 and 52:13-53:12.

– We admire this wonderful title of Jesus: Servant.

Jesus, truly God and truly man, is a person of infinite wonder and glory. John 21:25 tells us that If someone set out to write all His works of goodness and power, the world couldn’t contain the books! With so much good to say about Jesus, if you had to start your description with one word, what would it be? Here in Acts 3, Peter chose the word Servant.

Jesus served in His life and He served in His death. Jesus said in Mark 10:45, even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Peter boldly set the guilt of Jesus’ death where it belonged. Pilate, the Roman governor, was determined to let Him go, but the Jewish mob insisted on Jesus’ crucifixion (as in John 18:29-19:16).

This does not mean that the Jewish people of that day alone were responsible for the death of Jesus. The Romans – Gentiles – were also responsible. The Romans would not have crucified Jesus without pressure from the Jewish leaders, and the Jews could not have crucified Jesus without Roman partnership. God made certain that both Jew and Gentile shared in the guilt of Jesus’ death. Truly, it was not political intrigue or circumstances that put Jesus on the cross; it was our sin. If you want to know who put Jesus on the cross, look at me – or look at yourself in the mirror.

Notice the contrast. In God’s estimation Jesus is the exalted Servant, promised centuries before in the Hebrew Scriptures. In man’s estimation Jesus was only worthy to be delivered up and denied, tortured and crucified.

How do you esteem Jesus? Today, see Him as God’s glorious Servant – the one who serves humanity by laying down His life, and receive the service of His Servant today!

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

Better Than a Testimony

Better Than a Testimony

Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? (Acts 3:11-12)

A man had been spectacularly healed at the most public place in Jerusalem, and a crowd quickly gathered. The lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John – but it was not because he could not stand. After all, he was healed! Perhaps he held on to them out of gratitude, or out of fear and surprise. When the people ran together to them and they were all greatly amazed, the formerly lame man probably didn’t know what would happen next.

Better Than a Testimony

But Peter knew. When Peter saw it, he responded to the people. Peter wisely took advantage of the gathering crowd. Yet he knew that the miracle in itself brought no one to Jesus, it merely aroused interest. Though they were greatly amazed, they had not yet trusted in Jesus Christ.

This might have been a good time for healing service. Since a lame man was just healed, Peter could have said, “Who else wants a healing from Jesus?” But Peter didn’t lead a healing service.

This might have been a good time for a testimony service, for the healed man certainly had a great experience. Testimonies are wonderful, but even an amazing testimony is not itself the gospel, the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. The good news is God’s message about who Jesus is and what He did to rescue us, especially what He did at the cross and the empty tomb. A testimony is the story of the work of the gospel, not the gospel itself. Peter didn’t lead a testimony service.

Peter knew that the crowd needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a call to repent and believe. Since the healed man didn’t know enough yet to share the gospel, Peter did the talking.

Peter denied that the healing was due to either his power or godliness. Many evangelists or preachers today who would never claim to heal in their own power still give the impression that healing happens because they are so spiritual, so close to God, or so godly. Peter knew that it was all of Jesus and nothing was of him.

Peter knew that saving faith does not come by seeing or hearing about miracles, rather faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Your testimony is great – praise God for it. God’s works of power are wonderful, and we celebrate them. But let the word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ be the core of our message to a lost and needy world.

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

Walking, Leaping, Praising

Walking, Leaping, Praising

And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them–walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:7-10)

Peter had just spoken bold words to a paralyzed man – he told him to “rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). But it is one thing to say those words, and another thing to boldly take the man’s hand and lift him to his feet! That’s exactly what Peter did: he took him by the right hand and lifted him up.

Walking, Leaping, Praising

This wasn’t something Peter did on a whim or as a promotional event; he did it under the specific prompting of the Holy Spirit. We have no reason to believe that Peter made a habit taking every lame man he saw, pulling them up by the hand.

Rather, here God gave Peter the supernatural ability to trust Him for something completely out of the ordinary. I believe that at the necessary moment, Peter received the gift of faith described in 1 Corinthians 12:9 – a supernatural ability to trust God in a particular situation.

God’s blessing was on this, because immediately his feet and bones received strength. Strength did not come to the lame man until Peter said, “rise up and walk,” and not until Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up.

Once on his feet, the formerly lame man acted as if he would never sit down again! He walked and entered the temple… walking, leaping, and praising God. As soon as he was healed, the formerly lame man did three good things. First, he associated himself with the apostles (entered the temple with them). Second, he immediately started to use what God had restored to him (walking, leaping). Finally, he began to praise and worship God (praising God).

The people who came to worship God at the temple were amazed, because they knew that it was he who sat begging alms. This man was more than 40 years old (Acts 4:22), and he had been crippled since birth. He was a familiar sight at this temple gate (Acts 3:10).

Think about it: Jesus must have passed this particular lame man by many times without healing him. We can say that Jesus, because He knew all things, knew this man would be healed later through Peter’s boldness – but Jesus let the man wait until Peter was ready.

We don’t always know the reasons for God’s timing, but we can always be at peace that when God does something is often just as import as what He does.

If you’re waiting for God to do something, don’t despair – trust God and His timing.

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

More Important than Money

More Important than Money

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6)

“Can you spare some change?”

“Sorry, I don’t have any.”

When asking for coins, beggars are used to hearing “Sorry, I don’t have any.”

More Important than Money

Peter looked down at an expectant beggar, who hoped that the lameness in his legs would move temple-goers to sympathy and generosity. Hopeful to receive a few coins, the lame man heard bad news: “I don’t have any money.”

Peter said it like this: Silver and gold I do not have. Peter didn’t have any money, but he did have authority from Jesus to heal the sick (what I do have I give to you). Peter knew what it was like to have God use him to heal others, because Jesus had trained him in this (as in Luke 9:1-6).

For some people, to say “silver and gold I do not have” is about the worst thing they could say. They feel the church is in ruins if it must say “silver and gold I do not have.” But it is much worse if the church never has the spiritual power to say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk

There is a story – perhaps true – about a humble monk walking with a Roman Catholic cardinal at a time in the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was at its peak of power, prestige, and wealth. The cardinal pointed to the opulent surroundings and with satisfaction said to the monk, “We no longer have to say, silver and gold I do not have.” The monk replied, “But neither can you say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.

When Peter and John gave him no money, we might have heard the lame man complain: “You don’t care about me. You won’t support me. Look at the mess I’m in.” But Peter and John wanted something greater than supporting the man in his condition. They wanted to transform his life by the power of the risen Jesus Christ.

Peter had something to give. He said, What I do have I give you. Peter gave something of the power of Jesus to the lame man, but he could not give it unless he had it in his own life. Many people want to be able to say, “rise up and walk” without having received the power of Jesus to transform their own life.

Significantly, Peter did this in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Since Nazareth was a village of no importance, some people thought it was an insult to emphasize that Jesus came from there. It didn’t fit with an image of success.

Peter didn’t care, because he had something greater than a successful image. Something greater than money. Peter had the power of Jesus in and through his life.

Do you?

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 3

Expecting to Receive

Expecting to Receive

And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. (Acts 3:4-5)

Peter and John went to the temple. They didn’t go to make a sacrifice, because they knew all that had been fulfilled in the perfect work of Jesus Christ at the cross. Instead, they went at the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1). Apparently, Peter and John saw no problem in continuing their Jewish custom of prayer at certain hours of the day.

Expecting to Receive

As Peter and John came to the temple area, they passed a familiar sight: a particular beggar who sat at the same place, asking for kind donations from those coming to or leaving the temple courts. They had probably passed that man many times, but this time the Holy Spirit prompted Peter to do something different.

First, Peter and John looked at the lame man (fixing his eyes on him). The man must have been happy and encouraged when Peter and John stared so intently at him. Most people who want to ignore beggars are careful to not make eye contact with them. When the apostles looked at the lame man so intently, he probably thought he had a big gift coming.

That is why the lame beggar gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. From his place of laying on the ground, the man returned the eye contact with Peter and John; perhaps he stretched out his hand or a cup to receive their generosity.

This was good! The lame man did the right thing in expecting to receive something from them. His expectation was the simple belief that he would receive something.

Many people have not yet to come to the place where they really expect something from God. This is faith, plain and simple. Of course, our expectation must be rooted in God’s promises. We can’t take our dreams or wishes and expect God to fulfill all of them.

Yet, when our expectations are grounded in God’s promises, we can come to Him expecting to receive something from Him.

The lame beggar in Acts 3 was expecting to receive something, and he would have been satisfied with a few coins. But on that day God had something much greater in mind for this beggar than what he was expecting to receive. He would have been satisfied with far less than what Jesus wanted to give him. Working through Peter and John, Jesus wanted to heal the man of the cause of his trouble and poverty.

You have the wonderful privilege of starting a new year full of faith, full of expectation of what God will do. Just pay attention to God’s promises so that you can expect the right things from Him. We are often much too ready to settle for far less than what God wants to give, and our low expectations rob us. Get ready to start a new year full of faith.

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God With Him, God With Us

God With Him, God With Us

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…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)

The Christmas story is really written all over the Bible. We’re familiar with the passages of Scripture that we normally associate with Christmas such as Luke 2 and Matthew 1, Isaiah 9 and 7. If we open our eyes a bit, we can see Christmas almost everywhere.

God With Him, God With Us

I think we can see Christmas in Acts 10:38. In Acts 10 Peter traveled to Caesarea to answer the inquiry of a Roman military man named Cornelius. Centurion Cornelius was a Gentile, but he honored the God of Israel, and he was counted among a group of Gentiles known as “God Fearers.” God spoke to Cornelius and told him to get Peter so the apostle could tell him the good news, and Peter came.

As Peter explained the life and work of Jesus to Cornelius and his associates, he used the simple phrase recorded by Luke: …how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38).

What Peter said was true: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, beginning (humanly speaking) when by a miracle Jesus was conceived in the virgin womb of Mary. Matthew 1:18 says she was found with child by the Holy Spirit. Humanly speaking, the work of the Holy Spirit began when Jesus was conceived in Mary as she was in the village of Nazareth.

Peter also said that Jesus was anointed with power. This power was evident at the first Christmas. We think that there is nothing less powerful than a newborn baby, and in this sense, Jesus chose to come in a way that shares our weakness. Yet even as a baby Jesus Christ had power enough to attract angelic announcements and the joyful proclamation of shepherds.

As Peter said, in the life and ministry of Jesus, He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. Jesus did this in His radical association with sick and oppressed humanity. Jesus Himself never sinned in any way, but He came as a man among hurting humanity – and that was clear by the way He came in all the circumstances surrounding His birth at Bethlehem.

Peter also said something wonderful about Jesus: that God was with Him. In connection with Christmas, we can’t hear that phrase without thinking of the promise in Isaiah 7:15 – that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and they would call his name Immanuel – “God With Us.” Speaking of Jesus, wonderfully God was with Him and the coming of Jesus proves that God is with us.

Take joy in it today – the One for whom God was with Him is also God with us!

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