Houston, We Have a Problem

Acts 3:26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Observation: Paul had called his listeners to repent, that they might have their sins wiped away and experience times of refreshing. He had said that this Servant, Christ, has been prophesied from the earliest days of the Jewish people, and he reminded his hearers that because they sprang from Abraham’s seed, they are intended to receive the blessings of God that can come only from Christ.

Application: This message was infuriating to the religious hierarchy of the day, yet it contained desperately needed hope for every honest heart. Still, even for the average reader, there is within Paul’s writing a conundrum, for he says that it is in turning each of us from our wicked ways that we are to be blessed.

Houston, we have a problem! I can imagine that being turned from my wicked ways might be a blessing, but as God is doing the turning it doesn’t necessarily seem like the blessing this verse describes. Instead, this statement takes on the ring of the familiar parenting truth: “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!” In the moments just before impact, how believable is that, really? As the child is bent over to receive her discipline, does she not experience fear coursing through her veins? Who among us, upon hearing such a claim, does not dread the coming moments? Do we honestly view what is about to happen as intended to produce blessing?

Instead, God’s efforts to turn me from my wicked ways may feel like anything but a blessing. It feels more like pain or loss or threatening circumstances of all kinds. I well recall a season in my life when a beloved child’s rebellion was so profound that my prayer was for God to cause his pain to increase, that he would quickly come to the end of himself. In the end, God blessed that prayer and a prodigal reunion followed, but it required years of courage to await God’s promised results.

This verse, then, is a great reminder of the importance of knowing and trusting the Word of God, rather than my feelings. I must believe without question that His desire is for my best, and that He seeks to have intimate fellowship with me forever.

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that You are faithful to work on my heart issues as the Word says, always for the purpose of blessing me. Thank You for this reminder that my feelings aren’t trustworthy. Make me eager, Lord, to invite You to dig deeply into the soil of my heart to bring correction wherever it’s needed.

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