Acts 2:37-38 (Amplified)
Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles (special messengers), Brethren, what shall we do?
And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter, having just been filled with the Holy Spirit, preached a powerful message to the many Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. He boldly declared Jesus, the One they had crucified, the risen Messiah.
If you read chapter 2 of Acts you find the Holy Spirit spreading like “wildfire” among the 120 gathered together in the upper room. As God’s Spirit filled them, they began to speak in tongues…other languages…that they didn’t themselves know or normally speak. The commotion drew attention and many Jewish men and women who had traveled to the Holy City heard these followers of Jesus declaring God’s works in their “mother tongue.”
Some were in awe, wanting to understand what was going on. And some just laughed and chalked it up to cheap wine.
So many times God’s Spirit is moving to capture our hearts and attention and we do one of two things, as well. We stop to see what Creator is doing and hear what He is saying to us, or we dismiss Him and miss out on our gift.
One thing we can never deny is Holy Spirit moving to capture our attention.
As I read the verses above my own heart was caught. See, for those who lingered the words Peter spoke about Jesus stung…cut their hearts. I know how often I’ve fought this stinging in my life. Holy Spirit speaking to me through a verse, a message, a song, a book or another person and as it cuts into my deep places I withdraw.
I’m discovering that first sting is just a cut into my pride…the pain my resistant human nature feels and must embrace for freedom.
The heart-stung listeners asked Peter what they should do. I appreciate the Amplified Bible’s translation of Peter’s response:
Change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it.
This morning I’m considering how I might recognize God speaking to my heart, I might realize Holy Spirit is trying to work in my life, but if I don’t accept His will, His Word, into my inner self, my deepest places, I remain unchanged. Unfazed.
Agreeing mentally is peripheral.
God is asking us to accept, absorb deeply within ourselves, His will. Feel the sting of truth…let Holy Spirit cut into our pride…and purpose, or choose, to yield.
Man, that sounds really fun. Smile…
Here’s the thing. The sting of truth is not a threat. It’s like the bittersweet pain of childbirth. A momentary discomfort in light of the love and beauty God is bringing into our lives as we go through it.
God doesn’t sting our hearts with truth or cut into our pride in order to condemn us. Conviction, or the sting, reveals our need for Jesus. He longs to free us from chains we don’t even realize are holding us down.
Repent…and be baptized…for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit moving in my life…the different ways He captures my attention…lead me to freedom if I’m willing to linger. God wants to release me from sins that entangle, trap and imprison me.
But so often I tense up with the first prick at my pride. I let walls shoot up around my heart. Sure, maybe I”m willing to agree it’s a good message or a good point or a good song…but it doesn’t feel good to my inner self and so I reject His work. Misunderstand what Savior-Love is trying to accomplish. Miss out on my freedom.
Freedom to know Him more…to enjoy my life more fully…to exhale and trust He’s got me in every circumstance…to experience this gift of the Holy Spirit Who comforts me. Heals me. Is alive in me.
Making me new as I grow willing to linger.