Of pornography, pills and impetuosity.
Acts, #11 in the series.
In the old church basement where I led a prayer meeting for the homeless, hurting and outcasts of Long Beach--a group of about 60 to 75 people weekly--I learned a lot about honesty and courage.
Sharing some Scripture that was applicable to all, I would then lead my street friends in prayer, kinda in a hollering style to get their attention. When we got to the part about asking God to forgive us our sins, I would ask, 'what do we have to be forgiven of in here, in this room--well, what do we?' From all around the room, people answered, just owning and speaking out their sins.
Now where I came from--in Orange County, everyone comes to church looking and acting like everything is great, great, great. 'Sin? Oh not me - I've got that under control.' And in a smaller gathering, most knew what to say at church, and what was not proper!
"So, what do you need to confess to God and ask for his forgiveness?" I asked them. From all around the room, the proffered answers "pornography" "booze" "pride" "too much weed" "drugs", etc. Often I recited John's freeing, life-giving words, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."1
Immediately after being filled with the Holy Spirit, a transformed Peter, stood up and preached the sermon of a lifetime, and 3000 people were saved that day. Here is what he said in Acts 2.14-41:
The huge crowd was incredibly moved by Peter's sermon and asked what they should do about the truths of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection--what they should do in light of their sins. “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." v.38
My street friends knew they sinned and they owned it. They did not ignore it or sweep it under the rug. It was refreshing, it moved me to be more honest with myself about my sin too.
~A couple things to note about that day so long ago. When an impetuous Peter woke up that day, he did not put the finishing touches on a sermon he had been preparing...no sir, he had no idea of the miraculous events that would start the day and the change that would come over him with the giving of the Holy Spirit. But he stood up and preached his heart out about what he knew to be true, what he had seen and experienced of Jesus Christ, quoting scriptures [of course those folks had no Bibles they could grab and read, but they were devout Jews who would be familiar with what Peter was saying] from Joel and the psalms of David. Impressive to say the least.
More impressive were the results. It was the plan of the Father, that when the Son came home, the Spirit would descend, filling and equipping believers to take the truth of the Gospel, the message of God's grace to all people. Think of it: the 12 were commissioned to go and tell . . . the 120 were commissioned . . . and now the 3,000 were commissioned to believe . . . repent . . . receive . . . go . . . and make disciples.
What would happen in your life if you yielded your will to God's? What would happen if you said today, 'God--I may not always get it right--but I'm willing. . . use me'? Look at this radically-transformed Peter--he was full of it . . . full of the Holy Spirit, and ready to be used. 'Brings to mind my favorite Fogerty tune, 'Put me in, Coach, I'm ready to play—today . . .' Yeah, I'm ready . . . willing . . . able. . . surrendered . . . desiring to be used of God to bring hope to the hurting, peace to the troubled and an eternal future to those who wonder. What an adventure!
Start with being honest with yourself and God. Admit and confess your sins to God, ask for forgiveness and accept the freedom. Then care enough to share it with others--go on, you've been commissioned.
Nothing more important you could do today than telling someone about Jesus,