38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
Peter’s sermon during Pentecost ends with a call for the changing of hearts and lives. When he called for repentance and baptism, about three thousand people came. Perhaps it was the most powerful sermon ever delivered by any disciple on behalf of Christ. As Acts 2:41 says, “Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized.”
However, let’s not forget that it wasn’t Peter who gave the invitation – he was just the messenger. Nor is it really ever any pastor that gives an invitation to accept God’s gift of grace and salvation. For as the scripture says, “the Lord our God invites.” (v.39) Through the Spirit, it was God who brought the three thousand people into the community on that day.
It is God who does the giving and forgiving! It is God, who changes hearts and minds. It is God who creates the way for our salvation through Jesus Christ.
Because of love, God creates all the pathways of our salvation through all circumstances. When you think about it, God continuously offers us grace, despite our circumstances, and even when we don’t deserve it – most especially when we don’t deserve it.
All we really need to do is to accept God’s loving gift. God offers the gift of God’s grace, but God won’t make us take it! It is up to us to say, “Yes.”
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
God is not a punishing, vengeful God. God is a loving and accepting God, who asks us only to live as best we can by Jesus’ example. We will not be perfect or even come close, but God will keep loving us and offering us grace anyway. So what does it take for you to fully accept God’s love and grace today? What does it take to offer God’s love and grace to another who doesn’t deserve it?
Prayer: God of Grace, thank you for loving me even when I don’t deserve it. Thank you for offering me your gift of grace. I offer my life to you, Lord. Let me walk in ways that are pleasing to you. Let me walk as a follower of Jesus, that all who see me will know you through me. Amen.