3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2021/03)

Acts 3:17-4:12 (ESV)
3:17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
4:1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Day 1: Loving God
Peter says in 3:19-20, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The word “blot out” is used throughout Scripture to wiping out something completely (Gen. 7:4, 23). For example, it’s used in Exodus 17:14 to speak of “blott[ing] out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” It refers to complete annihilation. When you repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ, your sins will be wiped out! The blood of Christ is not like an eraser that still leaves a trace of the pencil marks. We live in the internet age where it feels like we can’t erase or hide anything from our past. Our past returns to haunt us, and we have this foreboding sense that we can never get away from our mistakes and regrets. But this is not the case with God. He will blot out your sons if you trust in Jesus. God will never hold those sins against us. Our sins can never be dredged up again, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
Repentance and faith also bring “times of refreshing … from the presence of the Lord.” The word “refreshing” refers to providing relief from an obligation or trouble, some breathing room, a sigh of relief.When you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ and get baptized, when you receive forgiveness of sins and you are filled with the Holy Spirit, what you experience is not times of stress or times of burden, but “times of refreshing.” This is exactly what Jesus promised in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” A yoke is the wooden frame that joins two oxen together so that their strength can be combined to pull heavy loads. It’s a metaphor of subjection, even oppression. But Jesus turns this metaphor on its head, when He says, “my yoke is easy.” The word “easy” is elsewhere translated “kind.” Jesus’s yoke is not harsh, it is kind. His burden is not heavy and onerous, it is light, because servitude to Jesus is freedom! Because subjection to Jesus is to share in His rulership!
  • Confess your sins, especially those sins that leave you with a lingering sense of guilt, and fully accept Christ’s death on the cross for you, trusting that all your sins have been blotted out.
  • Talk to God about the areas of your Christian life that seem burdensome to you, and surrender yourself more fully to Christ’s Lordship so that you might experience the freedom of the Spirit. Ask Him to help you find rest in Christ.
  • Pray that God would fill you with His Holy Spirit.
Recommended Song: “Cast Thy Guilty Soul On Him” by Citylife Boston; “It Is Well With My Soul” by Audrey Assad

Day 2: Loving One Another
In 4:11, Peter quotes Psalm 118:22 to argue that, though the Jewish leaders discarded Jesus as a worthless “stone,” unfit for use in God’s building project, God has made Jesus to be the cornerstone,” which is the foundation stone at the corner, the very starting point of the construction that fixes the location and direction of the building (cf. Luke 20:17). The revered and esteemed Jewish rulers cast Jesus aside, humiliated Him, branded Him as a rejected stone, killed Him, but God Himself raised Jesus from the dead, exalted Him to the highest place, and made Him the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the church of God!
Using the same imagery, Peter says in 1 Peter 2:4-10 that we are “like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … Once [we] were not a people, but now [we] are God’s people.” No matter how insignificant and unimpressive our brothers and sisters in Christ might appear, no matter how much they are scorned and mocked by the world, they are specially chosen “living stones” that make up the temple of the Holy Spirit along with us.
  • Pray that God would increase your love for the church, and grow our interdependence with one another.
  • Pray that God would grow our church in the fear of God, so that we fear no man, but boldly bear witness to Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that we would “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” by walking “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2-3).
  • Pray for a long-term, suitable, affordable meeting space in East Cambridge, where we can worship together on Sunday mornings.
Recommended Song: “Church’s One Foundation” by Duke Chapel

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
In 3:25-26, Peter cites Genesis 22:18 (cf. Gen. 12:3), where God says to Abraham, “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…” From the very beginning of His covenant with Israel, God envisioned that one day, all the nations of the earth, not descendants of Abraham only, “shall … be blessed.” This “blessing” entails salvation, because it is the bestowal of divine favor. And this salvation would come about through Abraham’s “offspring,” or “seed,” which is singular, referring to a specific descendant.
And His name is Jesus! Peter emphatically says in Psalm 146:3, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Salvation is in Him,” Jesus is the location where salvation is found. Salvation is by Him,” Jesus is the agent by which we are saved. No other name, however great in this world, has the power to save.
  • Pray that God would send out more laborers into the harvest, both here and abroad, especially, this month, for Myanmar, a nation we have been praying for throughout March.
  • Pray by name for your unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors. Pray that you might be filled with the Holy Spirit to bear bold witness to Jesus.
  • Pray for revival in Cambridge/Boston and New England, that the Spirit of God would move powerfully in our region.
Recommended Song: “His Name Is Jesus” by Sovereign Grace Music

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