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Hope and Promise

by Dava Cooper, FBC Intern for Youth Spiritual Formation

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Good morning, it is wonderful to be here with you today to share a message of Hope and Promise, even if it is electronically. I do have Pastor Matt and Rev John Williams here and if that’s not intimidating then I don’t know what is.

Let us pray: May the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be ever pleasing and good to you Lord. Amen

Is it too late to turn back? Have I gone too far? Is my sin unforgiveable? Have you ever felt like this? Felt so guilty… you knew what you did was wrong. Ever felt like you let God down. How can God forgive me for this? I know I have.

When an airline pilot is in training they have to learn how to navigate an airplane over long distances. These flights over the huge oceans or crossing extensive deserts need careful planning to ensure safe arrival to the planned destination. Some of these nonstop flights can be as long as 14 hours.

There is an important decision point during such a long flight known as the point of safe return. Up until this point there is enough fuel to turn around and go back. Once you have passed this point you can only continue on, to keep going the same direction as you started. This is known as the point of no return.

When we sin, have we crossed that threshold, that point of no return? Is what I’ve done gone too far? How am I going to fix this? How can I change this? Satan would like us to think there is a point of no return. He would like for us to think that it is too late to change our course, that we cannot fix this.

Peter addressed these very thoughts in Acts. Let me set the stage.

It’s Jerusalem. It’s Passover time. There were thousands of people throughout the city of Jerusalem. Jews, Israelites and Roman citizens alike. Think of downtown after KU wins the NCAA Championship. The Jews have come to Jerusalem for this time of celebration. Passover is the time of gathering to celebrate and remembering that God brought them out of Egypt from slavery. They gather as one body from many locations, to show thanks and give praise to God who saved them.

Then there is this man, Jesus. He enters the city on a donkey. This is the man that is claimed to be the king of the Jews. Hosanna, they shout, Lord save us. They follow and crowd around him for days. Listening to him teach about the ways of God, about the Holy Spirit and about prayer. They were sure he was here to save them. To save them from the Roman government, like God had brought them out of Egypt. Judas seemed to know better, he was sure Jesus wouldn’t fight the Romans, so he chose to betray Jesus instead…Jesus is arrested. The people, now instead of shouting Hosanna—Save us Lord, they shout with one voice, crucify him. This man called Jesus, He is not our king…Jesus is crucified. He dies on the cross.

Later as Peter addresses the people there in Jerusalem, he reminds them that God made Jesus…The Lord—the ruler over all and the Messiah—the leader and savior over all. Jesus is it. He is the chosen one. The same person they yelled for to be crucified…or at the least stood by and did nothing. In verse 37 Peter says: they were cut to the heart. All hope was lost. The Lord and Savior had been crucified. What was done was done. How can God forgive us for this? What we have done is the worst—death.

Like the pilot of the airplane, once he passes that point of no return, we cannot undo the sin we have committed, we cannot go back to where we started from. This is where the Holy Spirit is at work, planting that seed…That guilt. They plead to Peter, there has to be something we can do. Some way to change what was done. Please tell us.

In verse 38–40 Peter gives us hope! He tells of the gift from God. God raised his son into a new life to sit at the right side of God in Heaven and that we too can have this same gift. Peter shows us how to receive this gift and have a new life with God.

Peter gives them hope—he says repent! We cannot turn around and undo what is done but we can change our direction. This point of no return does not exist in God’s world for us. We can always return to God. Peter tells us to repent. To own what has been done and to ask God for forgiveness. That Jesus died and was raised from the dead, for just that. To forgive us of our sins and give us new life with Him. No matter what we have done God will forgive us, you and me. We tend to never forget things even when we have forgiven but God is not like that. He grants forgiveness and in Isaiah it reads “He remembers your sin no more.” We also need to grant each other a second chance. That there is nothing we have done, that God has forgiven, that can keep us from being brothers and sisters together in Christ’s family.

But wait, there is more. Peter says we can save ourselves from corruption. We have the power to make this decision. The Holy Spirit is in us. All we need to do is make the choice to be baptized in the name of Jesus. To turn directions and to follow Jesus, to let God be our pilot. When we do this we are forgiven and given a new life. No matter the sins we’ve committed, we are forgiven. No sin is too big for God’s forgiveness. The point of no return does not exist.

When we turn to God, He gives us this gift of understanding the Holy Spirit that is within us. Remember before when we felt that nudge. The thoughts that there has to be something we can do? That was this Holy Spirit! That nudge of guilt we have, that hunger to do better. That’s the Holy Spirit talking to us. The Holy Spirit is our guide, to show us the ways in which we are to travel with God and to weather the storms of life. With God as our pilot he will bring us safely to our final destination. To Heaven, at his right side.

But wait, there is one more piece of hope. God’s promise. Peter goes on to tell us there is more, can you believe it? The gift that keeps on giving. In addition to being forgiven and given the Holy Spirit, God gives us this promise. This gift, Jesus’ crucifixion for the forgiveness of our sins and his resurrection for our place with God in heaven…It’s for EVERYONE. For you, for your children and for everyone that is far away. Everyone can be saved by our Lord and Savior, You, your neighbor, that guy at work, those across the ocean. Even those in prison. All we need to do is repent, asking God to forgive us and choose to follow him. No matter what direction we are currently traveling, we can change that direction and choose to follow Jesus. To let God be our pilot in life, for he knows the best routes to take.

There is one more thing Peter expresses in verse 41.

Have you ever come across a deal that you couldn’t pass up? There is no hesitation, you just go for it? And wait—you call people to tell them about this great deal. You post it on Facebook and Instagram. You even tell a stranger in the store. You know they have that in another brand over on the endcap for an incredible deal. Later they pass you again and thank you for sharing.

That day the church grew in numbers of 3000. Three thousand people couldn’t resist this deal. This GIFT. Christ’s family grew just because Peter shared about this deal, this hope, this promise that you just can’t pass up. We can’t help but to share this gift of hope and the promise we have in God with others.

Jesus Christ, the one you crucified, HE died for YOU! To forgive each and every one of us, of whatever sins we might commit. Large or small in our own eyes, Jesus forgives them. God forgets them. And we receive the Holy Spirit just for the asking and choosing to follow Jesus. How Great is this God, our God. He is our everything.

So the choice is yours. Are you going to go for this deal of deals? Are you going to accept this gift from God? This gift of hope, of forgiveness. This promise that we will be with God for an eternity? Are you going to change your course, and follow Jesus? This gift is yours for the taking. Just go for it and ask for forgiveness.

Let us pray: Our father in heaven, how great thou art. What a gift you give to each of us. Your unconditional love and forgiveness. Your Son on the cross. I lay at your feet and give you my all. I trust in your words and your promise. I trust in the hope of Heaven eternal. Amen

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