You’ve probably heard the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, I’m convinced God has a cosmic-sized juicer with a sugarcane sprinkler from the crystal sea. He makes the sweetest lemonade from the most bitter life lemons! We just need to pay attention. I stopped at the produce market last weekend and purchased three items. Watermelons were 2 for $5, and strawberries, $2 per quart. Since it was the end of May, I thought the watermelon was a pretty good deal, and the strawberries looked perfect. When I arrived homeYou’ve probably heard the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, I’m convinced God has a cosmic-sized juicer with a sugarcane sprinkler from the crystal sea. He makes the sweetest lemonade from the most bitter life lemons! We just need to pay attention. Case in point: I stopped at the produce market last weekend and purchased three items. Watermelons were 2 for $5, and strawberries, $2 per quart. Since it was the end of May, I thought the watermelon was a pretty good deal, and the strawberries looked perfect. When I arrived home, I cut into both watermelons and found one to be over-ripe and inedible. The other watermelon was fabulous; and the strawberries were yummy; but I could have been miffed about the 2 for $5 price on melons (since it turned into 1 for $5). Instead, let’s drink lemonade and be thankful we’re eating watermelon on Memorial Day instead of waiting ‘til July 4th when melons are normally in season! It’s such a small example, such a silly illustration; but it points to an overall attitude we’ve tried to adopt in life. When we look back at our early married years, we could remain bitter about my husband’s unfair treatment as a high school basketball coach, or we can praise God that the experience catapulted Roy into seminary and eventually led us to where we are today. We could linger in regret at the pain of fibromyalgia and daily migraines, but we choose to praise God that the change in lifestyle gives me time and inclination to write devotionals and biblical novels. Lemons are inevitable, lemonade is a delicacy God creates for those who choose to sit back and enjoy it.
Acts 4:1-4 – “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” (emphasis added)
The Sadducees were a Jewish sect who were descended from Aaron’s (Moses’ brother) priestly line. They controlled the Temple and didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah, which meant they were extremely affronted by Peter’s and John’s teaching in THEIR Temple. So they arrested Peter and John. Bad, right? But the number of souls won for eternity grew to 5,000. Eternal wins over momentary every time. All-in-all, this bad thing is very GOOD!
Acts 4:5-12 – “The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.”Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’” (emphasis added)
Let’s recount the big-wigs attending this hearing: rulers, elders, teachers of the Law, the high priest and his family. If Peter and John had not been arrested, would they EVER have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with these high ranking men of Jerusalem? No way! Being arrested is bad. Sharing the Gospel with your captor, your boss, your enemy…very, very GOOD!
Acts 4:13-17 – “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’” (emphasis added)
No doubt, Peter and John saw the astonishment on the leaders’ faces and wanted to say more, but they were ordered out before they could. Since Peter obviously liked to talk, I’m sure he thought this was a bad thing. The Jewish leaders hardened their hearts and resisted the message, marking the beginning of the early church’s persecution. Persecution, bad. It killed many good and innocent people. BUT—God later used that persecution to spread the Gospel throughout the nations. Were it not for the Sanhedrin’s deaf ears, you and I would never know the love of Jesus Christ. So—persecution, good.
Acts 4:18-22 – “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.” (emphasis added)
Peter’s and John’s challenge carries a subtle message for the Jewish leaders: choose to follow man’s law or choose to embrace God’s power…because the two took divergent paths. The leaders chose their law, responded with threats and indecision (and apparently no punishment). Though it’s unfortunate that the leaders clutched tightly to their lemons, the crowd’s lemonade began flowing freely. The Gospel was shared, and Peter and John were free. The cripple stood, walked, and leapt for joy (for the first time in forty years). Indeed, God is good—all the time; and all the time—God is good.
- Lord, thank You for the lemons, for the opportunities to really taste the contrast of Your sweet lemonade. Forgive me when I resist the lemons, refusing to let you squeeze my circumstances and make them a sweet testimony of Your faithfulness. I give You permission to keep squeezing my heart until I recognize the sweetness You have created in me, for me, and through me.