In Isolation Thoughts 2

Sunday 22nd November 2020

Hymn:            God leads us along

Bible Reading:   Acts 11.  1-18

Questions, Questions and Answers

You cannot keep a story quiet! Such a momentous event, such as Gentiles becoming believers and receiving the Holy Spirit could not be hid. Who would want it kept secret? Certainly not the Gentiles who had been saved, their lives had been changed and they had to tell others. Perhaps Peter was still a bit concerned about what had happened, as it was contrary to all he had been brought up to believe. Yet at the same time, we can see that he is prepared to stand for truth, obey God and stand out for the spread of the faith.

Changed by God

Let’s think about him! Remember, he was the one who had leapt out of the boat on Galilee and walked to Jesus on the water, then became fearful and had to be rescued. He proclaimed, in Caesarea Philippi, that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah when others had just been claiming Him as a prophet. He had denied knowing Jesus in the courtyard just prior to the crucifixion of Jesus. He had run to the tomb to find it empty, he had seen Jesus in the Upper Room and stood on the Mt of Olives when He ascended into heaven. Put all these together, so we see a man who is impetuous, introspective, easily led by the moment’s situation. Yet he was also the Peter who, having been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, stood up and preached a powerful message to those in the city that day. He had stood against the religious leaders when they told him not to talk about Jesus, he had supported Philip on his mission and now had told Gentiles about Jesus and they had become fellow followers with him of Christ. He had run with the crowd, had stood up in times of adversity and was now in the position of instigating the spreading of the Gospel across the known world, outside the Jewish nation. He was a changed man, changed by Christ and responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

What changes can be seen in our lives emanating from our faith in Christ?

Challenged by the Church

Peter was now faced by the Church in Judea; he returned to Jerusalem and was immediately challenged about his actions. What was the accusation? It was the same issue that Peter had faced in Joppa and Caesarea, when he saw the vision from God and was told to eat, so many of the animals were unclean under Jewish law, but he saw what God was teaching him. It was reinforced when Cornelius’s messengers arrived, inviting him to go to Caesarea and meet Cornelius. A Jew going to a Gentile house and eating with them. The ‘jot and title’ of the law was more important than the salvation of a group of people. There was no rejoicing on earth like the rejoicing in heaven over one lost sinner who repented! The rules had been broken. Here he was, in a difficult situation, he had gone against all the tradition and rules of the Jewish law, he had undermined the basis of the special relationship that the Jews had experienced for centuries with God, what was he to do?

Are there times when we are faced with a dilemma? We are in a situation which seems to be contrary to what we have always understood to be right, to change would be difficult and may have implications.

Certain of the Truth

Peter was quite open with them in his explanation of what had happened, he couldn’t deny that he had been to a Gentile house and eaten there, so he went right back to the beginning to explain what he had done and why. He told of God’s intervention in his prayer time, the command to eat unclean animals, to recognise God’s will and obey the request to go to Cornelius. He told them what had happened at Joppa and how, when he explained about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who had been guiding him in all of these events, had come into the lives of the Gentiles. He then reminded them of John the Baptist, a promise that they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit! This was it; the promise was being fulfilled before their eyes. It was not his decision, it came from God, who gave this gift, so who was he to stand in the way, opposing God’s will?

When the assembled believers heard this account, their challenge dissipated, they began praising God, in His mercy, even the Gentiles could repent and gain new life in Christ.

Remember, God’s word and truth will always have an impact. Christians are a changed people, no longer tied to ritual and custom, but have freedom in Christ, open to His leading and must proclaim the truth of the Gospel to all.

Hymn: What a wonderful change in my life has beam wrought

Prayer

 


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