Re:Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day four)
V. 52 – “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
One of the keynote messages of Acts is the gift and work of the Holy Spirit. Over and over, we see how the gospel is communicated, men are inspired to preach, believers are delivered from prison, or hearts and lives are changed…all by the work of the Holy Spirit. Whether circumstances are difficult or encouraging, the Holy Spirit continually fills the disciples with joy. What a blessing to have the steadiness of the presence of the Holy Spirit!
Have you allowed your circumstances to steal your joy? It is easy to do. We get caught up in the business of life and lose sight of the perspective of the Holy Spirit. When Barnabas and Paul were set aside for God’s work, the church leaders were praying and fasting…looking for direction from the Holy Spirit. Seek daily for the Spirit to continually fill you…joy is so much better than stress and discouragement.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day three)
“Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you.” The reason Jesus appeared so extreme—even anti-scriptural—to his contemporaries is that his life was exactly what a human life looked like when lived the way the law and the prophets teach us to live. We’re all pro-Bible, we’re all pro-God, blah, blah, blah. But theory isn’t practice. Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die, as blues artist Albert King sang. We can talk about the Bible; Jesus lived it. The fulfillment of the law was the perfect man who would show us what the law looked like in practice. Paul’s chilling words point us to the good news that Jesus will teach us how to live the kind of life he himself lived.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day one)
“Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”–v 2.
It will be a great day for you. Among the best. In His own way and time, the Lord will call you to the work for which He made you.
It will be His idea. Not yours. It will fit into a larger plan that you probably won’t be able to see. And somehow the expectation of reward or recognition will matter less than it did before. His approving nod will be all you desire. You will do this work out of love for Him.
The deepest need of the human heart is to be useful. God knows. Children who never learn to contribute become petty and anxious adults. God doesn’t need my work. I need it.
As you trust and follow Christ, He will call you to the work for which He made you.
And it will be a great day.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day seven)
Jesus regularly got into trouble with religious folks. One of the constant accusations against Him was eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus made it a habit to eat with people no one else would eat with, going out of His way for people of different statures and ignoble backgrounds. At the time, the disciples were not sure of Jesus’s behavior either, but here in Acts 11, Peter is being accused of the very same thing: eating with riffraff.
As a pastor, I find my meals are filled up with good Christian people. Those are always a great boon to me, but I’m never accused of eating with riffraff. For my social standing that works out fine, but for my mission to be a witness to the world for Jesus Christ it is a terrible strategy. If we are going to reach out and share the love of Christ with the world we must share meals with worldly people. We eat with those that are exceedingly sinful and those that are ostracized by everyone else.
Who will you be accused of having lunch with this week?
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:30-32
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day six)
The vision was God’s way of saying to Peter, “You are free to become all things to all people.” Paul would express the same truth later when writing to the Corinthians. For Paul missions was removing any and all unnecessary obstacles so that everyone could hear the Gospel. He would do whatever it took, even giving up dearly held and entrenched traditions if he had too. As he could, he would bend and yield to the traditions and customs of others (eat their food, speak their language, wear their clothes) so that he could tell the story of Jesus without any hindrance.
So, truly Peter’s vision was perhaps God’s first lesson on how to do missions; how to go about making disciples. With further reflection surely they must have realized that was precisely what Jesus had done. He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:6-7) Jesus is the best teacher.
What would it look like for us to put this lesson into practice in our communities? How about with the community immediately surrounding the church facility?
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day five)
“Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”
When we think of vision, we often think of God’s plan and purpose FOR a group of people. Vision keeps us looking forward and upward with hope and courage. In this week’s Re:Verse passage we see a different facet of vision. Vision is also the ability and capacity to see potential and opportunities IN a group of people. Barnabas saw this new church and didn’t immediately try to press them forward with vision. Rather, he just encouraged them with the vision of how he saw the grace of God already working IN them. Where does this kind of vision come from? (Holy Spirit and Faith vs. 23) What could happen in a church if people “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” begin to see God’s Grace at work IN each other and intentionally encouraged obedience and joy? “Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day four)
They are words that would be an excellent epitaph…”And I remembered the word of the Lord.” (V. 16) The Holy Spirit brought to Peter’s mind what Jesus had taught them. Then, Peter applied that insight to the present and acted on it. Wouldn’t you want to encounter a need or opportunity and then “remember the word of the Lord”? There was no arguing once the source of authority was identified.
What was the result of Peter’s obediently acting on the word of the Lord? The Gentiles received the repentance that leads to life. As believers in Christ, this should be our desire…that our lives would lead others to a saving faith, a repentance that leads to life. This experience was against everything that Peter had been taught as a Jewish boy. He chose to follow the word of the Lord though, rather than his emotions or feelings. God’s Word is not always in sync with the popular culture or opinions of the day, but it will never fail to lead others to God and bring Him glory!
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day three)
“Surely not, Lord!” There is a strain of thinking that warns us against disagreement with God, against verbalizing our negative reaction to his direction. But repeatedly in scripture we see honesty with God met not with anger, but engagement. Abraham opposed God’s intention to destroy Sodom, and God granted escape to Abraham’s family. Jonah disputed God’s withholding of the destruction of Nineveh, and that conversation enabled Jonah to see God’s compassion for non-Hebrews. Here, Peter’s honest dissent resulted in the revelation that Christ came to seek and to save all men, regardless of ethnicity or culture. There is such a thing as rebellion against God. But disagreement is not disloyalty. God can tell the difference. And he’ll use it as an occasion to shine the light of understanding.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day two)
But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ vs. 9
All Christians have come to accept that part of our walk is the need to repent. To confess those things that hinder us from a fully surrendered life in Christ. As Pastor Don has told us, the Greek word that we use for repentance means to “think again.” When we think again about our actions or our attitudes we look with Jesus’ eyes upon those choices.
Peter was asked to “think again” with regards to what he could eat and with whom he could associate. His previous actions were not sinful, actually quite the contrary, he would refrain from eating or associating based on the Jewish custom and law. Jesus now wanted to show Peter a better way. Those customs played an important role in Jewish history and culture, but now Jesus wanted to show that his love was for all.
Is there some habit or attitude that you have that could use a spiritual reboot? Are there things that you could stand to think again about? Is every attitude and action of your life focused on Jesus’ Kingdom plan for your life? Time to think again?
Re:Verse reading–Acts 11:1-26 (day one)
“I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means,Lord’ “–v 7-8.
God never changes. However, circumstances do. Often.
Like a quarterback who comes to the line of scrimmage, sees the defensive line up and exercises his prerogative to change the play, the Father, in Acts 11, calls an “audible”.
For 1500 years, the Jewish nation observed “kosher” laws that symbolized their “separation” from the nations. It was a strict law. Rigid custom. No wonder (no excuse, but, still, no wonder) that Peter resisted the change.
With this vision, the Father opened a new chapter of salvation history–years of gospel expansion to all people without regard to race or ethnicity. All foods are clean. All Gentiles are welcome.
Will you be ready when God brings a new chapter and gives you a new assignment? Are your ears tuned and heart soft to an audible from God?