God does not change in His love and mission for all who He has created. It is we who must change to match what God wants in order to live a life of obedience to God. It is even more than loving Him back, it is having a daily session of conversation where He talks and we listen. We pray asking for wisdom and God gives it. We confess and Jesus forgives us. We speak words of praise and thanksgiving and God sees our hearts’ devotion for Him. We ask in Jesus Name and God responds with more than we ask, more than we could hope, or imagine. If God says—do it! We will never regret the decision of following Him.
But Friends, WE must do the changing of our thinking and behaving in order to hear and obey quickly. In our tradition of religion, we much change and be ready to rise above religious tradition to a deeper, wider, higher relationship with the One and Only who died and rose again for us, Our Master, Savior and Lord, Jesus.
Our example is Jesus. To be “Christ-like”, as believers in Christ which is what the original term, “Christian” meant, we much follow in what Jesus did and spoke. Jesus went to God before doing anything of significance. Jesus asked God what He wanted then Jesus said it or did it. He did nothing on earth without God’s direction. (See John 5) Who are we to think we can bypass God and assume our religion and tradition will carry us through this world unscathed? We don’t stand a chance with the enemy, if at first, we do not go to God, praying in Jesus Name, listening to hear God ready to obey. When God says to do or say something…do it! God will give us the words at the right time in the right Spirit to those led by His Holy Spirit. It is nothing short of amazing to live and walk in His Holy Spirit.
Peter, born and raised a Jew, is now faced with a dilemma. God knew what He needed to do IN Peter so that those outside the Jewish religion and tradition could be brought to experience Jesus’ saving grace. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God pointed out that if He said it, it’s okay to depart tradition to help others find and follow Jesus in relationship bringing all His creation back to Him. Remember, Peter was trained by Jesus, Himself and is now more pliable to hear when God’s Spirit speaks.
What must always be in Peter’s driven mind is Jesus’ last commissioning words of continuing the mission to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV) Peter knew from Jesus that if God says…do it, it’s okay.
Did Peter have an “ah-ha” moment in the vision remembering the “all nations” part of the commission?
It is important for us to stay in step with God’s Holy Spirit for when we do, amazing acts of God happen! God broke through the barriers of religion, race, gender, and traditions to bring the “outsiders” into a loving relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus, powered by His Holy Spirit. Wow!
Believe and be saved with all sins forgiven AND forgotten! God’s powerful Holy Spirit comes to live in us, guide us, protect us, convict us of right and wrong ways to go (wisdom) and comforts and strengthens us. Live a courageous life of “If God says…do it” kind of life. This is a life of no regrets now and forever in relationship with the Father, God. This is why Jesus died and rose again…so we could boldly come into the throne room of God and talk with Him daily. This is the most important relationship we will ever have. AND it is forever!
The news that Jesus is for all nations is spreading like wildfire! Friends, take note of Barnabas, I love him. I want to be like him. He is so positive, encouraging and loving in His relationships with others. Outsiders are readily welcomed as insiders…part of the whole Body of Christ! THIS is the “church”. A group of people with only one mission—to help all people find and follow Jesus. The outsiders should only remain in that condition for seconds, guided to the inside of God’s love forever!
It all began here…enjoy reading this passage as much as I did. If God says…, do it and be the church who follows His Holy Spirit’s direction!
ACTS—God’s acts through His Disciples
Acts 11, The Message
God Has Broken Through
1-3 The news traveled fast and in no time the leaders and friends back in Jerusalem heard about it—heard that the non-Jewish “outsiders” were now “in.” When Peter got back to Jerusalem, some of his old associates, concerned about circumcision, called him on the carpet: “What do you think you’re doing rubbing shoulders with that crowd, eating what is prohibited and ruining our good name?”
4-6 So Peter, starting from the beginning, laid it out for them step-by-step: “Recently I was in the town of Joppa praying. I fell into a trance and saw a vision: Something like a huge blanket, lowered by ropes at its four corners, came down out of heaven and settled on the ground in front of me. Milling around on the blanket were farm animals, wild animals, reptiles, birds—you name it, it was there. Fascinated, I took it all in.
7-10 “Then I heard a voice: ‘Go to it, Peter—kill and eat.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, Master. I’ve never so much as tasted food that wasn’t kosher.’ The voice spoke again: ‘If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.’ This happened three times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the sky.
11-14 “Just then three men showed up at the house where I was staying, sent from Caesarea to get me. The Spirit told me to go with them, no questions asked. So I went with them, I and six friends, to the man who had sent for me. He told us how he had seen an angel right in his own house, real as his next-door neighbor, saying, ‘Send to Joppa and get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’ll tell you something that will save your life—in fact, you and everyone you care for.’
15-17 “So I started in, talking. Before I’d spoken half a dozen sentences, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us the first time. I remembered Jesus’ words: ‘John baptized with water; you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So I ask you: If God gave the same exact gift to them as to us when we believed in the Master Jesus Christ, how could I object to God?”
18 Hearing it all laid out like that, they quieted down. And then, as it sank in, they started praising God. “It’s really happened! God has broken through to the other nations, opened them up to Life!”
19-21 Those who had been scattered by the persecution triggered by Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they were still only speaking and dealing with their fellow Jews. Then some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had come to Antioch started talking to Greeks, giving them the Message of the Master Jesus. God was pleased with what they were doing and put his stamp of approval on it—quite a number of the Greeks believed and turned to the Master.
22-24 When the church in Jerusalem got wind of this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check on things. As soon as he arrived, he saw that God was behind and in it all. He threw himself in with them, got behind them, urging them to stay with it the rest of their lives. He was a good man that way, enthusiastic and confident in the Holy Spirit’s ways. The community grew large and strong in the Master.
25-26 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. He found him and brought him back to Antioch. They were there a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching a lot of people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
27-30 It was about this same time that some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem. One of them named Agabus stood up one day and, prompted by the Spirit, warned that a severe famine was about to devastate the country. (The famine eventually came during the rule of Claudius.) So the disciples decided that each of them would send whatever they could to their fellow Christians in Judea to help out. They sent Barnabas and Saul to deliver the collection to the leaders in Jerusalem.
I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. I love how you love us back. I love how you put us together to grow as the Body of Christ. Thank you for changing our minds from the very beginnings of your church. Help us to always remember that you play no favorites. All you created are IN to receive your love, mercy and grace. Help us to love like you love us. Help us to help all people find and follow you.
In Jesus Name, Amen