When God calls it clean…

Acts 10:9-23

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.  And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them.

A familiar phrase from scripture; do not call anything unclean or impure that God calls clean or has made clean.  There is no room for judgment.  Only God knows the intent and true condition of the heart and all of mankind is His creation.  If we sit in judgment we place ourselves in God’s position.  ” Do not call…” simply share, simply extend God’s grace and love…

Keep it going…bring down the walls

Acts 10:1-8

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”

So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

We see the spread of Jesus’ message to all the world, Jew and Gentile. Christ is making such a difference! He brings change from what was to what is and what can be. Barriers are brought down. Barriers that were built by sin. People who despise one another are brought together in love under his love. Key to this action is obedience. Cornelius responds immediately. He is a devout man. We would say, a good man. By human standards, he is OK. But God wants to introduce him to His Son. There is more. We can do good works, even pray daily, and believe in God. We still need to meet Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” – Jesus.

We have hunger for God, searching for God, obedience to God’s word, and the barriers people build between each other are brought down. There are those who continue to hunger for God, continue to search for God. When we are obedient to do His will Christ is introduced and brings change. The walls between us begin to crumble and are brought down. God does the work, we do the marching to His beat, and the ‘walls of Jericho’ of this life come tumbling down.

Pass it on…

Acts 9:32-43

 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.  There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.  And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.  Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.  But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.  Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

 How beautiful are the feet…the messenger brings the life offered by the Creator.  The honor and glory go to the Lord, but gratitude is also due the messenger who is faithful and obedient to be used by the Lord.  Peter was a fisherman.  Did he ever think he would be a holy man used by God to bring the message of deliverance and life to his fellow man?  We too can be used. We can be found faithful and obedient.  We can step outside the box we put ourselves in.  It is an honor to be used by God for His purpose.  Pass it on…share what we have.

…walking in the fear of the Lord …

Acts 9:19-30

So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

The name of Jesus, so powerful and so feared brings life and healing, conflict and havoc.  Saul lost the blindness of his soul and his eyes.  The effect was an immediate response on his part to share the name of Jesus, the very practice he had fought.  Change? Yes, from an encounter with Jesus and the freedom from the bondage of mankind’s tyranny and traditions.  This change was the work of the Holy Spirit and spread throughout the region.  The fellowship of believers grew through the power of the Holy Spirit.   Saul did not make the difference, the name of Jesus spoken by Saul made the difference.  We, alone and of ourselves, do not make the difference, but we can and will make a difference when we move in the power of the Holy Spirit.  …”And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”…  As we allow the Lord to lead, as we continue living according to His commands and words, we will see the same results.  Walk in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit today and everyday.

Pray the scales fall…

Acts 9: 10-19

Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”

And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

 Pray the scales fall from our eyes that we be able to see Jesus in those around us.  Pray the scales fall off the eyes of those in our personal worlds that they may see Jesus; crucified, buried, and risen for our sins.  Pray the scales fall off the eyes of our hearts and minds and we be able to  love as He loves and know with the understanding and wisdom granted by the Holy Spirit.  Pray the scales of fear fall away from our consciousness and we be freed to be obedient to share as the Spirit gives us the words, share as we allow the bread of life to feed us, strengthening us with the boldness to declare the message of freedom to those in bondage to sin.   Jesus said: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,* To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; “

And He passed that task along to us.

The light that blinds…

Acts 9:1-9

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

 Is it significant that he was blind for three days?  Christ went to the cross, died and was buried and three days later rose again.  Saul’s intent  to destroy the name of Jesus, brought him face to face with Jesus. In that confrontation, he believed and called Jesus, Lord.  Saul was not a stranger to God, he felt he was doing the will of God, until he met Jesus face-to-face.  Saul was not lacking in zeal and love for God, but it was founded in the teachings of men.  The unbeliever may already possess the seeds of belief and just need to be introduced to Jesus.  We are the ones who can introduce them to him as we share.  Share in what we know, share by how we live, share as we demonstrate that same love for our brothers and sister that Jesus shows for us.  It becomes a light that blinds and shows others the Lord we love and follow.  Jesus came to Saul and he comes today to those around us.  Be ready to introduce him today through our words and deeds.  Be a light that blinds to the wisdom of the world and brings to the wisdom of God.

Obedient to share…

Acts 8:26-40

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;

And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,

So He opened not His mouth.

In His humiliation His justice was taken away,

And who will declare His generation?

For His life is taken from the earth.”

So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.  But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.

 God’s message of salvation was shared through the reading of Isaiah and the discussion on its connection to recent events in Jerusalem.  The sharing brought salvation to the one prepared through the obedience of the one faithful and God’s work was accomplished according to His will. A relationship with the Lord was the result.  Can we see the manner in which God is working? One is obedient to go, one is being prepared to receive and God’s kingdom expands.  Who does the work?  The Lord does.  Who is the means?  We who are obedient are.  We would do well to remember life and a relationship with our Creator begins and finishes with Him.  We are only an obedient member of the family, sharing what He gives us to share.  We do not know the extent of this sharing, only that Philip continued to share wherever he went and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.  Share where and when we are given the opportunity and let the Lord take it from there, rejoicing that we can be used by Him.