Friday, June 12, 2009

Reading Challenge: Acts 10-11

Welcome back everyone. We are back on track today and reading from Acts 10-11. I'm really loving the participation, keep it up. Today, take your time when you read these passages. It is a little long, but don't let that keep you from seeing the richness in it. Slow down, soak it in, reflect on what it is saying to you and to us collectively. 

Chapter 10:
I've read this chapter a hundred times before, but it really jumped off the page to me for some reason with this reading. The one thing that struck me in this whole thing is that God was at work orchestrating the encounter between Cornelius and Peter the entire time. God was speaking and moving in each them simultaneously to bring them face-to-face with each other. The key is: both had to listen to what God was instructing them to do or they would have missed the payoff of the whole household becoming followers of Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit. Take-away: we may not always know the reason why we should do something, but God could be orchestrating something that we will only discover as we take the steps of obedience. God orders the steps of both to bring them together . Amazing!

Chapter 11:
I laughed when I read this chapter. Often what happens in churches is that when God starts really moving and transforming people's lives, there's a group of people, usually the one's who have been around the longest or have been Christian the longest, who don't particularly like it. We see this reaction to Gentiles becoming Christians by the Jewish believers. The good thing is, after Peter explains what happened and how God had commanded him , they accept this new thing God is doing. The antithesis of this initial reaction is found later in the chapter. The church in Antioch is one of my favorite examples of churches working together to help one another. I don't want to expound to far, because some of you might, but I think more of these actions between churches are needed. 

Your thoughts and take-aways?


  1. To me these two chapters are about overcoming ethnic prejudice and expectations.
    Peter shows us that even older christians can learn new lessons,they arn't perfect.
    Usually we say we will obey God IF we can see the way clear.We want the spotlights on,all the flashlights pointing us in the direction we think God wants us to go.But God works in the step method.Like a walk in the forest on a dark night we have only enough light for the next step.
    For me the lesson of the sheet with all manner of animals on it being shown to Peter 3 times gave me an interesting thought.With Peter, 3 seems to be his number,why?Some think the question Jesus asked Peter about love 3 times was because Peter had denied Jesus 3 times.Maybe, but Jesus was about forgiveness and I find it hard to believe He would rub Peter's face in his sin.What if Jesus was preparing Peter for this very chapter?
    1st time-Do you love me?then be a testimony to the other disciples
    2nd time-Do you love me? feed my sheep-Jews
    3rd time-Do you love me? feed my sheep-Gentiles
    Gentiles were considered unclean,common and profane.His mindset towards Gentiles was established since birth.Going into the house was considered unlawful, but with the little light he had been given,he goes.Jesus,the equal opportunity Savior!
    I like how Cornelius uses the light he has and wants more light for another step.I like how he EXPECTS great things and invites all of his family and close friends.I like how Peter hasn't even finished preaching to them and God get's a hold of them and they are saved! Surely the men who came with Peter knew about the vision and the purpose of the visit.Yet, they were astonished to discover God saves Gentiles too.
    Can you imagine Peter's walk back?How was he to tell the Jewish disciples what had happened? He is practicing what to say and it's good to see he just says his simple testimony and speaks the words Jesus spoke.Hey,the Word worked for Jesus when he was tempted by Satan.
    The church is made up of people and so you have people problems.Growth comes to each person at different times, in different ways and a lot of the members are still stuck in their prejudiced minds that a Holy and Pure God wouldn't dare pour Himself out and fill a Gentile.If that were so, Jews and Gentiles would be the same!So some preached to Jews only and hung on to their beliefs in the law+Jesus, and others got the bigger picture and went out into the Gentiles.Their heart and minds were open with love for all mankind,so God blesses them and gives them more converts.
    Barnabus is such an interesting man.He's the quiet unassuming man who works behind the scenes. He is sent to as far as Joppa and then God gives him the calling to go further-to Tarsus,to find Saul.He sees a need and fills it by pouring himself into Saul as his mentor for a whole year!How many would do that?
    Again,the message begins with one. Because ethnic prjudice was overcome the gospel spread like a fire into the Gentile world.Cornelius-being a Roman officer;who knows the impact his conversion had.Rome had conquered most all the known world. Saul-he was later sent into almost every known country to preach to Jews and Gentiles.Christians today probably can say they are in some way,a convert of Saul/Paul's.
    Pretty cool to trace your roots isn't it?

  2. Barbecue pork is on the menu !!

    Visions, Angels, Trances, the Holy Spirit speaking. Wow! Now we are seeing some action! Should we expect the same today? I say why not! God is working through means that may seem strange to us, but His methodology produces the evidence that cannot be deny!

    I love this verse: "If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way. "

    Sure stops all, who think that their church has all the answers...

  3. Laurie wow, great insight.

    This is the post resurrection example of the New Covenant. It's hard to believe what a pivotal point in history this was for us.

    I like how God used a Gentile to help Peter see the need to feed the Gentiles. Goes back to the truth that we need to live our lives in relationship with those who we desire to influence.

  4. Yeah, Laurie. Good stuff. Jame's, I'm with you... let's have some BBQ!!!

    The coolest thing that stands out to me is the fact that Cornelius thinks he's summoning Peter for a message, and he is, to some extent.... the Gospel. But I think the message was always for Peter. Jesus said, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My church". There has been substantial argument over the actual text here, whether Peter was the rock or another form of the Greek petros was used.... blah blah blah!

    The fact is... if Peter was entrusted with the church, then he had to be shown that all of God's children were supposed to hear the good news. The vision showed Peter two things. One: nothing God created was unclean to eat. Two: everything God created was meant to worship the Christ. Even the gentile. So, when it was all said and done, Peter was sent to Cornelius to receive the interpretation of the vision... that the gentiles were to be saved and baptized, just as the Jew, the Samaritan, the Egyptian, and whoever else would receive the Good News.

    Those r my thoughts!

  5. In Acts 10:44 I think its awesome that all it took for the Holy Spirit to come upon the people was for Peter to speak what the Lord had him to speak. Though it took them to believe what was being said all he did was speak. I know there are some times when I've heard a messages like that. A message that catches me on fire.

    In Chapter 11 it starts out with Peter telling the testimony of what had just happened. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We should let people hear our testimony! Don't keep it in. Someone needs it to be healed in there lives. Sometimes we see our testimony as not as important as someone else's but that someone else is not you and your testimony is unique and will touch certain people that would not be so easily touched by another. In this case it was because they needed to here it so they wouldn't miss part of what God was doing. They had just been speaking to the Jews up until then and Peters testimony was proof that God was also going to the gentiles. We can't argue with someones testimony. Sometimes we miss out on things because we either don't believe that God would work that way or we just don't want to be confronted to make a decision about it.

  6. I think it is so interesting how it keeps showing up throughout the scriptures that "God does not show favoritism but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right". God showed grace to Ninevah despite what Jonah thought, Jesus and the Samritan women, Peter and Cornelius.

    I love how God's word really is consistent and true across time.

  7. Heavy stuff in these 2 chapters and some great things to think about!

    My biggest take away:

    Ch. 11:17b
    Who am I that I could stand in God's way?!!!

    I think this is a question we should all think about...when presented with a message from God...we might think it strange, that we are inadequate, or not up to you it...and that's just the point....we have nothing it's all God' who am I to stand in the way of what God has to say!?