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Archive for the tag “Acts 10”

The Meeting

Do you have favorite Scripture that God has used to move you along your journey? One of mine is the passage found in Acts 10. The passage is about the divine connection made between Peter and Cornelius. One morning during my quiet time, I was contemplating this passage. I wondered about the significance of Peter and Cornelius’ meeting. Peter had to be willing to go where he was forbidden by his law to go. In his vision, God spoke to Peter to eat things that Peter considered as “unclean.” God told Peter He had already made those things clean. By God’s hand, He made all things in heaven and on earth. He declared in Genesis 1:31 all that He had made was very good.

Peter had to remove his old thinking and replace it with a new mindset. Peter was contemplating the meaning of his vision when visitors arrived who would take him to Cornelius. Peter took one step out of his comfort zone into a divine encounter. Peter’s vision was about “unclean” food, but God was giving Peter a new understanding that nothing made by God’s hand is unclean – and that includes all human beings. Jews and Gentiles did not meet. It was against their religion to associate with Gentiles. There was a barrier that God created in the beginning in order to separate the wickedness from His chosen people. And the Jews took that to an extreme. God set aside the Jewish people but that didn’t mean that they were any better than their fellow-man. Their thinking needed to be changed.

Cornelius was already on a path that respected God. He was already worshiping God and giving to the poor. He was already doing the things he knew to do, but it was not complete. He needed further information. I have seen this pattern repeated in Scripture such as the encounter found in Acts 18. Apollos was also in need of further information which was supplied by Priscilla and Aquila. When our understanding isn’t complete, God sends someone to tell the rest of the story. There were divine encounters that furthered the Gospel message. Apollos went on to preach the Gospel throughout his world. Paul mentioned Apollos in 1 Corinthians 1:12 as one of the preachers that believers “followed” along with Paul and Peter. Apollos must have been significant in moving the Gospel forward.

Back to Cornelius. Cornelius was a military man from the Italian regiment, which means he probably went back to Rome at some point. As I am contemplating these divine encounters, I wondered if he was the first messenger to Rome. When Paul wrote to the Romans, there was already a church planted. Who was the first one to take the message to the Romans? Was it Cornelius? Was this his divine connection with Peter that set up the wave of Christians to that part of the world? I would have to believe this is what took place. God gives us a small story that forms the larger context of taking the message throughout the world. I immediately thought of the Ethiopian eunuch that was encountered by Philip in Acts 9. Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to a specific road for the encounter with a man who would take the Gospel to the continent of Africa. It’s the small stories that take on the larger story of getting the message across – God so loved the world that He sent His Son; not to condemn the world but to save it.

We may feel that we have nothing to share, but God can use us for divine encounters for God’s ultimate glory! Peter heard the voice and was obedient to the task. Philip started out as soon as he heard the voice. As I stated previously, God used this same passage to move me to my current city – it’s now been almost sixteen years ago. Why did God call me here? I do believe I needed further information. I didn’t have the complete story. I haven’t had the divine encounter (that I know of) to take the Gospel message to my world, except through this written word. It’s not much, but if I am faithful to what I am called to do, maybe someone along the way will be changed by it. That’s my prayer anyway.

If I had not made the move, I never would have met the people I was supposed to meet to get me where I needed to be. My old thinking had to be changed. Sometimes it takes a move of God to help us see greater things than we could ever imagine. Never discount what God wants to do through our small obedience in these “little” decisions – it could impact a world! Cornelius, Apollos and Philip are good examples of what a little obedience could do for God’s glory!

The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:22-23, 34-35

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The Sheet

I was reading Acts 11 on this particular morning. God used this passage in my life to move me from High Point, NC to Raleigh, NC. When I was reading it on this morning, I was brought right back to the reason I am here in this city. About fifteen years ago, I was all settled in my new little house enjoying my life. One of my friends had recently moved to Durham, NC. She knew I was getting to a point in my job that I wanted to start searching for another one. She called me with a new job offer for Raleigh. I was not about to move. I was getting everything in order in my new house, and I liked my life there (just not my job). However, I told her thanks for the information and went about the day. I had my quiet time in the evenings before bedtime back in those days. And read the passage about Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 (Acts 11 recounts the story). Peter and Cornelius both had visions from God. I thought that was pretty interesting. I was still relatively new to Bible reading so this story was pretty new to me.

God opened Peter’s eyes to a new perspective. He opened the door to new opportunities to preach the Word to the Gentiles. Peter pondered the revelation. Then Peter recognized the opportunity, and he had the courage to go where he was once forbidden to go. I love this passage. God used this passage to get me to my current city. I didn’t know it at the time, but He was going to open my eyes to a new perspective as well. And He was going to give me courage to step into something new. God used this passage to direct my path. I wasn’t planning to move. I had just started to put out “feelers” for a new job. But God wanted me here for a purpose that has yet to be revealed. I think He’s in the process of revealing bits and pieces but the picture isn’t as clear as the sheet was for Peter.

In my past, I have heard a direct word from God on occasion. This is one of those cases where I knew what I was hearing was from Him. In my prayer time after reading the passage, I halfheartedly prayed about the job opportunity in Raleigh. I tucked myself in bed and went to sleep. During the night, I had a dream. I don’t remember much except the word from the Lord. The word for me was “Denise, I have a job for you to do in Raleigh.” That’s all I remember. When I woke up the next morning, I said I guess I need to call about this job. I did. I got the job. I sold my house and got resettled in about a six weeks time frame. It was pretty quick. But when God says go, look out, it will happen quickly!

Just like Peter, I had the confidence to go to somewhere new to do something else new. I am still waiting for the rest of the story. I don’t know exactly why Raleigh. But in the meantime, I am learning all I can learn. I am faithful with what God has given me. And I will be confident when God has the job ready, I’ll be ready!

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14

Pondering the Experience

I was on my mission trip to Honduras last week (the reason I didn’t post anything last week). I am still contemplating all that I experienced on the trip. I don’t know exactly how to describe what I am feeling about it all. Mostly, I felt uncomfortable. I was totally outside of my comfort zone. I think God likes for us to be outside our comfort zone. We are just too comfortable in our everyday lives that it’s hard for God to work there. When we are comfortable, we don’t need God.

I love the passage from Acts 10 concerning Peter’s vision. Peter needed a new perspective in order for God to work through him to grow the church in a new direction. Peter needed to go to a Gentile’s house in order to tell him about Jesus which was a definite no-no for a Jewish man. The vision showed Peter that God had prepared a new thing that will be outside of Peter’s comfort zone. This passage was previously used in my life to move me to my current city. I believe God is going to show me something new through my experience in Honduras. I don’t have the revelation yet. Like Peter, I am pondering what the vision (experience) means.

Our mission team put a roof on a church and mixed concrete for the floor. The church was in a small village. The people of the village walked to another village every week to worship. The people wanted a church building of their own so that the old and the young could worship together in their own village. I feel happy that I was able to help meet that need. It was hard work. Concrete is mixed by pure muscle strength – sand, concrete mix and water – stirred shovel full after shovel full. We put much effort into building, but God will bless that effort with filling it with His presence year after year as the people come to worship and praise Him. What an honor it was to be a part of that process!

This was a total village project. The children were so excited to see our van pull into their village every day. Able bodied men came out to help with the work. The women prepared the lunch feast. It was a pretty simple meal compared to US standards but for them, they served us their best. I had to get out of my comfort zone in order to be a part of God’s work. I met people I would have never met unless I traveled to see them. I asked one of the local missionaries what the locals thought of us coming on these mission trips. He said, “They couldn’t believe we would leave paradise to come help them.” Do I think of my country as paradise? Nope but in their world, we live in such abundance – even the poor in this country have so much more than they do.

I am still wondering why God has blessed me as He has. Why am I so fortunate to live in paradise when others suffer so much? What is the new thing God is going to show me next? I will ponder until the revelation comes. What a wonderful God I serve!

And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”  Acts 10:19-21 (ESV)

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