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I love it! Almost every time we see an angel visit someone the visited person is panic stricken by the angel! :) Verse 4 today - "Cornelius stared at him in terror. "What is it, sir?" he asked the angel."" Seriously, it's pretty consistent that people in the Bible get freaked out by angelic visitors. Probably because it's a pretty rare thing. Don't you think you'd get freaked out / scared if an angel visited you? I am pretty sure I would. Maybe that's why angels only show up in our human world visuals when something big needs to happen. Something big happens in today's (and tomorrow's) readings with Cornelius and Peter. I'm thinking if you or I were visited by an angel today, we might end up with an expression somewhat like this... :)
Before we get to the big thing that happens today with Peter, check the remainder of verse 4: "And the angel replied, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have not gone unnoticed by God!" Hmmm... think God pays attention when we give gifts to the poor? Have you found a consistent way to give gifts to the poor? (If not, might I suggest one avenue? World Vision. I know they do amazing work caring for and creating self-sufficiency for the poorest of the poor worldwide. I've been sponsoring children with them for the past 7 years and volunteering with them the past three years. One very powerful thing you can do with World Vision - in addition to sponsoring a child, which I think is the most impactful - is that you can literally buy things like a goat or a cow or fruit trees for the poorest of the poor worldwide. And you can buy these things for someone you know, in their honor, as a gift. Really. So, next time you are struggling with what to buy the person who has plenty of stuff a wedding gift or a birthday gift or whatever, buy a goat in their honor at World Vision! It's a beautiful thing. All you'd ever want to know about the life-changing opportunity of sponsoring a child through World Vision is at this link - www.WorldVision.org - and click on Gift Catalog link for all the details on buying goats and cow and fruit trees. Thanks for considering. Oh - and feel free to tell me and others your favorite orgs that serve the poor in the Comments section below. Seriously, I'd love to hear about orgs that you support!)
Okay, back to today's readings and the big happenings. I think Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion answers the question well of "What was the meaning of the vision Peter saw?" as follows: "According to Jewish law, certain foods were forbidden to be eaten (see Leviticus 11). The food laws made it difficult for Jews to eat with Gentiles without risking defilement. In fact, the Gentiles themselves were often seen as 'unclean.' Peter's vision meant that he should not look upon the Gentiles as inferior people whom God would not redeem. Before having the vision, Peter would have thought that a Roman officer could not accept Christ. Afterward, he understood that it was his responsibility to go with the messengers into a Gentile home and tell Cornelius the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ."
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness?" is at this link.
Acts 10 verses 25 & 26 stood out to me today - "As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell to the floor before him in worship. But Peter pulled him up and said, "Stand up! I'm a human being like you!" This reminds me that this type of stuff can still happen today. I am afraid that sometimes we can end up worshiping people today, instead of worshiping God. And I'm afraid that this can oftentimes happen in the context of our churches. I have to say that I have seen what almost looks like worship of Pastors at churches. And that ain't a good thing... Pastors are human beings just like us! Yes, they are called to a very high standard in Paul's letter to Timothy, which we'll read later this year. But Pastors are not God. They are not divine. They should not be worshiped. Yes, they can help lead us in worship of God in great ways and with great messages. But let us make sure we are directing our worship at the true Rock and Light and Author of All who will never fail us and never let us down - God. So, stand up before your pastor. Pastors are humans just like us...
Peter's words in verses 34 - 36 are so powerful and are a huge turning point in the Gospel beginning to be preached to the Gentiles (non-Jews) - "I see very clearly that God doesn't show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. I'm sure you have heard about the Good News for the people of Israel--that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all." Do you believe that God does not show partiality? Do you believe that in every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right? Do you believe there is peace with God through Jesus? Do you know this peace?
I love how Peter answers his "critics" in Acts chapter 11 today. He simply tells them the story of what happened. And through this plain and simple act of telling his story truthfully we get to verse 18 - "When the others heard this, all their objections were answered and they began praising God. They said, "God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of turning from sin and receiving eternal life."" And this makes me wonder about our lives today. How do we answer our "critics" when it comes to our faith? Is it possible that we can answer our critics simply by telling our story? Just like Peter simply answered his critics with his story? Is it possible that our story of how God reached out and changed our lives could be very effective in winning hearts and minds for Jesus? I think sometimes we underestimate the power of simply telling our story. It is our story - and after we tell it, how can anyone really criticize it? Or argue with it? It is our story. Let us tell it. And let us tell our story often and with great love. I believe God can work wonders when we simply tell our stories...
I love verse 5 in chapter 12 as Peter was put in jail - "But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him." Who are you praying for very earnestly these days? Do you think that prayer changes things? How is your prayer life this very day?
YouTube - Today's readings remind me of Third Day's song "Call My Name:"
Have you called on Jesus' Name? Click here and call on Him!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our Chronological Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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