Wednesday, July 5, 2023

           Dreams and visions can be enlightening and frightening.  There are plenty of examples in the Bible of God speaking through both.  In Acts 10, Peter was in Joppa when the Lord gave him a vision that would change his life and the movement of the gospel forever.  He went up on the roof to pray when he became hungry and wanted to eat something.  He then saw a sheet descend from heaven that was filled with four-footed animals, reptiles and birds (Acts 10:12).  He next heard a voice that commanded, “Get up, Peter.  Kill and eat” (Acts 10:13).  At first, he demurred and objected.  For him, it was unthinkable to eat animals that he believed to be unclean or impure.  He even stated that he had never done such a thing (Acts 10:14).
            The same vision continued three times and then Peter heard an audible voice that said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).  He would later come to realize that the vision really had little to do with his hunger pains or food in general.  God had chosen this vision as a way of teaching and showing Peter that the gospel had come for both Jews and Gentiles.  Both categories of people had hope and forgiveness in and through the work of Jesus at the cross.  In his own words, Peter said, “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.  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:35-36). 
            Now that was a vision!  Peter learned the truth about something as crucial as the cross and the salvation work that Jesus did.  He further said, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean” (Acts 10:28).  God expanded Peter’s vision through this divinely given vision.  God often has to teach us that our vision and perspectives can be limited and unduly influenced by our own sinfulness and rebellion.  Scripture is the antidote to visions that are rooted in sinfulness, selfishness and spiritual ignorance or even spiritual arrogance. 
            Shortly after receiving this vision of this sheet littered with animals, Peter answered the call to visit a man named Cornelius who was a centurion in the Italian Regiment (Acts 10:1).  He was a man of influence and power.  This soldier experienced a vision too that directed him to send for Peter (Acts 10:1-6). God had started to work in the life of this Gentile man to bring him to saving knowledge of the gospel and God continued that work by sending Peter to speak to him and his household.  By allowing these two men to connect and intersect, God was already breaking down barriers and walls of division.  Old ethnic alliances and loyalties were being remade and redeemed by the power of the gospel and the person of Jesus.  Both Gentile and Jew could find their hope in Christ alone.  God often goes to work in ways that we neither humanly see nor recognize as He draws people to salvation through the cross. 
            When Peter spoke to Cornelius and his household, the old fisherman presented the gospel message.  And there is a lesson that immediately stands out.  If we are ever at a loss for what to say or share with someone, we can always begin with the gospel.  There is never a wrong time to speak about the right ways of the gospel and Jesus.  Peter kept it simple for his Gentile audience.  He preached this message, “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen” (Acts 10:39-40).  Christ died.  Christ was buried.  Christ rose again.  There is your gospel and your hope.
            We believe that Christ will come again so we preach the gospel to prepare others for that glorious day and time when we will see His glorious appearing.  It is amazing to see how far Peter has come since his days of fishing, bold-promises and heart-breaking denials.  But the gospel changed him—from a man whose actions often did not back up his words to an apostle who could both speak and act with eloquence and conviction.  Peter’s simple gospel message gives us four simple lessons to apply today. 
            First, we are witnesses too.  When we speak of Christ, we speak about what we know and what we have experienced.  We speak about how Christ changed us.  We acknowledge what we once used to be and what Christ has now made us to be.  Second, we speak of the cross.  Without the death of Christ, there is no forgiveness and there can be no peace between the Father and us.  His death made that peace possible as He paid the price for every sin.  Third, we speak of Easter and the empty tomb.  Our Savior lives and reigns.  He is not dead.  There is no memorial to Him.  There is no coffin or graveside that people venerate as His final resting place.  Because He lives, we too can live through our faith and trust in Him.  Fourth, Christ still enters human hearts and lives today.  We can be forgiven and we can walk with Him.  The gospel that changed Peter and Cornelius changes us too.
            In his own words, Peter embraced the vision God had for him to see.  He could go anywhere and preach to anyone so Christ might be seen and known.  May that standard be an example for us as the Lord seeks to use us in homes, workplaces and elsewhere.  God often has divine appointments for us to step into and bear witness to Him.  May we be as faithful as Peter was.  Have a great Wednesday!  Continue to pray for our Sports Camp and the wonderful week we are having.  Remember you can share our worship with others at

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