Wednesday, July 12, 2023

        In Acts 11, Peter was called on to defend or explain his actions at Cornelius’ house in Acts 10.  News quickly reached the apostles and believers in Judea that some nearby Gentiles had received the Gospel and the Word of God (Acts 11:1).  That news would have sent shockwaves through all the “circumcised believers.”  It would have been unthinkable to them that God would have had much of anything to offer them by way of grace, salvation or faith.  But we remember that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).  Even sinful people like you and me can be found, forgiven and faithfully welcomed into the family of God.
         Peter reviewed what had happened at Cornelius’ house and the way that God moved and transformed the people who listened intently to him.  The story was a captivating recounting of God’s power to save by grace through faith and to apply the benefits of the cross to all who believe.  In his own words, he said, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as He had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So, if God gave them the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:15-17).  His summation allows us to see how much God had changed him too.  There are at least five truths that stand out in his explanation that we need to see.
         First, Peter acknowledged the work of the Holy Spirit.  We always want to speak first of God and what he has done.  We begin with God in all things because God was in the beginning (Genesis 1:1).  The apostle made it clear that what happened in Cornelius’ household was not a matter of luck or some human maneuvering.  It was not the result of someone trying to make a name for himself or pad his pockets with some extra money.  God had truly shown up at that home when Peter preached the gospel.  And God changed everyone who took the gospel at face value.
         Second, Peter emphasized the words of Jesus.  He testified that he “remembered what the Lord had said.”  Peter did not mix his ideas or his will with what Jesus had declared to be right and true.  He stuck to the words of Jesus alone.  We remember some of Jesus’ glorious words about being the Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life and the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Our Lord’s words carry both weight and wonder.  We pay attention to them.  And we are amazed by them.  Peter knew that the words of Christ carried power and could change all who heard them.  Even today, the message of Jesus both comforts and convicts us when we take time to read and listen.
         Third, God gave the Holy Spirit to these Gentile believers.  Peter did not possess that power.  The Law of Moses could not give anyone the presence or power of the Holy Spirit.  God gave His Spirit to these new believers just as He sent His Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  God’s ways are far different from our ways and His thoughts bear no resemblance to ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).  It is a blessing to know that at the moment of our conversion we are encircled and filled by the Holy Spirit.  We are not alone any longer and never will be again.  God has come to remain with us and to fill us.
         Fourth, we are powerless to stand in God’s ways.  We cannot box with the Lord.  Peter knew he could not stand in God’s way.  He asked, rhetorically, “who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way” (Acts 11:17b).  We cannot stand in His way today.  God’s purposes will always prevail.  He is undefeated in any battle or by any opponent.  He always prevails.  Isn’t it comforting to know that God is bigger than any battle or trial we might encounter in life?  Isn’t it a joy to know that with His strength we can prevail and stand faithfully and firmly for His glory?  Peter knew these blessings and we do too.
         Finally, Peter helped his fellow circumcised believers to see that God was moving and working all around them.  He could not be limited or boxed in by anyone.  The gospel was moving and marching.  Perhaps God would like to work through you.  Maybe God can use your life, energy, talents, time and resources to do something new that blesses others and glorifies Him.  Have a great Wednesday!  Remember you can share our worship anytime at  

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