Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Sharing: Meetings Arranged By God

I am currently reading through the book of Acts so my highlight this week comes from Acts 10 and 11 where God arranged a meeting between Cornelius (a non-Jew) and Peter (a Jew):

God sent a message to Cornelius:
One afternoon at about three o'clock, Cornelius had a vision.  He saw an angel from God coming to him and calling him by name.  Cornelius was surprised and stared at the angel.  Then he asked, "What is this all about?"

]The angel answered, "God has heard your prayers and knows about your gifts to the poor.  Now send some men to Joppa for a man named Simon Peter.  He is visiting with Simon the leather maker, who lives in a house near the sea."  After saying this, the angel left.

Cornelius called in two of his servants and one of his soldiers who worshiped God.  He explained everything to them and sent them off to Joppa. (Acts 10:3-8)
God sent a message to Peter:

Then next day about noon these men were coming near Joppa.  Peter went up on the roof of the house to pray and became very hungry.  While the food was being prepared, he fell sound asleep and had a vision.  He saw heaven open, and something came down like a huge sheet held up by its four corners.  In it were all kinds of animals, snakes, and birds.  A voice said to him, "Peter, get up!  Kill these and eat them."

But Peter said, "Lord, I can't do that!  I've never eaten anything that is unclean and not fit to eat."

The voice spoke to him again.  "When God says that something can be usd for food, don't say it isn't fit to eat."

This happened three times before the sheet was suddenly taken back to heaven.

Peter was still wondering what all of this meant, when the men sent by Cornelius came and stood at the gate.  They had found their way to Simon's house and were asking if Simon Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, "Three men are here looking for you.  Hurry down and go with them.  Don't worry, I sent them."

Peter went down and said to the men, "I am the one you are looking for. Why have you come?

They answered, "Captain Cornelius sent us.  He is a good man who worships God and is liked by the Jewish people.  One of God's holy angels told Cornelius to send for you, so he could hear what you have to say."

The Meeting:

Both Cornelius and Peter did what they were told to do.  Peter went with the men and when he arrived at the house, Cornelius had gathered his relatives and close friends to hear too.  When Peter asked Cornelius why he sent for Peter, Cornelius told him about the angel speaking to him.  Peter then realized that "God is pleased with everyone who worships him and does right, no matter what nation they come from." (Acts 10:35)  He then proceeded to tell all of them about Jesus and then this happened:

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit took control of everyone who was listening.  Some Jewish followers of the Lord had come with Peter, and they were surprised that the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles (non-Jews).  Now they wee hearing Gentiles speaking unknown languages and praising God. (Acts 10:44-45)
I think it is so cool how God interrupts our lives in order to accomplish His purpose.  It was an established fact that a Jew should never eat or enter into the home of a Gentile so when Peter's Jewish friends heard what he did. they questioned it.  Peter told them all that happened with the visions and how the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit just like they did.

When the Jewish believers heard this, they stopped arguing.  They praised God and said, "So God is allowing the non-Jewish people also to turn to Him and live.  (Acts 11:18)
My Reaction:

Image source:  Wikipedia
I believe God still arranges meetings today.  God brings people into our lives and as we live in faith and trust Him, he directs our steps.  (My paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5-6)  This may sound silly, but Friday God provided me the lift I needed during a very hectic work day.  I was so busy that I went outside for my afternoon break to get some sun and fresh air later than usual and even went in a different direction than usual.  You'll never guess what God used to lift my spirit and re-energize me (well, if I didn't include the picture, you couldn't have guessed.)  He knows me so well!  I saw a cute little furry critter walking along on a leash.  It was a ferret and the girl let me pet it.  Immediately, my tension left, I smiled and was refreshed and energized after that.  I love animals and I thanked God for letting me meet that ferret!

On a more serious note, it seems like things have reversed.  The message of Jesus was first given to the Jews, his chosen people but God saw to it that the message was also carried to the Gentiles.  Some Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah back then and most it seems still do today.  However, there are some Jews today who do receive Jesus as the Messiah and have put their faith in Him.

 Chosen People Ministries is an organization that "exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same."  Visit their website to learn more.

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