Listen and Obey

Acts 10

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“Do not call anything unclean that God has made pure.”
In Acts 10 Peter went up to his roof and closed his eyes, and God opened them with this vision. For those of us who do not come from a Jewish heritage, this is one of the most important stories in the Bible.  In this story, the disciples come to realize that salvation through Christ is available to everybody everywhere, not only to the Jewish people.   And God has given to us part of the job of spreading His good news.  That can be a frightening challenge but remember that He will first do the hard part Himself. In these verses God prepared Cornelius’ heart to be ready to hear the news before He had him talk with Peter; and He is preparing the hearts of people in your life to hear the gospel from you.  Maybe it is your school friend whom you study with, your brother who has grown steadily away from the church, or your coworker you’ve been working alongside for years.  Nobody is “out-of-bounds” – the Lord wants a relationship with each of His children.
“The Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 Father, please open my eyes today and reveal the people in my life who You have prepared to hear the gospel.
“…if we want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.”  Acts 10:35 (Message) Most of us agree we want God.  But are we ready to do as He says?  In this chapter of Acts, Cornelius, a Gentile, is told by God in a vision to send for Peter – a foreigner – a Jew.  God gives no reason; Cornelius asks no questions – he just does it.  And then waits.    And when Peter comes, Cornelius invites him in and waits again, “ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.”  Do we trust God enough to simply do what he asks and then wait for Him to reveal what it means?  We are a generation of questioners, of action. I’ve always been full of questions and NOT good about waiting.  How hard it is for me to just listen to God without questioning and then wait – wait for God to reveal His plans, Himself.  But the times I manage to do this; when I usually ignore my natural instincts to do things my way, to “make it happen.” But the times I actually listen to that voice in my heart that says, “wait and listen for God’s direction”, those times are ALWAYS better.    Father God, thank you for knowing what’s best for us.  Help us to learn to wait and listen for your Word. This week, try to quiet your heart so you can hear what your Father is saying. And then do it!
-Andy Cisneros

God is Still Our Healer

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“The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:5). This was true when Jesus said it 2000 years ago and it is still true today. God is alive and active in our world. I hope I have made that clear through my stories this week. He still heals the blind, he still makes the lame man walk, He still cures the leprous, He still makes the deaf hear, and of course we know that He will raise the dead to life.

From the story of the blind man, we learned that God still heals our physical afflictions and healing shouldn’t be our end goal. After you are healed, you need to tell people about it! Our memory verse from Matthew says that the Good News was preached to the poor. We can’t neglect that part of our healing. We need to let others know how Great our God is and let them know that they can receive healing, too.

From the story of legion, we learned that God still heals our mental afflictions. If you have a demon in your life, something that has taken over your every action, God can take that away. Maybe He intends to do that through prayer, like in my story, or maybe He intends to heal you through the knowledge that He has placed in doctors. Once again, we need to be sure to share the good news of our healing once it happens.

From the story of being devoured by a lion, we learned that God still heals our emotional afflictions. God can lift the burdens of this world of our shoulders. Sometimes God doesn’t follow the timetable that we want him to, but that doesn’t mean he has forsaken us.

From the story of regeneration and renewal, we learned that God still heals our spiritual afflictions. Finding forgiveness from God is easy in concept but hard in practice. The Truth will set us free so long as we know the Truth and we continue in the teachings of Jesus. This means turning away from past sin and moving in the right direction.

From the story of the Law, we learned that God still heals us through the observance of His Law. God gave His law to Moses in order to protect the Hebrews from disease. Even though we don’t follow the law of the old testament, the principles still apply in modern medicine. Get check-ups and listen to the doctors that have the knowledge of nature bestowed upon them by the One who created nature.

God is Still Our Healer.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

The Purpose of Unity

 Philippians 1

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One of the main reasons Paul decided to write a letter to the church at Philippi was to encourage unity among them. If they achieved this unity, it would make his joy complete (Phil. 2:2). But for what purpose did Paul want them to be unified? What is the common idea around which their unity was to be based? The answer to this question is found in chapter 1.

 

Paul had a singular focus in life: to preach the Gospel (good news) to the world. In particular, he wanted to spread it beyond the Jewish people to the Gentiles. In Philippians 1 Paul mentions the persecution he had faced in his life. While he doesn’t go into detail, we know from other sections of the New Testament that Paul suffered greatly. He was thrown into prison multiple times, he was shipwrecked, and, among other things, he was beaten. Despite this suffering, Paul says in verse 12 “…that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel.” Paul also heard of people who were preaching the gospel out of “envy and rivalry.” Despite these selfish motives, the important thing to Paul was that Christ (the central figure of the Gospel) was being preached. Paul was able to rejoice because his focus was on Christ and the Gospel—even when the situation wasn’t always…pleasant.

 

And this brings us to Paul’s purpose in imploring the Philippians towards unity.

 

Verses 27 and 28 say:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.”

 

Paul wanted the church to be unified in their desire to further the Gospel. This meant conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel—no matter what happened. If everyone in the Church would start doing this one thing, then they would be striving together as one for the faith of the gospel; they would be unified. No outside force could intimidate them and throw them off course, and no disputes from within could form to distract from their common purpose. This would make Paul’s joy complete.

 

If we want to bring unity to our churches today, we must make sure that we are unified around the same idea: spreading and living out the Gospel. If it is not for that purpose then it’s pointless. And if we want to bring unity to our churches, each of us as individuals must start living in a manner worthy of the Gospel. If we are committed to the same purpose and to living in the same manner, unity is assured to ensue.

 

– Joel Fletcher