Grace for Every Race- Acts 10

Weekly Devotional- August 28, 2017

Sometimes we take it for granted that we have access to the gospel. We forget that there was a time when the Jews thought that Jesus was just for them. In fact, in Acts 10 we learn that some Jews were astounded that God would save Gentiles. Throughout Acts 10 we learn that the grace of God really is a grace for every race.

A Little Background

The Jewish people were a very proud people. They hated the Samaritans because they were not pure Jews. The called them ‘half-breed dogs.’ They could not fathom God wanting to save the Samaritans.

But the one thing they hated more than the Samaritans were the Gentiles.

Jews would have nothing to do with Gentiles. They would not stay in their homes as a guest. They would rather sleep on the streets than a Gentile’s house. Dirt from a Gentile country was considered defiled. If a Jew had been walking though a Gentile area he would shake the dust off his feet before entering Jewish territory. Jews would not eat food prepared by Gentile hands.

Before the gospel could be preached to all nations there was a cultural barrier that had to be broken down.

The Cultural Barrier

In verse 28 Peter clearly points to the cultural barrier that existed.

You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner.  But God has shown me that I must not call any person common or unclean.

He again highlights this barrier in verse 34-35.

Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.

This is seen in the Jews’ response to Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit in verse 45.

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

There was a clear cultural barrier that stood in the way of the gospel spreading to the Gentile people — a barrier that God tore down.

Grace for Every Race

The gospel message was not just for the Jews, but for all people. This truth is seen in a couple of verses in this passage starting in verse 35.

But in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.

Again, it can be clearly seen in verse 43.

All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.

The message of Christ is not a secret to be protected, it is hope to be spread. As believers we must embrace the truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ — the grace of God — is available to all, and as such, it is to be communicated to all. This responsibility falls on those of us who have, in God’s grace,  received the message of the gospel.

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The Beginning of Paul’s Missionary Life

Weekly Devotional- August 14, 2017

Paul is known as perhaps the greatest missionary to ever live. His various missionary journeys are chronicled in the book of Acts. The beginning of his missionary life began in Acts 9. In this chapter we read of one of the greatest life transformations that could ever take place. The drastic change that took place in Paul’s life set the stage for his missionary life to be used by God in incredible ways. To grasp the impact of his life, we need to understand several points about how it began.

1- Paul was God’s chosen instrument.- vs. 15

Being used to accomplish great things for Christ was God’s plan for Paul’s life, not Paul’s. In essence, this was the call of God on Paul’s life. It was not something Paul orchestrated, it was not a pathway to an easy life, and it was not just a way to earn a living. This is what God wanted Paul to do, called Paul to do, and gifted Paul to do.

2- Paul wanted other people to know Jesus.- vs. 20

Immediately after his conversion, Paul proclaimed Jesus. Why? He wanted other people to know that Jesus is the Son of God. His proclamation of Jesus did not begin on his missionary journeys, it was a characteristic of his new life in Christ. He didn’t share Jesus because he was a missionary; he shared Jesus because he was a Christian.

3- Paul was not intimidated by opposition.- vs. 22-23

Paul faced people who, understandably, doubted his conversion. He also faced people who wanted him dead because of his conversion. In both cases, Paul did not allow the opinions of others to deter him from proclaiming the message he knew they needed to hear.

4- Paul had boldness.- vs. 28

Building on the previous point, Paul spoke with boldness in the face of opposition. He was willing to go into a potentially hostile environment (the Jewish Synagogue), and proclaim that Jesus is the true Son of God. The boldness that we see throughout Paul’s missionary life was present immediately after his conversion.

Sometimes we look at the life of Paul and are amazed at his focus and his determination to spread the Gospel. What we sometimes miss is that his effectiveness as a missionary is directly connected to his focus as a Christian.

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Responding to God’s Will- James 4:13-17

Weekly Devotional- August 7, 2017

There can be a lot of debate about how we are to discover and know God’s will. Rather than spending time trying to discover specific aspects of God’s will for our lives that may be unknown, we should devote more time and energy into obeying the many aspects of God’s will that are clearly known through his Word.

The problem is that we don’t often want to acknowledge God’s will. This is something to which James speaks in James 4:13-17.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.  So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.

There are several truths from these verses.

1- It is unwise to ignore God’s will.- vs. 13-14

Why is it unwise to ignore God’s will? Because “you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring.” It might make sense to ignore God’s plan if you had a better grasp on what tomorrow is going to bring than God does, but you don’t. So to ignore God’s will is foolishness.

2- It is prideful to reject God’s will.- vs. 16

James talks about the prideful and arrogant boasting that takes place when we make our plans with no regard for God’s will or God’s plans. James bluntly states that all such boasting is evil.

3- It is sin to disobey God’s will.- vs. 17

This verse is very familiar, but often neglected. Throughout this book, James has confronted sins of commission; here he deals with sins of omission. If you know of something good to do and yet fail to do it you are guilty of sin. This is in the context of God’s will. To spend all our time searching for aspects of God’s will that are unknown and disobeying parts of God’s will that are known makes us guilty of sin.

4- It is wise to acknowledge God’s will.- vs. 15

The first three points are all focused on the negative. This point shows us what a proper response is. Verse 15 points us to a life that is lived with God’s will in clear view. The life that is pleasing to God is a life that welcomes God’s interruptions. It is a life that plans, but acknowledges that we are not ultimately in control.

The next time you are making your long term plans, pause, and acknowledge that God’s plans might be different. Talk to God about your plans. Welcome divine interruptions.

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