Sunday 4th July 2021

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Today’s Bible reading takes place more than 10 years after Simon-Peter stood up and announced that God had poured out his Holy Spirit on all who call on his name. Simon-Peter now lives in Joppa, and God want to prepare him for a big challenge to his understanding of who God is and how God wants to show his love to other people.

Read: Acts 10: 9-23

Why did God need to prepare Simon-Peter in such a strange way for the arrival of these men? Well, although Simon-Peter had declared at the Pentecost that God had poured out his Sprit on all men and women - when he said those words, in his mind he added on the phrase ‘who were Jews’. He and the other believers on the day of Pentecost had understand the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy to be that God had poured out his Holy Spirit on all Jewish Men and Women. Their minds couldn’t imagine God pouring out his Spirit on just anyone who called on the name of the Lord – their minds could only imagine God blessing people like themselves – Jews. And so, God had to prepare Simon-Peter for how his understanding of who God is and his unfathomable love for all people - was to be expanded way beyond anything he could imagine.

Under-estimating who God is and what he wants to do is not something unique to Simon-Peter and the believers who lived 2,000 years ago. Throughout all ages people have failed to recognise how generous and loving God is. They have limited how much God wants to rescues and save all of humanity. Now, don’t criticise Simon-Peter and the other Jewish followers of Jesus for their under-estimating the love of God, unless you are absolutely sure that you aren’t guilty of doing the same thing!

Do we put limits on the implications of Jesus telling us ‘love your neighbour’ and ‘love your enemies’? When we read that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son - do we read - God so loved the people who we like? It is all too easy for us to say the GN of Jesus Christ is for people similar to us and we find it difficult to imagine God wanting to bless the lives of some people we hear about. We struggle to comprehend that our magnificent, caring God wants to rescue and save not just people like us, but also people who sell drugs; people who traffic other people, and people who abuse others. Yet this is who our God reveals himself to be.

From in this morning’s bible reading we see that God prepares Simon-Peter for the challenge he is about to face, and so we can trust that God will do the same for each of us and the challenges we face.

Simon-Peter is about encounter some people who aren’t Jews (Gentiles) – people from the household of a Roman Centurion and good Jews, such as Simon-Peter did mix with non-Jews, and wouldn’t go into their homes.

This encounter is going to really challenge Simon-Peter’s preconceptions of who God is, and how big God’s love is for mankind. So God prepares him in a way which he can easily can relate to, God using his present circumstances (Peter is hungry, waiting for lunch) and connects it with some Old Testament scripture which Peter would be familiar with regarding what food cannot be eaten by Jews.

The vision Simon-Peter sees, may seems very weird to us, but he would immediately knew what it signified, and so when the voice, which he recognises as God’s voice tells him to eat, Simon Peter says; ‘No, Lord’ two words which cannot go together. If God is our Lord, then the answer is always ‘Yes’ to whatever he asks us to do. That is what the title Lord indicates, that we will obey his every command.

But God understands Simon-Peter’s dilemma, and tells him (v.15) that if God says something is okay – it is okay. Then, just in-case he doesn’t make the connection between what has just happened and the arrival of three gentile visitors, God’s Holy Spirit tells Simon-Peter not to hesitate in going with the visitors who are about to arrive.

Next week we read what happens when Simon-Peter arrives at the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, but these events we have considered so far today give us enough challenge for one week.

In what ways to we limit the magnificence love of God?

Do we put extra words into Scripture to limit its scope?

Do we ever put together the words: no and Lord?

Our Bible reading also reminds us that whatever challenges we face, we can be confident that God has prepared and equipped us and will always be with us throughout any and every challenging time. Use the words of this hymn as a prayer:

Jesus, you are changing me, by Your Spirit You're making me like You;

Jesus, you're transforming me, that Your loveliness may be seen in all I do.

You are the potter and I am the clay;

help me to be willing to let You have Your way;

Jesus, you are changing me, as I let You reign supreme within my heart

Marilyn Baker © 1980Word Music

Page last updated: 4th July 2021 5:48 AM