Devotions for April 6, 2017

ACTS 11:1-18

11 Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers[a] in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. 2 But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers[b] criticized him. 3 “You entered the home of Gentiles[c] and even ate with them!” they said.

4 Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. 5 “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. 6 When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. 7 And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’

8 “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.[d]’

9 “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ 10 This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.

11 “Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. 12 The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. 13 He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. 14 He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’

15 “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. 16 Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with[e] water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”

18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”

BREAKING BOUNDARIES

The Holy Spirit knows no ethnic, racial, or geographical boundaries; nor is the Gospel hindered by the differences between us and “them.” Consider the surprise of the Jewish believers as they witnessed the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles.

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Q: How is Peter’s reaction to God’s mercy and salvation different from Jonah’s?

Q: Has God ever shattered your biases or notions of who can or cannot receive God’s salvation? Are your eyes open and your heart ready to see others as He sees them?

Q: Who is a “them” in your immediate circles that needs the Gospel and genuine, God-like love extended to them? Pray for and go to them in faith as a potential brother or sister in Christ.

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