November 1/2

Main Text: Acts 10:44-48

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Christ has saved us, but not for ourselves, He has saved us for His purposes. The more life we live, the more we realize we are made for something more. We are created to worship Him with our lives. And one part of that worship is to share the peace and joy and hope that we have found in Christ with the world around us.

God is working in a great way these first few years of the early church. The Holy Spirit is convicting and empowering people to live out Christ. Little did the early church members know that God wasn’t even close to being done with them. God is about to shake up their traditions, their presuppositions, and turn it all upside down.

In Acts, chapter 10, God use two men, Peter and Cornelius. Two men from two completely different backgrounds, that God is going to use to springboard the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.

 

The Holy Spirit Draws

Cornelius is a pretty important guy. He’s a centurion, which means he leads 100 men.Caesarea was where the Roman governor resided. And so Cornelius, a military leader, is a part of a special detachment that’s protecting the Roman governor, and also probably deployed occasionally to put down insurrections in that part of the world.

As the Holy Spirit is working in Cornelius’ life, he gives Cornelius a vision. In this vision, an angel tells him to send for Peter. Cornelius is obedient and sends for Peter.

 

The Holy Spirit Calls

So here is Peter, he’s gone up on the roof, he’s hungry, he’s been praying, it’s noon, he’s waiting for his food to be prepared. And out of heaven, in a supernatural vision, in a trance, comes this sheet that probably looks like a sail. And on it are all kinds of animals. And Peter is commanded by the Lord, “Peter, I want you to kill and eat.”

We see Peter here with a direct command from the Lord to rise up, and kill something, and eat from the sheet. And what does Peter say? “No, not going to do that. I’ve never done that.”

Peter comes out of his trance. Scripture says he’s perplexed. And Cornelius’ people show up. God says to Peter to go with them. He still hasn’t figured it all out, but he’s following directions and going with these folks. You see what the Holy Spirit is doing in the heart of Peter? Changing and transforming his heart to be more like Christ.

While he’s hungry, Peter sees this vision in Joppa of animals that he couldn’t eat according to Jewish custom, and told to rise, and kill, and eat. In this moment, he sees that there’s a deeper issue in his heart. It has to do with more than food. It has to do with the fact that Peter is separating himself from people that Jesus wants him to go to.

So he goes and Peter gets to preach. He’s got this captive audience that Cornelius has put together. Peter preaches Jesus Christ lived, crucified, risen from the dead and is Lord over all.

 

The Holy Spirit Reveals

Peter doesn’t even get to finish his message. The Holy Spirit descends on those that are hearing and they receive the Holy Spirit. Gentiles receive what the Jewish Christians had been receiving. This is new ground. This is an amazing moment in the history of the early church. Lines are being crossed, walls are being broken, the name of Jesus is being raised.  

Scripture tells us it’s first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16), but there’s no prejudice. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). If you are in Christ, you are in Christ. Scripture makes that very clear. There’s neither Jew nor Gentile, there’s neither male nor female, there’s neither slave nor master, there’s neither rich nor poor, there’s neither black nor white (Galatians 3:28). Everyone whom God saves has equal standing in the kingdom of God and equally receives the greatest gift that we have until Jesus returns, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

Many of us, like Peter, have obstacles in our own heart that keep us from reaching out to people whom Jesus is reaching towards. We’ve put up walls of separation. We’ve called unclean that which God doesn’t call unclean. We’ve called people unreachable that Jesus loves and is reaching out to. And the Holy Spirit wants to remind you that no heart is too hard, no sin is too great, no one is too dead that the Holy Spirit can’t breathe life into that person. The Holy Spirit is calling you to go.

 

We Are Sent to Those Different Than Us

 

Apply to Life

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS Rhythms

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

Discuss the Message

Read: Acts 10:44-48

What was the Holy Spirit speaking to you through the message? How do you think this applies to your life? What action are you taking towards that end?

What amazes you most about this story?

In what ways do you find yourself relating to Peter? And to Cornelius?

What Gospel reality is most visible in this portion of Acts and how do you apply this reality to your life?