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Summary: Spritual Renewal....the most important need for God’s people today

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Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:34 - 43 (NRSVA)

Frances Roberts said, Confusion is the dust raised by the feet of the devil.[1] You can get a lot of definitions for confusion; I looked them up. There’s a lot of confusion out there. One wise man contends you can define confusion by observing kids; he said: The first real confusion in a child’s life is when he decides girls are better than frogs but he isn’t sure why. [2]

One look at our culture tells you that people are confused about a lot of things!

If you really want confusion try understanding church committees. A church cemetery committee was discussing at some length the price of lots. The chairman, wishing to bring the thoughts together, summed things up with one of those statements that need to be taken the way they are meant, not the way they are said: “We should have two prices—one for those local and another rate for those from out of town. The people buried there from out of town never come back to help maintain the grounds.” [3]

(Well, I hope not!)

The apostle Peter had a confusing vision one day. Peter was waiting for dinner to be ready; he was praying on a second story open housetop in Joppa. The vision was of a sheet being let down from heaven by its’ four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals – but all of them forbidden for Jews to eat. A voice said, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” Now some folks might attribute that kind of experience to a simple Methodist desire for the sermon to be over and the pathway to the buffet table cleared. Peter tried to refuse on the grounds that he never ate what the Lord had forbidden. The voice told him he needed to rethink – because whatever God has cleansed should not be thought to be unclean. It took three tries, but God finally got through to Peter.

Whatever Peter actually thought about his vision he could not have had a clue as to what God was up to. The day before Peter’s vision, in Caesarea thirty miles to the north, a Roman military officer named Cornelius was also having a vision. Cornelius saw an angel who told him to send for Peter.

Cornelius was obedient, sending servants to go get the apostle. After a night’s travel they arrived just after Peter has his vision. After an explanation, and a prompting by the Spirit of God, Peter swallowed his Jewish nationalistic pride and went with the Gentile soldiers. When they arrived in Caesarea he swallowed even more pride and entered Cornelius’ house – something that was also forbidden; a Jew was never supposed to enter a Gentile’s residence.

After a brief exchange of what’d-you-see, why’d-that-happen, what’s-next and who-said-what…God’s Spirit took over the meeting and Cornelius’ whole family and household servants got saved.

The key to understanding truly what God was “up-to” in this event is found in the first verses of our text where Peter says to Cornelius:

I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. Acts 10:34b-35

What a revelation for Peter; what a blessing for the house of Cornelius. It certainly was a big day for Cornelius and for Peter; however, I believe it was the biggest day of all for you and me.

The incredible significance for you and me in Peter putting aside his personal and national pride in being a Jew, and allowing God to lead him into the Gentile’s house is that, if the Bible is always relevant for every age (as we believe it is), we can ask the relevant questions; we can get to the heart of what this means to us, and how this changes the way we are to live our lives.

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