Summary: Four steps to spiritual freedom...
How to let God out
of the box
Acts Series: ¡§Completely Irreligious, Yet Radically Christian¡¨ Part 17
Pastor Jeff Christopherson
May 11, 2003
FOUR STEPS TO SPIRITUAL FREEDOM:
1. Move out of my Comfort Zone.
¡§Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.¡¨ Acts 9:43
Jesus on convenience:
¡§A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ¡¥Come, for everything is now ready.¡¦ ¡§But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ¡¥I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.¡¦ ¡§Another said, ¡¥I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I¡¦m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.¡¦ ¡§Still another said, ¡¥I just got married, so I can¡¦t come.¡¦ ¡§The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry¡K¡¨ Luke 12:16-21
2. Walk into my Prayer closet.
¡§At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ¡§Cornelius!¡¨ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ¡§What is it, Lord?¡¨ he asked. The angel answered, ¡§Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.¡¨ Acts 10:1-6
¡§About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, ¡§Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.¡¨ Acts 10:9-13
3. Question my Assumptions (Prejudices).
¡§Never, Lord,¡¨ Peter declared. ¡§I have never in all my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.¡¨ The voice spoke again, ¡§If God says something is acceptable, don¡¦t say it isn¡¦t.¡¨ The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was pulled up again to heaven.¡¨ Acts 10:14-16 (NLT)
Two words a God-follower can never say, ¡§No Lord!¡¨
¡§While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon¡¦s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ¡§Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.¡¨ Acts 10:17-20
4. Follow Bravely (not Blindly).
Peter went down and said to the men, ¡§I¡¦m the one you¡¦re looking for. Why have you come?¡¨ The men replied ¡KThen Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. ¡§Stand up,¡¨ he said, ¡§I am only a man myself.¡¨ Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: ¡§You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?¡¨ Cornelius answered ¡K So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.¡¨ Acts 10: 20-30, 33
Scripture passages from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
Home Church Discussion Guide: spiritual freedom
1. What childhood ¡¥rule¡¦ did you have growing up which never really made sense to you? What event precipitated your ¡¥abandoning¡¦ the rule? 2. How has your spiritual life moved from a ¡¥religion¡¦ (ritual-based) to ¡¥reality¡¦ (relationship-based) faith experience? What was your biggest obstacle in your spiritual journey? 3. Read Acts 10:1-33. In what ways does Cornelius demonstrate the authenticity of their faith? What do you admire about him? 4. In what ways does Peter demonstrate his genuine spirituality? What is at the core of the issue he struggles with? What should we learn? 5. In what ways can our ¡¥religion¡¦ limit what God can do through us? 6. What word or phrase do you want to take home and meditate on?
„¶ 2003, Jeff Christopherson, The Sanctuary