Transformative Grace

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Acts 10:34-35 NKJV

I love verse 34 – as Peter, being his typical bumbling self has revelation and Luke (the writer) takes us on the journey of discovery with Peter. Peter had grown so quickly – matured. He once thought he would be bossing around 12 disciples and then realized he would be out healing and preaching.  The transformation God does in Peter is beautiful to watch – and yet remains is this same slow to figure things out, bumbling fishermen who is just eager to please the Lord. 

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Acts, chapters 9-10 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  These two chapters need a day each! Chapter 9, Paul re-enters the story, famously, on road to Damascus. Chapter 10 tells more about Peter’s ministry, healing and bringing the dead back to life – walking in the spirit and in the boldness thereof. 

Everyone loves the supernatural impact of the story of how Jesus himself appears to Paul (not as a man, but as a blinding light) on the road to Damascus.  Everyone want a supernatural encounter with God. Many wander from church to church looking for the man or woman of God to raise their hand in their direction and be knocked out by the power of God – having a supernatural moment with God. Everyone wants it. The problem is the slight shift that often happens when you begin to seek man’s validation instead of a moment with a real God. And often times we cannot decipher when the shift happens and may be convinced we are still seeking God.

I have a Baptist friend who said they would rather attend a Catholic church than a Pentecostal. I would rather attend a church that is Kingdom minded without care of denomination doing the work of the kingdom with a living and active God. Heaven has no denominations. Neighborhoods in my city currently have ethnic segregation that developed by settler who spoke the same language settling in the same area – we have the Polish Hill and the south side is Italian (and most of the restaurants). The east side is where the Latino community has settled. The north hill has English and European decent as well as a more upper-class community. In heaven, that will not happen. In heaven – there is no Catholic neighborhood. There is no Baptist community.  And sorry for my friend, he might have a home next to a Pentecostal! It is a strange story how we are even friends to begin with since I am very full-gospel!

I shared that side story because every denomination – even the ones who do not partake in baptism in the Holy Spirit with evidence of tongues or partake in miracles – even they want a REAL, LIVING, and POWERFUL GOD. Didn’t we just read last week when Jesus said there is an extra blessing for those who haven’t seen and still believe? Well, to those who have not seen the blinding light on the road to Damascus – and still believe (without signs and wonders) – you are blessed.

The day I laid on my face before the Lord and gave Him my heart, I did not with conditions… NOT ADVISABLE! But none the less I did so. I said I would ONLY serve Him if he was REAL. Tangible. Touchable. Still spoke. Still did signs and wonders. I WILL ONLY SERVE THE ONE TRUE LIVING GOD.

And I have seen evidence and proof that God does miracles – therefore you now read this blog. My faith is strong – but I have faith and have seen. It is then so much easier for me, than for my Baptist friend. He reads and prays daily. His devotions and commitment is remarkable. He never wavers, steady in belief. He is blessed by keeping the laws and statutes – both the commandments and the statutes of grace. It amazes me that he is so committed – even though He has not seen. I ask, is it enough? He says he has a slow and steady growing personal relationship with God who directs his way – what could possible not be enough about that?!

Let’s bring this full circle. Paul had encountered grace – a moment of choice where grace flooded in and the transformation began. A week later Paul was a new person.
Peter had encountered Christ Himself (in person and not as a blinding light) and through grace, Peter was slowly transformed and as we read today, he is still figuring this out and changing.
What is consistent in these two men’s experience is that God meets each of them in the way they need to be met and has a relationship with them.

My Baptist friend has a relationship with God, I have a catholic friend who also has a relationship with God. I have a relationship with God. We were all transformed through grace.

I also want to look more closely at chapter 10 and Peter. God is so good.
 I say then: Walk in the Spirit,” Galatians 5:16a NKJV

Peter gives us a splendid example of walking in the spirit. He stops and asks God every step of the way. He takes time to get away and pray and be in “the secret place”, or prayer closet, or war room, or whatever you call it. While there God says – hey 3 men are here for you so prayer time over – go. God LITERALLY directed all Peter’s ways.

As Paul wrote to the Galatians (so Paul also learned this) we are to walk in the spirit – walk around with ourselves plugged in to God. Exist, walk, sit, pray, etc. – do everything while tuned in and plugged into God. He will direct you. He will lead you. He will explain it.

The three men say, come with us – and Peter says God told me to go with you. The confirmation and harmony of living in the spirit.

Peter gets there and says – well, I wouldn’t have come because you are unclean (Peter! Where are your manners?!) and Peter continues, but God told him they were not unclean. So Peter asks “why am I here?”

And the centurion says – God told me to send for you – YOU would tell us why you are here.

And God is sitting back watching Peter grow and continue to be changed and transformed – God sprinkles down another measure of grace and Peter preaches to the gentile and they all get saved.

Even – while walking in the spirit – sometimes we do not get the full download and can be wrong. Peter was wrong to not understand the mission. And yet, through grace – God still accomplishes His work. I point this out so we aren’t scared of screwing up. Peter called his host, who invited him, unclean – what an insult! But God is good and extended the grace so no offense stood in the way. We cannot screw up God work so badly that He cannot fix it.

I witnessed to a young man last night, who is a little younger than my son. I left him with a Bible in his hands opened to Mark and suggested he read it. After I left, the enemy came to me and said, I should have said this or that. And I briefly entertained it thinking, maybe. Then I was told I should not have quoted so much scripture to the boy – then I knew it was an attack from the enemy! He was coming for my weapon! For the WORD! I replied – the WORD never returns void! (how are you doing with the memory verse?!) Then I committed the boy and the experience to God. If I screwed up or did it right – it isn’t mine. I shared what I could in the few moments I had. God could turn that into an hour long sermon in the kid’s head or God can let the cares of the world choke it out.  It is God’s to protect. It is God’s to grow.

Kind of a theme developing this week – each of us on our own paths. Growing and coming to God in our own ways. Grace bathed messes that we are. God is good and loving. Remember this from Monday:
“Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21:22 NKJV

Serve Jesus – don’t look at other people’s walks. Walk your own walk. This is a red lettered verse – Jesus said – it is written. Eyes on God – seek Him first and everything else falls in line. Walk in the spirit – dwell in the secret place.

For you who likes structure and action points:
1. God is not a respecter of person or denomination – He seeks and save.
action – freely share God with others, you may not have a road to Damascus experience but your experience is valid and powerful – look at Peters slow change.
2. God meets us all differently and our experiences are different and we can’t mess that up
action – prayerfully commit our ways to God and do not worry about God’s work – God does the work.
3. Stop looking at others – instead fix your eyes upon God – only God
action – Give your life to God, develop a relationship with him, walk in the secret place
BONUS – 4. Then for good measure I will add – repent and get humble before the Lord – because His kingdom is at hand and His work is NOW.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 9-10 NKJV

The Damascus Road: Saul Converted

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [a]It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Ananias Baptizes Saul

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”

And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much [b]harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”

15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children[c] of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord [d]Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.

Saul Preaches Christ

20 Immediately he preached [e]the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”

22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Saul Escapes Death

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

Saul at Jerusalem

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists,[f] but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

The Church Prospers

31 Then the [g]churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.[h] And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

Aeneas Healed

32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. 33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. 35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Dorcas Restored to Life

36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named [i]Tabitha, which is translated [j]Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

Cornelius Sends a Delegation

10 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian [k]Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave [l]alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About [m]the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”

So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He[n] will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about [o]the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has [p]cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

Summoned to Caesarea

17 Now while Peter [q]wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

21 Then Peter went down to the men [r]who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them.

On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Peter Meets Cornelius

24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

30 So Cornelius said, [s]“Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your [t]alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. [u]When he comes, he will speak to you.’ 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

Preaching to Cornelius’ Household

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the [v]children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom [w]they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission[x] of sins.”

The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And [y]those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 9:5 NU, M omit the rest of v. 5 and begin v. 6 with But arise and go
  2. Acts 9:13 bad things
  3. Acts 9:15 Lit. sons
  4. Acts 9:17 M omits Jesus
  5. Acts 9:20 NU Jesus
  6. Acts 9:29 Greek-speaking Jews
  7. Acts 9:31 NU church . . . was
  8. Acts 9:31 built up
  9. Acts 9:36 Lit., in Aram., Gazelle
  10. Acts 9:36 Lit., in Gr., Gazelle
  11. Acts 10:1 Cohort
  12. Acts 10:2 charitable gifts
  13. Acts 10:3 3 p.m.
  14. Acts 10:6 NU, M omit the rest of v. 6.
  15. Acts 10:9 Noon
  16. Acts 10:15 Declared clean
  17. Acts 10:17 was perplexed
  18. Acts 10:21 NU, M omit who had been sent to him from Cornelius
  19. Acts 10:30 NU Four days ago to this hour, at the ninth hour
  20. Acts 10:31 charitable gifts
  21. Acts 10:32 NU omits the rest of v. 32.
  22. Acts 10:36 Lit. sons
  23. Acts 10:39 NU, M they also
  24. Acts 10:43 forgiveness
  25. Acts 10:45 The Jews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: