Tag Archives: Peter

Breaking Chains ~ Acts 12:1-18

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. ~ Acts 12:7

Ruins of Herod's Palace

Ruins of Herod’s Palace (Photo credit: Vince Millett)

Herod is a good example of what can happen when power is exclusive to one individual. Herod was all about Herod, and many of the things he did were food to his ego. When the Jews reacted favorably to his execution of James, brother of John, he decided to persecute more Christians and imprisoned many including Peter. But God had other plans. Even with the layers of guards Herod placed to keep Peter in prison, one angel sent by God got him out. Sadly, Herod had the guards executed. Even if he had heard the story of the angel freeing Peter I suspect he wouldn’t have believed it.

Amid the turmoil and dissention in the United States these days, I find this story very comforting. God has a plan. God’s plan will happen. It is bigger than us, and it is perfect. Oh, what comfort that gives! With this knowledge and understanding we believers see the world and current events differently than many. God wants us to be active in the world, to His glory. But even when things are said and done that discourage and frustrate us, we need only remember that God has a plan. And God’s plan will happen. We are freed from the chains that bind us to sin. Praise His holy name!

Ponder this: What current issues bother me most? I am turning those over to God today.

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, sin is active in our nation and in our world. But I know that sin’s activity is only temporal. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, you have loosed the chains of sin that bind me. For this I offer thanks and praise. Equip me, Lord, to share this Good News as You would call me to do so. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Unlikely Converts? ~ Acts 10:23-48

He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. ~ Acts 10:42

Responding to the direction of the Holy Spirit, Peter travels to Cornelius’ house and is greeted by a roomful of Gentiles – Gentiles who are hungry for the Word. Peter reminds the group that Jewish law forbids a Jew from entering the home of a Gentile but remembers the vision God gave him, “I now realize that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).

HOLY SPIRIT - FOIX

HOLY SPIRIT – FOIX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God is actively working through the apostles to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth. In this passage we see Cornelius and his family filled with the Holy Spirit after hearing Peter share the Gospel. The Jewish born brethren that joined Peter were astounded that the Holy Spirit gifted these Gentiles – and Peter declared that they, like the Jewish born brethren, should be baptized into the faith.

God’s plans trump our plans, or at least they should. As we walk through life, we must remember that God’s desire is that every man and woman would know His Son. We all encounter people in life who our human reasoning might lead us to believe will never come to faith. Let’s not sell God short. His plan for such people just might include you or me. Let us be open to God’s calling; let us always listen for His voice. Let us see all people as those whom God loves, and out of such love, let us be willing to share the universal truth of the Gospel as God would lead us.

Ponder this: Is there somebody to whom God would have me witness?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I know I need to be closer in touch with You and with Your will. Forgive me when I falter and awaken me to Your calling. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

No Longer Unclean ~ Acts 10:8-23

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” ~ Acts 10:15

English: Peter's vision of a sheet with animal...

English: Peter’s vision of a sheet with animals, from Acts 10; illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop, “Treasures of the Bible,” published 1894 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peter, a Jew by birth, was about to be visited by Cornelius’ messengers – all Gentiles. The messengers would ask Peter to go with them to meet with Cornelius, also a Gentile, so that Peter could explain the Gospel to him. Commentaries offer a dual meaning to the vision Peter had – hungry and awaiting his lunch, Peter goes onto the roof to pray. As he prays, God gives him a vision of a sheet lowered from heaven containing various animals and creatures. “Kill and eat”, the Lord tells Peter, who responds that he has never eaten anything impure or unclean. The Lord tells Peter not to call anything impure that God has made clean.

As Peter was pondering the meaning of the vision, God answered his questions with the appearance of the Gentile messengers sent by Cornelius. Peter knew that God wanted him to go with them to declare the Gospel to Cornelius. God had not only delivered His promised Messiah to Israel, but He was extending that promise to the entire world and, in this situation, Peter was to participate. Remember Jesus’ words to His disciples recorded in Acts 1:8? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God’s plan to save the world through Jesus was indeed coming to fruition.

Commentaries also suggest that God, through this vision, abrogated Mosaic laws declaring certain animals unclean and therefore forbade their consumption. One could certainly draw that conclusion – Peter was hungry, a kosher meal was most certainly being prepared for him, and God sends this vision telling Peter that God considers these creatures also worthy and fit for human consumption. Gentiles already consumed such things; perhaps this was just one way of building the proverbial bridge between Jewish and Gentile tradition.

Through Jesus, God has freed us to enjoy His creation fully. He also wants us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone. God loves each and every one of us; even those who currently deny Him. We should love them, too; the greatest demonstration of such love is sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

Ponder this: People who need to hear the Good News cross my path daily. Who are they? Do I love them enough to share the Gospel with them?

My prayer for today: Father, please equip me with the wisdom and knowledge to appropriately consume that which You have given me; and give me the desire, courage, and opportunity to share Your Gospel with those around me who need to hear it. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Healed! ~ Acts 9:32-43

This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 

~ Acts 9:42

English: Dorcas Stained glass window in St. Jo...

English: Dorcas Stained glass window in St. John’s church, Healey. Acts IX-36 says “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Holy Spirit was working through the apostles in very miraculous ways, and thus the early church continued to grow. In this passage, Peter heals a paralytic and resurrects a deceased Dorcas. This, of course, is not of Peter’s own accord but solely by the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit working through Peter. In both situations, after describing the miraculous events, Luke makes a point to state that “many people believed in the Lord” (9:42) which I believe clues us in on why God was doing these things.

Does He do these things today? Are there miraculous healings that have no plausible explanation except for direct intervention by God? Are people gifted in this manner today? I believe the answer to each of these questions is an unequivocal “yes”. God is very actively at work in the lives of those who believe in Him, and even in the lives of those who do not believe in Him. All of this supports His good and perfect will for eternity.

I am troubled by a prevailing attitude in modern society that places God behind the competing priorities of wealth, position, and power. Our society has very low expectations of God. When God does work among us, society scoffs at the notion that it was He at work and instead assigns the praise and credit elsewhere.

The faithful disciples in Lydda who retrieved Peter to pray over Dorcas had very high expectations supported by a strong faith in the Lord. God honored their faith by bringing Dorcas back from the dead; and the church grew. Let’s not put God on a shelf. Let’s acknowledge Him and celebrate Him for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He will do. Our God is an awesome God. He is the one true God. He is the great “I Am”. And He loves you.

Ponder this: Do I fully trust God? What must I turn over to Him, today?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, You ask me to trust You, yet I hold back. Forgive my lack of faith. Renew me, redirect my focus, and help me to completely trust You and Your perfect will. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

“Prophet” for Profit? ~ Acts 8:9-25

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! Acts 8:20

Simon the Sorcerer’s world was rocked when the apostles arrived in Samaria. Proclaiming himself as someone great, he amazed people with his magic to the point where people referred to him as being the “Divine Power” (8:10).

When the people responded to the Gospel preached by the apostles, things began to change. Noticing that believers received the gift of the Holy Spirit when Peter and John laid hands on them, Simon wanted in on the action, for he saw profits instead of promise. Simon offered the apostles money in exchange for giving him the ability to convey the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money.” (8:20). Peter then advises Simon to pray to the Lord for forgiveness; Simon asked Peter to pray for him. Perhaps Simon realized that his motives were not proper.

God doesn’t want my money; He wants my sincere love and devotion. He wants me to focus my attention on Him, not on the material distractions of the world. The Gospel is about winning people for Jesus, not about gaining position for myself. It is about eternal life, not about temporal profit. My ministry must be about Him, not about me. God has brought me a long way on my faith journey, but I still have much maturing to do. I pray that God, in His mercy, will continue to mold and nurture me into the man, husband, father, and servant that He would have me be.

Ponder this: Are my motives for all that I do honorable to God?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of faith. Help me to share my faith through all that I do, all that I say, through all that I am. Bless me when my motives are pure and correct me when they are not. My hope is to always honor You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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