Lesson 8 -- fourth quarter 2005
October 23, 2005
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
How easily can God communicate with you?
How do you respond to God?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
God takes notice of our devotion to Him.
Peter saw Cornelius was a Gentile and more specifically, a Roman soldier -- a centurion at that. God saw Cornelius was devout, God-fearing, compassionate, and prayerful. Oh, God saw what Peter saw as well, make no mistake about that. But the message God had for Cornelius included this assurance, "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God" (Acts 10:4). God graciously changed the focus of Peter's perception of Cornelius. Can we see God similarly at work in our lives?
God prepares us for what is coming.
Peter had no inkling of his coming encounter with Cornelius, but God did. We have no inkling of the encounters awaiting us, but God does. Just as He prepared Peter, He wishes to prepare us. How shall we make ourselves receptive to His preparations?
We must not set up barriers to the Gospel.
A barrier to the Gospel is anything that prevents someone from accepting the Gospel. That includes anything that keeps that person from even hearing the Gospel in the first place. Peter almost erected such a barrier to the Gospel. But God showed him what he was doing, and Peter stopped construction of his barrier...though he didn't realize that was happening until he met Cornelius. Listen to Peter then, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Perhaps he also remembered the words of Jesus, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31,32).
Questions and Responses
Did Cornelius have to give up soldiering?
Since we cannot find the answer in the Biblical historical record, we must find it in the doctrine of the Word.
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight...but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36).
"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:18,20).
Peter was well-trained and devout as a Jew. He knew what kinds of food were permissible for him to eat and which kinds were not. He was so certain of himself and what he had been taught that he dared contradict God. I'm sure it didn't strike him that way, but it surely sounds that way to us. Peter was not about to contaminate himself with something "unclean." God had to make His point repeatedly before Peter was willing to change his view.
We must guard our own hearts against a "Not so, Lord" mentality. When God says something, the matter is settled. We must obey.
How will I know when God wants me to do something?
When God wants us to do something, He makes it very clear. That seems to put the burden of communication on Him. But we have a responsibility as well -- we must be attuned to Him. Any breakdown in communication is a result of our own dullness of hearing and seeing, and not of His lack of clarity in communicating.
What can I do to sharpen my hearing and seeing?
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18).
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments" (Psalm 111:10; cf Psalm 119:104).
"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).
"Cease...to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge" (Proverbs 19:27; 22:17).
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