Today’s reading is from Acts 10:13. God told Peter to, “Rise, kill and eat!” How would you like to hear God say that to you? This was part of a vision that Peter had where he saw all sorts of animals come down from heaven in a sheet, both clean animals and unclean animals. Then he heard God tell him to kill them and eat them. Peter, at first, refused. Since he was Jewish he had never eaten unclean meats, like pork or shell fish which would have been in this group of animals that he saw. God told him not to call these meats unclean anymore since He had cleansed them. There was symbolism here, as this vision took place three times and just when it was done, three Gentiles came to his house to ask him to come and preach to them about Jesus. The Jewish people felt that anyone who was not Jewish was unclean and they would not associate with them, but after this vision Peter knew that this separation was no longer to be followed since Jesus had died for all men and made us all one.
The question I have is, “Do you think Peter ever ate ‘unclean’ meats after this?” I think he did and I think there is no difference between clean meats and unclean meats today. Also, I think the fact that God said, “Kill and eat” means that this must be a good thing. So instead of being a vegetarian, I am going to obey God and ‘kill and eat!’ The only difference I am going to make, though, is that the meats that I eat will not be the ‘manufactured’ meats that are sold in stores. I am going to be eating organic or natural meats. What are your thoughts on this?
Today’s reading is in Acts 8:26-40. It is the story of Philip listening to the Holy Spirit, spoken through an angel, and being used by God to bring salvation to a man who was searching. Philip was in the midst of a great revival in Samaria when the Holy Spirit told him to leave and go to Gaza, ‘which was desert.’ This did not make any sense to go to a desert when he was being used by God in this great revival, but Philip listened and went. When he got there the Holy Spirit told him to join up with a caravan that just happened to be traveling through the desert at that time. Philip did not hesitate, but ran and just as he got to the caravan the man in charge, a very powerful Ethiopian eunuch, was reading in the Bible, a passage about the Messiah. Philip was able to preach Jesus to this man, who then was wonderfully saved.
What would have happened if Stephen would have delayed in obeying God’s word to him to go to Gaza? He would never have met the Ethiopian eunuch. What would have happened if while he was walking in the dessert and the Lord spoke to him about going over to the chariot that was carrying the eunuch, if Stephen delayed for say an hour or two, or just walked over slowly to the chariot? He would have gotten there AFTER the eunuch was finished reading the Scriptures. Because Stephen RAN over to the chariot, he arrived just as the eunuch was reading scriptures from Isaiah, which were prophecies about the Messiah.
One summer I was getting ready to go on vacation the next day. A church member called me and told about a young man who had just called him and who sounded very depressed. He asked if I would be interested in going to visit him. I said I would, so he gave me the information. After he hung up I thought I’d go after I got back from vacation, then I had this strange feeling and thought, “Oh, I guess I’ll go right now.” (I didn’t know it but it was the Holy Spirit pressing me to go urgently.) I called another young man from the church and asked him if he would go with me to this young guy’s house. He said yes and we met at the house. When we knocked at the door no one answered. I just had this feeling he was home so I went around to the side and I banged on the window. Then I heard a voice, “Go away.” I said, “Hey let me in, I want to talk to you.” After a few minutes, the door opened and there standing in front of me was a young man all covered with blood, his wrists all slashed. When I looked into his face I saw the face of Satan. We quickly rebuked the devil and he slumped to the ground. We began to bandage him up and called the ambulance. Later that night he told me what had happened. He had been listening to an album by the Doors and was high on drugs and at the end of the album there is a song where they sing, “This is the end, my friend.” He had a picture of Jim Morrison on the wall and he said as he watched the picture, it appeared as if Jim Morrison came off the wall and entered his body. Then he had these thoughts about how neat it would be to die. The next thing he knew he had cut his wrist and had painted all the walls of the house with his blood. He fell to the floor and started to black out when he heard someone banging on the door. It was us.
What would have happened if I did not go to his house that day? He would have died. The Holy Spirit was prompting me to go and I am so grateful to God that I went. If you want to be used by God one of the most important things to learn is the importance of timing. We have to learn to move when God is moving. If we move ahead of Him or we move behind Him, nothing happens. When we move with Him stuff happens. There is nothing more exciting that moving when God is moving. With God timing is everything!
Today’s reading in found in Acts 5:29. Peter and the apostles were told to stop telling people about Jesus. Peter’s response, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” We need more people with Peter’s courage today. So many people today fear men more than they fear God. Maybe at work they are told that they are to do something that may be wrong in God’s eyes but instead of standing up against it they just submit. They are afraid of losing their jobs. We have people at work that are being told they cannot say, “Merry Christmas,” and rather than challenge the loss of their religious freedoms they chose to obey men. Don’t take everything you hear and just accept it. It is all right to question things, especially if they are contrary to the ways of God. This is not the same as having a rebellious spirit. Some people are just plain rebellious and that is never right. Challenging authority can be done without being rebellious. It can be done respectfully and effectively. Christianity does not promote passivity. Peter challenged the legal authority of his day, when he said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Sooner or later everyone has to figure this out. Who do you fear more, God or man? Moses mother feared God more than man when she refused to kill her son as the Pharaoh had commanded. This is the issue Queen Esther had to face when her uncle asked her to go to the king and plead for the protection of Israel. She knew going into the king uninvited could cost her life. Her uncle Mordecai said this, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” These are people who chose to obey God rather than men. Can this be said about you?
Was the early church politically incorrect?
Today’s reading is in Acts chapter 4. Peter and the apostles were told to stop talking about Jesus. Peter says in verse 19, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Oh, how the church needs men and women like this today; men and women who will listen to God, even if it means being persecuted. This is an important rule to guide your life. Always be responsible to God first. This is an eternal principle of right decision making.
We have such fearful and intimidated Christians today. They fear doing anything that might cause a lawsuit or anything that might offend someone. We need to fear God more than we fear men. We need more people like the judge in Kentucky who when he was told that he had to take down the Ten Commandments, said, “I will obey God rather than man.” Abraham Lincoln, as president, told the Supreme Court they were wrong in their decision about black people not being fully human and therefore not eligible for citizenship. He declared them full citizens and thereby freeing them from slavery. We need more people who are willing to stand up for what is right.
What Peter was talking about here is called “civil disobedience.” The Sanhedrin said that there was to be no preaching in Jesus’ name. The Sanhedrin governed the Jewish people, though they had limited power. They had rights to make this law as the governing body. There are many Christians that are so fearful that they think every Christian needs to obey every law whether it goes against God or not. Here we see a clear example of Peter saying he was choosing to disobey their law.
There are many examples of people in the Bible who chose to break the law, that they might obey God. The midwives, who disobeyed Pharaoh’s order to kill all the Jewish male babies, broke the law and God blessed them. In the book of Daniel we have several examples of civil disobedience, the three friends who refused to bow down to the idol and were thrown in the fiery furnace, and Daniel himself prayed to God even though the law forbade it and he was thrown into the lion’s den. God blessed them and delivered them.
Peter and John were arrested for breaking the law and they were thrown in jail. God delivered them. God will always take care of us when we are walking in obedience, and if we are not delivered and must suffer, God will cover for us as well. There are times we may need to break the laws of the land if they are wrong. Civil disobedience is biblical. If the laws need to be changed, sometimes this is a legitimate way to do it. We need to ask “What does God want me to do?” No matter what anyone else says or does. If it is a question of choosing between obeying men and obeying God, Peter and John were in no doubt as to what course to take. One man once said, “The trouble with so many people is that the voice of their neighbors sounds louder in their ears than the voice of God.” It was once said of a famous preacher, John Knox, “He feared God so much that he never feared the face of any man.” Can that be said of you?