Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Acts, Chapter 11

God is bigger than all of our faults and judgments. I am reminded of that today in the face of tragedy. My wife is a University of Miami alum and is also a big fan of the football team down there. Yesterday one of the former players from her time there, a guy she actually knew, was shot in his home as part of a robbery. This morning, sadly, he passed away because of his wounds. He was only 24 years old and had faced a lot of adversity in recent years for a few on and off the field incidents. Still, according to comments made by his father, he had come to know Christ since the birth of his daughter a little more than a year ago. Even though Sean had been involved in a few incidents of poor judgment, God still loved him, just as God loved the Gentiles with whom Peter met with in chapter 10.

1The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." – Acts 11:1-3

This is where our own human misjudgment can get in the way of the work God wants to do. The apostles could not get past their own biases and tradition when they heard Peter had visited with uncircumcised Gentiles. In their culture it was considered unclean to associate with such individuals, yet Peter knew better because he was asked by God to do what he did. This relates to my earlier point about Mr. Sean Taylor because many people have criticized him for what he did in the past, yet if he truly knew Christ as his father tearfully indicated on the news this morning then he is with Him today in paradise. It is further proof that we are not judged by what we have done in the past, but as these Gentiles experienced with Peter, it is what we do when we are presented with the message and overcome by the Holy Spirit. Once that happens we cannot be judged for anything because God is bigger than all of us.

15"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with
water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
17So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?" – Acts 11:15-17

Peter's words here in verse 17 are so powerful. "Who was I to think that I could oppose God?" Who are we to think that God cannot forgive a man that is repentant for mistakes he has made, yet others still hold those against him and remember him for those mistakes (as some do in Sean Taylor's case)? Who were the apostles to think that God can overlook what they considered was unclean so that the message of the Gospel could be spread to the Gentiles? God is all powerful to overcome, and I love how He illustrates His mercy here to overcome our own preconceived notions.

19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. – Acts 11:19-21

The final point that I wanted to make with this short chapter is one I have made several times before in this blog. God can use anything, even mistakes, to glorify His name. Here God uses the persecution of the early church to simply spread the message further to places it otherwise would not have reached. Since those that were not circumcised now were beginning to believe Peter's vision also miraculously opened a new door for the gospel to be spread through. The good news of the gospel will always bear fruit wherever it is spread, and it is my prayer this morning that even in the face of tragedy, God's name will be glorified.


  1. What was the big deal about preaching and associating with those that were uncircumcised?
  2. How are you opposing God today with something you believe in?
  3. How can God turn a trouble in your life into something that can glorify His name?

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