Importunate Prayer

Do you ever go to a prayer meeting – or open our God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness Prayer Group page – and wonder why the requests seem so familiar? Why the same or similar requests keep coming up over and over again? In the case of our prayer group, one reason for this may be the fact that all of our members deal with chronic illnesses, which means new issues constantly need to be dealt with. Another, the fact that God uses our difficult circumstances to do a work in our lives that He counts as more important eternally than an immediate healing.

As I was praying about this characteristic of our times of prayer, I came across a concept I knew little about, that of importunate prayer.

In his book The Necessity of Prayer, E.M. Bounds defines importunate prayer and explains why it is important.

“He prays not at all, who does not press his plea. Cold prayers have no claim on heaven & no hearing in the courts above. Fire is the life of prayer, and heaven is reached by flaming importunity rising in an ascending scale.

“Importunate praying is the earnest, inward movement of the heart toward God. It is the throwing of the entire force of the spiritual man into the exercise of prayer. Forceless prayers have no power to overcome difficulties, no power to win marked results or to gain complete victories.”

Jesus spoke of the need for persistence in prayer in two parables that are recorded in the book of Luke. In Luke 11:5-8, immediately after teaching the disciples how to pray according to what we call the Lord’s Prayer, He shares a story about a person who goes to his friend for help feeding unexpected visitors.

“Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

In Luke 18:2-8, He shares a second parable to encourage us to not lose heart in prayer. This time, the story involves an unrighteous judge who did not fear God or respect people, and a widow who is seeking legal protection, which he gives her, not because he cares about the widow but because of her persistence in asking.

“In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'”

‭‭These parables don’t teach that God is reluctant to answer our prayers. He delights in answering the honest requests of our hearts. But at times, God’s timing is not the same as ours. At times, God wants to deal with an unconfessed sin in our lives before answering or to build some positive character quality in our lives that will only grow under pressure.

Importunate prayer is first and foremost prayer that keeps asking, that is persistent in asking a God who sometimes delays the answer, not because He is indifferent to our needs but rather because He wants us to learn how to walk in faith and consistency.

Importunate prayer is the opposite of lazy or lukewarm prayer. It is prayer that comes from a trusting and godly heart, a pure conscience, and a determination to keep praying until we have an assurance that God has heard and will answer. It is prayer that is built on the foundation of the goodness and faithfulness of our God, and persists in praying until an answer is received.

Five Minute Friday: GOAL

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post for Five Minute Friday. But this week’s writing prompt: GOAL, was too fitting for me to pass up. Recently, God has given me a new goal that has become my new purpose in life.

During May, I led a group of ladies in God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness through a mini-Bible study entitled Verse by Verse, Growing Closer to God. The study we used was written by Jodie Barrett and Donna Fender of Faithfully Following Ministries, and I had already planned to do the study so I volunteered to lead it in our group.

What I didn’t know at the time was that God was going to use this study to speak a very clear word to me personally, a word that has given me a new purpose in life.

As I went with our group of ladies through this study, I kept hearing one message over and over and over again. It was simply this: Your focus needs to be on finishing the work I have called you to do.

After losing our special needs and medically fragile son David last November, my husband and I had been sensing one long season of our lives was over and it was time for a new focus. For thirty-four years, meeting David’s needs had been the center of our lives around which everything else revolved. So both of us had been praying for God’s direction for the future. And during this mini-study, I found the direction I was seeking.

Writing has been a love of my life for several years, and it’s time to move forward with God’s plan in this area. In prayer, I’ve sensed two specific focuses for my writing, and I’m now in the process of taking my new Goal and turning it into a plan to make it more than just a wish. And it was time to put that decision down on paper.

I’m currently working on doing more articles for God-Living Girls and my blog, as well as in the planning stage of writing my first Bible study. Since I celebrated my seventy-first birthday earlier this year, I don’t know how many years I have to finish the work that God created me to do. But in this past month, doing that has become my burning desire.

A Miraculous Answer to Fervent Prayer

With the health problems I live with daily and my need for a walker to get around, my husband or I usually check the weather forecast before the two of us leave the house. If the odds of bad weather are high and the outing is one that can be postponed, I usually end up staying in the safety of our home for another day.

Acts 12:1-6 describes a situation where the odds for Peter were not very promising. His friend and fellow apostle James had just been beheaded, and Peter was in prison, chained to two guards with two more outside the cell for double protection. And this time, the arrest was officially made by the king who lived to please the Jews. Passover was causing a delay in Herod Agrippa I carrying out his plans, but it was nearly time for the planned release of the prisoner to the Jewish leaders who wanted Peter to suffer the same consequence of preaching in Jesus’ name that James had already suffered.

Yet God did the unexpected. God’s plan for Peter included such a miraculous deliverance that even those who were gathered to intercede for him were shocked at the answer to their prayers. https://biblia.com/bible/nasb95/Acts%2012.13-16

As I’ve heard this story taught in the past, the fact that those who were gathered praying for Peter were surprised when he showed up at their prayer meeting, so surprised that he was left standing at the gate knocking when the servant girl realized he was there, was given as evidence of their unbelief. A careful study of this passage shows me that’s probably not what was going on. Verse 5 makes it clear that these believers were fervently praying for Peter.

“Fervently” means they were praying with a right spirit, earnestly and without relaxing in their effort. That doesn’t sound to me like God’s view of their prayers is in agreement with this idea that their’s prayers somehow fell short of what pleases God, that their response reveals their prayers reflected unbelieving hearts.

It sounds like they were human, struggling with the recent death of one of their leaders and seeking to align their hearts with God’s will for Peter, whether it was his death or his deliverance. Their first thoughts appear to have been that Peter’s work was done and God had taken him home to be with Him, as He had Stephen (in Acts 7) and James (in Acts 12:1-2), and that the one at the gate was actually Peter’s angel, there to announce his departure.

Instead I see this as a rather humorous account of a miraculous intervention by God. If one of those gathered in prayer had simply responded to the knocking, they would have recognized God was at work in their midst. And as I read this passage, I had to stop and ask myself if my prayer qualifies as fervent. I learned I deinitely have room to grow in this area.

So what are the characteristics of fervent prayer?

  • Fervent Prayer is intense and earnest, coming from a heart seeking to please God.
  • Fervent Prayer perseveres until an answer is received.
  • Fervent Prayer involves genuine contact with the living God through faith.
  • Fervent Prayer seeks the will of God and not our will.
  • Fervent Prayer is based on the Word of God and the promises in the Word.
  • Fervent Prayer seeks God’s glory, never the glory of those who are praying.

In Acts 12, those gathered to intercede for Peter were praying with intensity and perseverance. I believe they were seeking understanding of God’s will in this particular situation, not assuming God would do what they wanted. They knew Jesus’ teaching about counting the cost of being a disciple, and they knew deliverance wasn’t God’s will in every situation.

I believe in the weakness of their humanity they were seeking to align their will with the will of God, to what would bring Him glory in this situation. But what they were missing was a clear revelation of the will of God in this particular situation. What they didn’t know is that this time God’s will was not the same as His will for Stephen and James. Peter still had work to finish, his purpose was not completed, so in this case there would be an amazing deliverance, one that was possible only with the power of God.

An interesting side note to this story. Peter’s deliverance was the fulfillment of a promise Jesus gave him of living until old age when He forgave, restored and called Peter to serve Him after he had denied Jesus three times. In John 21:18 Jesus said to Peter, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. ” When the angel came to set Peter free, on the night before he faced probable death, he had to be roused from a deep and peaceful sleep before the angel could carry out his instructions. According to extra-biblical history, Peter probably lived around twenty-four more years before he became a martyr for the faith.

Thankful for the Indwelling Holy Spirit

“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.” Psalms‬ ‭18:28‬

Something unusual happened while we were at church one Sunday in May. We had watched a video teaching on the Bible study we were doing at that time, and I had just finished leading our discussion on the promise of God we were covering that week – when the lights went out. With stormy weather outside, our classroom was really dark. A couple minutes later, the lights came back on, and we were able to finish the class and leave for home.

This morning, as I was preparing to write this week’s Thankful Thursday post, this experience came to mind. While it was just a small inconvenience, it brought to memory God’s promise to enlighten our darkness. And one of the ways He does that in our daily lives is through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit comes to live within us when by faith through grace we accept Jesus’ death on the Cross as the payment in full for our sins, receive His forgiveness, and accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. And from that moment on, we never have to walk in darkness.

I am currently working on writing a Bible study which I’ve given the working title The Holy Spirit: Stranger or Friend. For many of us, Jehovah our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Savior are parts of the Godhead we understand fairly well. In one of the lessons from the Bible study our iConnect Bible study class at church recently completed based on Max Lucado’s book Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives On The Promises Of God, we read the following quote.

“Ask a believer to answer the question ‘Who is God the Father?’ He has a reply. Or ‘Describe God the Son.’ She will not hesitate. But if you want to see believers hem, haw, and search for words, ask, ‘Who is the Holy Spirit?’ Many believers settle for a two-thirds God.”

Yet there are more that a hundred references in the Bible to the Holy Spirit. From the Gospels, where Jesus says He will be returning to heaven but He will not leave them alone (https://www.bible.com/59/jhn.14.26.esv) through the book of Acts, and all the way to Revelation, we learn that the Holy Spirit is central to our lives as Christians.

Today, I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit and the many things He does in our lives. Here are just a few of the functions and names of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our Regenerator. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, He is the one who opens our heart and imparts life. “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” John‬ ‭3:5‬

The Holy Spirit is our Empowerer. He gives us power to be witnesses and complete the work He has called us to do. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke‬ ‭24:49‬

The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He encourages, consoles and comforts us when life becomes difficult. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” John‬ ‭14:16‬

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher. As the Spirit of Truth, He shows us the lies we are believing and instructs us in God’s truth. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John‬ ‭14:26‬ ‭

The Holy Spirit is our Guide. He leads us down the path God has planned for our lives. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans‬ ‭8:14‬ ‭

The Holy Spiritis our Intercessor. He prays for us and His prayers always line up with the perfect will of God.  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭

The Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier. He works in us to make us look more like Jesus. Like the apostle Peter, we too are among the elect, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood…” 1 Peter‬ 1:2

There are many more functions and names of the Holy Spirit, but these seven give you a picture of His important place in our lives as Christians. And this week, I’m grateful for Who the Holy Spirit is and for all He does in our lives. How about you? Have you stopped in your busy day to thank God for the Holy Spirit? Who lives within you if you’ve accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life.

Receiving the Word of God with Meekness

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:19-22 (ESV)

How we approach the Word of God is vitally important! Just opening our Bible isn’t enough. When we approach the truths of God’s Word, the above verses teach that we are to do so with an attitude of meekness.

Meekness is a word greatly misunderstood in our society, where it is often equated to weakness or deficiency in spirit and courage. Because of this misconception, in most modern versions of the Bible, the Greek word the New Testament uses for meekness is usually translated gentleness. The above passage is one of the few where meekness is used – frankly because “gentleness” would make no sense in James 1:21. Other versions translate the Greek word as “in humility” or “humbly,” which is a characteristic of those who are meek but actually misses the full meaning of the word.

The Greek word “prautes,” as it is used in the Bible, is the condition of heart and mind with which we are to approach God and His Word.

  • Meekness is the way Jesus lived while He was on earth, always following the instructions the Father gave Him. “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.” (John‬ ‭12:49‬) ‭‬‬
  • Meekness is a characteristic Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew‬ ‭5:5‬)
  • Meekness is one of the attributes Paul encourages us to put on as God’s people. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” (Colossians‬ ‭3:12‬)

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, one of my favorite Bible study tools, defines meekness as “an inwrought grace of the soul” – in other words, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23, translated “gentleness” but the same Greek word) – that is exercised first and foremost towards God. Vines goes on to say, “It is that temper of spirit with which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the author of a recent study our God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness group did on Choosing Gratitude, contrasts meekness and pride using the the following words.

You see, meekness says, ‘I know that God has His reasons, and it doesn’t matter whether I can see the reason or not.’ But the proud heart, the poisoned heart, says, ‘It should have been done differently. I see no reason for this; therefore, God should not have done this.’

She adds about meekness as our attitude toward God’s Word, “It’s able to cleanse us, to renew us, to transform our lives. But it does none of that if we don’t receive it, if we resist what it says, if we don’t have a teachable and humble and open spirit to the Word of God.”

God’s desire is to “implant” the Word of God in our hearts, where it will take root and grow. And for that to happen, we must approach our Bible reading and study time with an attitude of meekness, with a willingness to listen and then do what God is teaching us. Sometimes that means allowing His Word to encourage us during a difficult season, other times it will correct us when we’ve left the path God is calling us to walk, sometimes it will warn us of a danger ahead if we don’t deal with a wrong attitude.

Seeking God with Our Whole Heart

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord,” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This promise from Scripture is one of my favorites. It comes immediately after one most of us are familiar with, Jeremiah 29:11, which reminds us that God has a good plan for our lives, a plan to give us a future and a hope. Often, I see this verse quoted, with no mention of the following verses that are directly related to it. They speak of the focus that is to be present in our life as we realize God is good and His plan for our lives is good.

Earlier in the book of Jeremiah, we read a solemn warning of what was ahead for Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Israel) if they continued down the path they had been trodding (see Jeremiah 9). If they continued stubbornly ignoring God’s law, determined to follow their own desires, judgment was ahead.

Unfortunately, this stern warning had not been heeded, and that judgment had arrived. God used Babylon as His agent of judgment against Israel for their sins of idolatry and rebellion against Him, and in B.C. 587 Jerusalem was attached, the city destroyed, and the people taken into captivity to Babylon.

Jeremiah 29 begins with these words. “These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” (Jeremiah‬ ‭29:1‬)

In this letter, Jeremiah gave clear instructions from the Lord to the exiles. They were to build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce, marry and have children, take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage that they in turn would have children, and seek the welfare of the city where they have been sent into exile. (https://www.bible.com/59/jer.29.5-7.esv). In other words, this would not be a brief interlude in there lives, so they needed to accept the consequences of their failure to obey God and live in the best way possible during this time.

In verse 10, Jeremiah gives them a promise that this time of exile will come to an end. Jeremiah writes, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

This is the setting of Jeremiah 29:11-14. The season of exile would come to an end, the people of Judah would return to their promised land, and in having gone through the Lord’s discipline they would have a hopeful future, as they chose to seek God with their whole heart.

While we have not experienced exile because of disobedience to the Lord, like Judah we are recipients of this promise. This is a conditional promise, requiring something from us. To seek God is to desire His presence more than His presents. While God has promised to never leave or forsake us, our awareness of His presence is affected by the depth of our relationship with Him. To walk in God’s presence daily, we must seek Him with our whole heart.

What does it mean to seek God with our whole heart?

  • It is to seek Him with a deep longing that makes the things of this world pale in comparison.
  • It is to recognize receiving life from Him is a vital necessity, something without which we can’t truly live a meaningful life.
  • It is to realize without Him we can do nothing of lasting value, and therefore make abiding in His presence daily our highest priority in life.
  • It is to respond quickly to the conviction of the Holy Spirit

Remember, we are seeking the presence of a God whose desire for us to live daily in His presence is so great that He sent His own Son to earth as a man, to live the life we were called to live but could not, and then to die as our substitute on the cross. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins, was raised on the third day, and He now lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit to empower us to live in a way that pleases the Father.

Once we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice as the payment for our sin and become children of God, we can seek Him with confidence that He desires a close relationship with us even more than we desire to walk close to Him. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, the way has been opened for us to encounter God based fully on His grace, mercy and love for us. All that is required for us to experience God is to set aside time daily to seek Him with ears open to His voice and a heart ready to receive and obey.

Original photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Overcoming Prejudice: A Lesson from Acts 10

I feel very blessed to have a primary doctor who is a woman who really cares about her patients. But earlier in the history of our nation, this was not an option.

Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. (1821-1910), was the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States and America’s first woman doctor. She began her practice in 1851 in New York, but not without having to overcome some big obstacles. Her first hindrance was finding a place to rent for her practice – no one would even rent her a room once she mentioned that she was a doctor. Finally, after weeks of trudging the streets, she was able to rent rooms from a landlady who asked no questions about what Elizabeth planned to do with them.

But when the office was set up, for some time she had no patients. Some Quaker women finally became her first patients, but then she faced another barrier – no hospital would allow her on it’s staff. In 1853, Dr. Blackwell was finally able to open her own clinic in one of New York’s worse slums, announcing that all patients would be treated for free. Again, for several weeks no one showed up.

Then one day a woman in such agony that she didn’t care who treated her, staggered up the steps and collapsed in Elizabeth’s arms. This woman was treated and recovered, and she told all her friends about the wonderful woman doctor. After that, her practice gradually expanded, later moved, and became a branch of the New York Infirmary on East Fifteenth Street, which is still there today. And women doctors are now an accepted part of American medicine.

In my personal Bible study time this week, I’ve been reading about another pioneer, not in the medical field but in the work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those in the Gentile world. Jesus Himself had made it clear that the truth of who He was and what He came to do was not only for the Jewish people. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said the Gospel was to be preached to “all the world,” not just to the Jews. He said to His disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Now was the time for this to begin, and yet for that to happen God had to do a major work in the apostle Peter’s life. As a Jewish man, he had accepted the prevailing understanding of the Jewish nation that they were called by God to remain completely separate from Gentiles. While the Old Testament did teach that the Jewish people were to be a separate people, the early Jewish leaders took this command well beyond what God had intended. In an attempt to build a fence around the Old Testament Law so people wouldn’t even come close to breaking God’s commandment, they had come up with an almost unending list of oral traditions the Jewish people were to live by. These extra-biblical rules were taught by repetition to the young Jewish men, then later (around A.D. 200) written down in the first major work of Rabbinic literature called the Mishnah. This “oral Torah” included laws related to every aspect of the Jewish life: agriculture, relationships, ritual purity, the Temple, the Sabbath, Jewish festivals, fast days, and other holidays.

Because of the “oral Torah” that he had been exposed to since his youth, Peter would have nothing to do with Gentiles, whom he considered unclean. The oral traditions he had grown with prohibited him from being a guest in the home of a Gentile, inviting a Gentile into his home, eating food prepared by a Gentile, and even required purifying any cooking utensils purchased from a Gentile before using them. So God had some essential lessons to teach Peter in Acts 10.

The chapter opens with a vision given to a man named Cornelius. Scripture tells us he was a Roman centurion, not a Jew but a devout man who feared God with all his household, prayed continually, and showed generosity in giving alms to the needy. But since Cornelius was a Gentile God-fearer and not a circumcised Jew, all of his good works were not enough to make him acceptable to the Jews – or to earn salvation – so Cornelius needed to hear the Gospel. And God chose Peter to be His spokesman.

As Cornelius was praying around 3pm, the Lord sent a vision of an angel with a message. His prayers had been heard, his alms had ascended as a memorial before God. He was instructed to send some men to Joppa to bring Peter to his house. This seeker did exactly as he was instructed by the angel, called two of his servants and a devout soldier who attended to his needs, and sent these three men to Joppa to complete their mission.

While Cornelius’ servants were in route to Peter’s house, the day after this vision, Peter too was having a time of prayer. And as with Cornelius, God sent a vision to Peter. In it he saw what looked like a sheet with all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds in it. He also heard a voice, saying, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” But unlike Cornelius, Peter resisted the message. Instead of saying, “Yes, Lord,” he responded, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. The voice spoke again, saying, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Apparently Peter was still not convinced, because verse 16 says, “This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.”

‭‭Even after seeing this vision three times, the Scripture says Peter was “inwardly perplexed.” But the Spirit spoke some clear instructions. “And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.’”(Acts‬ ‭10:19-20‬ ‭ESV). The three men from Cornelius arrived, and this time Peter obeys.‬‬ He got some of the brethren to accompany him and then left with the entourage for Caesarea and Cornelius’ house.

In the meantime, Cornelius had called together some of his relatives and close friends. At the sight of Peter, the first thing Cornelius did was to bow down at his feet in worship. Verse 26 says Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”

‭‭After sharing with those gathered what God had shown him, the next words out of Peter’s mouth reflect a changed heart. He says, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts‬ ‭10:34-35‬‬‬)

And for the first time, a group of Gentiles hear the good news of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, believe in Him and receive that forgiveness. The men who had accompanied Peter were amazed, as they observed God confirming pouring out the Holy Spirit on these new Gentile believers, in the same way as He had been poured out on the Day of Pentecost. This chapter ends with Peter asking those who accompanied him, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”(Acts‬ ‭10:47‬) There was apparently no objection, because Peter then commands these new Gentile believers to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ.

So why is this chapter of Acts so important? It teaches us two major truths concerning salvation:

  1. No man or woman is saved by their good works. If that weren’t true, this whole chapter could have been left out of the book of Acts. Being a God-fearing man wasn’t enough to secure a relationship with God in Cornelius’ life, and it isn’t enough in our lives. (For more on this, check out my article on Cornelius at the following link, https://hopeandlight.blog/2019/05/29/are-you-a-god-fearer-or-a-born-again-christian/lives)
  2. Salvation is available to anyone who believes, Jew or Gentile (non-Jew). God does not favor any one group. His Word makes it clear that He desires all men and women to come to a knowledge of the truth and be born again. In 1 Timothy 2, we are urged to pray for the lost, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭2:3-4‬)

I am grateful that God was able to open the apostle Peter’s eyes to the truth that the good news of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was for all people. This was the turning point in the early church, as it moved out to continue fulfilling the commission Jesus had given the apostles. This commission to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth wasn’t just for these leaders of the early church. It’s also our calling, that all who are willing may be saved.

Because God enabled Peter to overcome his prejudice against Gentiles, the Gospel was available for me when my heart was ready to move past a works-based faith in Jesus to believe in salvation by grace through faith. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Yes, I’m grateful to have a doctor who is a woman (and also a Christian), who understands the emotions I face in dealing with a long list of chronic illnesses. She has been a God-given blessing in my life. But I’m even more grateful that Peter overcame his prejudices against Gentiles and partiality toward Jews and was a pioneer in spreading the Gospel to the Gentile world. If you are a Christian who is not from a Jewish background, you too should be grateful that the Lord was able to overcome Peter’s limited understanding and swing open the door of the Church to Gentile believers. Grateful enough to allow God to reveal any prejudices in your heart that are hindering you from being the witness He is calling you to be.