Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "To God Be The Glory"1 (Lyrics)
Acts 10:11-13 – He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." (NIV)
It has been my privilege to lead a Bible discussion at the Meaford Long Term Care Centre for a number of years now. I do it every other Friday and have done it over 250 times now. We meet in a small, private room, and there are usually anywhere from 6 to 15 people in attendance, depending on the state of their health and other activities taking place that morning. Two ministers from different churches do it on the other Fridays. I do it three times when there are five Fridays in the month.
For the last while, we have been looking at the story in Acts 10 about the vision of Peter on the roof of Simon the tanner's house in Joppa, Peter's reluctance to preach the gospel to anyone other than the Jews, and the vision of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, to call for Peter to come to his house. Cornelius wanted to know more about Jesus and become a Christian. Peter would have been reluctant to go, but in the vision he had heard the words, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts 10:15b NIV)
In our discussion, we came to the conclusion that there is a lot of discrimination in the world. Some of us remembered times when Jews could neither be members of nor play at a golf course in a city nearby, and when people of colour were not allowed to stay overnight in a local town. One of our group had lived in an occupied country and talked about the hatred expressed by some for even the descendents of the occupiers of many years before. Someone else told us how her family used to go to a cottage near a native reservation, and their parents told them not to go play with "those kids". Another person mentioned about the influx of immigrants after the Second World War and how some of the residents felt that these new arrivals were taking good jobs away from Canadians. There was also the worry by the new immigrants that their children would marry outside of their cultural or faith boundaries. We could understand why Peter would not want to go to visit a Roman soldier—a Gentile and an occupier of the land.
And then one of the people in our group said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 NKJV) She put the emphasis on the word "world".
We are so familiar with this verse that we recite it without thinking about it. We discussed this verse at length as it relates to Peter's visit with the centurion in Caesarea, and we reiterated that indeed Jesus came for all people everywhere in the whole world, regardless of colour, land of origin, or cultural background. How does this challenge our usual thought patterns?
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, there are so many times when we forget that Jesus came into the world to bring the good news to all people. We ask that You will help us to do whatever we can to spread this gospel of salvation. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Thank you Joel.
So true Joel. Unfortunately I remember some similar scenarios here in the Southern United States.
I enjoyed your devotional today. Strange, but when I read it, I stressed the word ‘whoever’. Rightly or wrongly, the thought of stressing the word ‘world’ never crossed my mind. God’s blessings be unto you.
Just want to let you know I enjoyed your devotional. How very perceptive of the Bible study member to focus on the word “world” in the familiar passage of John 3:16. Many times have I recited this passage, amd never focused on that word. It tells it all right there – not just for one group of people, but for one and all. Thank you for sharing this.
Dear Joel Jongkind,
Thank you very much for a devotional that is very Biblical, very needed, very loving of others — as Jesus loves all.
And I pray that God will continue to bless you in all that he gives you to do in his kingdom.
I found your message very thought provoking especially in these times. My first thought was “fear” is the main problem when we are meeting/living with “new” people in our midst. Of course, we fear that we will be inferior and want to find out about them first so that we can feel comfortable, but now we also worry that we might end up a casualty financially or worse.
Trust and love for all is a very difficult thing in this age and we need to be reminded to trust in the Lord and that His first commandment is “love your neighbour as yourself”.
Another way to look at that is, do these people who purposely hurt others love themselves or are they feeling inferior? Your message opens a lot to discuss and hopefully I’ll get a chance to discuss this further in our ladies group.
It’s very nice of you to lead Bible study at a senior’s home. I go to a prayer meeting at the home of an 80 year old woman. It is easier to have it in her home as she is in a wheelchair. As the Bible says, outwardly we are wasting away but inwardly we are renewed day by day. Even though she is getting weaker each year, she is still a very strong prayer warrior on the inside. Her prayers are from the heart and real.
It’s amazing what seniors have been through in their lifetimes.
Thankfully, the world sometimes changes for the better (although it seems to be getting worse overall – violence, etc.) My church and our small group is very uniquely diverse! I think of it as preparing for Heaven because Heaven will be a place of Christians from around the world living together and praising Jesus together; casting our crowns together at the feet of Jesus who adopted us to be His children.
It is always a bit of a wonderment to see just how much good a “press” the Roman Centurions receive in the Gospels. The three times Centurions appear, they are always ultimately portrayed in a positive light: Jesus and the Centurion – the symbol of great faith; the Centurion at the Crucifixion – the first of the Gentiles to recognize Christ’s true divinity and to do so at the time of almost universal rejection; and the Centurion at Joppa – one of the first of the Gentile converts. It is even more amazing considering that as hard bitten, professional career soldiers in an army that thrived on violent conquest they would seem the least likely to show the Christian virtues of Faith in the unseen, an awareness of the presence of God and a desire for enlightenment and salvation – hardly what we could expect of the ancient day equivalent of a Marine drill instructor. But then again maybe that is one of the major the points of Christ’s message -God’s people include all types and his message can come from and by received in the most unexpected sources.
It has also been my personal experience that a good drill instructor is a far more perceptive, complex and ultimately caring and concerned person that his public image of a brutal soldier leads one to believe. After all, his job is to prepare us to be good soldiers and to stay alive when fighting a dangerous and deadly foe -much the same as Christ is trying to do.