#carmelprays – Acts 10:34-48
Opening Song: The Love of God
Read Scripture: Acts 10:34-48
Commit the time to the Lord, and ask that He will speak His words into your heart. Read the passage once through and meditate on it for a while.
I know a missionary serving in central Java in Indonesia who once described how sometimes he and local Christian leaders entered the mosques, worshipped “Allah” (both Muslims and Christians address God with the same word in Indonesia) together with other Muslims and did slow outreach work to those in need and who eventually became receptive. I wonder if Peter felt the same unease entering “unlawful” places (by strict Jewish laws) – in this case, Cornelius’ home, and meeting with his entire family and group of close friends. They too must have been wondering why a Jewish man from what probably felt like an extremely exclusive sect was coming to speak to them. If I were one of them, if it was not out of respect for Cornelius and his invitation, I might not have come. Waiting for Peter, I might also be feeling cautiously skeptical. So from both perspectives, there must have been some apprehension and uncertainty. These were two unlikely groups brought together by God alone. Here were two unlikely groups who also shared a view that there was an Ultimate Being to be feared and did their best to do what was right. In this passage, there are two truths that can be applied to our present circumstance in Mt Carmel amidst Covid-19.
1. We are commanded to accept and be inclusive.
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (v34).
Just as Peter’s eyes are opened and he comes to new realization about what the church of Christ looks like, might we also want to open our eyes and look at ourselves in Mt Carmel? What does our church in Carmel look like? Has it been the inclusive church accepting men from every nation, every race and every kind of background? What do our Care Groups look like? Have we been too exclusive, too uniform and (inadvertently) exuding a feeling that it might not be so comfortable for others to come in? Have we been welcoming and have our groups been growing to accept others who do not look or feel at all like ourselves?
Just as Peter departed from the cultural and religious laws, how is the Holy Spirit in this time of Covid-19 leading us to re-examine socio-religious norms we have set for ourselves in the wider Christian, Protestant, Bible Presbyterian community and within Mount Carmel? If we believe that nothing happens except what God allows, He has then permitted Covid-19 to confront Christians all over the world to open our eyes to the needs of those who have not yet heard the good news, to start reaching areas, groups and cracks in community where we have not reached, touched or operated in before. He is disrupting the church norms we have become accustomed to and forcing us to see the hole in the gospel. Who are those in Singapore who need to hear the gospel?
In the “new normal” that Christ had set for the Church in Acts, all their laws and traditions were upended. Are we in a similar situation, where God has allowed for an upending of our incessant norms day after day, Sunday after Sunday, week after week, year after year?
2. We are commanded to go and testify.
As “we are witnesses of everything he did…”(v39), we need to bring the Word out. It is not an option, as “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead”(v42).
I struggle with anxiety and “what ifs” when it comes to sharing our faith, in the workplace and in various settings. I also think about how unqualified I am and what a hypocritical sinner like me could do. But that is an arrogant thought, because just as the passage shows in v44 – 46, God is the one that does the conviction of hearts and pours out the Holy Spirit on “everyone who believes” (v43). We are called to leave our comfort zones and go, as we are, in faith, just as Peter was led out of his allowable and comfort zones, in full obedience. We go with little (qualification or resource) but we also go with much (with simple trust in God’s provisioning). So how is the Lord prompting us, you and me, in today’s circumstances to rethink what we are doing, so that we openly accept all who seek, and so that we do not hesitate to go where He leads?
Pray in Response
Take time to go before the Lord in prayer.
- Thank God for the gift of grace through Jesus Christ, and the assurance of salvation. “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (v43)
- Ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to see His kingdom which is inclusive and one that accepts men from every nation, to see the needs and spiritual hunger of those around us and to help Carmel be an open and accepting church
- Ask the Lord for faith and courage to go and be His witness, knowing that it is the work of the Holy Spirit and “yet not I, but through Christ in me”
Response Song: People Need The Lord
By David Chua