February 4 - Acts 11
NOBODY LIKES CHANGE: Word of Peter going into a Gentile's home made it back to Jerusalem before he did; that's how shocking and surprising it was to Jewish Christians that Peter did such a thing. This may seem petty and even a bit racist to us, but for these early Jewish Christians, it was a matter of their core identity. No matter how bad the oppressive Roman occupation of Israel was, at least they could cling to the fact that they were God's chosen people. These Jewish Christians remained God's chosen people, but now that was due to their being included in Christ, a status they would now share with people from all over the world. This makes total sense to us, but keep in mind as we read Acts how difficult this transition was for them.
ALIGNMENT: Peter will continue to struggle with this new relationship between Jews and Gentiles as time goes on. In fact, we will see him stumble over it later on as we continue to read. But as of this moment, he recognizes that this convergence is God's will, and that things will be much better for him if he falls in with it instead of pushing against it (compare his statement in v17 with what we read in Mark 8:32-33). Immediately the rest of the church recognizes this and, despite how challenging this new arrangement would be for them, they praised God.
A NEW NAME: It's hard to imagine the Church being known as anything other than Christians, but this new name didn't come about until a couple of years in as Saul & Barnabas, a couple of Jews, taught the Gentile believers in Antioch. But as he reveals this new name in v26, Luke adds an interesting twist: he could have written 'The believers were called Christians first in Antioch,' but he wrote 'the disciples were first called Christians...' He's not referring to the original 12 disciples or the apostles here. It simply means that a Christian is first and foremost a disciple: one who disciplines himself to be more like Christ.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is the creator of all things, and the one who has made all things pure (v9).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you identify ways in which you are standing in His way (v17).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: The early Christians were about to face a severe famine, yet God began to use the Church to provide what they needed. What can He provide for you? What is He calling you to help provide for others?
Worthington CRC members are preparing to celebrate communion this coming Sunday.
MONDAY: Examine your faith. Are you fully trusting in Christ for your salvation? By this faith we take to ourselves Christ and all his benefits, so that for us to live is Christ.
TUESDAY: Examine your hope. God's children rely wholly upon the merits of Christ, find in him their strength and victory, and confidently expect his return in glory.
WEDNESDAY: Examine your love, both for God and your neighbors. Consciously determine to live a life of loving service to him, through Christ our Lord.
THURSDAY: If these marks of spiritual life are not evident in us, we may not presume to approach his table. Yet we should not be deterred by any sin lingering within against our will. As we find faith, hope, and love within us, we ought gladly to obey our Lord's command and come with full expectation to God's open house of mercy.
FRIDAY: Pray - Gracious God, we love and adore you in Christ our Lord. We thank you for reconciling us to yourself in him. We rejoice in being received as your children.Prepare us by your Holy Spirit for the sacrament. Help us to come in the assurance that by it we shall be spiritually revived, and strengthened in faith, hope, and love, through Christ our Lord. Amen.