Prayer Focus: Tanzania

Bible Reading: Acts 15-16

Scripture:

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”  (Acts 15:5-11)

Observation:

For the Pharisee’s, much of their pride came in being the “chosen ones”.  It was their birthright and circumcision was the outward sign of that they were keeping their end of the covenant .  The thought that others could be added and get the same promise seemed unfair to them.  They wanted to first make the gentiles into Jews, hold them to the same rules and restrictions they’d been striving for for generations.  But the Bible is pretty clear that we are saved by faith and not by what we do or who’s family we were born into.  (Romans 3:28-30, 4:5, 5:1, 9:30, 10:4. 11:6; Galatians 2:16, 2:21, 3:5-6, 3:24; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9)

Application:

It’s so easy to take on the “well of course” attitude of hindsight when applying it to this section of scripture.  The adoption of gentiles (anyone not Jewish)  into The Promise (eternal life in heaven) is something that we have all grown up with.  Western culture predicates it’s presentation of the “saved by grace” gospel that insists that we aren’t saved by our works or by our lineage, but by this amazing thing that Jesus did for us if we only accept it.  Which makes it sound easy, doesn’t it?

But there is more.  It’s not just saying yes to an invitation, though that’s where it starts.  I’d like to point you to one section in this passage that I think that we can do well to remember. Vs 8 and 9 says:

“8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”

My question to you today, friend, is this:  what is the state of your heart?  Does God indeed know you?  Do you hear his voice and follow him?

Do you sometimes doubt your faith?  There is a way to know!  The giving of the Holy Spirit brings CHANGE (that’s the purification the scripture is talking about, characterized by repentance – a turning away from sin).  Are you different after you made the decision to follow Him?

If not, then start asking the question why, and look at the places where you have justified your sin or only expressed regret instead of turning away from it.  Being sorry for sin and repenting of it are different things.  (2 Corinthians 7:10, 1 John 1:9)

Faith, the deposit of the Holy Spirit inside of us, is what makes us acceptable to him; not the laws and rules that we keep or break.  We can’t obtain it by cultural or racial birthright either.   Being born in a “Christian nation” or from a “Christian household” isn’t enough.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I pray that you deal with those who come to you with their lips and intentions and draw them into a deeper relationship one  marked by the change of the Holy Spirit. I pray for them as they struggle with doubts, fears, and addictions.  I pray that you guard them from the enemy while they examine if the life they have, is the one they wanted in you.  Give them the courage to reach for more of you and less of the world.

Amen.

Advertisements