The Ways Of Man

Thursday, June 13, 2013, 6:06 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Great is The Lord!” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Acts 10 (NIV):


A non-Jew, named Cornelius, and his family were devout and God-fearing people. One day God, via one of his angels, appeared to Cornelius in a vision. God had noticed Cornelius’ prayers and his gifts to the poor. They came up as a memorial offering before God, i.e. they were like acceptable sacrifices on an altar before God, and God remembered them. So, God had Cornelius send for Peter so that Peter could share with him and his family the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, Cornelius sent two of his servants and a devout soldier to Joppa to get Peter and to bring him back to Caesarea and to the home of Cornelius.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 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 and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

I love the way God works, don’t you? I just love how he coordinates everything together so beautifully. He knows all the ways of mankind (humans). He knows more what is in our hearts than we do. I’m having one of those emotionally (female probably) confusing days today where I am just asking the Lord to show me what’s going on, because he knows, but I don’t. He knows me better than I know myself. And, he knew these two men better than they knew themselves, too. I’m so thankful that God knows me inside and out.

These were both God-fearing men, who loved the Lord, and God honored that in their lives, and so he brought the two together for God’s ultimate purposes in both of their lives, and in the lives of all the people their lives would touch and impact for Jesus Christ. In order for God to do that, cultural and religious boundaries had to be crossed, and prejudices removed. Cornelius had to be willing to risk rejection of a Jew, and Peter had to be willing to forsake cultural and religious upbringing in order to do what was right and loving toward this man and toward his family. And, both men acted in love and obedience to God.

The Good News

Cornelius invited his friends and relatives to come to his house to hear what Peter had to say, i.e. to hear what message God had to give to them through Peter. When Peter went inside the house, he thus saw a large crowd of people gathered together. He was completely transparent and honest with them regarding his previous beliefs concerning the Jewish law calling for non-association of Jews with Gentiles, yet how God had changed his heart and mind and had showed him that he should not call any people impure or unclean just because of their heritage, race or culture. Awesome! The gospel of Jesus Christ is about changed hearts and minds, including opening our hearts and minds to reject previous prejudices, culture, human traditions, and/or former religious practices if they are not done in love for (obedience to) God and love for others. We all need to have such open and receptive hearts to God Almighty to be willing to have our thinking changed if it is not right.

When Peter heard Cornelius describe his vision from God, Peter at once recognized the hand of God upon this man’s life, and how God was using this man to help teach Peter that God accepts people from all nations who fear (respect, honor, worship and value) him, and who do what is right in His eyes. So, with that understanding, Peter began to tell them about Jesus Christ. He acknowledged the fact that they had some prior understanding and/or knowledge of who Jesus was and the kind of life he lived before the people. Then, he went on to tell them of Jesus’ crucifixion and of his resurrection from the dead, and then how Jesus had commanded them to “preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The people in his hearing obviously were convicted of their sins of the Spirit of God, and they believed in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of their sins, because while Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. It says that the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. Their astonishment goes again to their religious upbringing, yet their acknowledgment that these Gentiles had indeed received the gift of the Holy Spirit showed that they were willing to accept that salvation had now come to the Gentiles, for it was undeniable. Yet, that fact would not keep all from rejecting Gentile believers, nor would it keep some from trying to convert Gentiles to Judaism and/or to its practices, too. There will always be those who think we have to follow a certain set of religious practices and rituals in order for us to be genuinely saved. Yet, that is not the Good News.

The Good News says that we must believe in Jesus Christ in order to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. That word “believe” is much disputed, and the interpretation swings all the way from a causal acknowledgement of what Christ Jesus did in dying for our sins to an understanding that belief means death to sin and self, and new life in Christ, completely and radically transformed in heart and mind and attitude of the Spirit of God, as we cooperate with that work. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow) himself (his self-life), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and follow (obey) him. This is the crux of the gospel. He said if we hold on to our old lives of sin, we will lose them for eternity, but if we die to our old ways of living for sin and self, we will gain eternal life with God. This is not works-based salvation, for it is the working of the Holy Spirit of God in transforming hearts and minds to be more like Jesus, yet it requires that we fully cooperate with that work (see Lu. 9:23-25; Ep. 4:17-24; Rm. 6; Gl. 2:20, et al).

My Take Away

My take away from this lesson is that God knows all the ways of man, for good or for evil. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what is in our hearts, and he responds to that knowledge either in further instruction, blessing, encouragement, rebuke, correction and/or an honoring of our commitment to him via giving us wonderful and awesome opportunities to share his love and grace with others, et al. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Peter saw what he considered and had been taught was unclean, and his immediate response was to reject it, yet he pondered in his heart and mind what lesson God had for him, and he was willing to have his thinking changed (transformed) in order to do what was right and loving towards mankind.

I think sometimes we miss what God has for us and all the many awesome blessings and opportunities he has for us to impact the lives of others with his love and grace because of our religious hang-ups, prejudices, ingrained beliefs and practices, and culture and traditions of man. So, we end up looking at other people through the opposite of what we call “rose-colored glasses,” i.e. we end up seeing things differently than they really are, and so we judge others by mere appearances and our own cultures and prejudices, instead of allowing God to transform our thinking and to see others through his eyes, as he sees them.

When we allow human thinking to rule our hearts so that we reject those whom God may send our way, we may be in danger of rejecting Jesus Christ himself, for scripture teaches us that the way we treat his “little ones,” i.e. his true followers, is how we treat Jesus. May we have open hearts and minds like that of Cornelius and Peter to see past our former prejudices, beliefs, cultures and traditions so we don’t miss out on the blessings God has for us, and for the lives he would have us to touch with his love and his grace.

Great is The Lord! / An Original Work / June 12, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures – Ps. 57:10; 89:1; 145:3; Jer. 32:19;
La. 3:22-24; Da. 9:4; Lu. 21:27; Ep. 1:19; Tit. 2:13; 1 Jn. 3:1 (NIV ’84)

Great is the Lord!
He has done wondrous things.
Great is His love
Reaching up to the heav’ns.
His faithfulness reaches
Up to the skies.
Of His great love,
I will sing evermore.

Great is the Lord
And most worthy of praise!
Truly His greatness
No one comprehends.
Great are His purposes;
Mighty His deeds.
His eyes are open
To the ways of man.

Great is the Lord!
His compassions ne’er fail.
Great is His faithfulness.
I’ll wait for Him.
He keeps His covenant
Of His great love
With all who love Him
And do what He says.

Great is the Lord!
He is coming in pow’r.
His saints will wait for Him;
Their hope secure.
How great His love
He has lavished on us,
That we should be called
The children of God.