by Rev Lai Kai Ming
Readings: Acts 13:42-14:7; Proverbs 10:5
READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
How does one face troubles and opposition, yet walk away with joy and full of the Spirit? I quite sure this is not about thinking positively, or the disciples being naive about their situations. I suppose the disciples knew how to let go, and let God. By shaking the dust off their feet, they decided not to let the evil experienced grip their hearts. By moving on to their next task, they chose to trust the God who has called them. In short, to be filled with the Spirit of joy is to know where you are going, and Who you are going with.
From my experience, joy comes when times are tough. Those nice fuzzy feeling that we have when we go on a holiday or when we buy something we like, is not joy – at least not joy that lasts. When times are tough, our core is tested and our soul searched. What do we discover in such times of darkness? For some, it would be the sad realization that God was never part of the picture. But for those who find God in the centre of their circumstances, however dark, there can only be one conclusion. Joy.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
by Rev Joel Yong
As Peter talked, he entered Cornelius’ house and found that many people had gathered. He said to them, “You understand how wrong it is for a Jewish man to associate or visit with anyone of another race. But God has shown me that I should no longer call anyone impure or unclean. That is why I didn’t object to coming here when you sent for me. I want to know why you sent for me.” Cornelius answered, “Four days ago I was praying at home. It was at this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man dressed in radiant clothes stood in front of me. He said to me, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and has remembered your gifts to the poor. So send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man whose name is Simon Peter. He’s a guest in the home of Simon, a leatherworker who lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately. Thank you for coming. All of us are here now in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has ordered you to say.” Then Peter said, “Now I understand that God doesn’t play favorites. Rather, whoever respects God and does what is right is acceptable to him in any nation.
I love these words-“God doesn’t play favorites.”
Often I find there is an overemphasis on a particular nation or race of people- and people forget that God looks at the heart and not the color of our skin.
God sent his word to the people of Israel and brought them the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ. This Jesus Christ is everyone’s Lord.
Israel was the conduit for the message to go to the world. It was never just about saving Israel but about saving the world.
We must never forget that.
Furthermore- the Holy Spirit was given to these Gentiles as Peter preached.
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came to everyone who heard his message. All the believers who were circumcised and who had come with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured on people who were not Jewish. They heard these non-Jewish people speaking in other languages and praising God. Then Peter said, “No one can refuse to baptize these people with water. They have received the Holy Spirit in the same way that we did.” So Peter ordered that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for several days.
It showed that God was going to use the lives of these Gentile believers for His purpose. He accepted them – why should anyone then continue to favor one nation/race/group over another?
This is not God’s way- playing favorites.