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March 24, 2018

A Holy Interruption

by Josh Keller

"...So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. As for the word that He sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power…

And we are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and made Him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the One appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.

Acts 10:34-44 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=001d8df7d8&e=82a9a8f891)

 

 

Mostly it’s annoying getting interrupted. In the middle of a conversation, when you’re on your horse galloping through a speech, getting bumped off course seems criminal. Sometimes it sits you down—slack jawed in the dust—watching your thoughts wander over the horizon. But every once in awhile, an interruption, like a clap of thunder, bolts your conversation forward to its stunning and beautiful conclusion.

I wonder if that is how Peter felt in Caesarea. God had given him a stunning vision, three times, about how new the New Covenant really is. Certainly Peter knew the power of the gospel. Peter could talk eloquently about forgiveness of sins, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the new creation. But he was just coming to understand how truly transformational Jesus’s redemption is.

Yes— no partiality, no unclean, people from every nation. But God, with a booming interruption, sent the Holy Spirit and threw Acts chapter 10 to its stunning conclusion.

In the old way God-fearing Gentiles, like Cornelius, had a place. It was near…ish. Just outside. But this conclusion is something new, so very near and so inside that Jesus in His High Priestly prayer simply said that Peter and Cornelius were now one. United. In the old way, Cornelius was never Peter’s brother. In the new, they share the same divine Breath.

Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!” This Psalm refers to Aaron’s ordination as Israel’s high priest. The oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, running down from his head to his body, made it clear to everyone that when Aaron stood offering sacrifices at the Tabernacle, all of Israel stood there too in Aaron. They were united.

We have a greater High Priest. At Jesus’s baptism, God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. And as the oil ran down over Aaron, so too the Holy Spirit runs down from our Head, Christ, onto us, His body, the Church. So that where Christ is we are too. We are united to Him and to all who make up His body. Made one even as God himself is one (John 17.22).

Acts 10 interrupts us too. Who is the Cornelius in your life? The socially awkward? The politically backward? The day laborer in Cambodia or the refugee on a boat in the Mediterranean? In Christ, they all may be more intimately connected to you than the doctor who lives down the street, drives the same car, and celebrates the preferred beverage.

We may know that God shows no partiality, but without this sort of interruption, we may never see how near God is to those we keep at a distance, with what fire He adores them, nor how united to them we actually are. May the Spirit make us truly understand.

About the Author

Josh Keller

Assistant Pastor

All Saints Presbyterian Church

 

Joshua Keller, a native Kansan and graduate of Kansas State University, lives in Austin, Texas, where he serves as Youth Pastor to All Saints Presbyterian Church. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary during which he spent some time working at PCPC in the Youth Ministry.

He and his wife Erin have three children, Elliotte, Oliver, and Adelaide, and one faithful dog, Ike.

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Reassurance

    Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced [when she became pregnant]. While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant."

    Matthew 1:19-20 MESSAGE

    Key Thought

    Joseph was not only concerned about his righteousness when Mary became pregnant; he was also concerned about Mary's reputation and future. In his deep hurt, he displayed a righteousness and faith few of us could match. So God sent his angel to Joseph to assure him that the impossible was true! Mary had not acted dishonorably. Instead, God had worked miraculously through his Spirit to bring humanity his greatest gift! Just as he did with Joseph, God reassures us that he can do the impossible and inexplicable through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

    Today's Prayer

    O Almighty God, our tender Abba Father, thank you for the reassurance you give us through the work of the Holy Spirit within us. In Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Conception

    This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Matthew 1:18 NLT

    Key Thought

    While we try to understand how the Spirit of God works in our lives, a deep sense of mystery, wonder, and awe remains. How could God love us so much as to be present in us through his Holy Spirit? This inexplicable miracle is a miracle of God's promise and grace. The holy and eternal God comes to life in us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit produces great changes in us because of his presence.
    Let's think about this a little differently than we normally do. The conception of Jesus the Messiah in the womb of the Virgin Mary seems incomprehensible to many. However, those of us who are followers of Jesus have experienced a small taste of what happened in Mary in our own spiritual lives. Just as Jesus came to life in her through the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, he has also come to life in us through the same Spirit. While we didn't experience a miraculous conception, we are part of a miraculous transformation.
    At the core of Jesus' gospel is this truth: The Spirit of God brings life where there was none. This new life that happened in the womb of Mary still happens through the Spirit in the expectant hearts of those who believe that Mary's first child was also God's Son!

    Today's Prayer

    Father, our hearts resonate with a truth that our minds can't grasp: The virgin Mary carried your Son in her womb! And the miracle in Mary is a reminder that you have given us new birth into a living hope through the power of the blessed Holy Spirit who not only provided the miracle of Jesus' birth but also raised him from the dead. All praise to you, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I praise you in Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.