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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.
  • How Did You Receive the Spirit?

    I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

    Galatians 3:2 NIV

    Key Thought

    Most of us love lists. We can check things off our lists and show we've completed our tasks. If we don't complete our list, we feel like we deserve any negative consequences. The Holy Spirit, however, is not something we deserve. The Spirit is a gift Jesus gives to those who believe in him — those who trust in and share with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection through baptism (1 Corinthians 15:1-5; Romans 6:3-6). Paul was reminding these Galatian Christians that no list, not even one given in the law, can bring the Holy Spirit to them. They received the Spirit because they fully believed in Jesus who poured out this gift upon them (Titus 3:3-7). No wonder Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit as one of God's greatest gifts (Luke 11:11-13).

    Today's Prayer

    O Father, thank you for the gift of your Son who died for my sins and was raised from the dead to give me the victory over sin and death. I also thank you, dear Father, for the gift of the Holy Spirit who is your presence that lives in me. May my life be to your glory, O God. In the name of Jesus, I offer you my deepest thanks! 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.

  • Special Messenger

    [Paul wrote,] For by God's grace, I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God.

    Romans 15:15b-17 NLT

    Key Thought

    There are moments when we recognize that we are in the center of God's will, doing what he would have us do, exactly when and where he wants us to do it. Paul is at that place when he writes today's passage. However, underneath his confidence in what he is doing is an even greater confidence — confidence that the Holy Spirit will take his offering of people and make it holy and acceptable to God. As we live our lives and as our lives interact with and influence other people, let's pray that the Holy Spirit will make our entire lives holy and acceptable offerings to God. Let's also pray that we can live in such a way that our words, actions, and influence invite others to come to Jesus!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father God, thank you for the influence you have given me. Please forgive me for the times I have squandered that influence or used it wrongly. Jesus, help me as I seek to lead people ever closer to you. O Holy Spirit, please present my efforts and the people I influence as holy and acceptable offerings to God. I ask all of this 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.

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