Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

John 10: 11, 14: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
1 Peter 5:4: “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

Our pastor used to live in Wyoming, and among his many encounters, he got to know a local shepherd and wanted to learn about his occupation of caring for sheep. One morning, while the shepherd was rousing the flock to wake up, our pastor saw the shepherd tend to some sheep that had rolled over on their sides. Sheep are similar to turtles; if they fall over sleeping, they need help getting up. They can actually die from asphyxiation if they’re not righted, because they cannot get up on their own. The shepherd would help right the sheep, massaging their legs until they could stand and move on their own. This puzzled our pastor; he asked the shepherd why did he keep those sheep, for all the trouble they caused him. Why didn’t he just get rid of them?

The shepherd looked at our pastor in amazement. He told him he wouldn’t get rid of them; those were some of his best sheep! They were incredibly loyal, and would never wander away from him. They knew the sound of his voice.

(Now, our pastor told us this tale in his own sermon series recently on Jesus: I Am; so, if I’ve quoted the story incorrectly, I’m sure he’ll set me straight. :-) )

We are sheep, and we need a Good Shepherd. Jesus is that Shepherd. He cares for us, protects us, and even corrects us when we stray. Jesus contrasted the Good Shepherd with hirelings who don’t take care of sheep, who run at the first sign of trouble. Jesus isn’t that way; we know the sound of His Voice, and are dependent on him.

Peter writes in 1 Peter, chapter 5, verse 4, that those who care for God’s flock will receive that crown of glory from the Chief Shepherd…and this Shepherd is also Jesus.

Something to think about!

Read Full Post »

Verses 8-11: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Some years ago, my wife and I lived in another city and attended church there. We missed the business meeting one quarter where, among other items, they were going to discuss the renovation of the sanctuary. We had to miss the meeting, but asked others who had attended what happened. Well, most of the meeting was taken care of in about 10 minutes. The attendees then spent 90 minutes…yes, NINETY MINUTES…arguing about the color of the paint to be used on the pulpit walls. We were slacked-jawed; of all things up for what we thought would be serious discussion, the dominating topic was the color of the pulpit paint? I couldn’t believe my ears…then after some thought, I found that, yeah, I could believe my ears.

Peter, Paul, and Barnabas launched into the main topic of the convention here, and were determined to “keep the main thing, the main thing”. Peter reminded all gathered how God has showed him in a vision the very mission to the Gentiles, that they were to be presented the same Gospel that the apostles had heard, and the same opportunity to accept Jesus Christ and salvation through Him! Paul and Barnabas then gave detailed testimony on the fruits of their missionary journeys thus far and the souls that were saved. They wanted to make sure that the purpose of this meeting wasn’t to discuss the color of the paint (in this case, heretical add-ons to what it meant to be saved in Jesus). It was to establish firmly what they were there for…to carry out the Great Commission.

More to come!

Read Full Post »

Verse 18-19: “Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.”

In the movie No Way Out, Gene Hackman plays married Secretary of Defense David Brice, who is having an affair with socialite Susan Atwell, played by Sean Young. Susan has fallen in love with another man, and they have been recently dating. One night, she ushers him out of the house before Brice shows up. Brice can only see a silhouette of the man leaving, but the man can see Brice clearly. Tempers flare between Brice and Atwell, and in a violent outburst, he kills her accidentally. In an effort to cover up his misdeed, he and his loyal aide plan to state that the girl was killed by “Yuri”, a Russian mole buried somewhere in Washington, D.C. They even transfer a heroic Navy commander named Tom Farrell, played by Kevin Costner, to lead the investigation. In an ironic twist, it was Farrell who was dating Atwell; he knows about the affair, but she promised him that she was going to break it off. Now, he must lead an investigation to find this “Yuri”, all the while trying to cover his involvement AND get evidence to link Brice to the crime.

To quote an old story-telling comedian: “I told you all that to tell you this.”

In the penultimate climax to the movie, Farrell and Brice are confronting each other about the crime. Brice’s loyal aide, trying to help his boss, commits suicide by shooting himself in front of the two, as security breaks in. Brice is able to use his aide as “the fall guy” and to accuse him of being Yuri, bringing the investigation to a close. (Farrell later manages to mail incriminating evidence to the CIA, implicating Brice).

A high-ranking official pinning the blame on an underling…just the stuff of movies? Sadly, no. That is just what Herod did! After finding nothing to explain Peter just “disappearing” from the prison, and with the guards offering no explanation that Herod wanted to hear, he again refuses to acknowledge that God spirited him away. So, he takes the politically convenient avenue and has all the guards put to death. “Not my fault”, he probably thinks.

There are those in our world who wouldn’t stand for admitting guilt, and would rather pin the blame on the innocent; those who can’t accept responsibility for what they did. But wait…Herod has sown the wind, and is about to reap the whirlwind in the next verses.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 16: “Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”

I can’t remember who first told me this joke, but I really liked it. I have found several versions on the Internet, so I will give credit and reference to this version that I found at
http://www.pinetree.net/humor/sherlockholmescamping.html .

This is my version of the joke:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. They laid down to sleep for the night, the fire dwindling nearby. Not too long afterward, Holmes woke up Watson and said: “Watson, look up and tell me what you see”.

Watson said, “I see the night sky, full of countless stars”.

Holmes: “And what does that tell you?”

Watson: “Well, astronomically, it suggests to me that if there are billions of other galaxies that have roughly similar stellar population densities as represented by my view, that, potentially, trillions of planets may be associated with such a galactic and, therefore, stellar population. One may reasonably imply by this that life-and possibly intelligent life-may well fill the universe.

Also, being a believer, theologically, it tells me that the vastness of space may be yet another suggestion of the greatness of God and that we are small and insignificant.

Meteorologically, the blackness of the sky and the crispness of the stellar images tells me that there is low humidity and stable air and therefore we are most likely to enjoy a beautiful day tomorrow.

Why? – What does it tell you, Holmes?”

Holmes: “Watson…someone has stolen our tent”. 🙂

Sometimes, you miss the obvious when you see something. One can observe a scene directly in front of them, analyze it, and still miss something, until someone else points it out. Even some people fail to believe what’s in front of them, as incredible as that may sound.

God had freed Peter from Herod’s prison. Here is Peter, knocking at the door of Mary’s house. The servant girl, Rhoda, is so excited to see Peter, that she leaves him outside the doorway to go tell the believers gathered within! (For some reason, I think of that old humorous ending of the Flintstones, with Fred banging on the door, yelling for Wilma!) The believers wouldn’t believe the first-hand sighting by Rhoda; they said “You’re imagining things!”, “You’re out of your mind!”, or “It must be his ghost!” Weren’t these very believers PRAYING to the Lord for Peter’s deliverance? God answered their prayers…and yet they couldn’t believe it! Even when they saw Peter themselves, “they were astonished.”

So…the next time you earnestly pray to God for something…don’t act too shocked when God answers you as you requested. Remember, nothing is too difficult for Him.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 11: “And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.””

“Take this man to prison”, the man heard Herod say,
And then four squads of soldiers came and carried him away,
Chained up between two watchmen, Peter tried to sleep,
But beyond the wall, an endless prayer was lifting for his keep.

Then a light cut through the darkness of a lonely prison cell,
And the chains that bound the man of God just opened up and fell,
And running to his people, before the break of day,
There was only one thing on his mind, only one thing to say.

– 1st stanza of Angels, by Amy Grant

I know that Amy Grant song by heart, and boy, does it sum up this passage!

I’ve always enjoyed watching escape artists and magicians; I know I have mentioned before that my favorite episode of the Columbo TV series was “Now You See Him..”. In that episode, the murderer was an illusionist/magician named The Great Santini. His piece de resistance was an illusion called the Water Tank Escape. Picture this: Santini steps into an air-tight box, which is then latched, chained and locked with several padlocks. The box contains just under 10 minutes of air. It is then raised by a small winch and suspended in a tank of water in full view of the audience. The box is not sitting in the tank; it is suspended so you can see under it. At the end of the 10 minutes, the hooded assistants hurry to get the slowly-lifted box out of the tank and unlocked. However, once opened, Santini’s daughter, Della, emerges and stands to the applause of the audience. Santini himself then removes his black hood, revealing that he was one of the hooded assistants.

Looking at the parameters of that television “inescapable” trap, you have to be impressed. Now look at the real-life escape of Peter. Chained to a prison cell wall, with two guards at the door, and four squads of soldiers assigned to prevent him from escaping. This is real; this is historical. Herod probably would think smugly “there’s no way he can escape”. However, Herod has not reckoned with the almighty power of God! God’s angel wakes him (he was sleeping), the chains just fall off his arms, he is led by the angel past the guards, out of the prison, to the gates of the city, and the gates just open! Now, that is an impressive escape! Up to that point, Peter thought he was dreaming or having another vision. As verse 11 states, when he “had come to himself” (e.g., realized he was awake), he gave credit to the One who made his escape possible!

So the next time you think you’re trapped in some situation that there is no possible hope of escape, you just might want to pray and ask God for the impossible. After all, nothing is too difficult for Him. Remember, Jesus became the escape for Christians from the eternal penalty of sin.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 1-3: “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.”

Enter the villain. Herod the king enters the picture to harass the Christian church. He has James murdered and captures Peter. What strikes me about this is the part of the verses above where it’s stated “And because he saw that it pleased the Jews”.  In other words…Herod was also a corrupt politician, seeking to win over the majority with acts to gain favor.

In this election year, one might say the choices for President aren’t too promising. Each candidate, though they might have some good qualities, also seems to possess bad qualities and extra baggage that make for an old-fashioned, mud-slinging campaign. Promises will be made, and not certain that they will all be kept. One thing all registered voters need to do: make sure you vote, but make your choices wisely. We still live in a land where the right to vote is a privilege not to be taken lightly. If you are a Christian voter, you need to do something before you cast that ballot…pray to the Lord for guidance.

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 17-18: “”If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

What a crazy Presidential election year it has been thus far! I can’t ever recall such “drama” on both sides of the election from both parties. Outsiders, traditionalists, conservatives, liberals, socialists…I’ve never seen the like in a long time. One of the “plotlines” in this campaign has been from some of the entrenched establishment of one political party versus the popular contender for their party’s nomination (I’m not going to name names…I think you know whom I’m referring to…this blog is not about politics, nor is it about endorsements…just follow along with me here 🙂 ). The “entrenched” party members aren’t too happy with who could represent them, and I’m not sure how this is going to play out (God knows, though). Could be they don’t like how the candidate is coming across, or that he is not “one” of them. Either way…someone is not happy.

After Peter visited with Cornelius and his group, some of the Jews met him when he came to Jerusalem…and were asking, “What is going on? Do you realize who you met with?” Peter didn’t immediately fire back like he might have once…in anger and in indignation. Instead, he told the Jews all that happened to him with the vision, Cornelius’s messengers, and God’s revelation that salvation was available to EVERYONE. The NKJV translation says “who was I that I could withstand God?” The NIV reads a little more plainer here: “who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Peter was convinced by God’s vision of the New Covenant that He revealed here…salvation was accessible for Jew and Gentile alike! And once Peter explained it to the Jews…they had no reply (silence), but then glorified God that He was granting “repentance to life” to the Gentiles, too.

There is an old phrase that reads “if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.” So, fellow Christian… which are you today? Part of the problem…or part of the solution?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 28, 34-35, 44-45: “Then he said to them, You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”

“I love it when a plan comes together.” That was the favorite catch-phrase of one LTC John “Hannibal” Smith, the wily leader of The A-Team. I enjoyed watching that old television program for its characterizations of this team of freelance soldiers of fortune and the wild inventions and schemes they would concoct to capture the bad guys. No matter how daunting the odds (or how much things went astray at times), the plan always came together in the end. Sometimes, even events that the team couldn’t foresee were used to work in their favor.

Our church had been “in the wilderness” for some time; we didn’t have a full-time pastor. God, in His perfect timing, brought us our current pastor, who’s been serving for the last 5 months here. As he shared his testimony with us upon his start in our church’s pulpit, we could see God’s hand in the absolute perfect timing of bringing our church and this pastor together. This man had been serving God in several capacities before finally bringing him to our town. Though he was able to get work in religious schools and such, teaching the Bible, he knew in his heart that God had something else in mind for him. The amazing thing was that his resume was in our list of candidates, but our pastor search committee only came back to it upon a second look through the stack. When he he shared that testimony with us, we could now easily see God’s hand in some of the reasons it took a while for us to get a new pastor…and that it took the same “while” to bring this man to our church. God was in control!

Peter’s vision and Cornelius’s vision now dovetail in this passage. Peter shares with Cornelius’s household and friends that God has revealed to him that He shows no partiality…salvation is available to all, not just the Jews. This is literally earth-shattering news at this stage of history with Jews and Gentiles (as you’ll see in Acts 11). God told Cornelius that he was to summon Peter; God showed Peter his change to the status-quo…and then brought them together for a memorable revelation.

When I shared these devotional thoughts with my wife, she stated “He (God) brought His plan together.”. This, in turn, made me remember the motto of Hannibal Smith.

I’m smiling right now, as I say….I love it when a plan comes together!

Read Full Post »

Verses 14-15: “But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.””

The following is an excerpt from the 25th anniversary episode of BBC’s Doctor Who, entitled “The Five Doctors”:

The First Doctor and Tegan had entered Rassilon’s Dark Tower, at the heart of which was his tomb. The Doctor, along with later regenerations of himself, past and current companions, and past enemies, was forced to play the Game of Rassilon, the greatest of the Time Lords of Gallifrey. Standing just inside the entrance was a checkerboard-painted floor. Realizing it might be a trap, the Doctor held Tegan back while he pitched coins onto each row. Tegan, the Earth-born stewardess, was impatient, but the Doctor was insistent. About halfway across with the coins, the trap was sprung. Electrical bolts showered down upon the checkerboard floor!

Doctor: “Diabolical ingenuity! Nothing happens until you reach the fifth row, halfway,…and then the entire board becomes a death-trap!”
(The Master, the Doctor’s arch-enemy in later regenerations, appears behind them)
Master: “Our ancestors had such a wonderful sense of humor.”
Doctor: (not recognizing the Master, since he not encountered him in this incarnation) “Do I know you, young man?”
Master: “Believe it or not, we were at the Academy together.”
Tegan: (knowing who the Master was) “What do YOU want?”
Master: “To help.” (Ironically, he had been really sent by the High Council of Gallifrey to rescue the Doctor)
Tegan: (sarcastically) “That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.”
Master: “Believe what you like; I should advise you to hide. I’ve got some very suspicious allies close behind me.” (At this point, a squad of Cybermen slowly enter the hall. Tegan pulls the First Doctor behind a wall.)

The Cybermen had captured the Master, and he deceptively offered to be their guide. He demonstrates how to cross the checkerboard safely, much to the surprise of the Doctor and Tegan. Even after most of the Cyber-patrol was struck down by the lightning, the Master reassures the Cyber-Leader that the safe path still exists, it just changes every time. The Master treacherously shoots the Cyber-Leader as they are crossing the board; chuckling, he crosses back to the Doctor and Tegan.

Tegan: “Wasn’t that a little ruthless, even for you?”
Master: “In one of the many wars on your miserable little planet, they used to drive sheep across mine fields…principle’s the same.”
Tegan: “Not quite…this mine field is still just as dangerous!”
Master: “Do you think so?” (The Master then hops and skips differently across the board to the other side). “Try it Doctor, it’s as easy as pie!”
(the Master disappears down the opposite corridor.)
Doctor: “What an extraordinary fellow. As easy as pie? As easy as pie??”
Tegan: “That’s what he said.”
Doctor: “No, he didn’t! He said ‘easy as PI’, the Greek letter Pi!”

The Doctor went on to explain that by using the mathematical formula for Pi, you could figure out the safe way to cross, which he did, and then led Tegan across as well.

That took a while to detail to you, but I wanted to explain the background of this scene from one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, so that I could point out that, although the Master was taunting the Doctor by saying “easy as pie”, he also, accidentally or on purpose, gave him a clue to the solution. So, “easy as pie” had two meanings.

Peter was on the rooftop of Simon the tanner’s house, praying and being hungry, too. Suddenly a vision appeared to him of a great blanket of all sorts of animals in it, being lowered to him, and the Holy Spirit instructing him to kill and to eat. Peter, still reacting with his Jewish upbringing, said he shouldn’t eat unclean animals. The Holy Spirit continues to tell him that what God has declared clean is clean indeed.

I once heard someone joke (and I wish I could recall who!), “And God made barbeque, and said it is good!” 🙂 God told Peter that the animals were clean to eat. But the double meaning, just like “easy as pie”, comes when Cornelius’s visitors arrive, and Peter realizes that God also meant that salvation was no longer just for the Jews! He realized it and preached it…as easy as pie.

More to come.

Read Full Post »

Verses 40-42: “But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.”

My family and I were in a sports-themed restaurant watching the recent AFC Championship NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos. Toward the end of the game, my wife asked me about an interesting graphic that appeared on the TV screen about Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots pass-catching tight end. It was detailing not only his yards per catch, but the “yards after catch”; this was what my wife asked about. I described it was the yards that a receiver achieves after he has caught the football…the additional yards he gained during the play, not just the initial yards the ball flew from the quarterback to him. It was what he did after he caught the pass.

My wife remarked, “Kind of like what people do with Jesus after they accept Him as Lord and Savior…what they do with Him after they have been saved.” I paused from watching the game and thought, “that’s good.” I told my wife, “Honey, that’s real good!” and made a note to use that for an upcoming blog entry…which I just did. 🙂

Peter’s salvation was already assured, but he, like the other apostles, carried out Jesus’s command to the fullest, telling all the world about Him. Peter came when sent for, saw the grief of Tabitha’s (also translated Dorcas’s) friends. He prayed, and in the name of Jesus, raised her from the dead. The miracle was used to win many to believe in Jesus Christ. Like my previous post, Tabitha did eventually die and go to Heaven; Peter’s raising her didn’t give her immortality on Earth. But accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and trusting in Him does give you eternal life.

So…what are you doing after you catch the ball?

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »