DAILY DEVOTIONALS 5.7 thru 5.12


 

 

 

And First the Good News …

“Peter fairly exploded with his good news − ‘It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer:  God plays no favorites!  It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from − if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.’”   Acts 10:34-34 (MSG)

Just give me the good news first please!  If you are lucky, you are given a choice.  Do you want the good news first or the bad news?  Like just staged … give me the good news first!  Fortunately for us, it is all good news!  The scriptures from Acts 10 deliver nothing but good news.  It was good news to Peter, it was good news for the Gentiles then, and it remains good news for us today.  We can be effective witnesses of the power of God to include us all as his disciples.

 

In Peter’s time there were controlling beliefs and prevailing boundaries that divided people based on gender, ethnicity, social and economic status, and religious and cultural birthrights.  Peter grappled with these things, too.  The early church struggled with the divide between Jews and Gentiles.  The early followers of Christ, and even some of his disciples, were locked in a battle over Jewish customs and law and if the applied to their new Gentile counterparts.

 

In those days, there was an inability to see that an individual could be fully accepted in the family of Christ if certain rules ( i.e. circumcision, rejecting food offered to idols, et.) were not followed.  People placed restrictions on one another.  People excluded one another.  People limited the magnitude of God’s love and all-encompassing call to experience the power of the resurrection.  (Funny, how we continually find ways to put limits on God!)  And yet … God plays no favorites!  That is what we can proudly proclaim as witnesses to and the beneficiaries of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection − it is for all of us.

 

All who love God and are ready to follow God’s commands are invited in.  We have the continued power to make new disciples in the name of Christ, because we are not bound by petty restrictions, exclusionary tactics, and shameful discriminatory ideologies.  Thank goodness!  Who wants to keep up with the exhausting “us versus them” mentality?  The potential of the Good News is something so straightforward and yet so radical in its simplicity that we often miss it and over-complicate it.  God’s love and desire for us all to be his devoted followers extends far beyond what we can imagine and breaks down all the barriers we needlessly erect.  The Good News is for all − and that is the good news we need to hear as we witness to others, making disciples in Jesus’ name her and now!

 

 

Read & Reflect

 

Take time to read the following scriptures and see how the Early Church wrestled with issues that prevented them from including new followers or fully accepting individuals in to the Church.  Listen to the guidance given by the Apostle Paul in dealing with these very real and sensitive matters that could have sabotaged the efforts to grow the church and fulfill the Great Commandment given by Jesus in Matthew 28.  Reflect on the concept of “barriers.”  In your life and experience have you ever seen human barriers erected to keep people from experiencing the love and grace of Jesus?  What were those?  Did you maintain them, or challenge them?  Why or why not?  Challenge  yourself to read these scriptures and go out into the world and the next time you are in a large group or crowd with many different types of people … stop, and if it is possible, try to see the many types and kinds of people as love by God.  Imagine, if you can, that among the many faces there is not one “favorite,” but that all are loved and all are welcome to receive the Good News of Jesus Christ.

 

  • 1 Corinthians 7:17-20

  • 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

  • Galatians 3:26-29

  • Matthew 28:18-20

 

Pray

 

Dear Lord, we are constantly finding ways to divide, label, and categorize each other.  Sometimes we might falsely believe that “others” are out of the reach of your love, grace, and forgiveness.  We place our human limitations upon you, O God, and we forget that for you there are “no favorites.”  You love us all.  Help us to spread the Good News to everyone not just the people that we like or who resemble us.  Impart deeply on us the power to make new disciples in our world based on your gifts and commands, not our human restrictions and barriers.      Amen.

 

If you have thoughts, comments or questions about Sunday’s service or this week’s devotional, please e-mail them to allie@stjohnsumc.org.

 

 

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