December 26, 2005
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
The Challenge to Change
by Jack Northart
Making a change or changing things in life is a very uncomfortable experience. This is especially true when it comes to being challenged to change our core beliefs, or the beliefs in the deepest part of our heart. However, If anyone wants to improve and grow in life, then change is part of growth.
The "discomfort" of change should be expected and looked forward to, no matter how old we are, no matter where we live or how things have been in the past. Change shakes things up, even when they are for the betterment of life. As we recognize this fact, then we begin to welcome change and growth, rather than fearing any change. The outcome will be worth the uncomfortable feelings that it took to accomplish the change.
The Apostle Peter went through many life-changing experiences. One such record is in the Book of Acts regarding the conversion of the house of Cornelius, the centurion.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
The angel of God told Cornelius to send to Joppa for Simon Peter. Cornelius carried out these instructions as the angel had told him. Meanwhile, the scene changes to Peter as he is praying on the rooftop of Simon the tanner's house.
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Even though this occurred after the Day of Pentecost and the fulfilling of the law by Christ, Peter's old way of doing things were woven into the fabric of his life. God was showing Peter that it was okay to accept things that were previously forbidden under the Old Testament Law. However, this instruction was not easy for Peter to accept. It went against his core beliefs.
This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
As Peter considered all of this new information, there was a knock on the door and the messengers from the house of Cornelius were there to pick up Peter and take him back to Caesarea to speak God's Word.
These messengers, as well as Cornelius himself, were Gentiles. No devout Jew would be caught dead with them. However because of the vision, Peter recognized that something was going to happen that had never happened before, and since he thought he might have to do some of explaining about his actions later on. So he had other believers accompany him from Joppa to Caesarea.
Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
Once they got to the house of Cornelius and it was explained why he was sent for, Peter began to speak the Word of God to them regarding salvation.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
After Peter presented the Word of God to them, he and those that accompanied him from Joppa saw something happen that had never happened before. The outpouring of the gift of holy spirit was manifested to the Gentiles also.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
A big change had just occurred and Peter and the rest were witnesses to this monumental event.
They saw that the Gentiles could also receive the same salvation that they received at Pentecost.
However, this event would not be so astonishing to some back at the Church in Jerusalem, initially.
And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Regardless of the great event that had just happened to the Gentiles, and the mental shift that Peter and the others had to make, there was discomfort in the thinking of those of the Church in Jerusalem. Again, Peter had witnesses with him that saw the whole thing happen as well, so they could all testify of this new change.
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
It took some time to illustrate the great change that God brought to pass, but when they heard the explanation of it all, the elders of the Church in Jerusalem believed also.
This is one record in the Bible that clearly demonstrates the challenges of change; not only for one man, but for the entire body of believers in the Church. The result was fantastic change and growth.
Who knows all of the great and wonderful things that God would have us accomplish, if we would but recognize that growth means change and not be afraid of it, and rise up to the challenge.
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