Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC 

Acts 10:9-20, 34-35
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[b] to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”….34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 

A raging inferno swept through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and into the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee on November 28, 2016, killing 14 people and injuring 190 more. Damage caused by the fires is estimated at over $500 million. 2,460 structures were damaged or destroyed and 17,136 acres were burned. Strong winds reaching 87 mph fanned the flames on as it swept through Gatlinburg. I can still remember the chilling videos of people trying to escape the fire by vehicle atop the mountain.

Fire is nothing to play around with. Millions are affected by wildfires every year in our country, and millions more are affected in other parts of the world. In Deuteronomy chapter 4 Moses told the people of Israel that our God is a consuming fire. The writer of Hebrews reiterated this truth in chapter 12 that book. When the Spirit of God comes to live in your soul through salvation He begins to consume, to burn away those things which are not in keeping with His holiness. 

Peter learned this truth first hand in prayer. In Acts 10 we find Peter still a little puffed up by Judaism and his success at Jerusalem. Although Gentiles are starting to come to Christ, Peter is still under the mindset that the gospel is a Jewish thing. However, in prayer the Spirit of God speaks to Peter and completely obliterates his way of thinking. 

What did the Lord consume in Peter through prayer? First, He consumed Peter’s prejudice. Peter thought the gospel was only for Jews, but the Lord quickly corrected this thought. The gospel is for every race, every nationality, and every socioeconomic level. The Lord knows no favorites and neither should we when it comes to the free offer of the gospel. Peter needed to repent of his racism, nationalism, and legalism that was crowding out God’s glory. 

Secondly, the Lord consumed His preconceived notions of ministry. Peter thought he had the Lord figured out. I mean come on Lord, you don’t work this way! When we spiritualize our traditions we sterilize our witness. As long as the gospel is preached the Lord can use any method of ministry He wants. May we never try to make God fit in our boxes, our preconceived notions of how things are supposed to work. He holds the right to move any way He pleases. 

Lastly, the Lord consumed Peter’s pride. At the end of the day Peter had a pride issue. So much so that the Apostle Paul wrote in the Galatian letter that he opposed Peter to his face at one point because of his favoritism toward the Jewish people and his disdain for Gentiles. Peter had gotten a little too big for his britches if you know what I mean! His ministry success at Pentecost and personal connection to Christ had gone to his head, but now the Lord would burst his bubble. So too, when we come into the presence of God we learn of our total need of Him and our total inability to do anything on our own. We are also reminded of just how much the Lord has saved us from, and we gain a heart of compassion for anyone and everyone who does not know Jesus. 

What needs to be consumed from your life today? Anger? Bitterness? Pride? Prejudice? Lust? Materialism? Complacency? Whatever it is, know that we serve a God who is an all consuming fire. Just a spark of the Holy Spirit will set you ablaze if you will allow the Spirit to have His way. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Let Him strike a match in your soul today and consume all those things which are keeping you bound to brokenness. 

Dear Lord, there is so much in me that needs to be consumed, and I know that You are an all-consuming fire. I ask You today to set a fire in my soul that consumes my pride and spreads to those around me. Do it Lord for Your glory! In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.