WHAT GOD CONSUMES IN PRAYER
Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
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. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 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, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 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. 42 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. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
In Acts chapter 10, the Apostle Peter has a dream from God about ministry to the Gentiles. God shows Peter all kinds of animals and birds and tells him to “go, kill and eat.” The problem is some of these animals were considered ceremonially unclean to the Jews, and Peter was a Jew. So he tells the Lord, “By no means Lord, I have never eaten anything unclean.” The Lord chastises Peter and tells him, “What God has cleansed no longer consider unholy!”
Peter had a terminal case of stinkin’ thinkin’! He thought the laws of the Old Testament were meant to divide men, when God meant for the Law to bring men together under the banner of Christ as Lord. No man can keep the Law, but Peter still had a part of him which thought it mattered most. God says the gospel is for everybody, not just the special few, and when we pray God begins to overwhelm us with compassion and love for all people. Our God is a consuming fire, and when we pray He burns away those obstacles keeping us from being an effective witness. What does He consume in prayer?
Peter had an underlying prejudice against Gentiles. In fact, Paul says in Galatians 2 He contended openly with Peter about this. In Acts 10, God burns away the prejudice in Peter’s life and fills him with a newfound love for those not like him.
How do you treat people of other races? What are your thoughts about the homosexual, the unwed mother, the young lady who chooses abortion, or the neighbor who is atheist or agnostic? The cross reminds us that every person is a soul worth saving! The cross of Christ shows us God’s love for every man and the value of every human life. Instead of alienating those who don’t live for God or don’t look like us, we should find ways to build bridges to the gospel. When we pray, God begins to burn away our judgmental prejudiced attitudes toward others who are not like us.
- PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS
Peter had his own ideas about how ministry should be done. In His mind, he was Peter, the great evangelist who led thousands to Christ on the Day of Pentecost. He knew very well how to do ministry…or so he thought. He was so sure, that he crowded out the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing how the longer we dwell in God’s Presence the more we realize what we don’t know, and God rocked Peter’s philosophy of ministry! God told Peter, in essence, “Don’t you dare call wrong what I call right!” We all have ideas about how God is supposed to work, but God is not obligated to prop up our preconceived notions. He doesn’t work in accordance with our traditions or structures. God moves according to His own timing and agenda. When we pray, we become sometimes painfully aware of the fact we are living more for our plan than His! Which leads to my last point…
God burns away our pride in prayer. Peter has the audacity in Acts 10 to correct the Lord. He reverts back to his days with Jesus during His earthly ministry when Christ said He must die for the sins of man, and Peter said, “No, Lord, you shall not die!” At one point Jesus had to tell Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” You know it’s a bad day when Christ calls you Satan! We are never more satanic than when pride takes over in our lives, and we are never more prideful than when we tell God what to do. We in essence try to direct God when we demand for Him to meet our expectations of ministry and life instead of us surrendering to His! Humility says, “God, Your will be done, not mine.” When I’m in the Presence of God, my pride is consumed in the fire of God’s glory and holiness.
What does God need to consume in your life today? What sins? What complacencies? What points of pride, arrogance, and selfishness need to go? Today, let our consuming God burn away that which doesn’t glorify Him.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, You are a consuming fire. There is so much in my life that needs to be consumed. Forgive me for my prejudiced ways, my preconceived notions, and my pride. I need Your grace every moment of every day Lord. Fill me with Your love. In Jesus name, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”