Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Preach and Testify

Reading: Acts 10: 34-43

Peter opens today’s passage with an important statement, with one of the significant learning and understanding shifts in the early, early church: “God does not show favoritism”.  It is a shift away from a small, select ‘chosen people’.  Instead, Peter tells us, God is willing to accept all who fear God and who do what is right.  When the church came to understand that God is for all, the whole world became the mission field.  It was not just throughout Judea that they were called to bring the good news, but out into the entire world.  People of all races, ethnicities, cultures, nationalities, religions, ecenomic classes, social classes… must hear the good news.  This philosophy of accepting and welcoming all is the essence of Jesus’ ministry and is foundational to many of our churches today.

Peter then goes on to give a brief summary of Jesus’ ministry: bapitzed by John, anointed with the Holy Spirit, did good and healed, died on a cross, rose from the dead.  After the resurrection, Jesus returned and commanded “us” to preach the good news and to testify that all who call on Jesus as Lord will receive forgiveness of sins.  Again, Peter chooses words like ‘everyone’ and ‘all’ – anyone is welcome to hear the good news, to profess Jesus as Lord of their lives, and to receive forgiveness of their sins.

In the last few verses of chapter eleven, the people Peter was preaching to are overcome by the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues, and are baptized in the name of Jesus.  The power of God entered that situation and welcomed some new members into the family.  The command to preach and Testify is our command as well.  To tell the good news and to share the story of what Jesus has done in our lives is our great commission as well.  We accomplish this call with words, actions, deeds – whatever it takes for others to come to know Jesus Christ.

Today, may all of us who call on Jesus as Lord share the good news of Jesus Christ with any and all we meet.

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Reading: Jeremiah 1: 4-10

How big is the God you serve?  Is God big enough for just you?  Is God big enough for just your family or your church?  Is God big enough for the whole world?  In Jeremiah’s day, the people would have said God was just big enough for Israel.  They self-identitied as ‘God’s chosen people’ and, while this is true, it did not mean they had exclusive rights.  God is the God of all creation, of all people.  God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet” to the nations” and not just to Israel.
When we are children we see the world from this self-centered view.  We look at everything from the perspective of how it affects us, of what’s in it for us.  It is a very egocentric way of life.  This is where Israel’s faith was stuck.  Like them, when one remains stuck at this phase if life, the focus is bent only inward.  One thinks that God loves only them.  This view is of a little god, of a small god.  But we love and serve a BIG God.

In Jesus’ ministry we see the inclusion of all peoples as His ministry develops.  At first Jesus stays within Israel, ministering only to the Jews.  But over time we see a shift to include the Gentiles as well.  Nearing the end of His ministry, the great commission is to bring the Word to ALL nations, echoing God’s sending of Jeremiah.  Our faith develops along similar lines.  The more we come to know and love God, the more we begin love others more.  Our vision of God and how big God’s love is expands as God’s love grows in our lives.

As we live out our faith, may it be a big faith.  As we look at someone and anyone and everyone, may we see them as the beloved children of God that they each are.  Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of the whole world’s sins.  His love encompasses all people everywhere.  May our love do the same.