Early in my active duty career in the Air Force, I was stationed in Japan. I found myself having to learn how to drive all over again. That’s because driving over there is the opposite from here in America. Not only did I have to learn how to drive with the steering wheel on the right side of the car but also driving on the left side of the road. Additionally, I worked with many Japanese people and interacted with others in the local community. I didn’t have to learn to speak Japanese but did anyway because I was in their country and was very interested in their culture.
Have you ever been in situations like I was in Japan? I faced many barriers my first several months there and was far outside of my comfort zone. It’s interesting that God guides us through these kinds of situations and an example of that is in today’s devotional.
In Acts chapter 10 there are two main characters: Cornelius and Peter. Cornelius was a high ranking Roman officer who lived in Caesarea and had a close relationship with God, prayed regularly, and gave generously to the poor. Cornelius had a vision of an Angel telling him to send for Peter located in Joppa. He discussed his vision with three men and told them to go get Peter. I find it interesting that neither Cornelius nor his three men question anything about it. They immediately obey. There have been many times in my life where I’ve questioned God asking Him, "Are you sure you have the right person?" I know that’s silly but I think we’ve all gone through that at some point.
The other main character is Peter. Now, we all know Peter as one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. We find him on a housetop praying and it is about the time Cornelius’ men were approaching. During Peter’s prayers, hunger set in and a meal was being prepared below, making it quite difficult for him to stay focused. I can imagine Peter trying to concentrate on praying, yet his stomach is growling and the cooking smells bellowing up are stimulating his senses. Do you ever go to spend time in prayer and the next thing you know there’s a multitude of distractions? God knows our struggles and He knew Peter's too. Therefore, the Bible says Peter fell into a trance and God used Peter’s hunger to stimulate his focus because, while in this trance, Peter sees something like a white sheet being lowered from Heaven forming sort of a cradle containing many different types of animals. God tells him to “…get up, kill, and eat.”, but Peter actually tells him no because the types of animals he sees were considered unclean and were forbidden to eat. God reprimands him and tells him in verse 15 that if God declares something clean then it is. His vision repeats three times and then he is “awoken” and very confused. At the same time, we’re told the Holy Spirit tells him about Cornelius’ men arriving and to go meet them and to go with them back to Caesarea. He does just this; however, this was something new for him because these men were not Jews. Peter invited them to stay the night and the next morning they journeyed back to Cornelius so Peter could tell him about the gospel.
For both of these men, this was way outside their comfort zone because, first, one is a Jew and the other a Gentile. Jews and Gentiles didn’t look at each other much less associate in any way. Yet Peter had Cornelius’ men stay at his house and now he’s in Cornelius’ house talking with him about the gospel. Peter realized God has no favorites because we are all his children regardless of our differences. Just like the animals in the sheet that was lowered from Heaven, because, as we learned before, when God declares something, or someone, clean, it is - they are. God guided these men past the barriers of human laws and differences so His purpose could be fulfilled. What sort of barriers are you facing today that you need to lay down so that you can see and serve others the way God does?