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Scripture

Acts 10:9-16; 34; 44-48

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.


Spend some time in worship.

 

 

Observation

9-16
At about the sixth hour, Peter was praying on the flat roof of the house. This would have been at midday and Peter became hungry as he prayed. There is no indication as to how long he spent praying, but God used Peter’s hunger during his prayer to speak to him and deliver His message. Peter, being an observant Jew, would not consider eating anything that was considered unclean, and immediately rejected God’s suggestion. This was not the first time Peter had said no to Jesus. He had been saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and done great things for God. Yet at the same time, Peter was still Peter. God spoke again – nothing God has declared clean may be considered impure or unacceptable to God. Peter thought God was talking about food, but he soon realised that what God was saying went wider than just the food we eat. God repeated the vision three times, so Peter would understand that this was an important message, even if he did not fully realise what God was saying at this time.

34
A Jewish man would start the day by thanking God he was not a slave, a Gentile or a woman. There was no love lost between the Jews and Gentiles. By the time Peter reached the home of Cornelius in Antioch (some 50 kms from Joppa) he understood what God was saying to him. Peter’s message went against everything the Jews believed about the Gentiles and yet he preached the same sermon he had preached to Jewish congregations up to this time as he spoke about Jesus’ life, and work, His death and resurrection, ending with the promise of salvation for all who believe. This was the beginning of the change between the two groups. Christianity was the first religion to disregard racial, cultural and national limitations. It was a radical change. God does not see the differences between us. He only sees the heart. (Incidentally, the Gentiles had no love for the Jews either, considering them ‘weird traditionalists’ who loved pigs, because they would not eat pork.)

44-48
The people gathered there received salvation. They would not have been the first Gentiles to do so, but previously for a Gentile to accept Jesus as Lord they would have had to become Jews. When they received the gift of tongues, it was evident to all who were there that they received the same gift of salvation from the same Holy Spirit as those who had gone before them. The Jewish Christians were amazed. God loved the Gentiles as much as He loved the Jews. The act of baptism showed their acceptance into the community who followed Jesus. God had promised Abraham and his descendants that the blessing that came through Abraham would extend to all nations. This was happening in front of their eyes.

Icebreaker:

How do you respond to people who are different from you? Do you see colour, nationality, culture, sexual orientation? Explain your response.

Application

  • What contact do you have with members of the LBGTQ+ community? Close family members, colleagues, friends, church members? Does your relationship with them vary at all from your relationship with others?
  • Choose two of the following Scriptures, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament: Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Corinthians 6:4. How do you respond to these Scriptures? (Read more if time permits and you need to do so).
  • How many of the laws laid down in such Scriptures do we still keep today? Do you eat shellfish? Pork? Look at Leviticus 19:18-19; 26; 28. What do these say to you about our way of life today? How do they impact your response to the LBGTQ+ community?
  • How do you respond to members of the LBGTQ+ community when they arrive at Gracepoint? Do you focus on the above verses, or do you reach out in friendship yet believe they should practice celibacy? How great a challenge is it for you to work out how you feel about such situations?
  • How has medical science influenced your feelings in this regard?
  • God is constantly expanding the circle of inclusion through the work of the Holy Spirit – to the Gentile, Roman Cornelius,, the Ethiopian eunuch, the persecutor Paul. Is God still widening the circle today? Explain the reasons for your answer.
  • How has your discussion impacted you and your potential relationship with members of the LBGTQ+ community? How do you envisage it impacting Gracepoint? Will such a discussion be relevant, do you think, to the next generation in 30-50 years’ time? How will your reaction influence the next generation’s response?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer
Spend some time in quiet prayer asking for forgiveness for any hurt you may have caused in the life of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Pray for a greater acceptance for them in true, Christian love that they may feel accepted and at home with you and at Gracepoint. Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service
Send any ideas you may have had to help strangers feel at home at Gracepoint, whoever they are and whatever their history to info@gracepoint.co.za. Make a point of reaching out to any strangers you come across – in the office, the sports club, the church – whatever their orientation. Be a friend this week.

Bibliography

Acts Chapter 10

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