Sunday, February 2, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 44: Of Rules & Regulations

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 44, February 2, 2014
Readings: Psalm 44, Genesis 40, 2 Chronicles 17, Acts 10:1-48, Acts 11:1-18

What is the purpose of rules? Have you ever followed a rule that you didn't understand? Perhaps a rule that benefited you, but excluded others? What about seeing others follow rules that made no sense to you?

Many people see the Bible as a long list of rules and regulations. Do this, don't do that. For many outside a biblical faith, these rules make no sense. But then again, many go one step further. In order to never break the rules, they create even more rules. If their parents said, "Don't jump on the bed," these folks would sleep on the floor rather than risk coming close to jumping on it. In Jesus' day, they were called Pharisees.

Long ago, God established laws for the Jewish nation - laws to set them apart from those around them. So that they would be a beacon of His love and grace. So that other nations would see, and wonder what was so different about the Jews. God wanted to bless His people so that they could bless others. But instead of sharing God's love with their surrounding neighbors, they hoarded it to themselves. They were (and are) God's chosen people. But the purpose was not to create a walled-off commune. It was to bring others in.

The longstanding clash between God's purpose and "The Law" came about shortly after Jesus returned to heaven. The apostles had been given a charge to share the gospel to the ends of the earth - but they were still only sharing with other Jews. God intervenes.

11 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party[b] criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:1-18)

Peter (and the other apostles) had a false view of what "the world" meant! They were still following the old rules. The man-made "extra" rules. God had to take Peter and make it supremely clear - everyone was to hear the good news of the gospel! There were to be no doubts this time around, no man-made intrusions. God wants the world to know and love Him, no matter who they are.

So what does this mean for our lives? God desires that we would share His word with the whole world - everyone in it. Who have you allowed yourself not to love? Who have you deemed unclean and unfit for your attention? Who have you excluded from your life because of your fear? Your security? God has promised us His blessings. His protection. His love. When we share that, we have nothing to fear. I challenge you to think of someone you've allowed yourself to ignore, or to shun. Now go love them the way God loves them. Share the blessings He has given you.

No comments: