While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God.
Then Peter responded, â€œCan anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?â€ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days. Â Â Â Â Â Acts 10:44-48 (HCSB, my emphasis)
Lectionary texts: Acts 10:44-48, Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17
I think there are going to be many of us astounded when we get to heaven and see everyone that is there. We may be surprised because:
â€œI never heard Uncle Tommy talk about Jesus.â€ It’s a sad thing if Uncle Tommy never took opportunities to share what Jesus had done in his life. He missed extraordinary blessings. But it doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t his Savior or that Jesus didn’t work in his life.
â€œWell, I grew up with Sarah and we went to church together all our lives and she never did go forward at any altar call.â€ Just because I walk forward during an altar call doesn’t make me a Disciple of Jesus any more than living in a garage makes me a car. It is what happens in my heart that matters.
Father God wants all His children to come home to heaven and live with Him forever. Think of your own children and grandchildren, those that you love so much. What would you do to clear a path, a way, for them to come home? â€œIf you who are evil give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give to His children?â€ (Matthew 7:11) That doesn’t mean God will compromise His standard or His holiness, it means that He will not be constrained by words and man’s doctrines but only by the state of His child’s heart. And He is the only judge of that.
And so I must ask God’s Holy Spirit to examine my heart and convict me if I in any way â€œwithholdâ€ or â€œpreventâ€ people from drawing near to God. Convict me, Holy Spirit, if I speak any critical or judgmental words that drive people away from the Father.
Did I come to God clean and perfect? NO. God is still convicting and cleansing me from my sins.
Is the fellowship to which I belong perfect? NO. I attend there so it must not be perfect! Jesus said He came to heal and restore. The fellowship should be like a hospital that takes in the hurt and the beaten. We are to be nurses who are the hands and feet of the Great Physician. It is the Physician who determines my sin and how I am to be healed from that sin. He welcomes me while I am still sick (Romans 5:8). Do I welcome sinners into the fellowship? Do I allow the Physician to diagnosis and heal or do I try to shine a bright light on another person’s wounds so they won’t notice mine?
Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!…
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord.
For the Lord is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness. Â Â Psalm 98:1, 8-9 (NLT)
Let us meditate and remember who God is and what He has done and has promised to do. Let us also meditate and remember who we are and what God has (and has not) called us to do.