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Daily Steps - Listen Learn Love - Week 3

Posted by Kim Stiver on

Welcome to Daily Steps
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings and prayer prompts to help you spend time with, and draw closer to Jesus.

Acts 10:34-36 “Peter fairly exploded with his good news: ‘It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from — if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel — that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again — well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.’” (The Message version)

The Miracle of Impartiality 

Most people relate to the apostle Peter far more than Paul. In Peter, we see every manner of blunder, shortcoming, and rash decision-making. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul’s transformation from a law-toting persecutor to a gospel preacher sets him high on a seemingly unattainable pedestal, even though he repeatedly acknowledged his humanity and his weaknesses. Peter, on the other hand, continues to make mistake after mistake even after the arrival of the Holy Spirit and his leadership role in the early church is solidly confirmed. Let’s face it, Peter makes us feel better about the common issues plaguing us all as fallen human beings. God’s grace and patience with Peter as he wrestles with both the issues inside of him — and the trying circumstances swirling around him — makes us feel even better. “If there’s hope for Peter, there’s hope for me,” we think. 

When we read Acts 10, many crucial truths emerge to guide us on our journey to becoming more like Jesus and therefore more capable of living in the freedom He died on the cross to give us. Prior to receiving the vision from God in verses 9-16, Peter was living a life still restricted by outdated laws that not only prevented him from the practical enjoyment of eating a wide variety of foods, but more importantly, kept him from breaking bread with Christian brothers and sisters of different ethnicities, cultures, and creeds. Not only that, his adherence to Jewish laws, preferences, and even prejudices, was keeping him from doing exactly what Jesus came for — to offer every person on earth the Gospel without any prejudice or hurdles to jump through. It’s enough to make you wonder exactly what Peter had been thinking when Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Was he even listening, or had his heritage and religious training blinded him to understanding what Jesus was trying to say? 

The deciding factor when comparing Peter’s thought process upon hearing the Good Samaritan parable versus his experience seeing the vision in Acts 10:9-16, is the presence of the Holy Spirit. When he received the vision, he did so with the power of the Holy Spirit to help both his heart and his mind comprehend the truth and then act on it. No human being is capable of being 100% impartial on his or her own. Sure, there are some situations where it’s easier than others, but generally speaking, we are unable to see other people without noticing what they look like, what they’re wearing, how they talk, how smart they are, and a myriad of other defining characteristics. 

James 2:1-13 couldn’t be clearer on this subject. “My dear brothers and sisters, fellow believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ — how could we say that we have faith in Him and yet we favor one group of people above another? Your calling is to fulfill the royal law of love as given to us in this Scripture: ‘You must love and value your neighbor as you love and value yourself!’ For keeping this law is the noble way to live. But when you show prejudice you commit sin and you violate this royal law of love!” (verses 1, 8-9, The Passion Translation) Without the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we would be incapable of loving others as Jesus calls us to do. Being impartial towards others is truly a miracle, and it’s one of Jesus’ highest priorities. The night before Jesus gave His life, He prayed for unity among those who love Him. Unity is impossible without the miracle of impartiality. That’s why God went to such dramatic lengths to get Peter’s attention with the vision in Acts 10. 

This week as you reflect on the Scripture readings, begin each day by asking God to help you answer these questions: How is God trying to get my attention in the matter of impartiality? In what ways do I need to yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart in order to be impartial with others and pave the way for the Gospel message Peter was so excited about?

Daily Bible Readings with Prayer Prompts

As you contemplate these passages throughout the week, make time to pray before you read them and then again, afterward. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically to you. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to spend time with you.  

Monday - Read Acts 10 several times, once in a literal translation and again in a paraphrase version of the Bible. (Click the link to see the ESV and The Message side by side.) Then spend time asking the Holy Spirit to search your heart the way He did with Peter. Let Him stir up any feelings of conviction or indications of change, writing down anything He whispers to your heart.

Tuesday - Read James 2:1-13. Ask God to help you see every person you encounter with impartiality. As human beings, we can’t help but see our differences. But through the Holy Spirit, we can see the differences as Jesus does. Ask God to reveal anyone from whom you need to ask for his or her forgiveness because of any favoritism lingering in your heart. 

Wednesday - Read Luke 10:25-37. Make a list of the words that seem to stand out to you the most or trigger your strongest reactions. Ask God to reveal the reasons why and what it means for your life. Then praise Him for what He will do in you and through you to help you love as the Good Samaritan did.  

Thursday - Read Galatians 3:26-29. Scripture has always been controversial simply because it runs counter to our human nature. In biblical times, both women and gentiles were considered to be lower class and less worthy human beings. As you read the passage from Galatians again, select a few words or a phrase to meditate upon. Sit silently with Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit speak to you of your identity and value in Christ. Then ask Him to show you how He wants you to offer that same acceptance and love to others.  

Friday - Read John 17:20-23. Spend time thinking about unity and why Jesus felt it was important enough to pray about in the last hours before His crucifixion. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be an instrument of unity and impartiality in your relationships, family, community, church, and beyond. Spend time praising God as you listen to this playlist of unity-focused worship songs

TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to Jesus each day and explore what it means to love others as He did.

Want to Go Even Further? 
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study. 

SERMON STUDY GUIDE - LISTEN LEARN LOVE - WEEK 3

Take Another Step on this Topic

Visit this special Listen, Learn, Love webpage with additional resources, including a practical list of 10 things that we can each do right now to love others. These resources will help you to explore the topic of Biblical justice and racial unity in greater depth. 

LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE RESOURCE PAGE

Watch CF Beyond Sunday this Monday!
After each sermon, our pastors and various church leaders sit down for about 20 minutes to have a lively discussion about the weekend's topic. It will be posted on YouTube and the church website on Monday night, June 22! 

BEYOND SUNDAY ON YOUTUBE

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