Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
Psalm 42:1-2; 43:3,4
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.
“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
GQ magazine ran an article stating that the Bible is irrelevant today. While it is stunning that someone thinks that the inspired word of God is obsolete and has the temerity to voice it, the scriptures today are speaking about the battle that goes on for believers who are the flock of the Lord. The scriptures talk about discernment of the Spirit.
In the reading in Acts, in Peter’s vision, there is a discernment of what the Holy Spirit is doing. Peter had a vision that he understood by the Holy Spirit and explained what was also happening in the natural realm that confirmed it. The Holy Spirit opened the door to the Gentiles to be baptized, and they received the gift of repentance unto eternal life when they believed in the Lord Jesus.
In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that he is the gate that leads to life and teaches discernment of spirits that oppose God and his work. All others only come to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus gives life and more abundant life.
It is apparent that the door to eternal life is open to all who believe God’s word. God desires all to be saved. And there is also an enemy who attacks our faith, thwarts our hope and leads us on paths of destruction. With this in mind, we as sheep, must follow the direction to constantly listen for the voice of our shepherd. When we know the scriptures and listen to the voice of Jesus, we safeguard ourselves from the false spirits that come against us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for my faith in Jesus who suffered, died and rose for me to gain eternal life. May I listen and hear the voice of my shepherd through knowledge of his Word and daily prayer, to be kept safe from deceivers, the spirit of the world and anything that is not of You. Amen