Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
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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."
A Broader Vision
We’re in the middle of a presidential election in which the role played and the rights possessed by people born outside of the United States is an issue. I mean, whether we’re talking about foreign terrorism or illegal immigration, a spotlight has been put on concerns that will shape our relationship with the world around us. And even though I believe people of faith and goodwill can disagree as it relates to the issues, we might want to be careful not shift our frustration and animosity to individuals based on race, religion or creed. I mean, not only does that violate a principle on which our country was founded, it also runs counter Peter’s experience at Joppa. You see, Peter understood that his vision of all those animals in a sheet really had nothing to do with his right to eat bacon. Rather, it pointed to the reality that no one, by their nature, was unclean. In other words, all people were created by God; therefore, they all have value. You might also say they’re all loved by their creator, whether they know their creator or not. And I’ll tell you, if God can love them, then maybe so should we.