Peter and the Gentiles – Lesson 9

joppa If I had not read it with my own eyes, I might not have believed it. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the miraculous working of God throughout the Bible. Countless times I’ve read about how God has done the impossible. He made the waters of a sea stand up in a salute to let a million plus people pass by. He caused the earth to reverse its motion in answer to one man’s prayer. He has done miraculous things.

And beyond that I’ve read how Jesus would touch the sick and they would be made completely well. He had a crippled man who had not walked in decades to stand and walk away in the freedom of youthful energy. He reversed blindness by spitting into clay and placing the mud on the eyes of the blind. He even touched a funeral bier and life came back into the dead. He has certainly done miraculous things.He had a large sea creature swallow a man whole, lodge him inside of his stomach and finally ferry him to an appointed shore so that a city could be warned of their impending ruin. He had His people to walk around a fortified city and by a shout cause the massive walls to collapse as straw. He has done miraculous things.

But the miracle at Joppa must go down as one of the most profound miracles ever. You might remember the city named Joppa from the story of Jonah. It was this port city where Jonah began that fateful trip aboard the ship headed to Tarshish. But the miracle we will focus on today may exceed the Jonah saga.

As Acts chapter 10 records, Peter was up on the roof and fell into a trance. The vision of the creatures in the sheet was shown to him and Peter is commanded to eat. Even though in a trance Peter remonstrates against violating his principles. He next hears a command that gives us a clue that we are watching a miracle unfold.

And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Acts 10:15

Peter was prejudiced.

He looked at others as inferior. Prejudicial attitudes were in the DNA of the entire nation. To converse openly with a Gentile let alone to eat and accept lodging in their quarters was considered a violation of serious magnitude. Being prejudiced was an acceptable way of life. But not for a true follower of Jesus Christ.

The vision that Peter had on the rooftop in Joppa and his resulting change was one of the greatest miracles ever recorded. It was the miracle of a man being freed from the sin of prejudice.

It is a miracle that desperately needs to be repeated in the lives of God’s people today. Prejudice between races in the family of God is as real as it was in the days of Peter. Races, shades of complexion, genders, accents, dialects, beliefs and stations in life are the unspoken prejudices that plague God’s church.

Like Peter it is in our DNA to not only magnify differences but to find constant justification for our ungodly attitudes. Like Peter we need a miracle to free our minds. Even though he had walked, talked and lived with Jesus, it took the vision at Joppa combined with the circumstances of his then present life, to unlock his mind. I’m confident that what God did for Peter He is willing to do for us today.

This story of Peter is full of hope, encouragement and guidance for the church. It shows again how patient and long-suffering God is with His people (and how blind we can be to our own flaws). It reminds us that naming the name of Jesus is not enough – we must have the mind of Jesus. And this story also illustrates that many times it is not a need for new, cutting edge strategies and increased resources that will give us success in spreading the gospel. It is often a matter of a new heart and a willingness to love others as He has loved us.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does the word “prejudice” mean to you?
  • Is it realistic to expect believers to be free of all prejudices? Why yes or no?
  • What did Peter mean in Acts 10:34 when he said that “God is no respecter of persons?”
  • What is the best way to overcome prejudice in others that we are attempting to witness to?
  • Is it true that Deuteronomy 28:13, “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail”, proves that a believer is more highly valued in God’s sight than a non-believer? Why yes or no?
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: You cannot love God supremely if you have any known prejudices against others. Explain your answer.

We close this week with parts of two salient verses that cry out to us today, especially in this age of social media commentary. Let’s pray that God gives us each the victory.

“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” “Speak evil of no man.” James 4:11-12, Titus 3:2

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

For online lessons please visit http://http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/15c/less09.html

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Jesus: The Master of Missions – Lesson 7

PhariseesHis disciples and the crowd gathered around Him must have been shocked. Never in their lives had they heard anyone speak to their revered religious leaders as Jesus was doing. For their generation there was no higher religious authority than the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers. From cradle to grave they were taught to revere them and these esteemed leaders had complete control over the masses.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Matthew 23:15

Now, those men of authority had more than met their match. Jesus was standing in the midst of them and each word that He uttered was pulling back the covers on their deceptions. Over and over again He pronounced woes upon those who had never before been confronted for their hypocrisy and pride. And one woe in particular will be our focus for today.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Esther and Mordecai – Lesson 6

“Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” ~ John Flavel


Lord help me today with“And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:7

I’m retitling this week’s lesson on Esther and Mordecai to “Hope for the Hopeless.” There are so many times in life when we simply do not know what to do. We find ourselves in difficult situations and often feel as though we are carrying the weight of the world. Esther and Mordecai have been there.

From the first time their names are mentioned we discover two people joined by tragedy. The orphan Esther is rescued by her loving cousin Mordecai. He saw a need and met it, and this singular act of compassion would be rewarded many times over.

Before we rush on, let me say thank you to the many who have done as Mordecai did. Grandparents raising their grandchildren, aunts and uncle’s bringing other family members into their homes. The selfless guardians and mentors that give of themselves for children not their own. Although at times you may feel overwhelmed, God sees and cares.

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:40

Wait on the Lord

photo by Curtis Hall

Exiles as Missionaries – Lesson 5

Daniel-Bible

I tried to imagine the setting of our topic for this week on Exiles as Missionaries. I tried to picture Daniel, his three companies and many others being forcibly rounded up to be taken from their homeland as captives. The homes they lived in, the streets they played on, the schools they learned in, the temples they worshiped in, all now gone. Their nation was decimated by a powerful foe and the life they had known until then was now gone forever. The word monumental does not do justice to how life changing this event was.


“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8

One could easily justify Daniel and his companions choosing a strategy to go along, to get along. No one, in an adversarial situation, wants to make waves and bring the spotlight upon themselves. Many would say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and find an excuse to deviate from prior practices and customs. But not Daniel. It was a matter of principle.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

The Jonah Saga – Lesson 4

We would do more for God if only He expected less from us. Jonah is a case in point.

Jonah on the beach“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” Jonah 1:1-2

It was a remarkable command that was given to Jonah. He was not asked to go to a certain church within a large city, and preach a stirring message. Nor was he asked to organize a team to methodically evangelize a huge metropolis. Jonah was commanded to single-handedly warn the entire city of Nineveh of the impending judgements of God upon them. Just one man to warn a city of thousands. Just who did God think Jonah was?

This week as we contemplate The Jonah Saga, we can’t help but to see ourselves throughout this short story. From its very beginning we are confronted with the reality that God expects more out of us than we believe we are capable of doing. Like many before us, we hear the direction from God to go forward but we are paralyzed by our own self-doubts. Surely God cannot really want us to do such great things for Him.