Posts Tagged ‘Anne Graham Lotz’

The story told in Acts 10 may be familiar to you. The apostle Peter was staying in Joppa, and one noontime he went to the rooftop of his host’s home to pray. Instead he fell into a trance. Three times he saw a puzzling vision of a large group of unclean animals, unlawful for Jews to eat. Yet a voice directed him to do so. Three times Peter said no. “I have never eaten anything impure,” he replied each time.

While he was still thinking about this strange dream, three men came to see him on behalf of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, stationed about thirty miles away in Caesarea. Cornelius had also been surprised by a surreal experience: an angel visitation. Not only did the heavenly visitor tell Cornelius to send for Peter, but told him the house in Joppa where the apostle was staying.

The three men found Peter, precisely where the angel had said he would be. Compelled by the Spirit, Peter went back to Caesarea with them, accompanied by six men of faith from Joppa. When the entourage arrived, they found a large group of Cornelius’ family and friends gathered. Peter preached to them, and while he was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon them all!

Bernardo Cavallino - St Peter and Cornelius th...

Sometime later Peter went to Jerusalem. Jewish Christians criticized Peter because he went to the house of Gentile and ate with him—both acts unlawful for Jews. Peter explained what had happened—the angel’s visit, the vision, the timing, and the evidence of the Spirit. He ended his explanation with a rhetorical question: “If God gave them the same gift as He gave us…who was I to think I could oppose God?” (Acts 10:1-11:18).

Bible teacher extraordinaire, Anne Graham Lotz, uses this story in her book Into the Word (Zondervan, 2010) to teach us about God’s guidance. While meditating on Peter’s experiences and considering Anne’s thought-provoking questions, the Holy Spirit led me to several interesting observations. Perhaps they’ll interest you, too.

Discovery #1–God Doesn’t Always Connect All the Dots

Why didn’t God send an angel to Peter as he did to Cornelius? Why the puzzling vision?

Granted, after the vision, Peter did receive an impression from the Holy Spirit. “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them” (vs. 19-20). Clear instructions, but no reasons given.

Why not explain in plain terms that visiting Cornelius was the right thing to do? Why the strange dream? It seems Peter was left to connect the dots—between the cryptic vision and the Spirit’s instructions—on his own.

Perhaps God wants us to follow Peter’s example, to act upon what we know, heed those inner impressions from the Spirit, and step out in faith. You might ask along with me: What do I know that is guiding current decisions in my life?

We have a resource that Peter did not: sixty-six books of God-breathed truth at our fingertips, the Bible. Here are several of my favorite passages about His guidance:

• “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

• “Delight yourself in the Lord and do good, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this (Psalm 37:5-6).

• “I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10b).

The word “will” stands out to me. He’s not finished instructing me, working on my behalf, or accomplishing his purposes. It would seem God is guiding me to press on, to pursue the passion in my heart—a particular desire. I will continue the pursuit until God makes clear another course of action.

But every day I pray for his guidance, as an act of committing my way to him. I tell him if I’m blindly heading off course, please adjust my rudder! Every day I seek to submit to his instruction.

I know I can trust God’s truth to teach me in the way I should go, including a change of course if he sees fit. I can trust his heart of love, to understand me and know me. And I can trust who he is: my Heavenly Father who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth (Jeremiah 9:24)—including my little corner of the world.

Meanwhile, waiting may be involved, and hard work may be required.

“Faith doesn’t make things easy. It makes them possible”—Anonymous

* * * * * * * * * *

What scriptural truth has God communicated to you that is guiding current decisions in your life? Please share! Your input may be just what someone else needs to hear.

Next Monday we’ll examine Discovery #2.

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