“And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift, he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17 NLT
God was once again about to do a marvelous work in the little mountain church. At one time, the church had been full to the brim with townspeople who loved Jesus and worshiped with hearts full of devotion.
But that had been a long time ago. The little church had since been abandoned. Sundays were now quiet on the little road leading to the church; only the birds could be heard singing. Some of the faithful had moved away, some had simply fallen away, and some had gone onto eternity. Many of the children of the once-loyal church members had seen no use in continuing in this way. “Let’s tear down the church or sell it,” they said. They were not interested in restoring something so lifeless.
But that was then, and this was now. John Tanner had moved to the area with his young family; he had sensed that God was about to do something new with that little mountain church. It was needing paint and cleaning; creeping vines had begun to cover it. There was no question, much work was necessary to get it ready to once again be used. John had just finished seminary and he was gung-ho and eager for such an adventurous challenge. He had felt the Holy Spirit lead him towards this area and this small church. He had a vision of what God was about to do here.
There was only one obstacle. The property was the ideal place for a new farm-to-table restaurant. The few remaining members who had long since fallen away wanted to sell the property. The handsome sum of $100,000 was quite intriguing to the last surviving few.
This was going to be a struggle. One which God would have to take on. John Tanner certainly could not come up with that kind of money to save the little mountain church.
These town folks didn’t know it, but God was on the move and the little church would become alive with the Spirit again soon. It would not be a restaurant! No one would stand in God’s way!
Peter had been to see Cornelius. Two men had come to the door asking for Peter to go with them to Cornelius’ house. Only a few hours before, Peter had fallen into a trance on the roof of the house which he was a guest. God had given Peter a vision; one he was yet to understand. Standing in Cornelius’ house, Peter began to speak, “God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” Peter continued on telling the Good News to the men and women gathered. And the Scripture tells us the great result of sharing Jesus was, “the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message.” (Acts10:44)
Six Jewish men had accompanied Peter that day to Caesarea. These men had witnessed the Gentile conversion and the powerful Holy Spirit filling. When Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the faithful Jewish believers gathered together criticized him for his interacting with this, in their eyes, “inferior group of people.” It was against God’s law, after all, they thought. They were astounded that Peter had gone into a Gentile home and had eaten there as well. What was Peter thinking? Peter told them all that had happened.
As he described the Holy Spirit descending on the Gentiles, Peter said these words, “Who am I to stand in God’s way?” When the people heard this, they stopped objecting to him and began praising God. They too had been attempting to stand in God’s way! But not anymore.
What a situation! What a marvelous God we serve! Not only did God give Peter a vision to aid his understanding of the new way, but he opened the door for the other Jewish believers to accept the truth that Jesus had come for all men. Then an amazing thing happened. As the believers went out proclaiming Jesus…Scripture tells us, “The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21) When the people got out of God’s way, God moved and he did it in a big way.
I have often wondered, am I standing in God’s way? Ultimately God will do what he wants and what he has planned, but is my stubbornness, my fears, and my lack of trust preventing me from encountering a work God is doing?
This morning as I read this Scripture God reminded me, “Anne, get out of my way!” I have work to do and you need to get on board or move over. He tenderly reminded me, he is at work in my life, and any fear or hesitation I exhibit only keeps me from seeing all that he is doing. He gently reminded me that his thoughts are higher than my thoughts! And his ways are higher than my ways! And his ways are beyond anything I can imagine! Praise God, we have a great and mighty God who can imagine amazing and astounding things.
So, here is a question for you, is there some baggage or sin in your life today that is keeping you, “standing in God’s way?”
“The Holy Spirit doesn’t need to equip you for what you’re not going to do, so if you’re in rebellion against Jesus and refusing His right to be Lord, He doesn’t need to send the Holy Spirit to equip you for service. And, tragically, you miss out on the joy that He brings. So, let the Holy Spirit deal with anything that’s keeping you from obeying Christ.” Henry and Melvin Blackaby