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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Learning Change

Many churches balk at even the slightest change in their routine. Even when they’re fairly sure the changes would be something pleasing to God they still resist. Over the next few days we will be learning 4 truths about learning change. We'll look at the first on today.
 Things weren’t a whole lot different back in the days of the early church.
People back then didn’t like change anymore than people now do. When we read about the events in Acts 10, it may be hard visualize how earth shaking the events actually were, but the changes God brought to pass reverberated in the early church for the next 50 or 60 years. If you had any question about how monumental this event was, you’d at least get a hint about how disturbing it must have been for the New Testament Christians by the way in which God introduced the idea to Peter.
Acts 10:10-17 (Peter) became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.
In these dreams, God was telling Peter – He was going to do something new, and that “new thing” was waiting at the gate. Peter was a good Jew. He had been raised to obey the Law of Moses, and one very prominent part of that law dealt with what animals you could eat…and what animals you couldn’t.
In Deuteronomy the Israelites were told: “You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud.  However, of those that chew the cud or that have a split hoof completely divided you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the coney. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a split hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you. The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses….… anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean.(and, of the birds) you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven,…" And the list goes on and on and on.
From their childhood, every Jewish child learned which foods were clean for them to eat… and which were not.(Deuteronomy 14:6-8,10,12-14) At the time Acts 10 was written, the church has existed for less than 10 years. ALL during that time, the church consisted only of Jewish believers. They no longer offered sacrifices… because Jesus was the perfect Sacrifice. They no longer kept the Sabbath as their holy day… because they now celebrated Sunday to remember Jesus rising from the dead on the 1st day of the week
In spite of the fact they didn’t do those things any more the Christians in this early church were still very much good Jews. They still thought like Jews, so they still avoided things like the unclean foods listed in the Law of Moses.
It was a new time for the church but they hung on to new ways even though it wasn't what God wanted. May we the church of 2015 learn that God's way is always best - even when we have to change. Amen?