Summary: verse by verse through Acts

Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you; I want to see you. Do we really mean the words of that song? Do we really want to see God? Do we really want to see Him for who He is, and what He expects and what He’s doing? Do we really want to see God?

I’m convinced that one of the major problems of the church in America today is that we really don’t want to see God for who He is. We’ve created God in our own image and that’s what we really want to see. We’ve put God in this little box of our own church experience and our own preference and we think we’ve got Him all figured out! We see God as we want to see Him and limit Him to our own myopic point of view.

[Box demonstration; (not the Bible).]

In the process all we’ve really done is create a religion that now gets in the way of our relationship with the Creator of the universe. That’s why you see so many people who’s faith has gotten old and cold over the years. People’s who’s faith doesn’t make a consistent difference in their daily life any more. People’s who’s faith doesn’t move them to make a difference in this world. People who don’t see God for who He really is because they’re God is all boxed up.

It’s time for the church in America to start [2] believing outside the box again to be able to see God for who He is, and what He expects and what He’s doing in the world. It’s time to stop painting a picture of God that suits our own personal agendas. Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I need to see you!

Last week we saw how the apostle Peter believed outside the box when he realized that the salvation of the Lord is the same for all - whether a person was a Jew or a gentile. This was a new concept for him but he saw the evidence for himself as the member’s of Cornelius’ house were saved just like his fellow Jews were saved.

The news of this glorious event traveled fast to the mother church in Jerusalem so Peter set out to let his fellow Jewish Christians know exactly what had happened. But as we’re going to see he was met with some [3] resistance to God’s works amongst the gentiles. Resistance from those who wouldn’t believe outside the box.

[Read Acts 11:1-3.]

These Jewish Christians were upset! Peter had done the unthinkable and had fellowshipped with non-Jewish people! They just didn’t understand that God’s plan for the world included the gentiles as well as the Jews.

You see, all throughout history God made a way for non-Jewish people to come to Him. Faith in God has always been the avenue to God. But when gentiles would place their faith in God they would also identify themselves with God’s people the Jews. This was done through practicing the Jewish traditions and laws.

But it seems that some of these Jewish Christians still didn’t understand that God’s plan for the world was for the world, not just the Jews! They probably only remembered some of what Jesus taught instead of all of what He taught.

You see while Jesus was on the earth He spent most of His time preaching to the Jews and presenting Himself as their long awaited Messiah. His main public ministry was an effort to wake up the nation of Israel to His validity. But He also taught how He loved the entire world and would die for the sins of the world and how they needed to reach out to the world.

[Read John 3:16 and Mark 16:15.]

They had conveniently forgotten how Jesus taught of His love for all people and instead kept Him in their little, Jewish God box. They just couldn’t believe that God would save those awful gentiles in the same way He saved them. So when they heard of something happening that was different or uncomfortable with their own religious preferences, they resisted. (Not realizing that their resistance was of God’s works!)

But not much has changed in the church over the past two thousand years. Many people still resist what God is doing because it isn’t what they expected Him to do or what they even wanted Him to do. Some people don’t like things that don’t fit into their nice, neat little boxes.

Just think about the issues the church has had with musical styles over the years. Oh my goodness can we argue over music!

Case in point. Around the turn of the century there was a young lady writing some incredible worship songs. But instead of setting the lyrics to traditional music, she set them to modern music and tried to bring them into the church. She was met with harsh resistance and criticism. “You can’t sing Christian words to bar room music!” But she just kept writing and many of her songs have become the most cherished songs of the church.

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