12 They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” 13 Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”
14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel.
7 After much debate, Peter stood and addressed them, “Fellow believers, you know that, early on, God chose me from among you as the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and come to believe. 8 God, who knows people’s deepest thoughts and desires, confirmed this by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us.
13 When Barnabas and Paul also fell silent, James responded, “Fellow believers, listen to me. 14 Simon reported how, in his kindness, God came to the Gentiles in the first place, to raise up from them a people of God.
7 But on the contrary, they saw that I had been given the responsibility to preach the gospel to the people who aren’t circumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 The one who empowered Peter to become an apostle to the circumcised empowered me also to be one to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas, and John, who are considered to be key leaders, shook hands with me and Barnabas as equals when they recognized the grace that was given to me. So it was agreed that we would go to the Gentiles, while they continue to go to the people who were circumcised. 10 They asked only that we would remember the poor, which was certainly something I was willing to do.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was wrong. 12 He had been eating with the Gentiles before certain people came from James. But when they came, he began to back out and separate himself, because he was afraid of the people who promoted circumcision.
We’ll return to Peter’s later life in more detail in this series’ last sermon. But this peek ahead shows us the kind of leader Peter became. He let Jesus shape his bold, outspoken nature into a compelling preacher, bravely declaring the power of the crucified and risen Jesus. He forcefully spoke out on behalf of the legitimacy of Gentile believers, whom he had seen receive God’s Holy Spirit without conforming to all Jewish regulations. But he also accepted James (Jesus' brother) presiding over the Jerusalem conference. He welcomed Paul to the ranks of apostles, and agreed to focus his mission in a way that didn’t conflict with Paul’s. We hear and read a lot about “servant leaders.” We see Peter living out that kind of leadership.
Lord Jesus, when I need rebuke, make me as willing as Peter was to accept it. But when I need to stand firmly for you, give me his courage and boldness. Amen.
Invite each family member to share the name and special qualities of their favorite teacher. Remind everyone that Jesus was a teacher who spent much of his time helping others learn about God and God’s kingdom. As a family, talk about ways you are teachers of God and God’s ways. How do you teach with words, telling others about God and his love? How do you teach with your actions as you serve other people? Maybe you teach others about God by being kind, patient, generous, or a good listener. Commit to intentionally teaching someone about God’s love this week. Share your stories and experiences with your family. Write a note to your favorite teacher thanking her/him for being so important to you. Pray for one another and for all teachers to share patience, kindness and love with everyone.
If I could name one teacher who had the biggest impact on my life, I would easily identify my high school Theater teacher. Aside from my parents, she was one of the first people who saw in me my strengths and weaknesses, and helped guide me toward a path of using those strengths for the betterment of those around me. The time she took to lead me had a great influence on the man I became.
In grade school and middle school, I began to discover my passion for writing. Unfortunately, I was amply bullied out of it, causing a fear of showing creativity that I couldn’t easily overcome. I can’t remember if I had ever talked about this passion with my teacher or not, but one day she gave me the simplest, yet single greatest gift I had ever received from a teacher: a book about how to structure a novel and get it published. I found that book again just a few months ago among other things from my childhood in a box my mom gave me. It brought tears to my eyes as I recalled how meaningful this simple gesture was to me, reviving that desire to write.
In just the past month, I have twice heard the prompt to write a note to a teacher, thanking them for the life-changing guidance he or she has given. The first was at the Global Leadership Summit at the beginning of August. The second was in the Family Activity of this GPS. This particular GPS is an ironic milestone for me. In addition to that question, this is also the first time I’ve ever “put my work out there.”
God chose Peter to teach his Word because he saw his strengths in leading, in teaching, and in the ability to read his audience. God also helped Peter’s pupils have an understanding of the importance of his message by sending his Holy Spirit to dwell among them. Peter gave of himself through teaching by seeing the needs of every person with whom he interacted. The beauty of Peter’s ministry is that he humbled himself by preaching to the outcasts, similarly to Jesus, and allowed others to hold him accountable. He gave room for others to speak, used what he saw to change the hearts of the religious leaders, and then allowed God to work through all of this instead of forcing his own agenda.
God used my Theater teacher to set a trajectory for my life, and very likely the lives of many of her other students. We all have points in our lives where God may be using us to make an impression on others, and places where God is using others to teach and care for us. Can you identify those people in your life? Do you see the outcasts to whom God may be asking you to extend a hand, to stand up for, or just simply accept? Is there someone in your life who may have done this for you?
I know I have people all around me like that, and before I submit this, I’m going to respond to this all-too-clear nudge from God and write a thank-you note.
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