28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 11
WEEK 11 - ACTS 11 - October 22, 2018
Written by Rev. Dr. Joseph Harris, assistant to the Bishop/conference secretary/director of Communications, Oklahoma Conference; General Conference Delegate
If you wish to contact the delegation via email the address is firstname.lastname@example.org
After attending seven General Conferences as a delegate and serving as chair and vice chair of three legislative committees, I thought there was little at a General Conference I had either not experienced or not seen. Yet, I will be experiencing for the first time a ‘special’ Called General Conference in February. This will be a unique and historic conference that will help determine how we as a church move into the future in our ministries with homosexual persons.
Peter and the church in Acts faced similar compelling and challenging decisions, focused on how they were going to minister to uncircumcised believers (Gentiles) whom they believed were ritually unclean. Peter shares with them his encounter with the Lord when he is asked to eat that which he formally considered unclean (Acts 10:9-17). He then goes with Gentile believers to another Gentile house and all end up receiving the Holy Spirit. Peter concluded from all that had happened that ‘he could not stand in God’s way’.
For others who believed that the word could only go to Jews, Barnabas is sent to find out what was happening and encouraged ‘everyone’ to remain committed to the Lord. What he saw was evidence of God’s grace in the lives of all who believed. This group of Jew and Gentle believers became known as Christians, because they were people who went beyond the bounds of what usually was permitted within Judaism.
At the opening worship of the 2008 General Conference, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie said these profound words: “Hope is the nerve center of the Christian life. It is impossible to live without hope. Show me someone without hope, and I will show you someone who is either dead or so desperate that they are capable of the most awful violence” The theme of that General Conference was “A Future with Hope”
Peter and Barnabas showed the church of that day a hopeful future. Regardless of what is decided at this “Called” General Conference, we must leave as people of hope who declare that we will not stand in God’s way and that we have seen evidence of God’s grace in the lives of all who attend and believe. We cannot stop being ‘Christians’ to one another and the world because of the final results. When we return home, we must be more determined than ever to reach further out of our comfort zones than when we left, to those who feel rejected, disappointed or marginalized. If that can happen as a result of our collective effort at this Conference, then this General Conference will truly be a unique and hope-filled experience.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 11
• Tuesday - Acts 11:1-18
• Wednesday - Acts 11:19-30
• Thursday - Acts 11:1-9
• Friday - Acts 11:10-18
• Saturday - Acts 11:19-26
• Sunday - Acts 11:27-30
Reflection question: What boundaries must be broken so that the message of Christ continues to spread throughout the world? Do we want to hinder that?
Prayer focus: Churches of the Heartland District (https://www.okumc.org/heartland), DS Victor McCullough and DA Elaine Boyd