Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 16

“Bridge Building – Part 1”

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.” Psalm 133:1

 

I had a God moment this morning. As I rolled through the new feeds on my phone, I saw an article entitled, “Black man calls police…” The story was about two men, a black man and a police officer, from Minnesota who bonded amid growing protests. Calvin Matthew, a state health inspector for the Minnesota Department of Health met Sgt. Justin Pletcher on May 27th – two days after George Floyd’s death. After reading their story and since we have been inundated with so much social unrest, I thought perhaps their “bridge building” could be the subject of my devotion.  

I put my phone down and tuned into a time of worship. As the music played, I began to ask God to bring a Scripture to mind that would be an example of relational bridge building. Suddenly, the encounter between the Roman soldier, Cornelius and Peter came into my thoughts. I knew the story was in the book of Acts. And as I reflected upon the bridge that was built between this Roman gentile and this Jewish follower of Christ, I realized that this would be the perfect example. Then I sank into the music even more, knowing that I had the piece parts for the devotion of the day. After worship, I turned to my One Year Bible and opened the pages for today’s reading. What was today’s reading? Acts 10:1-23. The passage begins, “In Caesarea, there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment…” After all this time, you would think that I would no longer be surprised to see the hand of God. No one can tell me that this was a coincidence, you had to be here! I wonder if this is simply God’s sense of humor. Regardless, it reminds me that no matter what is going on in the world, He still holds it all in his hands.

After reading about Cornelius and Peter, my eyes moved on to the Psalm for the day. This reading was from Psalm 133:1-3.  It reads, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mt. Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.” Are you kidding me? Are you getting this? Our heavenly Father is looking down upon us right now with a huge grin on his face. Yes, he is that wonderful!

Be encouraged today. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) We worship an amazing God, and He takes pleasure in revealing himself to us. Let us continue to ask, seek and knock for His presence in every area of our lives during this trying time.

Below, is the Scripture reading and the commentary associated with the reading from my One Year Bible, and then the story about the two men from Minnesota living in harmony together. Enjoy.

May God Bless You Abundantly Today!

Love in Christ, Pastor Mark

 

Cornelius Calls for Peter

10 In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer[a] named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said.

Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel.

And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.”

As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.

Peter Visits Cornelius

The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, 10 and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. 12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”

14 “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.[b]

15 But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” 16 The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.

17 Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? Just then the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house. Standing outside the gate, 18 they asked if a man named Simon Peter was staying there.

19 Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you. 20 Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.”

21 So Peter went down and said, “I’m the man you are looking for. Why have you come?”

22 They said, “We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman officer. He is a devout and God-fearing man, well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to summon you to his house so that he can hear your message.” 23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa.

Today’s Study: Acts 10:9-23

The Jewish law prohibited certain foods from being eaten (see Leviticus 11). These food laws made it difficult for Jews to eat with Gentiles without breaking the laws, and Jews often viewed Gentiles themselves as “unclean.”

This is why Peter had difficulties embracing what God was calling him to do – it took a heavenly vision, repeated three times. Peter’s vision meant that he should not look upon the Gentiles as inferior people whom God would not redeem. After having the vision, he understood that it was his responsibility to go with the messengers into a Gentile home and tell them the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

God sometimes calls us to put aside our cultural prejudices and traditions in order to reach out to people who are different from ourselves. When he does, we need to be ready to put aside our ideas of what is proper, polite, or acceptable. We need to be ready to reach out across racial, cultural, and socio-economic lines to love and accept others the way God loves and accepts us. Like Peter, we need to be ready to humble ourselves and show other people how God is reaching out to them.

 

Black man calls police to alert them he’s doing his job.

(Photo https://mix949.com/mn-police-officers-moving-story-of-reconciliation-goes-viral/

Two men from Minnesota who bonded amid growing protests against police brutality are sharing their story of friendship after a Facebook post recounting their meeting went viral.

Calvin Mathews, a state health inspector for the Minnesota Department of Health, met Sgt. Justin Pletcher on May 27 — two days after George Floyd’s death.

Mathews told “Good Morning America” he made a non-emergency call to the police while inspecting a mobile home park.

“I said, ‘Hey sir, I wanted to call and let you know I am an inspector just in case a citizen calls and says some strange black man is walking around,'” Mathews recalled. “He said, ‘I’m sorry you even feel the need to tell me this.'”

Pletcher, 39, of the Columbia Heights Police Department, said he took Mathews’ call.

“He said, ‘I’m a big black guy with dreads’ and he didn’t want it to become an issue,” Pletcher explained. “I said, ‘Hey man, I get it. It won’t become an issue, but if someone calls, I’ll squash it.'”

Pletcher met Mathews in the small city of Hilltop after Mathews asked if the sergeant could come check his credentials in case someone called dispatch.

Pletcher soon noticed Mathews’ Omega Psi Phi bracelet that he was wearing, which is the same black fraternity Pletcher’s college roommate belonged to.

After learning they had a mutual friend, Pletcher and Mathews spent an hour walking the neighborhood together.

“If you look like me and you run into police, you don’t know who you’re going to get,” Mathews said. “He agreed to walk around with me during my inspection and we talked.”

Pletcher said he and Mathews had a lot in common.

“We like to travel and we both love [musical artist] Prince,” Pletcher added. “[We] both have biracial children.”

Pletcher and Mathews snapped a photo together and shared it on Facebook along with a story of their meeting. The post garnered 218,000 shares.

“I honestly think people need to see there’s some type of hope out there,” Mathews said of the viral moment. “The fact is, none of my other coworkers would’ve thought, ‘let me call the police,’ and that’s the definition of privilege.”

He added, “I’m 49 years old. I have dreads. I’ve never smoked. I’ve been to prison 22 times but to inspect, not as an occupant. I think it all comes down to fear. People are afraid of something they saw on TV. It’s just ridiculous.”

Mathews said he’d like to see police reform.

“Several officers I know said nowhere in the book of training did it say to put their knee on that man’s neck,” Mathews said. “Maybe there needs to be a time limit [for police working] on and off the streets. Maybe there should be mandated counseling.”

“There’s tons of good officers,” he continued. “Something needs to happen with these bad officers.”

Following Floyd’s death, demonstrations began in Minnesota. Pletcher said his neighborhood was destroyed and looting was common.

“I’m not angry about the rioting, I’m angry that’s what had to be resorted to until people listened,” he said. “I’m angry about systematic racism, I’m angry about inequality. It won’t change unless we do something and that’s policing.”

He went on, “The thin blue line, the very idea of a line suggests segregation and if I’m not on the same side of my community, I’m failing them, I’m failing this badge — any officer that disagrees with me needs to think about doing something else.”

 

 


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