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"And Obey the Spirit of the Lord" by Andy Pratt

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Two: The Magnificat

Tuesday, December 12

Acts 11:1-18

“Who was I that I could hinder God?” (Acts 11:17b)

The African-American Spiritual says, “I’m goin a sing, pray, and shout when the Spirit says sing, pray, and shout.”  The last line of each verse is “and obey the Spirit of the Lord.”

In Acts chapter 11, Peter is called-on-the-carpet by the circumcised-believers for going to the house of a Gentile (Cornelius in Caesarea), engaging in table fellowship, and baptizing Cornelius and his family without first converting them to Judaism and circumcising the men (for the full story see Acts chapter 10).  Peter’s defense was, “If God gave them [Gentiles] the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”  The Spirit’s fingerprints were all over this situation. Recognizing the Spirit at work, Peter thought it best to “let go and let God,” as the gospel hymn says. Back in Jerusalem, facing the hard stares, Peter told the brethren that it was not him they were challenging but God’s Spirit. Could there be an uncircumcised-believer?

When the Spirit is at work, Mary says, “the lowly are lifted up and the hungry are filled; the powerful are brought down, the proud scattered, and the rich emptied.”  When the Spirit is at work, Peter says, “the rules about clean and unclean are rewritten, and Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit.”

This is not our first rodeo. We’ve been up this Advent road before. What if this time we committed ourselves that no matter what happens, we are going to “obey the Spirit of the Lord?” Mary did. Peter did.

Andy Pratt

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