lesson
22

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Confronting our comfort zones
Acts 10:9-23

warm up

Which of following seems to be outside your personal comfort zone?

1. Following a doctor's diet or exercise plan.
2. Not gossiping about someone you really don't like.
3. Turning the other cheek when you are angry.
4. Overcoming racial and/or social prejudices.

What makes some of these "things that we know we should" do so difficult? If you have ever had a difficult time doing something you know is right because it was not the way you were raised, then you know how Peter felt in this text. Sometimes God requires us to move out of our comfort zones!

wise up
  

    Right or wrong, the old status quo, the old habits, the old way of doing things and the old way of thinking is often more comfortable than change for many people. When someone questions our long held beliefs, values, or prejudices we may begin to squirm, become angry, or just turn away and ignore them. We don't like our comfort zones to be disturbed. Even when we are presented with logic and irrefutable proof we may be slow to change. We may find ourselves wrestling with the logic or proof.   

I. Peter's comfort zone was disturbed: Vs. 9-13
   1. While the noon lunch was being prepared by his host, Peter used his free time to pray. The text indicates that he was "hungry" which explains the nature of the vision he received. 

    2.
What is a "trance" (Cf. Vs. 17)? What did Peter see in his vision? (Vs. 11-13). What did the voice tell hungry Peter to do? Why would obedience to this command have been outside Peter's comfort zone?
    3. According to the Jewish law of Moses (Lev. 11:4, 20:25, Deut. 14:3,7) what law of God would this have violated? What type of food was forbidden to be eaten? Was Peter still under the law of Moses? (Cf., Col 2:14.) Even so, isn't it hard to go against something that you were taught all your life even though your understanding has changed? Such was Peter's predicament.

II. Peter's response was "thanks but no thanks:" Vs. 14-16
   1. In fairness to Peter, discuss each of the following reasons why he may have refused to obey: 

a. He may have thought he was being tested or tempted.
b. He may not have completely understood that the old law had been fulfilled and set aside.
c. It was hard to change long time social and religious practices
d. Other.

    2. What was Peter's stated reason for not eating? What did the voice in the vision say that God had done (Vs. 15.) How many times was Peter told to eat? If it took Peter three repetitions of the same revealed truth before it finally began to "sink in," what are the implications of this when it comes to teaching and preaching today? Can we realistically expect people to change long held beliefs after only one or two sermons?

III. Peter wonders about the significance of the vision: Vs. 17-23
    1. As Peter considered the possible meanings to the revelation, the Spirit told him that He (the Spirit) had sent three men to Peter. Evidently the Spirit had been responsible for the vision that Cornelius had seen (Cf., Vs. 5.)
    2. After the men informed Peter of their purpose, do you think Peter understood the significance of the vision?  The Jews thought of the Gentiles as "unclean" and to be avoided much like they avoided certain foods. But God wanted the disciples of Christ to no longer think that way in regards to their fellowman. 
    3.  At first, Peter did not understand God's command to eat that which had once been forbidden. Do we always understand at first the reasons behind God's commands? In the Old Testament, the Israelites may not have understood why they should put blood on the door posts of their homes during the last plague in Egypt. But God said to do it and so they obeyed. Those who did not perished. The same was true of many examples we might consider from the Scriptures and the same is true even today. 
    4. When we today are confronted by a command or principle of God that requires us to do something that is outside our comfort zone how do we react? We can chose to ignore it, get angry, or just squirm but to do so puts our souls in jeopardy. Discuss the implications of Hebrews 5:9. 

wrap up

   1.  Since the Lord seemed patient with Peter as he struggled to change his beliefs, values, and prejudices, shouldn't we be patient with ourselves and our fellow man as we and they learn and apply God's word to our lives?

Assignment

  Please read Acts 10:24-35 for next week    copyright 2001