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Whenever God wants to do something new, something special, something wonderful, He will usually motivate a man or a woman through a vision.

When God wanted to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt, He called Moses by causing a bush to burn in the desert which caught Moses’ attention. Wondering why the bush burned without being consumed, Moses approached it and it was then that God called him to go to Egypt to free His people from bondage (Exodus 3:3).

When God wanted to open Europe to the Gospel, He called Paul. through a vision in which he heard a man from Macedonia saying, ‘Come over and help us,’ (Acts 16:9). Until that time, it had never entered Paul’s mind to cross the sea with the Gospel.

And here in Acts 10, God is again about to do something new, something special, something wonderful as He is about to fling wide open the door of the Church to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles? How shocking this would have been to the apostles and to the leaders of the early Church, for as Jews, they had been taught throughout their history that Gentiles were unclean. The Mishnah itself stated that Gentiles existed for one primary purpose: to fuel the fires of hell. Thus, Jews had nothing to do with Gentiles. If a Jew even accidentally brushed against a Gentile, he would immediately go home, burn the clothes he was wearing, and take a ceremonial bath.

Jews did not talk to Gentiles. They did not care about Gentiles. They had no hope for Gentiles. This was not the original plan of God. The prophets — particularly Isaiah — proclaimed very clearly that Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles and that God would bless the people of Israel in order that Gentiles might see the benefits of walking with Him (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). But the Jews lost that understanding. They turned inward and thought Gentiles were good for nothing but to keep hell hot.

Here in Acts 10, God is about to use Peter to bring salvation to the Gentiles. First, however, He must give Peter a new understanding. He must prepare Peter’s heart. So what does He do?

He gives Peter a vision.

We need to have vision too. Solomon said, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,’ (Proverbs 29:18). The word translated ‘perish’ is ‘parah’, which means ‘to run wild, or aimlessly’. In other words, without vision, you and I, our families, our church, and our nation will run around aimlessly if we lack vision.

Thus, God desires to give us vision for our lives, our families, our ministries, and our country. How? In this passage I see three steps God uses to give vision . . .

Preparation for vision

'On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour.' Acts 10:9

In Bible times, housetops were flat and accessed by a stairway which ran up the outside of the wall. They were used as places of quiet retreat away from the crowd and clamor of the cities. So it was that Peter went to the housetop to pray.

Vision always begins away from the crowd, away from the busyness — in a quiet place, through a quiet time, with a quiet heart.

In Isaiah 30, the people of Israel were panicking because their enemy, the Assyrians, had them surrounded. Afraid of the Assyrian threat, the Jews sent ambassadors to Egypt seeking safety through an alliance with them. However, Isaiah came on the scene saying, ‘Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me. For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not,’ (Isaiah 30:1,15).

How often we seek advice and help from other people, and yet fail on a daily basis to get away to a ‘rooftop’ and seek the Lord. We make our plans, we form our alliances, we get our counsel — all dependent upon other people.

But the Lord says to us, as He did to the children of Israel, ‘It’s not going to work. The Egyptians are unable to help you. Return to Me and rest, for in My quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’

Illumination in vision

'And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four comers, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' Acts 10:10-13

In Leviticus 11, the Jews were given very specific instructions concerning what foods they could and couldn’t eat. Here in Peter’s vision, he sees clean and unclean, kosher and un-kosher foods all together upon a sheet. I find it fascinating that in this illumination in vision, the Lord used food. This is great!

I love Peter so much because, just like me, Peter sometimes had a hard time being spiritual. In the Garden of Gethsemane when the Lord asked him to pray with Him for an hour, what did Peter do? He fell asleep (Matthew 26:40). He wanted to pray; his spirit was willing. But he fell asleep because his flesh was weak. Here, Peter wanted to pray again. He went up to the rooftop, but he was hungry. And in his hunger he sort of spaced out. Did the Lord come down on Peter and say, ‘What’s wrong with you? You should be spiritual. You should be able to miss a meal or two’? No, He said, ‘You’re hungry, Peter? OK. I’ll use your hunger to show you something new. Watch out. Here comes some food!’

This story helps me a whole lot because through it I understand that the Lord uses common, everyday things to teach lessons and to give vision. Don’t think the Lord only gives vision at Church or in a Bible study. Yes, He uses His Body and His Word powerfully, but not exclusively. If He has already prepared your heart to receive it, He can give you vision any time, any place — even when, like Peter, you're in line waiting for a Quarter Pounder!

Confirmation of Vision

While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, 'Behold, three men seek thee.' Acts 10:19

God spoke to Cornelius through an angel and to Peter through a vision. When three men showed up at Peter’s gate, it was confirmation that both Cornelius and Peter had heard God correctly. Whenever God gives a vision in your heart, it will be confirmed by a knocking on your door. The voice of the Lord will always be confirmed. That’s always the way of God throughout Scripture.

And Jeremiah said, 'The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it. So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.' Jeremiah 32:6-8

Sometimes we say, ‘Wow! It’s the Lord,’ when in reality, it could just be Satan bugging us. Benjamin, my four-year-old, spent some time with Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Julie yesterday. Last night, Julie told us that Ben was saying, ‘Wow,’ as he moved his head in circles. ‘Do you hear that buzzing?’ ‘What buzzing?’ asked Julie. ‘That buzzing. Don’t you hear that buzzing?’ Finally, Julie looked a little closer and discovered a ladybug in Benny’s ear. Benjamin believed there was a buzzing in the room — but actually, it was all in his head.

That’s why confirmation is essential. Make sure you’re hearing the Lord’s voice.

Wait for His confirmation. God is faithful. It will come. And when it does, like Jeremiah, you can say, ‘Then I knew it was the Word of the Lord.’

And you can press ahead. My prayer is that we will not wander around aimlessly year after year, wondering what our life is about — but that we will be men and women of vision.