Who We Are
 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.  He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.  He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.  It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.  Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."  "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."  The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."  This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.  While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate.  They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.  While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."  Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?"  The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say."  Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
How was God preparing for Cornelius to hear the Gospel?
Jesus had declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), but Peter had not grasped that truth. He needed to stop; he needed to look at God's vision; he needed to listen to what God was saying, and then to act on it. It would have been very hard to abandon his upbringing in the Jewish law. To eat "unclean" food would have cut him off from his worshiping community for a time. In this vision, God is dramatically showing Peter new things, and the Holy Spirit is helping him begin to put them into action (19).
Peter has also been living all this time with a tanner (6; 9:43). Tanners spent much of their working day being ritually unclean, dealing with the skins of dead animals. Perhaps this was also God's gentle way of acclimatizing Peter to the new truth he needed to show him.
A lot of Christian traditions are helpful, but today might be a good time to check before God whether they are helping or hindering. Look out for that new thing God is teaching you about living out your faith in action. Remember you may need to stop, look, listen and act!
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