Freedom Over Worry

Freedom Over Worry

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:6):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

To have guidance from God’s Word when worry comes makes all the difference. God’s Word will not bring freedom from worry ever creeping in, but freedom over worry when it does.  

The Message Bible says:

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Instead of worrying there is another option, prayer. Paul says worry will come but instead of dwelling in, pitching a tent in the camp of worry, you could do something else that will cure your worries and that is prayer. Paul is a smart guy who knows the Old Testament really well. When he writes Philippians 4 I believe he is thinking about the words of the Psalmist who would write:

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 NLT).

I prayed to the Lord and what happens when he prayed or when we pray… God will answer us. God will respond to your prayers. He will rescue us or deliver us from fear and worry.

The verse before in Philippians sets the tone for us to experience freedom over worry.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It is easy to forget during difficult times just how near God is (Philippians 4:5) because in the trouble He can feel so far away. But He is with us, and we can communicate with Him, and pray at any time and experience freedom over worry, trust in His love, instead of fear.

“Don’t worry” (merimnaō): don’t even take thought of it to the point of allowing it to trouble you. Before it gets to that point of causing you trouble, pray (Philippians 4:6).

Worry builds and that is why it is best to deal with it before it gets to a troubling level. It is remarkable to me that living 1,000 years apart, Paul and David are saying the exact same thing. However, Paul adds some things about prayer. in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 

After thanksgiving then let your requests be made known to God. Thanksgiving is the Greek word “eucharist”, communion. Worship God for all your spiritual blessings in Jesus before your requests. Paul says in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Start your prayers by giving thanks for what God has done for us in Christ. And then let your requests be made known to God.  In this way, it says, “I trust God.” 

When you pray like this, all of a sudden, you are no longer held hostage waiting for what you think the result should be. The more you thank Him, the more His peace reigns in your heart. Whatever your concern is, bring it to your Father in prayer and thank your way to peace!

Friend of God: Name Dropping

Friend of God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:11):

“Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We have the opportunity every day in our lives to boast about the victory Jesus has given us. We boast about different stuff all the time. Just look at bumper stickers, “my kids is an honor student”, “I ran 26.2 miles”, “I am an alumni of XYZ University”. Social media is full of places we have been, the food we ate, and things we have experienced that we are proud of and want to share with the world. There is something within us to want to share the wonderful things we have been a part of, and here Paul is saying we can and should boast in the greatest thing to ever happen to us, we are now reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is crazy is God didn’t give this great gift to His best friends, God gave the gift that was the life of His son, to His enemies. Enemies? That’s strong language but it is what we were apart from Jesus,“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10)!

That is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, because this is what I did for you. When someone is persecuting you, causing you trouble, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us love, joy, peace, etc… This person who is not acting like a friend, but more like an enemy, I can pray for them, they are the perfect candidate for someone who needs Jesus. This is where miracles take place. God loves them too and wishes for them to have their lives forever changed by the Gospel.

So, we use to be enemies with God (Romans 5:10) but being reconciled to Him through Jesus, we are now friends of God and part of His family. We are friends and even family of the One who made the Universe.

We have now received the reconciliation. The word “received” means that this reconciliation is a gift that we receive by grace through Christ. Reconciliation is special in that it is not like most other gifts. Let’s say it is your birthday and your significant other buys you a lantern. A lantern is a practical yet fairly lame gift. Most people don’t ask for a lantern for their birthday, you might even question how well they know you or have been paying attention to you over the year. But if your power goes out you might be thankful for the lantern. Then when the power is restored, you put the lantern away, and then forget about it entirely until the power goes out again. Then you feel thankful again for the gift again.

This is different from what Paul means by receiving the gift of reconciliation. He means receiving it in such a way that what is in the package makes you rejoice all the time. And what is in the gift, is God reconciled. The gift of reconciliation is God offering us Himself so that we might rejoice in Him.

James 2:23 says: And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ‘And he was called the friend of God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus made us righteous through His sacrifice on the cross and our faith in Him. We now are friends of God (John 15:15, James 2:23).

What we should be doing is name-dropping about who we are friends with. God is my friend. God is my Father. It changes our perspective on things. Paul is so confident in his relationship with God, that he says to other believers who gave to him to help him while in prison “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I am friends with God, He has abundantly blessed and abundantly supplied me in Jesus.

The Man Who Walked With God After the Fall of Man

The Man Who Walked With God After the Fall of Man

Daily Reading: (Genesis 5:21-24):

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”

Genesis 5 begins with the genealogy of the first man who God created, Adam.

“This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created” (Genesis 5:1-2).

You may have noticed a footnote next to the word mankind and that the word mankind is in parenthesis. Why is that?  Well, the Hebrew word that is used here for mankind is “adam”. Some translations will actually just use the word adam instead of mankind.  

Genesis chapters two and five say that you were made by divine design in the image of our very Creator. God made us. Our origin started with God. How did God create us? Genesis 2:7: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

The Bible was written a long time ago passed down from generation to generation. In Genesis 2:7 what does it say that God made us out of? Dust, the Earth. So, if our genetic makeup is dirt so to speak, we should easily be able to prove or disprove this. Back when Genesis was written, people didn’t have the science to confirm or deny this and they could not envision as they were writing Genesis that we would one day be able to prove or disprove whether or not Genesis 2:7 is true. If it is false then not a single word of the Bible could be or should be trusted. That is how serious of an issue this is. This speaks to atheists, agnostics, and even Christians alike. Does God exist it, did He create us, and then how did He do it?

The human body is made up almost entirely of 13 elements. Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen make up 96% of our body’s mass. The other 4% of body weight is composed almost entirely of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, and iodine. Silicon as an element in the human body (less than one percent). Every single one of the 13 elements is what makes up the Earth’s material.

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). Enoch was the first one to experience a Rapture.

Before he was taken he had this testimony, that “he pleased God”.What is pleasing to God? Let’s go to Hebrews 11:5-6 for some clarification:

Hebrews 11:5–6 (Amplified Bible): By faith [that pleased God] Enoch was caught up and taken to heaven so that he would not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found because God had taken him; for even before he was taken [to heaven], he received the testimony [still on record] that he had walked with God and pleased Him. But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.”

Enoch still walked with God, even after the fall of man. The New Covenant way of walking with God is found in Galatians 5:16. “I say then: ‘Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” You’re not walking with the Spirit. You’re not walking before the Spirit. Because that would indicate that the Holy Spirit is outside you. Don’t forget that the Holy Spirit is God Himself who dwells within you, so you walk in the Spirit.

That is a very intimate term because the real you is actually a spirit. God made you in His image, but it wasn’t until God breathed into you the breath of life and God made you a spirit that you came to life. There are actually three parts to every human being: body, soul, and spirit. Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

In the old tabernacle of Moses, you find there are three parts to it. The outer court, which is your body. The Holy Place, which is your soul. And then the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant is, that’s the spirit.

We will see Enoch return to Earth for a specific purpose. He was taken and preserved for a special purpose and he will be brought back for a special purpose too found in the book of Revelation chapter 11.

Jehosheba: Preserving the Messianic Lineage

Jehosheba

Daily Reading: (2 Kings 11:1-3):

“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.”

Who is Athaliah? She is the offspring of two of the evilest people to ever live on this planet. Imagine if Adolph Hitler and Queen Mary I had a baby, it would have been Athaliah. On learning the death of Ahaziah (2 Kings 9:27), Athaliah who is the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, the queen-mother, murders all her grandchildren (except the youngest, who is secreted by his aunt, Jehosheba) and seizes the kingdom. No resistance is made to her, and she retains the sole authority for six years. She maintains the worship of Baal (2 Kings 11:18), introduced by Jehoram into Judah, and supported by Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:27).

She issued her orders and had all the members of the house of David put to death. The royal house had already been greatly depleted by Jehoram’s murder of his brothers (2 Chronicles 21:4), by Arab marauders (2 Chronicles 21:17), and by Jehu’s murder of the “brethren of Ahaziah” (2 Kings 10:14). We have Satan at work trying to wipe out the Messianic lineage that would bring about Jesus. But in enters a hero. The text says “But Jehosheba”. Do you know what her name means? Jehosheba is Hebrew for “Yahweh is an oath”. The enemy (Athaliah) has a plan to steal, kill, and destroy, but God is a promise keeper (Jehosheba) and will preserve the Messianic lineage (Joash), so that we might be given life.  

Who is Joash? Joash became the youngest king of Israel. He became king at age of 7 years old! He is the eighth king of Israel. Of the Kings of Israel and Judah almost all were evil. But what do you think about Joash? God gave distinct names to individuals to communicate a message. We have “God is an oath” (Jehosheba) preserving the Messianic lineage by saving Joash and Joash’s name means “Jehovah-given”. Does God ever give evil?  Just because Joash will start off being a great king it doesn’t mean that he will finish as a good king though.

When we go to Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1 where is Joash? God blotted out his name from remembrance in the Gospel of Matthew.

Second Kings 12:1–3 says that Joash “reigned in Jerusalem forty years. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” The tragedy of King Joash of Judah is that, after his mentor and guardian, Jehoiada died, he began listening to wicked advisers. We should have seen this coming. Jehoiada’s name means “Jehovah knows” sought after wicked advisers this is when things went terribly wrong for him.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Whereas with Jehoiada, “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Why did God go through all the trouble to bring about Joash when He knew in the end things would go bad with him?

The answer is in the name of the person who saved Joash, Jehosheba, “God is my oath”. God saw all of humanity, and even in all of our failings, God is faithful. God saw our need and gave the greatest most costly gift He could give, Jesus Christ.  Before the Law was ever given, this is the oath that God made to Abram. Genesis 12:3: “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” You can trace the lineage of Abraham to Jesus where all the people of the Earth will find their blessing in Him. When the enemy has raised up in power Athaliah trust that God keeps His Word always (Jehosheba), and will provide, Jehoiada because “Jehovah knows” how to bring about salvation (Jesus Christ).

The Two Who Dared to Believe

The Two Who Dared to Believe

Daily Reading: (Numbers 14:38):

“Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.”

How many spies did Moses send? Moses sent out twelve. How many of them failed to believe the land would be theirs? Ten of the twelve or 83.3% of the people sent to check out the inheritance God was giving them did not believe that is was theirs to receive.

 “So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it” (Numbers 14:36).

What is unique in this story is that the faith of these two had no impact on the other 10 spies, in fact the other ten convinced all of Israel to not believe in the promise of God. But just because it seemed that Caleb and Joshua had failed to influence the people- they were still going to be great influencers. God’s plan was to use Joshua and Caleb to lead the next generation into the inheritance He was giving.

Moses makes a fatal mistake, the mistake is not in sending the spies, this was what God said in Numbers 13:2, but allowing the spies to poison the minds and hearts of the people into not believing God for the good things He said He would bring about. I believe the error starts in the questions Moses asked of his spies:

When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified?How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” It was the season for the first ripe grapes” (Numbers 13:17-20).

What difference does it matter if the people are strong or weak, if the city is fortified or not? God wanted you to send the spies to see what amazing place He had promised to give you that it is exactly as He said it would be. Caleb and Joshua, unlike the others, see the promise through eyes of faith not of doubt.

The report of the land and even who inhabited it should have instilled faith in the people, if they paid attention to the Word of the Lord. Faith is what inherits and faith is what possess what God desires to give.

The people chose to not believe and it leads them to grumble. They are so close, they tasted of the grapes that were brought back from the land, they heard how amazing the land is and they fail to take a step of faith and claim their inheritance. So, Deuteronomy 28:15 will become their reality. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.”

Today, people have mistaken text like this to think that maybe the bad things that have come upon them are because God is punishing them for not doing what is right. We don’t live in the Old Covenant and in Christ, Jesus is the one who qualifies us for every single blessing because He has kept all of God’s commandments. When He died for us on the cross, He not only fulfilled all of God’s commandments, Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13). If the curse is gone, what our inheritance in Christ is would be all of the blessings found within the Law because of the One who kept the Law perfectly for us. Jesus did not redeem us from the blessings of the law, but the curse, so the blessings are still ours today!

Joshua means “God is deliverance” and Caleb means “whole-hearted” or “loyalty”. The names of the two who believed was meant to instill faith in the people to believe the land was theirs: “God is deliverance” and “loyal” is God to deliver. Joshua and Caleb points us to Jesus. While it is true that God did lead His people to receive the Promised land because of His own faithfulness, God ultimately would deliver us from sin and death in Christ and lead us to the Promised Land of Heaven.

Priscilla The Powerful Church Leader

Priscilla The Powerful Church Leader

Daily Reading: (Acts 18:26):

“He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”

According to the text Apollos is preaching boldly meaning he had the courage to speak freely in the synagogue about Jesus, he still had a way to grow in his knowledge of the faith. There were two people who loving would invite this man into their home so that the text says that they might “explain the way of God more adequately.”

The word “way” is an interesting Greek metaphor that means a way of thinking, feeling, and deciding. And the last word used in this verse  “adequately” is better translated as diligently.

Acts 18:24-25 tells us some information about Apollos and an area that Aquila and Priscilla might explain to him more diligently. “Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.” 

It is clear based on the last sentence that the problem wasn’t his accuracy of teaching about Jesus, but that He didn’t know about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We have the benefit of having the entire Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament. This man is living the New Testament. Acts chapter 18 is talking about a sermon he just preached. So, unless you heard other disciples share their first-hand accounts with Jesus and His teaching- or you encounter someone like Paul, Barnabas, or Timothy along the way your actual knowledge of what Jesus said and did would have been limited.

God sent Aquila and Priscilla to Apollos but to find out how God would first have to prepare them we have to go to Acts 18:1.

“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:1-2).

A hardship was used as a divine move of God. When have you experienced a hardship in your life that God used for your good and for His glory? God accomplishes great things during difficult circumstances. ”and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them” (Acts 18:3). Paul is moving around planting churches and in order to support himself and his travel needs, he makes tents for a living to support the spread of the Gospel. This is what Aquila and Priscilla do too. And the cool thing is instead of seeing themselves as tentmakers in competition with each other, they work together and in that time together Paul will share Jesus with them so that later when they encounter Apollos they can share Christ more fully with Him. Most women were not tentmakers in the ancient world, and yet, Priscilla had a mastery for tent making, hospitality, and theology.

In verse 18 we find that after spending some time in Corinth, Paul leaves from there and takes with him Priscilla and Aquila and they will encounter Apollos in Antioch.

Aquila and Priscilla go to the synagogue where they hear Apollos preaching and they know they can help him. God sent Paul to us, and now God has brought us to Apollos.

“When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26).

They invited Apollos into their home- they had a meal together, they opened their home so that Apollos could grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Priscilla is a remarkable woman who along with her husband Aquila provides for Paul, and those she later has in her house for church, to the best of her ability. Priscilla exercised extreme hospitality and kindness, even when she’d lost her riches as an esteemed family in Rome. Nevertheless, she continues to walk faithfully with God and her husband, and excels in whatever task she has set before her.

After spending time with Aquila and Priscilla they send Apollos off in ministry in verses 27-28: “When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. or he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.”

Paul first met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth. Apollos, didn’t start off in Corinth, but in Antioch and look at the success Apollos will have in ministry. In the very first letter Paul writes to the Corinthians one of the very first things Paul addresses is this:

“My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; still another, “I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:11-12).

I love Paul’s response as he could have been jealous of Apollos. Apollos was more charismatic and a more dynamic speaker than Paul according to many people. Paul could have written that Apollos would only be where he is because Paul trained Aquila and Priscilla would trained Apollos. Instead, Paul brings it back to Christ. You aren’t baptized into Paul, I wasn’t crucified for you. My desire is that we would be united not divided. Let’s celebrate the work God is doing through us all. So, although this verse is looked at typically negatively because people are divided in whose teaching we follow, I see it through the positive aspect that Apollos is mentioned with Paul, and Peter. Apollos has grown in his faith and is reaching more and more with the message of the Gospel as is Paul. “I have been sent to preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17). God was powerfully at work in Paul, in Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos.

So whatever happened with Priscilla and Aquila?

“They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them” (Romans 16:4). Most of us are Gentiles and I can tell you, there is a chance you might not have heard the Gospel had it not been for their sacrifice.

Did you know that Priscilla went by another name too? She sometimes also goes by the name of Prisca (2 Timothy 4:19).

In Ephesus, the two of them establish a church in their home (1 Corinthians 16:19). She and her husband Aquila not only risked their lives for Paul (Romans 16:4) but showed an example of a godly marriage. I am very grateful for both Aquila and Priscilla and all they did to spread the Gospel.

Deborah: Israel’s Only Female Judge

Deborah

Daily Reading: (Judges 4:1-4):

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.”

What is so special about Deborah is that not only is she known for her wisdom and courage, she is the only woman of the Old Testament who is known for her own faith and action, not because of her relationship to her husband or another man. Also, the only other person in the Bible who was said to be both prophet and judge was Samuel. Deborah is the only female judge mentioned in the Bible.

A lot of people believe that she was married to Lappidoth because of verse four. We don’t know this for sure, because in Hebrew, the same word is used for “woman” and “wife,”. She could be the woman of Lappidoth the place, however, no such place is known to exist either.

Another possibility is that Lappidoth is her husband, but not his real name. Lappidoth means torches. There is another person who is very close to her whose name means something very similar. “When Deborah felt that she had helped the people to return to God, she sent for Barak, the son of Abinoam.” Some say he was her husband, because “Barak,” means lightning, another name for “Lappidoth.” I think this is the most likely case.

God gives an option to Barak which is so interesting, the end will be victory no matter which option you chose because you are still going forward into what God is leading you to, but the victory option will change depending on which choice you will make here. The victory was already given, but the honor was up for grabs (Judges 4:6-9). There is a blessing I want to give you Barak and through you, it will bless the entire nation, but you have to receive it by faith. Because faith is what inherits the blessings of God. Barak has faith that victory has been given, but to go forward he says: “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go” (Judges 4:8).

God gives the Israelites the victory and they are no longer oppressed. In the very next chapter, Deborah writes a praise song to the Lord.  So, Deborah has an impressive resume of a judge, warrior, poet, and prophet as well as singer and songwriter.

We learn from this story that God has given you everything you need for success in Christ, go forward by faith. 

Judges 5:12-13: “Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.”Here is the takeaway, start your morning off by singing God’s praises for the victory you have in your day because of Jesus Christ. Peace will fill your heart as it filled the land. You go out in your day in victory in Jesus’ name. Wake up, wake up and break out in song.

The last words of Judges chapter 5 say, “Then the land had peace forty years.”

Judges 5 is the life song Deborah and God’s people got to live. Judges chapter 5 is what a life of peace and experiencing God’s salvation looks like. In Christ, the life song that we live is one of peace and the salvation of the Lord too. Christ has given us the life song of peace with God forever. Salvation is ours whenever we need it. So, I will say it again, wake up and sing God’s praises.

Cornelius the Gentile Believer

Cornelius the Gentile Believer

Daily Reading: (Acts 10:1-2):

“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”

The first thing we learn is that Cornelius is a Gentile and he is perhaps the first Gentile to become a Christian. Now, some will point to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, but there is a distinct possibility that the Ethiopian eunuch was actually Jewish. Acts 8:28 says,” and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.”  Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible says, “This proves that he was a Jew, or at least a Jewish proselyte. It was customary for the Jews in foreign lands, as far as practicable, to attend the great feasts at Jerusalem. He had gone up to attend the Passover”.[1]

What was prophesied about the Gospel was this: “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It took all the way until chapter 10 of Acts for it finally to come to a Gentile who was still in a part of Samaria, Caesarea. The Gospel had a long way to still go to reach the uttermost parts of the earth, but it did in a relatively short amount of time.

What do we discover about Cornelius?

  • He and His family revered God 

He took care to instruct his family in the knowledge of God that he himself had received and to establish the worship of God in his house. He was God- fearing or had a reverence for God, meaning Cornelius was a monotheist. As a rule, Gentiles subscribed to the notion that there were many “gods” but not Cornelius.

  • He gave generously to those in need

His relationship to God led to generosity toward others in need.

  • He prayed to God regularly

Cornelius considered God to be the fountain from whom all his blessings came. This is why he was able to give generously to those in need. But as wonderful as all of this is, Cornelius at this point does not know Jesus Christ. He has not received the salvation of the Lord, and he is yet to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

“One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision” (Acts 10:3a). Why would the writer of Acts tell us the time when Cornelius had a vision? Because what this most likely means is that he was probably observing the three o’clock afternoon prayer hour of the Jews. He had learned of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but he did not know that the Gospel, but salvation in Jesus Christ was about to come to his household.

“Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter” (Acts 10:5). Now there is a message in where we find Peter and what happened there. Peter had stayed in Joppa even after Peter raised Tabitha from the grave in Acts 9. Joppa means (“beautiful”) and after raising Tabitha from the dead, Peter spent many more days in Joppa. This is a picture of how the Lord’s Resurrection life can come into a dead situation and how we can enjoy many beautiful days because of it.

The Resurrection power was at work at the place called “beautiful” but Cornelius is not in the place called beautiful, he is found in another place.  “Caesarea” means “severance.” Cornelius was in a place where he was being cut off from the Gospel. The Gospel had not reached there but the vision comes so salvation may reach him.

Now the Gospel is not just crossing city lines and county lines; it’s now crossing an even more important ethnic lines as we have our first Italian believer. What God said came true, when He met Abram in Genesis 12 and told him He was going to bless all families on the earth and when He confirmed it again in Genesis 15 and again in Genesis 22. The prophets prophesied that there would be a day that all nations would come to know our great and glorious God. As the psalmist sung about it, as Christ showed up and made this possible, and as the Holy Spirit empowered it, we see it and we are living it today.

In considering the story of Cornelius in the Bible, it is important to note that being religious is not enough to save a person. Cornelius was as devout as they come, and he worshiped the one true God. Yet he still needed to hear the Gospel and respond to it positively. That’s why God sent Peter, so that Cornelius could hear of the death and Resurrection of Christ, which Peter clearly preached (Acts 10:39–40, 43). It was only after Cornelius and his household received the message about Jesus that they received the Holy Spirit and were born again. The story of Cornelius not only shows the necessity of the Gospel but it indicates that God will move heaven and earth to bring the Gospel to those who are ready to receive it.


[1] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/acts-8.html

King at Eight

King at Eight Devo

Daily Reading: (2 Chronicles 34:1-2):

“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

These verses are a quick life summary of Josiah. He was only eight when he became king. And it seems like his kingship must have started suddenly, because who plans to king a boy at eight? If this was your initial thought, you’d be right. Life doesn’t generally go according to plan. Josiah’s father Amon was assassinated after reigning for only two years (2 Kings 21:19-24).

For one hundred years, ever since the time of Ahaz, Judah had been a vassal of the Assyrian empire. Their homage and allegiance is with the Assyrians.  Cultic practices had been imposed on Judah that suppressed or obscured their religious identity. There is an opportunity at this moment in history, for a restored identity in the Lord as the Assyrian empire had fallen into chaos.

In the midst of an entire nation who had done evil, the Lord raised up a boy who would not follow the false gods of the pagan nation of Assyria, instead follows the ways of his ancestor David. That is a real influencer right there.  Everyone did what was right in their own eyes, but a true Godly influencer will follow after Truth (2 Chronicles 34:2).

Josiah is eight when he starts to reign, and he does right immediately, but his relationship with the Lord takes some time to develop another eight years. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3a).

So, what grand thing has Josiah done yet? Other than following after Truth, nothing is recorded yet. It takes him eight years as king, until he actually seeks God. Four more years of following the Lord before any recorded action, what does this mean? He is resting in relationship with God. He doesn’t make things happen for the sake of making things happen. He is growing in relationship with God and God is preparing him for what comes next. An absence of activity can simply be the preparation that is needed for a breakout at the right moment. Think of the ocean tide, when a tidal wave of God’s activity is about to burst forth, there is first a longer absence of the waves. Be excited for those periods of rest and growth because it will bring forth something incredible for God’s glory.

 “Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 34:4-8).

Josiah means “Jehovah heals”. What God did through Josiah was to heal the nation, to remove the idols, and restore the covenant between God and His people. Even in the name of the king that God raised up, He was pronouncing what He would do, bringing about healing to His people.

The incredible thing is that while the Law foretold death and judgment, Josiah will introduce the people to hope, the Passover Lamb (2 Chronicles 35). This is God’s ultimate plan of salvation, Jesus as our Passover Lamb. Josiah first needs to reinstated the Old Covenant Law with the people before he will offer the Passover Lamb and that is what he does.

Now in 2 Chronicles 35 is the pinnacle to me of Josiah’s accomplishment. “Josiah celebrated the Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offerings, and also three thousand cattle—all from the king’s own possessions” (2 Chronicles 35:1,7).

Josiah instituted back the Passover Lamb (2 Chronicles 35:16-19) to remove the sins of the people which points us to Christ. But in Josiah’s death, we are pointed to Christ once again. Josiah was great, one of the greatest Old Testament kings it seems, but even he could not save his people. Jesus succeeds precisely where Josiah failed. By taking God’s wrath on Himself, Jesus delivers His own people from it. He is a king with no limit to his ability to save. Through Josiah and all that he tried to do we are shown the greatness of the Lord Jesus – our King who can and does finally and fully reconcile us to God forever.

Victory Ground

Victory Ground Devo

Daily Reading: (1 Corinthians 15:57):

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

The Greek word for victory is “nikos” and it means exactly what the text says it means, “victory” plain and simple, or triumph. Victory is complete in Jesus, it isn’t partial, it’s not part-time.

When you study the Greek word for “gives” (didōmi) as in “gives us the victory”, there are two definitions that are appropriate to use for 1 Corinthians 15:57. The first definition is a gift. The second definition is to supply.  And this verb gives is in the present active participle. What this means is that right now God is actively supplying you the victory in Jesus’ name, and it is a gift of His grace. Our part is to receive that victory by faith or to simply celebrate and praise Him for it, “thanks be to God!”

We often want to think that the victory depends on what we bring to the table. In our natural world that is often how things work. But here Paul is telling us as he is writing to the Corinthians that victory is already yours in Jesus. It’s not what you bring to the table that determines the victory, it is a gift of His grace. He is the one who supplies it to us.

The question to ask when you face a difficult time is: Are you fighting for victory, or are you fighting from victory?

When you see how you’re already standing on victory ground on the basis of Jesus’ finished work, you’ll stop worrying about how and when your victory will manifest. Settle it in your heart and mind that you already have the victory through Christ. As you do this, God’s rest and peace will rule in your heart, and you will receive your breakthrough!

The truth of 1 Corinthians 15:57 can be seen in other places in Scripture because Christ has overcome the world, you are an overcomer (1 John 5:4). Indeed, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). One of your most powerful weapons of warfare against the enemy is to worship the Lord and give Him thanks — even before you see the victory come to pass (Philippians 4:6-7).

What is the context around this verse of victory? If you look at the header of 1 Corinthians 15 it says, “The Resurrection of Christ”. Our victory is secure because of the Resurrection. The Resurrection is complete and our victory is secured. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 talks about our Resurrection in Christ- this is why no matter what happens to us we have been given the victory.

So what should we do with this knowledge of Resurrection victory that we have in Jesus?

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

With the knowledge of the victory that you have in Christ- let that truth bring you to the place where nothing can move you off of it. Brothers and sisters who are loved by God, He has given you the victory, and so know that your work of the Lord is not in vain.