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.


Can You Walk on Water?

Can You Walk On Water

Daily Reading: (Matthew 14:28-30):

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake” (Matthew 14:25).

The disciples didn’t know that walking on water was possible. They didn’t know a lot of the things were possible until they saw Jesus do them. So, Jesus walks on water and let’s see their response. “When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

Jesus is fully God and fully man. They had never seen a man be able to walk on water because there are principles and laws at play here. If you step out on the water, you will sink in. I think sometimes the disciples forgot that Jesus is fully God too. Only a spirit, something that is not weighed down by a physical body, could possibly walk on water. It must be a ghost. What would your response be if you thought you saw a ghost out on the water? It would probably be the same as the disciples, whose fear actually caused them to cry out loud. Fear and faith are opposite of each other. Their fear has caused them to not see the Lord who is in front of them. But the Word of God will instill faith to respond.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:27-28).

This story teaches us what looking to Jesus will do.“Come”, He said. It is His Word that gives us authority and power to do supernatural things. As we look to Jesus we will see miracles unfold in our lives and in other’s lives too.

It started well for Peter, he took the step of faith and walked on water, but then something happened to Peter.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). The circumstances caused Peter to lose focus and fear came in. He calls out for Jesus to save him.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

When we are looking to Jesus and miracles are unfolding, the wind and the waves will build, but I don’t want you to look at what is happening around you, but what is taking place within you. Do you sense His immense love for you? I want you to see Jesus who is reaching out to you, He’s got you. Receive His love and fear will not be able to sink you.

Something else took place in this scene with Peter and walking on the water that is key to knowing when it comes to salvation, and physical healing for people.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink.” We have fear interrupting faith. The text tells us the wind was active. Wind makes waves. If the water was perfectly calm with no waves would Peter have been able to walk on water? No. The wind has absolutely nothing to do with Peter’s ability to walk on water. I think we tend to take a paddleboard approach to life. The better your core strength and balance the better you will do. We might think of our life as we are on a paddleboard and as long as we can navigate away from any troubled waters we’ll do alright. But we don’t control the waves. What we do have control over is what we will focus on, the circumstances or the Lord. Will we fill our hearts and minds with His Word or will we drown in fear of the wind and the waves of life?

In the same way, when the winds of painful symptoms or bad medical reports come, remember that receiving your healing has nothing to do with how bad your symptoms are. It has everything to do with how Christ has already paid the price for your healing and health. It has everything to do with how Christ is right now, above every disease that can plague your body. Keep your eyes on Jesus and walk in His strength, healing, and life.

Don’t let the stormy winds and waves, and the challenges of life distract you. They have nothing to do with whether you walk victoriously over your circumstances or not. Just keep your eyes on Jesus—and receive your miracle!

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down” (Matthew 14:32). How do you suppose that one gets into a boat that is in the water with big waves still happening all around them? We know that Jesus reached out his hand immediately and caught him. But verse thirty-two tells us they climbed into the boat, which means they both were out of the boat. Jesus and Peter must have walked right into the boat. Peter actually walked on water twice.

Possible with God

Possible With God

Daily Reading: (Matthew 19:26):

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

With God all things are possible. When we are faced with a situation that is too difficult, too big, too overwhelming, who do we need to get involved in our situation. God!

What is happening in Matthew 19 for Jesus to make this profound statement?

There is a man whose wealth has blinded his needs. “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life” (Matthew 19:16)?

With this one question, we are led to an entirely different supernatural grace-filled way to live.

The world essentially wants to know how can I save myself? Matthew 19:26 declares, “you can’t”! With men salvation is impossible. But the good news of Jesus Christ is salvation is possible with God. He paid the ultimate price for our sin because God is love. “For this is how much God loved the world-He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus knew the ruler was self-righteous and considered himself a good man. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the man’s sin by immediately challenging his standard of goodness and we can do the same with Romans 3:12.

Jesus brings this man to the Law and the purpose is to show this man that he falls short of the glory of God. He needs a Savior. Salvation for him in and of his good behavior and his good works is impossible.

“Which ones?” he inquired (Matthew 19:18). The mind of the rich man is trying to calculate, how he can earn eternal life. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

His wealth has led him to the question, is there anything I can’t do. Wealth can easily blind a person to seeing their need for God. Now that I have obtained a lot, I have my sights set on the ultimate, taking care of myself for the life to come. What must I do now so that I might obtain eternal life to come? Specifically which commandments do I need to focus on?

What is interesting is that Jesus just starts listing some of the ten commandments. It is different than His response to the Pharisees who wanted the Ten Commandments reduced in Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus lists some of the commandments that the man thinks he has been really good at keeping.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’”(Matthew 19:18-19).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus magnifies the Law to show that if you try to save yourself, it is impossible. “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack”(Matthew 19:20)? In his heart, he knows that there is still something lacking in his life. Deep down he has a sense of what is lacking based off of his initial question, what good thing must I do to get eternal life”?

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

Which one of the commandments is this one? Some have tried to take this verse and make it into the 11th commandment. If I live a life of poverty, one of lack, where I give all that I have, then I will earn my way into Heaven.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying?

Jesus is not saying, “We have to sell our stuff to be saved. Or that being rich is wrong because ‘it’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom’.” While it is true that it is harder for the rich and the self-sufficient to receive from the abundance of God’s grace, that is not the point here. The point is that the Kingdom of God is received by grace not purchased by merit. Salvation is only possible with God through Christ.

Divine Direction from a Dream

Divine Direction Dreams

Daily Reading: (Matthew 2:19-20):

“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

What might be lost a bit here is what is said about what Joseph did. Where is Joseph at? Egypt. He is there because God led him there. What is said about Joseph is that He went and he stayed which demonstrated patience. This teaches us to feed on God’s daily provision for us in Christ and trust that God goes ahead of us and makes our paths straight.

One of the interesting things to note here is God says to go to Israel, but He doesn’t say where in Israel. Israel is 8,550 square miles. Israel is about the same size as the state of New Jersey. Are we talking about Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Caesarea, or Capernaum? Where do you want me to go in Israel?

This isn’t much different remember from earlier when God told Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to go to Egypt, without telling them where in Egypt.

“So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.” Now comes an unexpected blessing. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there” (Matthew 2:21-22).

“Having been warned in a dream,” Joseph is getting loaded with these God-given dreams. When you think of those who had the most dreams from God recorded in the Bible, how many people list Joseph? Well, they probably do, but the other Joseph, the one from Genesis. So he was warned in a dream and “he withdrew to the district of Galilee”. We should celebrate the stop signs and the detours, they are a part of God’s leading and His protection.“And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23).

More prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus’ life. The purpose is to announce this is God’s Son. He has come to conquer sin and death, believe in Him and you shall receive everlasting life. Every single move of God is purposeful and it is for our good.

Jesus would grow up in Nazareth and it wasn’t until John the Baptist was put in prison about to be put to death before Jesus moved from there (Matthew 4:12-14).

Each move that Jesus made, declared who Jesus was. When He was born in Bethlehem, He moved to Egypt. Jesus lived in Nazareth and moved to Capernaum each move was prophesied this is what the Messiah would do.

Today like Joseph, God may choose to speak to you through visions or dreams. Receiving visions and dreams is our rightful inheritance as children of God (Acts 2:17). Today, because Jesus has been glorified, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit (who reveals God’s visions and dreams to us) has been given to us (John 7:39).

There are times that God’s visions contain warnings for us. With Joseph, the warning was to escape danger, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13a).

But with the bad news also comes a solution for God’s people.  “Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13b).

We can see this in other places in Scripture like Acts 11:28-29: “Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world . . . Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.”

Although visions from God can include pictures of negative events, these visions also contain solutions and answers to the prophesied events. God will never give you a negative or fearful vision and leave you hanging. His Word tells us as much: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). A dream from God will not place you in fear. He will always give you something positive to look forward to and walk in. You will be empowered by His love and the sound mind He gives you to move forward into the things He has prepared for you.

1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”  While the vision or dream might have chaotic elements, if it is from the Lord, it will also be the Lord bringing peace out of the chaos.

God-given dreams may take a while (Matthew 2:14), but they are sure to come to pass (Habakkuk 2:2-3) at the right time. When we write down the visions God gives us, we are adopting an attitude of faith.

The Adventures of Four

Adventures of Four

Daily Reading: (Matthew 17:1):

“After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.”

Today I want to look at Jesus’ inner circle and what this means for us in our pursuit of disciple making. So out of the 12 there are 3 who had the privilege of being with Jesus in some very special moments where the others did not. Peter, James and John. Every time in Scripture the three are mentioned always in this same order. Their names in this order communicated a message of what Jesus was here to do on earth.

The stone (Peter)—which the Law was written on was supplanted (James) and replaced by God’s grace (John). 

 “After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John…”

Matthew wants to let us know it has been six days since the last recorded detail of Jesus’ life. By doing this we are instantly connected to the past six days and the heaviness of Jesus’ words where He prophesied about His own death and the kind of things the disciples would experience. Jesus is preparing the inner three for more responsibility than the rest. Within the various individuals that you will disciple there will be some who you should spend more time with. Everyone is unique and different and some are going to take on more of a leadership role in the future.

Luke chapter 9 tells us that “Jesus brought them up the mountain to pray.” Luke shows Jesus’ dependence on God the Father. I can not, but He can and He did and in Him and through Him nothing is impossible. This is what the disciples needed to learn because Jesus was soon to ascend to Heaven.  In this time of God’s grace that we live in, we need to place our total dependence on God. The three disciples are taken to prayer because prayer is dependence on God, invoking His power, grace, love, and goodness.

Peter near the end of his life reflects back on this moment in his life and says in 2 Peter 1:16: “but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” What does the Mount of Transfiguration that the three disciples were privy to have to do with me? As you behold the glory of the Lord your life is forever changed. There is power for healing, freedom from addiction, and peace to a troubled soul.

When Jesus transfigured there were two well-known individuals that were there Moses and Elijah. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” What did the three disciples need to hear that day? What do disciple-makers need to do for those they are discipling? Bring them to grace. Listen to the voice of grace only. The names of the three testified to what was on display on the mountain that day. The Law was supplanted by God’s grace.

Matthew 17:6 “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one” (Matthew 17:6-8). The word “arise” (Matthew 17:7) is in the passive voice. What Jesus is telling His disciples is to “allow yourself to be lifted by God.” And when you are lifted, you realize that you stand on equal ground with Him because you have been given His righteousness. This is our job as disciple-makers to allow people to be lifted by God’s grace. Jesus died to give you His standing. This moment with the three is a beautiful picture of God’s grace.

What About the 9?

We know what was happening with the three who experienced God’s grace on the Mount of Transfiguration but what about the other nine who were not with Jesus at this moment in time?

Matthew 17:14-16: “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.They were amazed to find the answer to their problems, not in themselves, but in the Lord” (Mark 9:15). The reason the nine could not drive out the demon is they tried in their own strength. The answer was always in the Lord, it is in His grace that we receive power and authority to drive out demons. It happens in the name of Jesus.

Have you wondered why the disciples were not able to heal this boy because they were successful in other places, driving out demons and “healing people everywhere” (Mark 6:13, Luke 9:6). Their past success puzzled even them when they failed on this occasion: Matthew’s Gospel says – “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:19).

Jesus’ answer to their question why they could not drive out the demon and heal the boy might answer questions you might have about why more people aren’t healed today. The answer is not their faith, but their unbelief.

Natural unbelief is fueled by what we see and hear. We get a bad report, x-ray or scan and believe the worst. We’re now walking by sight rather than faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Even if we have faith, our unbelief will send us to the Internet looking for reassurance and hope. We may be declaring the promises of God over our situation but at the same time we’re feeding our doubts by focusing on our circumstances. Some translators equate unbelief to having little faith, but Jesus clearly says right after this “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Little faith is not the issue. If little faith can move a mountain, it can surely heal one small boy. It’s not about the size of your faith but whether your faith is handicapped by doubt and unbelief (Matthew 17:21). How do we deal with unbelief? Starve our doubts and fears by feeding on the Word of God and through prayer.