I’m excited because we are not only studying the book of Acts together but we are experiencing the book of Acts with the lame walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, tumors disappearing and so many other supernatural miracles. You cannot study the book of Acts and your faith not be increased. God is a supernatural God who loves to show out for those who pray, obey and love His Presence. Once again we must be careful to guard His Presence and to stay focused on His Presence! It’s about who He is not what He does!
This week for our family devotion we pick up in Acts 10:1 In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. 2 He was a devout man who feared the God of Israel, as did his entire household. He gave generously to charity and was a man who regularly prayed to God.
Cornelius was a man of power, influence and probably wealth but he remembered there was still a God to be served and reverenced. I’m thankful for all those connected to us, connected to the church that God is raising up with power, wealth and influence but yet they remain humble and hungry for more of God’s Presence. Too many, when elevated, lose sight of the eternal because of the temporal blessing.
We read in more than one Bible translation of verse 2 that Cornelius was devout which simply means, he lived a Godly life which caused him to be well respected in his community. It’s important to maintain a good reputation among those who know us best and to the community. We should be men and women of integrity. Our word should be our bond, our finances and families reflecting God’s nature. The Bible says this: Prov 22:1 Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold. 2 The rich and the poor have this in common: The LORD made them both. NLT
This word of wisdom is saying, if you have to steal, cut throats, cheat, do others wrong to be rich, choose a good reputation. Try to live by this saying, Treat others the way you would want to be treated or maybe you have heard it this way, do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. But for us who are saved we must do unto others as unto the Lord.
No doubt Cornelius, even though he was not a Jew, loved God enough not to let his power and position go to his head. Life is so short so live it with integrity and honor as if everyday would be your last. Live judgment day ready by pleasing God in thoughts, words and actions.
Not only was Cornelius a devout man but a man who lived a lifestyle of giving and prayer. Later we read he was a man who fasted. This is the vision of the church: everyone living a threefold cord lifestyle:
1. Prayer 2. Fasting 3. Giving. I’m telling you when you make these your lifestyle the heavens open up over you and your family. In the case of Cornelius, the heavens opened for all Gentiles, allowing the gospel to be sent throughout the Gentile nations even though we were not Jewish.
Notice verse 3 confirms what I just said: 3 One afternoon about three o'clock (time of prayer), he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. "Cornelius!" the angel said.
Because of his lifestyle of praying, fasting and giving Cornelius saw into the heavens and saw an angel coming toward him who called him by name. Imagine you praying at your regular prayer time and all of a sudden the heavens open up like a theatre and you see an angel flying toward you calling your name. God still allows and still sends angels on assignment in our day and time. God has not changed! Expect it! The heavens opened over Jesus also, and the Holy Spirit in the form of dove rested upon Jesus! I believe the heavens have opened over us as we see God’s power demonstrated in such a powerful way.
As we come upon the first day of the month, we ask you to join with us in living the threefold cord lifestyle in prayer, fasting and giving. We dedicate the first day of the month as a first-fruits offering to the Lord as we fast and pray for a greater manifestation of Father God’s Presence. Never have we needed His Presence greater than right now. Tuesday is the first day of October, join us in prayer and fasting!
Prayer Points: Father help me to be a person of integrity, devout, one that fears you, prays to you, gives to your Kingdom and fasts. I need your Presence every second I live!
Last week we studied the remarkable story of Saul who was supernaturally converted and immediately started to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.
23 After a while the Jewish leaders decided to kill him.
Remember everyone who was with you will not celebrate with you when you are radically transformed. His former religious companions now wanted to murder him because he had left their religious traditions and believed truth. Jesus was not accepted by the traditional religious leaders of His day and neither will you be accepted when you decide to be a carrier of His presence. Those satisfied with regular religious activity will never be comfortable with those who want a supernatural relationship with Father God and desire to live in His presence. Living in His presence really makes those who are complacent, comfortable and lukewarm, uncomfortable and we all know that misery loves company.
24 But Saul was told about their plot, and that they were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him. 25 So during the night, some of the other believers let him down in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.
When the devil has a plan to take you out, God has a plan to keep you safe. They had plotted, planned, and schemed to kill Saul but God sees all and hears all. Imagine the religious priests and leaders sitting around in the sanctuary talking about assassinating Saul…but GOD! How many times have people murdered you around a table or in a living room or even in a church house but remember God always has the last word and has a plan. God is never taken by surprise and always makes a way where there seems to be no way. No temptation can overtake you that God will not make an escape!
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They thought he was only pretending to be a believer!
Now Saul was tested with the test of rejection. The believers were fearful of him because of his past and had suspicion that he was pretending to become a Christian so he could persecute them. Can I say it again, but God had a plan.
27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus. Barnabas also told them what the Lord had said to Saul and how he boldly preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28 Then the apostles accepted Saul, and after that he was constantly with them in Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
God always has the right person in the right place to bring about His will and this day it was Barnabas who was well respected in the early church. Barnabas was able to confirm the supernatural conversion of Saul and then the apostles accepted Saul as one of their own. Saul continued to preach Christ boldly.
29 He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they plotted to murder him. 30 When the believers heard about it, however, they took him to Caesarea and sent him on to his hometown of Tarsus. 31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it grew in strength and numbers.
The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Saul wasn’t scared of the Jewish leaders and openly debated God’s Word with them to the point they plotted to murder him, but GOD! The early church grew spiritually and numerically.
32 Peter traveled from place to place to visit the believers, and in his travels he came to the Lord's people in the town of Lydda. 33 There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and make your bed!" And he was healed instantly.
That’s the power of prayer and obedience. Peter, who was transformed on the day of Pentecost from a coward to warrior, was preaching the gospel with boldness and seeing supernatural signs, miracles and wonders. A man named Aeneas had a hopeless situation that the doctors could not help, he was paralyzed and bedridden and had been that way eight years but the power of the Name of Jesus raised him up instantly.
35 Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord when they saw Aeneas walking around.
That’s the power of the gospel! That’s the power of the name of Jesus being used not only to heal a paralyzed man but also to bring a bi-city revival. It’s not enticing words that transforms people lives but rather the power of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. One single miracle brought revival to two towns. Glory to God! Lord do it again!
Prayer Points: Father remove all doubt and unbelief and let the power of God be demonstrated in such a way that this whole region is brought to Christ.