July 1

Acts 10:1-23

In the early church, there was a central city for Judaism; it was Jerusalem. In the early “Church” or kingdom of God, there was a central city for Christianity; it was Jerusalem. For the first several years, the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. However, persecution caused many Christians to leave Jerusalem and move into outer regions. Jesus Himself said that His disciples would be witnessed to Him in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. The Gospel was spreading!

Most of the apostles stayed in Jerusalem in the beginning of the spread of Christianity, but then many began to travel out and take the Gospel to other places. This was God’s plan. We see His plan in the Old Testament when He prophesied a scattering of the Jews. We know from history that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, less than 40 years after Jesus ascended, and the Jews were scattered.

Another part of God’s plan was taking this Gospel to the nations of the world. Several times in the New Testament we read about a season or a time for the Gentiles. For the past nearly 2,000 years, the Gospel has gone out into other regions, and today, we know the earth has populated every continent and every continent has had the Gospel message preached. In fact, now we know that every nation has been reached for Christ. Now we are working on taking the Gospel to unreached people groups within these nations. This fulfills God’s promise to Abraham, making him the “father of many nations” through faith in Abraham’s Seed, who is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

We’re thankful for apostles. In the beginning there were 12 apostles that followed Christ from the beginning of His ministry, expect for Judas, who was replaced by Matthias. One day these 12 will sit with Christ in His kingdom.

In Ephesians 4, we read that apostles are one of five spiritual leadership positions in the kingdom of God. This shows us that there are more than just 12 apostles. The office of an apostle is one five that have leadership in the kingdom. The word apostle means, “sent one.” Apostles are starters. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul lists ministries, saying, “FIRST apostles.” They are first, because they begin things. They are pioneers. For example, Apostle Paul went into unreached places or cities with unreached people, and he won them to the Lord Jesus. The Paul would gather them, teach them, and put a pastor over them. Then Paul would move on to the next place. The longest he ever stayed in one city was three years. Then Paul would go back and visit the cities. When he was in prison, he would write letters to the pastors and churches from a position of spiritual authority. Notice that Paul did not have authority over all churches. He only had authority over the churches he started. Paul was very careful not to “build on another man’s foundation.” He was a pioneer, taking new territory, and then overseeing what he started so those churches would continue and grow. In his letters, Paul often warned the church of false doctrine, rebuked sin, corrected error, and encouraged the believers to stay true to their faith and share it.

Is there one central city for Christianity today? No, we are all over the world.

Is there one group of apostles that rule over local churches? No, apostles only lead the churches they start. Thank God, there are many of these pioneers in countries all over the world.

Does a pastor need an apostle over him/her if that leader or organization did not start the church? No, the Bible never states that a pastor has to have a “covering” or an apostle or organization ruling over them, especially if that person or organization did not start them. If a pastor wants to be part of an organization for growth and support, that organization is there for relationship, not control. The pastor is the one who will give account before God for their church (Hebrews 13:17).

In chapter 10, Peter is on the road, taking the Gospel to places outside of Jerusalem. Peter’s focus was on reaching more Jews with the truth of their Messiah. He goes into Caesarea. Peter is in prayer in a secluded place, on a housetop, around noon. He was started to get hungry for lunch, and while lunch was being prepared, Peter went into a trance. A trance is when someone is having a vision, but their physical senses are suspended. In the trance, God shows Peter that the Gospel is for the Gentiles as well as the Jew. Peter needed a shift in his thinking. The way God communicated this idea with a hungry Peter, was by showing him animals that were both clean and unclean according to Mosaic Law. Peter was part of that generation that was once under the old covenant, then under the new. The unclean animals were not kosher to the Jew; meaning they were not to be consumed. Under the old covenant, God was working through a nation, giving them a Law to tutor them or lead them to their need for a Savior. This covenant was based on keeping an impossible set of rules. Other nations around Israel worshipped other gods, and Israel was instructed to keep pure in their religion. They were not to enter into marriage covenants or contractual peace agreements with other nationalities. It’s not that God was racist; it’s that God wanted to keep Judaism pure of idol worship. Now, God is telling Peter, once the Gentiles were unclean, but now they can enter into a new covenant through Christ and become clean. God showed Peter this vision three times, making sure Peter, one of the founding members of Christianity, knew God was emphasizing this truth. After the trance, Peter is pondering what he saw, still wondering what it meant. While Peter is thinking, two men from a Gentile’s house approach Peter.

Cornelius is a centurion of the Italian Regiment, so he was a leader with authority in the community. He is a devout man. He feared God. He generously gave to the poor. He was always in prayer to God. He was fasting for four days and seeking God. GOD NOTICED CORNELIOUS. A messenger appears to Cornelius in a vision, saying “YOUR PRAYERS AND YOUR ALMS HAVE COME UP FOR A MEMORIAL BEFORE GOD.” The alms are the support for the poor. Let’s never think that God doesn’t notice our prayers (especially during a fast) or our giving or our serving. Oh, He notices! He also notices whether or not we are walking in mercy or judgment, faith or self-sufficiency, humility or pride. Cornelius was a humble man. BECAUSE GOD NOTICED CORNELIUS, HE ACTED SUPERNATURALLY.

God speaks to Peter again, telling him to go with the men without any hesitation. The men tell Peter that the Centurion had a vision from God where an angel instructed them to bring Peter to them. It is understandable that Peter would be hesitant to go to a Centurion’s home; however, Peter was hearing from God. Peter obeyed and went.

Let’s remember that without prayer from a hungry heart, often times, things do not happen. If Cornelius had not been fasting for four days, he may not have been the one to whom God sent Peter. Who got God’s attention? Who got the favor? Who received from God? It was the one that sought God with his whole heart. Cornelius was hungry for God. His faith was making him desperate to go after Him in devoted prayer. Cornelius was not half-hearted. He wasn’t nonchalant about the Lord. He didn’t neglect giving. He didn’t despise prayer. So let’s learn from Cornelius and go after God with our whole heart. Let’s be in church every chance we get. Let’s serve when we can. Let’s give. Let’s pray. Let’s seek Him and see God move supernaturally in our lives!

Job 21-22

Chapter 21 is Job answering Zophar’s talk on the wicked, ending the second dialogue. Job makes an appeal to be heard. He brings up the point that sometimes the wicked will appear to prosper in this world, but he knows this lifetime is quickly over. Job maintains his innocence and in verse 34 says to his friends, “How then can you comfort me with empty words, since falsehood remains in your answers?”

In chapter 22, Eliphaz continues to accuse Job of sin, perhaps trying to be helpful in leading Job to find answers, but still sticking to the concept of retribution. Eliphaz is not comforting his friend, but is condemning his friend.

Perhaps you know of a Christian who has been condemning instead of supporting and critical rather than compassionate. Perhaps you are a leader and you know of a Christian that has been controlling instead of submissive. Maybe you know someone who is legalistic, judgmental and negative rather than looking to God in humility, faith, and leaning on grace. If you let them, they can get you down. If you let them, they can steal your faith and your confidence. If you let them, they will control you instead of follow God’s vision for you and those for whom you are responsible. If you let them get to you, you could end up turning away from God and into sin. We can love people without agreeing with them. Job continued to stand his ground and maintain his innocence. Listening to people is not the same as accepting everything they say. When I was younger, I often felt if someone was wrong, it must be me. As we mature, we realize that other people with more experience, more money, more influence, and more knowledge can be wrong. Our place is to seek God and follow after Him. If someone makes a false accusation, don’t take it to heart. Shake it off and keep moving forward in confidence in the Lord. God will support you as you live in faith in Him.

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