June 5– (Acts 10:1-8) God uses every position He places us in, so that His glorious plan can happen. I can picture that with Cornelius. He was a centurion of the Italian Cohort. A Cohort usually consisted of 600 men under the command of six centurions. In remote areas, such as Judea a Cohort might have as many as 1,000 men. Centurions were paid as much as five times the pay of an ordinary soldier, so Cornelius would have been socially prominent and wealthy. Cornelius was also a devout man who feared God. A “God-fearer” was a Gentile who worshiped Israel’s God but who had not submitted to Jewish conversion rites. Cornelius followed two of the primary expressions of Jewish religion – prayer and alms giving. The ninth hour was 3 P.M. and was a set hour of prayer for Jews according to later tradition. After the vision, Cornelius obeyed his directive…. but I see he used wisdom from above in whom he chose. Two servants (probably loyal to him but not soldiers) and a devout soldier (probably one who would not harm a Christian, but see him safely brought to Cornelius.) Does this description help you see God placing the right person at the right place “for such a time as this”? Please know God does that every day with each of us. Can you see it? Selah
June 6 – (Acts 10:9-33) This is the other half of God setting up an intersection of specific people so that His Word goes forth. Both parties had to listen and obey even when it went against their “traditions”. When Peter was asked to stay in Joppa, God brought about another meeting that would change the direction of their “evangelizing” forever. Recount how Peter came to preach to Cornelius and his household. This is a “change of events” that got Peter directed from evangelizing the Jewish nation to including Gentiles as well. Can you see God’s hand orchestrating your life as well? He does it with love and mercy and grace whether we see it or not! Bless His Name Forever!
June 7 – (Acts 10:34-43) Peter seems to make 7 distinct points in these verses. See if you can pick them out: 1. God shows no partiality in persons (Aren’t you thankful your heritage was included?) 2. Jesus came as a Man through whom God worked in love and power. 3. When Jesus arrived He destroyed the effects of evil everywhere. 4. They put Jesus to death by hanging Him on a tree. (Even the Romans thought this was a most shameful way to die. Cicero, the Roman orator, said, “The cross is so terrible that it should not be mentioned in polite company.”) 5. God raised Jesus on the third day and made Him manifest to chosen witnesses. 6. Jesus commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that He is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead (10:42). 7. Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ receives forgiveness of sins through His name (10:43)
June 8 – (Acts 10:44-48) The Holy Spirit interrupted Peter, just as He had on the Day of Pentecost, and what He did here is very significant. Peter had just given these people something to believe, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then he told them, “The prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins.” As soon as Peter’s audience heard these words they believed. And immediately upon believing they received the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus said they would.
June 9 – (Acts 11:1-18) The Christians in Judea heard that Peter was with the Gentiles. To the Judeans, eating and staying with Gentiles (or anyone disreputable in their thinking and customs) would be to agree with who they were and what they believed in. In others words, you became one of them. They had some serious questions about Peter and asked him. After his revelation was revealed, they accepted it as from God. Do we do the same thing with fellow Christians today? When we have heard disparaging words about a fellow Christian do we go to that person and ask the hard questions to clarify the truth of the matter? I have been affected by Christians who did not follow this principle. I realized I can’t “fix anything”, especially when I am not confronted. What “good” has come from these experiences? I am much quicker to go to that person to “reason out”. I also remind myself “judge not lest you be judged”. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal truth about any situation. Selah
June 10 – (Acts 11:19-30) “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenician and Cyprus and Antioch” … (v. 19). Phoenicia was in the area of present-day Lebanon. Its primary cities were Tyre, Sidon, and Ptolemais. Antioch (modern Antakya) was the largest city of the area and capital of the Roman province of Syria. It had a population of a half million or more. Only Rome and Alexandria were larger in ancient times. With the establishing of a church at Antioch and its outreach to Gentiles, the focus in Acts now shifts from Jerusalem to Antioch. How did the Christians in Antioch know there was going to be a famine in Judea (vv. 27-30)? What did they do about this knowledge? How do you think their relocation to Antioch helped them send relief to their brothers in Judea? Have you been “relocated”? As the Lord leads, how do you “help” those in need around you?
June 11 – (Acts 12:1-5) Herod Agrippa I was a grandson of Herod the Great. He grew up in Rome, where the future Roman emperors Gaius (Caligula) and Claudius were his childhood playmates. It was largely due to these friendships that Herod was granted rule over various territories in Judea. Herod was a violent persecutor of Christians, perhaps because he believed such persecution would help him gain favor with the Jews (v. 3). He executed James, and had Peter put in prison. This execution was during the days of Unleavened Bread which was the seven days following the Passover meal, and were considered holy and were not to be violated by an execution. I understand why Herod the King had no qualms about killing James during this time but it says the Jews were pleased by this act. How could they be so wrong in their thinking? Are we ever “so wrong” in our justification today? Selah