New Testament In a Year: June 30 – Acts 10:24-48

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Acts 10:24-48
(24-33)
So earnest was Cornelius’ desire to know God that he also wanted those he had relations with to know God too. It was not enough for him alone to hear Peter. He also invited his relatives and close friends to hear Peter.

Peter quickly learned what God wanted him to learn from the vision. Even though it was unlawful for Jews to be associated with Gentiles at the time, Peter feared God more than he feared people. He was not concerned with what his Jewish brothers and sisters would think of him. He went to Cornelius’ house without objection because that was what God wanted him to do.

(34-43) Gentiles Hear the Good News
Just as God did not favor Jews above Gentiles in Peter’s day, He does not favor Christians above Muslims or Hindus or any other religious group in our day. God is not unfair in His favoritism. He shows no partiality. He loves us all – believers and unbelievers – the same. Anyone who fears God, does what is right, and earnestly seeks Him as Cornelius did, will find Him. Anyone who believes in Jesus the Christ, no matter what their culture, country, race, or religion, will receive forgiveness of sins through His name and be saved forever.

(44-48) The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles
The early Jewish Christians thought that the Holy Spirit was only reserved for them. They were amazed to see the same gift of the Holy Spirit poured out on the Gentiles. This shows, however, the power of God to save all people.

Favorite verse: (26) But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”

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New Testament In a Year: June 29 – Acts 10:1-23

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Acts 10:1-23
(1-8) Peter and Cornelius
Cornelius knew about God (general), but he did not yet know God (personal). He feared God, gave generously to others, and prayed continually to God. He was sincerely seeking God in order to have a relationship with Him, and God heard his prayers. Jeremiah 29:13 says that those who seek God, will find Him, when they search for Him with all their heart. God is not far from any of us. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

(9-23) Peter’s Vision
God uses a vision to prepare Peter’s heart to go and share the Gospel with Cornelius. At that time, it was not lawful for Jews and Gentiles to meet with one another. Jews saw Gentiles as unclean. Ellicott’s Commentary regarding this passage tells us that a “strict Jew would not enter a Gentile’s house, nor sit on the same couch, nor eat or drink out of the same vessel.” Even the dust of a Gentile city was defiling to a Jew. God, however, shows Peter that He is willing to save all men – Jews and Gentiles, men and women, rich and poor. In His sight, we are all unclean because of sin. We are all in need of redemption, justification, and sanctification.

Favorite verse: (15) And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

New Testament In a Year: June 28 – Acts 9:22-43

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Acts 9:22-43
(26-31) Saul in Jerusalem
Others may have doubted Saul’s conversion, but Saul did not. He knew that Christ had transformed his life. In a short amount of time, he increased in faith and boldly proclaimed the Gospel. His radical life change proved that Jesus was the Christ, and even the disciples soon came to trust and protect him. Instead of continuing to shun and doubt the man who once persecuted them, the early believers united around him in peace. As a result, the church was multiplied.

(32-35) The Healing of Aeneas
Peter and the other disciples never forgot where their power came from. It came from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter did not say to Aeneas, “I heal you.” He said, “Jesus Christ heals you.” There is still power in the name of Jesus to heal and save today.

(36-43) Dorcas Restored to Life
After healing Aeneas, Peter goes to Joppa and raises Dorcas from the dead. Even in this case, he relies on the power of Christ to perform a miracle by first praying and then saying, “Tabitha, arise.” The amazing works that Peter performed did not cause people to believe in him, but in the Lord.

Favorite verse: (34) And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose.

New Testament In a Year: June 27 – Acts 9:1-21

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Acts 9:1-21
(1-19) The Conversion of Saul
Many are not aware of it, but God has a divine plan for each sinner. It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Saul’s conversion clearly shows that no one has done so vile a sin that God’s grace cannot reach them and change them. When God told Ananias to visit Saul, He called him “a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” God had a greater plan for Saul’s life, and Saul was wise to let go of his hateful ways, yield himself to God, and fulfill the purpose that God created him to fulfill.

(20-21) Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues
Saul’s life was radically transformed by the power of Jesus the Christ. He did not let his past negative actions hold him back from the new mission which God had converted him to do. He didn’t care what others thought about his 360-degree turnaround. He immediately proclaimed Jesus to others, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

I am sure Satan tried to use Saul’s past against him. He tried to put him on a guilt trip: Hey, Saul, aren’t you the one responsible for killing Stephen – a true servant of God? What about all those Christians you sent to prison and scattered all over the region? Do you really think God can use somebody like you who used to hate Him so much? Saul didn’t pay attention to that negativity. He let go of his dark past and grabbed hold of his bright future, determined to make the most of it for Christ.

Favorite verse: (15) But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

Women of the Word: Deborah, Nurse of Rebekah

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There are two notable women named Deborah in the Bible. One is Deborah the judge, and the other is Deborah the nurse. This latter Deborah is mentioned twice in the Old Testament. Genesis 24:59 reads,

So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.

And Genesis 35:8 reads,

Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak outside Bethel. So it was named Allon Bakuth.

When Rebekah left her home to become the wife of Isaac, Deborah traveled with her. Deborah took good care of Rebekah, and she probably spent a great deal of her time taking care of Jacob and Esau when they were born to Isaac and Rebekah. We aren’t given much information about the background of Deborah, but from the spotlight that is placed on her funeral at the end of her life, it is safe to assume that she was much-loved by the family she spent nearly all of her life taking care of. In Walking with the Women of the Bible, Elizabeth George writes: “Age brought an end to Deborah’s active role of caregiver, and then Jacob’s family cared for her. She loved them, and they loved her…Deborah was buried under “the oak of weeping” and was lamented with sadness and tears usually reserved for family.”

Even though she only has a small role in the Bible, Deborah the nurse has a wealth of lessons from which we can learn. Continue reading

New Testament In a Year: June 26 – Acts 8:26-40

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Acts 8:26-40
(26-40) Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
Through an angel, God called Philip and told him to go to a certain place. Philip didn’t ask why. He didn’t ask for any more details. He didn’t complain that he was too busy doing something else. He simply rose and went. Philip had no idea that an Ethiopian eunuch was reading the Scriptures in search of salvation and a Savior, but God knew. If Philip had not answered and obeyed God’s call, perhaps the eunuch never would have been told the good news about Jesus and been baptized.

We do not always know why God tells us to do something or calls us to go somewhere, and that’s okay. We just have to trust Him. God sometimes allows things to happen in our lives that may not necessarily benefit us, but are beneficial to others who we may only meet once or who we may never meet at all. We do not exist for ourselves alone. We also exist for others, and ultimately we exist for God.

Favorite verse: (39) And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.