Building A Record in Heaven

Daily Devotion|Day 270

“And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God’” (Acts 10:4, NKJV).

Christianity was still in its early days. Up to this point, the preaching of the Gospel had been limited to Judea and Samaria. But God’s plan was to complete the profile of His Church by bringing in the Gentiles. Jesus had already appointed Paul to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (see Acts 9:10-15). But Paul’s work had to wait until Peter had first launched the Gospel to the Gentiles according to the Lord’s design (see Acts 15:6-7). After Peter was done, Paul (according to the Lord’s plan) was to primarily focus on ministry to the Gentiles, while the former (Peter) was to focus primarily on ministry to the Jews (see Galatians 2:7-9).

Among the Gentiles, God chose Cornelius and his household as the gateway to Gentile ministry. Cornelius was a centurion in the Roman army. The Bible says that “he was a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). Today’s opening Scripture tells us what happened when an angel appeared to Cornelius. We are interested in what the angel told Cornelius: “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.”

Cornelius didn’t know Christ. But he knew God existed, and he served Him to the best of his understanding. He feared God and did what was right, praying to Him and giving alms. When the angel appeared, he disclosed to Cornelius that his prayers and good deeds had risen as a memorial before God. In other words, God had taken note of his deeds and committed to remember them. We can go deeper into the text, but let’s pause here and draw out a lesson for our Christian life.

Nothing you do in life goes unnoticed. Your deeds may be hidden from people, but not from God. Remember what Jesus said, “pray to your Father who is in the secret in place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6). Everything you do or say in life matters. It may not matter to you, but it matters to God. Everything you do, you’re creating a record before God. The question is, “What kind of record are you creating?” God remembered Cornelius for his prayers, his alms and his fear of God. What will God remember you for?

Every minute you’re alive, it is your chance to fear God and do good. God will remember you and reward you in good time. Use your time here on earth wisely. Build a good record for yourself.

BlessingMay the Lord let his peace reign in your family. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyJob 1:1-20 and Matthew 6:1-24

The Holy Spirit Is Convicting Unbelievers

Daily Devotional: Day 150

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, NKJV).

Peter made a life changing discovery when he visited the house of Cornelius to preach to him the message of salvation. Up to this point, the Gospel had been preached to only Jews and Samaritans. But in God’s plan, the Gentiles, too, were destined to become part of God’s Israel. Initially reluctant to go to Cornelius’ house, Peter finally changed his mind upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit. After listening to Cornelius’ account of the vision of the angel, Peter became convinced of the character of God regarding His election of people for salvation. Amazed, he declared, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” What can we learn from this passage?

First, God is no respecter of persons. For centuries, most Jews believed that salvation was their exclusive right based on their ethnic identity. But God reveals that He is interested in anyone who sincerely seeks the true God through repentance and righteousness (cf. John 16:7-11). That is what Cornelius did, and God accepted Him. God is not moved by our looks, our race, our ethnicity, our socio-economic standing, our education, etc. Peter least expected that God would appoint the Gentiles for salvation, let alone pour His Holy Spirit upon them. But that day, he discovered that God’s heart is big enough to welcome people of all nations who heed His voice.

Second, regardless of people’s prior religious background, if they seek the truth, God will reveal it to them and lead them to salvation in Christ. Cornelius was a Roman soldier, and not a Jew. But he sought the truth, and little by little, he realized that the true God was not to be found in idols, demonic ceremonies and rituals. God gave him all the help he needed and eventually opened to him the door of salvation. This is an important point for us Christians.

Consider the Bible passage in John 16:7-11. Through the Holy Spirit, God is reaching people of all nations and religions, convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. If anyone heeds His voice, God will lead him to Christ. We should, therefore, not rule anyone out (regardless of their current religion or lack of religion). God is actively at work among unbelievers to draw them to faith in Christ. Let’s pray that they will not resist the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, let’s reach out to as many unbelievers as we can, trusting that the Holy Spirit has gone before us to prepare the ground for the Word of God.

Have a blessed day, and may the Lord reveal His true nature to you! Amen.

For further study: Acts 11:1-18

Some People Do Not Want to Be Saved

Daily Devotional: Day 131

“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46, NKJV).

Paul and Barnabas spent time in Antioch of Pisidia teaching people about Jesus, the Messiah. On two consecutive sabbaths, they spoke the Word of God. On the second occasion, however, certain Jews in Antioch fiercely opposed Paul and Barnabas, contradicted their message and stirred up persecution against them. On the bright side, though, a considerable number of people believed the Word of God. Today’s Scripture reading focuses on part of Paul and Barnabas’ response to the Jewish opposition. Let’s proceed to examine the reading and see what we can learn from it.

When Jesus came into the world, He understood that His mission was to focus primarily on the Jewish people, not Samaritans or Gentiles. For example, He once stated, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; emphasis added). The Apostles also understood this. Thus, at the beginning of their apostolic ministry, their priority was to preach to Jews first. Against this background, we can understand what Paul and Barnabas said to the Jews in Antioch: “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first.”

But notice that right after affirming the necessity of preaching to the Jews first, the Apostles turned quickly to the Gentiles. Their charge against those Jews was that they had rejected the word of God and had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. These are serious words. Notice also that Paul and Barnabas did not push; they didn’t employ any tactics to get those Jews to believe. They understood when to stop, leave them alone and move on to someone else. That is the proper way of ministering the Gospel to people.

We can learn many important lessons from today’s story. But as usual, there’s only so much we can discuss in a Devotional; so, let’s focus on one important point, and that is: Some people do not want to be saved.

If you are not aware of this, you will waste your time and resources on them, while those who are truly hungry for truth and salvation are left without help. People who do not want to be saved are usually people who are not lovers of the truth. Even God leaves such people alone, and He gives them what they deserve by sending them a strong delusion (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). People who love truth don’t need much convincing, for they recognize truth when they see it and they will follow it wholeheartedly, even if the truth is a hard pill to swallow.

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, prayer and study of the Bible, learn to recognize those who do not want to be saved. Share the Word of God with them, but do not waste time on them. If they are interested, you will know. If they are not interested, your job is done. Don’t push; don’t insist. Respect their choice and move on to someone else.

May the Lord let His face shine on you today! Amen.

For further study: Romans 1:18-22