How Cornelius viewed God and His words

For today, please meditate upon how Cornelius viewed God and His words.

Cornelius, a Roman centurion, was an honorable man who along with his household feared God. He was praying and looking for answers. God sent him an angel who told him to send for Peter, and that Peter would tell him “what he must do” and “words by which he and all his household would be saved” (compare Acts 10:6; 11:13-14).

How Cornelius responded to these instructions is indicative of a heart that had: (1) a deep reverence for God, (2) a hunger for God’s words, and (3) a strong desire for others to hear those same words of salvation.

“We are all present before God, to hear all things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:29). 

  1. Cornelius showed a deep reverence for God. He knew in whose presence he stood…a holy and almighty God. God wasn’t distant and aloof, he was present in the room with Cornelius. Even though he was misguided, note that when Peter came in the room, Cornelius fell down and worshiped him. Yes, he needed to be corrected, but do not fail to see the deep reverence for God that Cornelius displayed.
  2. Cornelius showed a deep hunger for God’s words. He clearly recognized that this God he feared had commands, and as a soldier he wanted to obey and follow every one of those commands of His Master. This was the most important thing on his mind…fearing God and doing whatever God says.
  3. Cornelius showed a strong desire for others to hear those same words of salvation. “We are all present.” Do not overlook that. Why were they all present? Notice verse 24 says that while Cornelius was waiting for Peter to arrive, he “called together his relatives and close friends.” These saving words of God were not to be kept exclusively to himself. He did not view this as a private matter that should not be discussed. These words of God which had yet to be preached were so important to him that he wanted to make sure those closest to him heard them too!

So, how about you? What can you learn from Cornelius today? How do you view worship services and Bible studies? What attitude do you display to those in your circle about God and His words? Are you keeping His saving words to yourself or do you value them so much that you want everyone around you to hear them?

May God give us the spirit of Cornelius in our hearts today.

 

Listening to the “Little People”

In II Kings 5 we have the story of Naaman, a highly respected man, a valiant warrior, and a leper. In verse 2, we are told of a little girl from Israel that was taken captive by the Arameans and is put into service waiting on Naaman’s wife. This little girl, aware of Naaman’s condition, says “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” (verse 3)

This revelation causes Naaman to ask permission to head to Samaria and the king of Aram grants permission and sends Naaman to the king of Israel with a letter which says “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (verse 6)

The king’s response to the letter in verse 7 is “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” Verse 8 says that the king also tore his clothes, this showing his grief. When Elisha hears of the king’s response he says “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (verse 8)

I find it very interesting that the little captive girl had confidence in Elisha and God but the king of Israel responds with despair and grief. She has enough confidence to approach her mistress and tell her about the prophet. I believe it is safe to assume that she wasn’t highly educated and we are unaware of any personal interaction she had with Elisha. But she has heard the stories and she has faith. The king, on the other hand, would have been educated and did have personal experience with Elisha yet seems to have no faith.

And now let’s look at Naaman’s response. He had enough confidence in the little captive girl to approach his king and make the journey to Samaria. Maybe it wasn’t confidence as much as clinging to hope. Yet when Elisha gives him some simple instructions Naaman goes away furious saying “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.” (verse 11) And who is it that provides Naaman wisdom and clarity in the situation? In verse 13 his servant says “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

There are a number of things we can learn from these events but what I learned today is that wisdom often comes from the perceived “little” people in our lives. The ones that we might deem as less important, or uneducated, or of a lower social status. They can give us insights we overlook. So I’m going to do my best to listen and observe. To hear what everyone in my life says and not discount anyone because of what they look like, how they make their living, or what they’ve been through.

Moses was faithful even when…(5 of 6)

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#5 Moses was faithful to God even when those closest to him turned against him.

Sometimes standing for something means you will be standing alone.

Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ own sister and brother, turned against him at one point. Amazingly, when God punished Miriam because of this with leprosy, it was Moses who prayed for her to be healed. He was faithful to God even when those closest to him opposed him.

It is at this point in Moses’ life that the Bible says that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). Moses’ heart was truly set on God – even when his own family turned on him, he did not get defensive or proud. He did not make it about him, he turned his heart toward God in prayer. Moses still loved his family even though they behaved this way toward him.

Moses was not the only person in Scripture who had to stand alone.

  • Jesus’ brothers thought He was crazy, and His closest friends abandoned Him when He was arrested. Jesus kept His focus on the Father and doing His will.
  • The apostle Paul wrote that during one of his trials in Rome that “no one stood” with him. However, the “Lord stood with him and strengthened him.”
  • Samuel was deeply hurt and felt rejected when the Israelites asked for a king. God reminded Samuel that the people had rejected Him, not Samuel.
  • Job’s wife said to curse God and die. Job kept his eyes on the Lord.
  • David’s most loyal soldiers at one point all turned against him and wanted to kill him. Yet, David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

People won’t always understand your priorities.  Your fellow Christians sometimes won’t be going the same direction. We can’t force what is important to us to be important to those closest to us.

Humble service can shed light on lack of commitment in others.  Without saying a word our actions can make those around us feel guilty and that guilt will often be displayed in criticism and disapproval.

So, the question comes, will you be faithful even when you have to be faithful alone? Remember, though, that with God you are never alone. We truly learn to find our peace, comfort, joy and strength in God during the times we are not finding it in those closest to us.

Moses was faithful to God, even when:

  1. He did not want to do to the job.
  2. The lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.
  3. He received little appreciation.
  4. He doubted his own value and effectiveness.
  5. Those closest to him turned against him.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

 

Worthless Physicians

But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom! (Job 13:4-5)

 Job’s three “friends” came to him after he had suffered catastrophic and devastating loss in every area of his life. They began to accuse him of what was wrong and why he was suffering. They also had the answers for how to fix all his problems, which were based on the wrong assumptions about why he was suffering. They did everything but help Job at his lowest point and darkest hour.

Job called them worthless doctors. Later in Job 16:1-2, he called them “miserable comforters.”

What would make a physician worthless? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Wrong assumptions. When a doctor comes in and already has you and your situation pegged before he walks in the door, he isn’t really going to listen to you. He began with the wrong assumptions and built his case on the wrong information.
  2. Incorrect diagnosis. Because he did not listen to you, nor did he ask the right questions, it will be impossible for him to correctly diagnose what’s wrong with you.
  3. Wrong medicine. How on earth could a doctor prescribe the right medicine when he began with the wrong assumptions and incorrectly diagnosed your condition? In fact, the medicine he would prescribe on this basis may make your condition worse. You might even die.

Is it possible that you and I are “worthless physicians” and “miserable comforters”?

  • How often do we have our Christian brothers and sisters pegged and put in a box before we even talk to them?
  • When someone is going through a difficult time, how well do we actually listen to his or her story?
  • Are we already thinking of what to say?
  • Are we standing aloof in judgment of how they are not handling this the way “we think” they should handle it?

Consider what Job said in response to his friends in chapter 16. Job knew the difference between what a person could say and what a person should say.

“I also could speak as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you. I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain” (Job 16:4-5).

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. At least Job’s friends got that right for the first seven days they were with him. They opened their mouth and removed all doubt as to what kind of friends they were.

Today, seek to listen. Seek to understand. Seek to ask questions and truly be engaged while someone is talking. Seek to cast out preconceived notions about a brother and what you would do to fix his problems (James 1:19).