Prayer and Devotion To God


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Acts 10:1-4 (KJV) There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, {2} A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. {3} He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. {4} And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

God Does Not Make A Divided Church

When the Church was first formed it was a divided Church. It was not divided because God wanted it to be divided.

God did not want Israel to divided into North and South under Rehoboam’s reign. God does not want His Church divided today. It is SIN that divides.

On the Day of Pentecost Jews from all over the world came into Jerusalem to worship. The Bible tells us that on that Day that 120 Christians – men and women …

Acts 1:14 … all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

The believers with one accord (Greek ὁμοθυμαδόν homothymadón, {pronounced hom-oth-oo-mad-on’}) “with one mind, with one passion” were devotedly praying together for the glory of God. The Bible says in prayer and supplication . “Prayer” is προσευχή proseuchḗ, {pronounced pros-yoo-khay’} and is used for worshipful prayer. “Supplication” is δέησις déēsis, {pronounced deh’-ay-sis} means “To bring requests to God”.

The 120 disciples were focused on the glory of God and asking how they could bring His Kingdom to this earth.

As they were missing an Apostle, Peter suggested that they replace Judas Iscariot with another. Two names – Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias (Acts 1:23) were suggested. How did they decided which one should be in Judas’ place?

Acts 1:24-26 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

I don’t think that either man was supposed to be Judas’ replacement. I believe that God would ordain Paul the Apostle to be His man. I believe Peter made a mistake, but the mistake was good hearted. We often fail. But no harm was done by the action, I believe, because they prayed – sought to worship God and glorify Him with their hearts. The 120 were not seeking their own, but the glory of God.

Being in one accord the Holy Spirit fell on the small Church in that upper room.

Acts 2:1-4 when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The other tongues was not gibberish nor incoherent sounds, but human languages given to share the Gospel of salvation to those Jews who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. The Bible tells us that:

Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Israel had been dispersed throughout all the world because of SIN and Roman dominance. God’s people had wandered away from the Lord and His Word. Again, SIN divides. Sin robs.

God’s Israel had ceased being the Light of the World and thus had become – as Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 … good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Israel was indeed “trodden underfoot of men”. The Roman Empire conquered, then scattered the Jews throughout its provinces. The Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem for their holy Pentecost, and these Jews spoke various languages based on the area of the world they dwelt in. The Holy Spirit gave the 120 praying disciples the ability to speak to these pilgrim Jews in the language they had been forced to learn.

Everyone heard the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ on the Day of Pentecost. Language was not a barrier. “Every man heard them speak in his own language”
(Acts 2:6).
God would unite His Church.

Our Lord is not the Author of confusion, but of peace – AS IN ALL THE CHURCHES of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33). A praying Church left the upper room on the Day of Pentecost. A praying Church spoke many different languages but ONE MESSAGE – that Jesus Christ paid for sins, and faith in Him would bring redemption. On the Day of Pentecost people of many different languages asked: Acts 2:37 … Men and brethren, what shall we do?

They were told: Acts 2:38-39 … Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

The disciples knew that the Gospel was Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior. They knew that Christ gave Himself for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

God Hears Devoted Prayer

Pentecost started with Peter preaching the Gospel and …

Acts 2:41-42 … Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The Church was united at the beginning. The devoted praying of 120 in the upper room translated into Church growth. There were about three thousand souls that entered the Church that day – we are told – out of every nation under heaven. These people had various languages, but all had one thing in common. They were Jews. Jesus had told His Church to:

Matthew 28:19-20 … Go ye therefore, and teach all nations

The early Church had the same problem we have today. We like to stay with the familiar. It was Christ’s intention to save the whole world:

1 John 4:14 … we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (see also John 4:42)

Jesus died to save the whole world. Yet the Church was focused on saving just Jews – which was contrary to Christ’s commission. How does God resolve this problem? With devoted prayer. We return to where we started:

Acts 10:1-2 (KJV) There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, {2} A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

As Peter went about sharing the Gospel of salvation the Lord used him to heal a cripple named Aeneas (Acts 9:32-35) and raise a disciple named Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-43). These are wonderful miracles that God – not Peter but God – did in response to Peter’s prayers. Though these are wonderful miracles, the spiritual salvation of a sinner through the power of God’s Son and Spirit is much greater. Peter prayed that God would use him to do the miraculous. But God had already done a miraculous thing. God had already reached a Gentile Centurion named Cornelius.

The salvation of Cornelius was turning point in the early Church. There are three lengthy references to Cornelius in Acts 10, 11, and 15. What makes this so significant? Gentiles did not observe the Jewish dietary restrictions set forth in Leviticus chapter 11. The Jewish nation had been taught that to eat an unclean thing was to become unclean yourself. The Pharisees took this a step further by teaching that Gentiles who did not observe the dietary laws were themselves unclean, and should not be touched nor associated with. Our Lord Jesus never taught such a thing. Last Sunday we studied how Jesus approached the woman at the well of Samaria – considered unclean by the Pharisees (see John 4:4-42). Jesus took water from this woman, showing that He came for ALL. The woman said to Jesus:

John 4:9 … How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans – nor, for that matter, with any Gentiles. God never intended this division to be. Even the Temple had an outermost “Court of the Gentiles”, this in itself showing that God never forbade the Jews from interacting with the Gentiles. God reached out to Cornelius – a Gentile of the Roman Army. The Bible tells us that Cornelius was a devout man, the Greek εὐσεβής eusebḗs, (pronounced yoo-seb-ace’) which means “a Godly or devoted person”. The Bible goes on to tell us that Cornelius feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. Someone had told Cornelius about Jesus. Our Lord Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father BUT BY ME!” Cornelius loved God. He had given his heart to Jesus, and God heard his prayers. While Cornelius devoted himself to prayer one day we are told:

Acts 10:3-6 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

What impresses God? Our prayers and our giving to those in need. Prayers are proof that we are in the Family of God, for the one who prays always prays to Our Father Who art in Heaven. The generous Christ follower no longer worships at the altar of mammon (money) but sees all that he or she has as a gracious stewardship from the Father. Cornelius is saved by grace, but the vessel saved by Grace is always used of God. Cornelius prayed. He prayed always – without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer was a habit for Cornelius, a habit that the Lord would respond to to bless His Church. As Cornelius prayed God sent a messenger Angel to him saying send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon. God gave specific instructions to Cornelius – better than any GPS could give!

When the Angel departed Cornelius immediately acted, doing as he was told.

Acts 10:7 … {Cornelius} called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually …

Cornelius was a devout man, so who did he choose to go to Joppa for him? Another devout man – the same word {eusebḗs} is used here. As a believer Cornelius leads others to God. He sends these men to Joppa to find Peter.

Acts 10:9-15 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Peter had a habit of devoted prayer. L. Howard Marshall notes in his commentary on Acts: “Most Jews prayed twice a day, but pious Jews also prayed at noon (“the sixth hour”), a third time of prayer (Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10).”

As Peter prayed the Lord showed him a vision of all manner of beasts, clean and unclean. As he was shown this the Lord told Peter arise and eat. Peter replied Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. The Lord told him, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Peter should have known this. Peter was there the day that Jesus taught:

Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

The Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world was now among mankind. Jesus was very clear that food does not defile a person, but impurity and godlessness FROM the heart defiles a person (see Matthew 15:16-20). The Lord said from Heaven What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Listen to Jesus!

At the end of the vision Cornelius’ men come knocking on the door. God tells Peter …

Acts 10:19-20 … the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

When you pray with a devoted heart God hears your prayers, and uses you for His glory and His Kingdom. E.M. Bounds wrote:

“Devotion engages the heart in prayer. It is not an easy task for the lips to try to pray while the heart is absent from it. … The very essence of prayer is the spirit of devotion. Without devotion prayer is an empty form, a vain round of words. Sad to say, much of this kind of prayer prevails, today, in the Church.”

When Peter prayed the Holy Spirit spoke to him. When Cornelius prayed an Angel of God spoke to him. Prayer – devoted prayer – opens the gate of Heaven, and moves the heart of God.

I priced jewelry boxes one time, checking their price from various sources. This box is worth about .86 cents without the ring – but worth over several thousand dollars with the ring. Your prayer has value to God when it has content – a heart devoted to Him, loving Him. If your prayer, no matter how pretty, is devoid of devotion – it has as little value as an empty ring box has to us!

Peter goes with the messengers back to Cornelius’ home. As these two prayer warriors begin to talk – one Jew and one Gentile – Peter as leader of the early Church began to preach. He said:

Acts 10:35-47 … Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

God will bless us and bind us together, growing His Church, if we will pursue devoted prayer. May the Lord touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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