The Good News
As I stood on the stone steps of Joppa looking at the hoary wooden door, reading the sign that says House of Simon the Tanner’s, I couldn’t help but praise God for this blessing. Not only was I in Israel, but right where I stood was where God changed my eternity. In Joppa, a tiny town on the Mediterranean Sea, Peter is given a vision by the Lord, including the instructions, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:9-16). This vision was about more than just the food the Jews were allowed to eat; it was the moment that God commanded Peter to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. So as a Gentile, I praise God for this provision.
Having an opportunity to travel to Israel and walk the same streets and visit the same sites that Jesus did so many years ago was an incredible experience. My visit to Joppa was not on our planned tour, but just a short walking distance from our hotel. Joppa was so nice that I visited twice! Because it was the first part of my trip, I tried to remind myself throughout my journey to frame what I was seeing and learning through this posture of praise and thanksgiving that God made a way for me to be in community with Him forever.
In Acts 10:34, we do not know to how many people Peter is sharing the gospel, but we see him doing it boldly and simply. He opens his preaching with a statement effectively explaining that this message is for all:
“…Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
Right before his sermon ends, Peter says,
“and he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (verse 42).
So again, I am thankful for Peter and the disciples and their willingness to obey God as He called them to share Jesus with everyone.
Could you imagine being the first people Peter shared about Jesus, having doors open for you that weren’t possible before? I suspect these new believers found themselves praising God and thanking Him for making a way for them!
As a believer, aren’t you thankful for Peter’s obedience to share Jesus with the entire world? I am forever grateful that the Word of God was taken throughout the nations and ultimately to my ears many years later.
Today I want to encourage you with two things. First, who shared Jesus with you? Say a special prayer to the Lord of thanks for them. If possible, reach out to them and thank them for sharing the Good News with you and helping lay the foundation for your eternity in heaven with Jesus! Second, who in your life needs to hear the Good News? Be bold and find strength in Jesus as you share the best news someone will ever hear!
2 Kings 2:9-11 9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours–otherwise not.” 11As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
Elijah had done as the LORD commanded him and called Elisha to be the prophet in his place. The time had come for Elijah to depart this world and Elisha knew it. He would not leave the side of Elijah even though Elijah asked him to stay behind. He must have known by the Spirit of God that if he stuck close to Elijah he would be blessed.
When they arrived at the place to which the LORD had led them, Elijah asked if there was anything he could do for Elisha. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. The spirit of a man is his relationship and zeal for God. Elijah left it in God’s hands by saying that if he saw him when he was taken up from him he would know his request was granted. Sure enough, he saw it happen.
When Elijah called Elisha he threw his cloak over him. Now he left his cloak behind for him. When we look through the ministry of Elisha, we find twice as many miracles recorded as were recorded in the life of Elijah. He did receive the double portion he asked for.
What would you have asked for? This reminds us of Solomon’s request for wisdom to rule. What we ask for depends on the calling the LORD has placed on our lives. The desire behind our request should be that our calling be effective and influential for the sake of the Kingdom of God. If our heart is to serve in the most God honoring way possible, I believe God is willing to grant our request. If our request is to be equipped to please our King, we should expect it to be granted.
Consider: We need to show the tenacity that Elisha showed in not leaving Elijah’s side until the LORD equips us for our calling.
Good News for the Poor
SCRIPTURE READING — PSALM 146
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
We all need good news, and the best news is that we are all children of the loving God, who calls us to trust and obey him so that we can live life abundantly. God wants to save us so that we can live life forever with him. God wants this for all of us.
In these devotions we’ll explore what this means, especially for people who experience poverty and hunger, who are also often oppressed, displaced, and vulnerable. That is not the way life is supposed to be. Instead, there should be abundance and flourishing for all. That is the great vision of peace and flourishing that God has for all of his creatures and all of his creation.
The Bible reminds us again and again that God has great compassion for all who are poor and oppressed, and he acts on their behalf. God also wants his followers to love and serve these people in his name.
So let’s think about how we can serve God by caring for poor and hurting people in tangible ways, from feeding and helping people to rebuild after disasters to helping with long-term development.
As we do this, we’ll also be thinking about God and his heart for the poor, revealed in Jesus Christ. And this will lead us into deeper discipleship, doing justice and loving mercy in Jesus’ name.
Thank you, loving God, for the Bible and for your creation, in which you reveal your heart of love and your care for all who are poor. By your Spirit, guide us to share your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heeding God’s Warning
InTouch ministries, source
Listening and obeying when God speaks spares us painful consequences.
Are you quick to hear and respond to God’s Word, or does it seem to go in one ear and out the other? Although messages from the Lord were rare in Eli’s day, the old priest was confronted by a prophet because he was dishonoring the Lord and the priesthood by not rebuking his sons for their evil conduct (1 Samuel 2:27-36).
Despite the prediction of dire consequences, Eli didn’t heed the warning. So the Word of the Lord came to him again through the young boy Samuel. At first Samuel didn’t know who was speaking, but Eli told him to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:9).
Whenever we open the Word of God, we should all say the same thing in order to guard against error. The Devil seeks to imitate God’s voice, but the more familiar we are with Scripture, the more easily we can discern the Enemy’s lies.
James 1:22 warns us to be not merely hearers of the Word but doers. Pay attention as you read Scripture, because God is speaking directly to you. Take His admonitions to heart, obey His commands, and draw encouragement and comfort from His promises.
Bible in One Year: Psalms 107-111