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Love God: The Greatest Commandment

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. But people often look in ever place they can to try to find love, except in the one place it is guaranteed: in God. In fact, Johnny Lee sings about looking for love in all the wrong places. And that’s what we do – we look for it in all the wrong places. We search for love in other people, in family, in children, in parents, in hobbies, jobs, money, fast cars, sports, clothes, and even shoes. In today’s world, you can even find a fake love in a virtual reality world.

If you’re looking for love, there’s really no limits to where you can look. And whenever there are no limits – we tend to go overboard. And when you look for love in the wrong places, you will always be left feeling as if you haven’t found it.

The Right Place to Look for Love

There is one place that is the right place to look for love – and that’s in loving God. God created us with a longing for His love and when we look for it anywhere other than in Him, we’re looking in the wrong place. Yes, we are to love our spouses, children, family, and our neighbors. But that deep-down longing to love and be loved can only be filled by God.

Love God with all our heart, soul and mind

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38 that the greatest commandment is that we are love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Notice that Jesus used the heart first. The heart is representative of our emotions, especially love. So loving God naturally begins with the heart. But genuine love doesn’t just stay in heart. Where there is love, it will manifest through one’s actions and words. It is expressed in the choices we make, the thoughts we think and how we live our life. Let’s say your spouse said, “I love you” but his/her actions and lifestyle showed something quite different. Would you believe he/she loved you? What if you claim to love God, but never go to church, cuss, drink alcohol, sleep around, and steal from your neighbor. Would God believe you Him? What does your lifestyle, actions, and words reveal about how you love God?

Love God with All

Another thing to notice is that Jesus said we are love with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. Did you see that He used the word all each time? I can say I love God, my husband, pizza, and Hershey’s Symphony bars. But I don’t love pizza like I love my husband. And I don’t love my husband like a love God. God wants our all. We can’t love God today and not tomorrow. We can’t love Him, but also live like the world. But, we should love God above all else and in total completeness.

Why should we love God?

Why should we love God? First because He made us to love Him. Only humans were created in the image of God. Of all of God’s creation, we were the only ones given a soul. We were the ones created to fellowship with God. But sin broke the fellowship and created separation. That is why we are always looking for love in the wrong places. The purpose of our existence is to love, worship, and glorify God. So when we are not loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, there’s an emptiness longing to be filled and we look for it everywhere except where the answer is.

We love God because He first loved us

We should also love Him because He first loved us. Even though we were sinners separated from God, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin so that through Christ’s shed blood the broken relationship caused by our sin could be restored. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

We love God because He adopts us into His family

We should also love Him because He adopts us into His family, making us joint heirs with Jesus. When we place our faith in Christ and confess our sins and make Him our Lord and Savior, we become sons and daughters of God.

Examine your love for God

Each of us should examine our love for God. Is it with all our heart, soul, and mind? What do you love more than God? Whatever that is, it’s an idol so put it back in its proper place and give God his. If you say you love God, does you lifestyle, actions, and words prove it? If you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, try looking for love in the right place – in loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul.


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Now you can enhance your Bible Reading with the Verse Mapping Template

Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.


The Valentine’s Collection

Beloved Collection: This Valentine’s Day, let your spouse know how much you love them. Based on the Bible Verse, Song of Solomon 3:4, the bottom line reads, “I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

I have found the one whom my soul loves: Based on Song of Solomon 3:4 

God’s Plan: God’s design for marriage is one woman, one man Woven into oneness with Christ – this is God’s plan

Greatest Valentine’s: On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love and there’s no greater love than Christ who laid down His life so that we can have eternal life. Includes John 3:16.

Here are some of our favorite designs

  • Revive Us Again, Lord

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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce

What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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America’s Christian Heritage

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. — Psalm 33:12

What would our founding father’s think about what we’ve made of America today? The America they were willing to lose their homes and land for. The dream of America that were willing to lose their lives for? What would every American soldier who gave their life for our nation think about what America is today? And for every soldier who has defended our nation and protected our constitutions and our freedoms — what about the mothers and spouses who lost their sons, daughters, and partners? What about the children who lost parents?

May the people of God fall on their knees, humbly seeking God and pray for Him to arise in this nation. It’s past time for us to invite God back into America.

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What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.

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Acts 11: 22-24. Be A Barnabas

Who is Barnabas

Barnabas was a Levite and native of the island of Cyprus. Prior to the disciples naming him Barnabas, he was Joseph. The disciples renamed him with a name that identified his strongest characteristic – he was an encourager. What if the disciples were to rename you with a name that identified your strongest characteristic? What would your name be?

Barnabas sold his property and gave the proceeds to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37). He was also the man that introduced Saul of Tarsus (later named Paul), to the Jerusalem church (Acts 9:26-27). In Acts 11, the early church of Jerusalem heard about the Greek-speaking Gentiles who became believers and a church was planted and established in Antioch. As a result, of the Greeks converting to Christianity, they chose Barnabas to go to Antioch to investigate the preaching to the Gentiles. Barnabas becomes the leader of the work in Antioch and he secures Saul as his assistant. In Acts 11, we learn some important qualities about Barnabas that every Christian should model.

Barnabas was glad

How many times have you gone to church to see some sour-faced saint who can’t seem to do anything but grumble and complain? Maybe that saint is you. When Barnabas arrived at the church in Antioch, Acts 11:23 tells us he was glad. Why? Because he saw the grace of God at work in the church that had been planted there.

Whenever we see God at work, that is cause for gladness and joy. Psalm 122:1 says, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” What if we went into church each week glad to be there? Glad to meet our Savior in His House? Glad to worship, praise, sing, and fellowship with other believers?

Barnabas encouraged them

The cost of discouraging others

How often does the excitement of a new Christian wear off because the sour-faced, grumpy saint squelched the joy? Maybe it isn’t a sour-face, grumpy saint, but a saint with a large does of unbelief in what God can do with a person who has a willing heart. What about kids coming back from youth camp? What about after the church holds a “revival service”? Or what about when God calls someone to a task but family and friends discourage them because “how could God use that person with their past?” What about the pastor who called it quits because the church could only complain, bicker, and demand their way? Or what about the person who dreams of finding a cure for cancer? What about the person that struggles with depression?

The danger of discouraging others

We all need encouragers in our lives! However, if you discourage others from what God has called them to do, you’re actually guilty of quenching the work of the Holy Spirit. What if, because of your discouragement, someone gave up on that dream or walked away from a calling? They could have been the one person to lead someone to Christ but because they gave up and walked away that someone never hears how much Jesus loves them.

Or what about that couple who’s marriage could have been saved but fell apart because of your discouraging words? Or that teen who dreams of finding the cure for cancer begins to believe there is no cure and chooses another path because you made them feel like a cure was hopeless. But had they stayed true to the dream God gave them, the cure may have been found. Matthew 12:36 says, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

Sometimes we don’t discourage others with the words we say – but with the looks we give. Or sometimes its in the words we don’t say. You never know what God is saying to a person because God is speaking to them and not you. If He hasn’t let you in on His plan for their lives, then who are you to discourage them?

Barnabas and Saul

We need to be like Barnabas and encourage others. It’s not up to us to determine the dream God puts in the heart of another person. Be an encourager. Barnabas not only encouraged the new church at Antioch, but he also encouraged a man named Saul who had been a persecutor of Christians. But then, on his way to Damascus with letters giving him the authority to round up the Christians, he encountered a blinding light and the voice of Jesus. Jesus renames Saul to Paul and from Paul we get the majority of the New Testament.

What if Barnabas had said, “God can’t ever use Saul! He known for persecuting Christians. He’ll never be accepted. The Christian will never trust him.” Be very careful who you discourage because you never know the plans God has for another person. Instead, encourage them in their dreams – even the far-fetched crazy dreams because God likes working in the far-fetched and crazy. And He likes using broken people to do the far-fetched and crazy.

Barnabas had purpose

What was Barnabas’ purpose in encouraging the new church at Antioch? To continue with the Lord. God started a work in this Greek, Gentile church and Barnabas’ purpose was to continue that work. In fact, when he saw what God was doing, he left Antioch in search of Saul. He then brought Saul back to Antioch and they stayed there for a year, teaching and growing this new church.

What was the result? A great many people were saved and it was here at Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. The term “Christians” likely came from Romans who labeled the people who followed Jesus “little Christs.” While they intended it to be an insult, it is actually a title of honor because it meant that the disciples were living Christlike lives. If the Romans were here today, would they label you as “Christian” or “little Christ”? Do we have purpose in our heart to continue the work of Christ? Are we willing to go and get someone and bring them to help carry out that purpose – even if the person the Holy Spirit is directing you to is a very unlikely person?

A good man

Barnabas lived a Christlike life. As Luke (the writer of Acts) penned, “For he was a good man,” he was affirming that Barnabas lived a morally pure life. He was not a thief or the town drunk. Barnabas didn’t cheat on his wife. He did not live habitually in sin. It doesn’t mean Barnabas never sinned, for we all do. However, his reputation was one that identified him as a man who abstained from evil and sin. In other words, he was a good man.

He was also a man who did the right thing. In Acts 4, he sold his property and gave the money to help the poor saints and relieve their suffering. He found ways to encourage others and he was obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit – even when the instructions were to take a previous-Christian-persecutor-converted-Christian under his wing. After Barnabas’ appearance in Acts, he isn’t mentioned again. However, Paul would go on to do great and might things including writing the numerous books of the New Testament that we read in our Bible today.

Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit

Barnabas lived out Ephesians 5:18, which says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:18 tell us that we are walking in the Spirit when we are led by the Spirit. We are all full of something. Maybe its sports, work, money, hobbies, family, possessions, fame or love. But if we are full of these things without being full of the Holy Spirit then we’re really just full of bologna. When our lives are full of these things, we allow these things to control our lives, our time, our wallets. But when we live Spirit-led lives, we live in humility toward God, surrendering our will to His and the result is a live of joy and thanksgiving – remember that Barnabas was glad?- he had good reason to be because He was full of the Holy Spirit.

Barnabas was full of Faith

Faith in God

Barnabas didn’t have a wavering faith. He didn’t have faith when things were going good. Barnabas had a deep faith in God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them than diligently seek him” Barnabas was full of faith. He believed and obeyed the gospel. He acknowledged that Jesus was his Lord and lived in obedience to him.

Faith in Others

Barnabas also had faith in his brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone else would have shunned Saul – but Barnabas took under his wing. He listened to Saul’s conversion experience.He also listened to the Holy Spirit who prompted him to go get Saul and bring him to Antioch to help with the new church there.

Saul wasn’t the only convert that Barnabas had faith in. John Mark was Barnabas’ counsin and on the first missionary journey, they took John Mark with them, but when they reached Perga, John Mark went back home. On the 2nd missionary journey, Barnabas hasn’t given up on John Mark and he wants to take him with them again, but Saul (now called Paul) refused. Still Barnabas didn’t give up on John Mark. Instead, Paul and Silas went one way while Barnabas and John Mark went another. We know that Barnabas continued encouraging and training John Mark because later, Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” Paul gave up on him, but Barnabas did not. And now Paul says that John Mark is useful to him for ministry.

Who do you need to be a “Barnabas” to?

Someone today is ready to give up. Someone is hurting. There is someone that is questioning God and don’t understand. Today there is a new Christian who needs to be introduced to the church and taken under a wing. There is someone who needs training and nurturing in spiritual matters. Someone is lost and on their way to hell. Will you listen to the quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit and be a Barnabas today?

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What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

Westbow logo
Christian book logo
amazon logo
Barnes and Nobel logo
walmart logo

 

Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.

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A non-profit ministry located in Jacksonville, FL 
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Acts 10:34-35. God Shows No Partiality

Two Visions that Change the Trajectory of the Gospel Message

Acts 10 and the story of Cornelius and Peter is one of the most important stories in the Bible for every person who is not a Jew. In this chapter of the Bible, we find a trajectory shift in the life of the church and its mission – one where the gospel message is taken to the Gentile world. God uses an unlikely duo from different races and different socioeconomic classes to show that He shows no partiality. His forgiveness and saving grace is for everyone who fears Him and surrenders their life to Him.

The Message of Peter’s Vision: No Partiality

Without the vision Peter received, he would not have had the message spoken in the vision that said: “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Peter’s lifelong adherence to the Jewish food laws collided with the Lord’s command to kill and eat unclean animals that were a part of Peter’s vision. Peter’s response to the Lord’s command is: “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

But the Lord was using this vision to teach Peter that God shows no partiality. The Gospel message was not just for the Jews. It is for whoever fears God and believes in Jesus. The message the Lord gave Peter through the vision prepared Peter to go to Cornelius as he was instructed in the vision.

Cornelius’ Vision

Over in Caesarea, a Roman Centurion also has a vision. The Bible tells us that Cornelius is a devout man. He is kind and generous. And he is a man who feared God. That phrase is important because remember that in Peter’s vision, the Lord teaches him that the gospel is for every person who fears God…and here we have a roman centurion who fears God.

Cornelius also is a man who “prays to God always.” In the first part of chapter 10, we’re not told what he is praying for. But then Cornelius has a vision and in his vision an angel of God comes to him and calls him by name. He has a very natural reaction — he’s afraid, but says, “What is it, lord?” And the angel says, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” Then the angel leaves. But we still don’t know exactly what Cornelius was praying for.

The Unlikely Duo

Peter and Cornelius was about as different as you could get. Peter was a Jew. Cornelius was Roman. Peter had been a fisherman, then a follower of Jesus whom the Romans crucified. Cornelius was a Roman Centurion and member of the Italian Regiment. Peter was dependent on the generosity of the Church for a place to stay and food to eat. Cornelius had a house and gave away money generously to other people. But this unlikely duo had one thing in common: their belief and faith in Christ and that bond would break through the social norms and launch the gospel message to the Gentile world. God would use these two polar opposite men to let the entire world know that He shows no partiality to those who place their faith in Him.

Answer to prayer

Have you ever been someone’s answer to prayer? Has God used you in some way that met a need someone had? That is what Peter is to Cornelius. He’s an answer to prayer.

In response to Cornelius’ prayer, Peter has his vision and the Lord sends Peter to Caesarea to see Cornelius. At this point, the Christians were already being persecuted and Roman soldiers were their persecutors. So imagine Peter’s gut reaction when some men stood at his gate looking for him and the Spirit says to Peter: “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

When Peter arrives at Cornelius’ home, we find that Cornelius has gathered all his family and close friends together. Peter says, “For what reason have you sent for me?” Peter still hasn’t put together the vision and his purpose for being sent to Cornelius’ home.

Cornelius then recounts the vision he had while praying and then finally in verse 33 we learn what Cornelius had been praying for. “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” Cornelius was hungry to know more about God and he had been praying for God to send someone to him who could teach him what he needed to know about Him.

The Significance of Obedience

Both Peter and Cornelius were given separate visions that resulted in God bringing these two men together and they would experience a critical moment of decision. To obey God or not. The Roman Centurion could have responded with “A Jew? You want me to send for a Jew? What will all the other soldiers think if they see me talking with a Jew?” Peter could have responded with, “You want me to go where God? You do know that the Romans are persecuting us…right? Remember Stephen, God? I don’t want to go there. Send someone else.” But instead, they both promptly obey and because they did, all of us who are not Jewish have the gospel message. Because God shows no partiality, we have the same hope of eternal life. Since God shows no partiality, Jesus died for everyone.

The Church Today

The church has been faced with the same decision throughout every generation since. Social boundaries, class boundaries, racial boundaries….from the early church today, we still have much to overcome. Peter and Cornelius both had to decide if they would obediently follow God’s leading and overcome the barriers or sit at home and refuse to cross the lines. The church today is still making the same decision.

The problem:

We find the problem in Acts 10:28 where social boundaries prevented Peter from associating with a Gentile. In verses 9-16, Peter is given a vision where heaven opens up and a great sheet bound at the four corners is lowered down to him. Inside were all kinds of four-footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds. A voice then instructs Peter to “kill and eat.” Because of Jewish food laws regarding “clean” and “unclean” meat, Peter replied, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” The voice replied, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” The vision occurred three times, even so, we see Peter very cautious about crossing the social boundaries until the very end of his encounter with Cornelius.

God’s solution:

Jesus had already instructed his disciples in Acts 1:8 that there would be no geographical boundaries in the spreading of the gospel. He told them to go to Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth and the gospel was already spreading. In Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch was saved and baptized. After Philip baptized the Ethiopian the Bible tells us that he made his way to Caesarea and preached to the cities along the way. Perhaps it was Philip’s message in Caesarea that Cornelius responded to and became a Christian. We don’t know for sure but the gospel message had reached him and now he longed to know more about God.

Long before Peter and Cornelius’ divinely appointed meeting, Simeon declared in Luke 2:32 that Jesus would be both a light of revelation to the Gentiles and for Israel. Jesus crossed the social boundary with His encounter with the woman at the well. As Peter ministered alongside of Jesus, he would have seen Jesus go outside the social norms over and over again. And even with the vision, Peter is still uncertain, but he obediently goes and he goes without hesitation.

Peter’s AHA! Moment

When Peter arrives, Cornelius tells him about his vision and God’s solution clicks with Peter. . It is his AHA! moment. He finally gets it. Peter says to Cornelius in verse 28: “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for.” Then in verse 34 he says, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.” This does not mean God accepts all people no matter their response to Him or that people who fear Him do not need Christ. It doesn’t mean we can barter our way to heaven or pay our way to forgiveness. Rather, it means that God does not restrict any nationality or ethnicity from the free gift of salvation.

The Point of Peter’s Encounter with Cornelius: No Partiality

The whole point of the story of Peter and Cornelius is for us to know that God shows no partiality. The same God that reached out to Peter in Joppa was at the very exact moment reaching out to Cornelius in Caesarea. The same God that reaches out to a person in America, is reaching out to people in England, Germany, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Africa, Asia, Australia, and every other nation on the face of the earth. The gospel is the same no matter where you’re from, no matter the color of your skin, no matter the language you speak and it is the gospel that calls us all to the Savior. In the eyes of God, we are all equal and Jesus died for all of us. God never intended there to be divisions among us because of nationality, or gender, or race. He commands us to go into every nation and tell people about Jesus. And He wants us to do so in the same way – with no partiality.

A New Commandment

Within our churches today, there should never be an unwelcomed person due to ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or any other label. Every single person is a unique and glorious creation of God’s own hand. And every single person is lost and on their way to hell without the gospel message being received. In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” We can’t loves others like Jesus when we show partiality. We can’t love others when we allow race and the color of skin to divide us. But when we look at others through the eyes of Jesus and see them as He does we can open our hearts to love them like He does and carry out the mission of the church. The church’s mission is to bring the lost to Jesus and that’s what the church should be doing.

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What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

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Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.

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Acts 10:1-2. A Picture of a Devout Man

Cornelius

In Acts 10, we find a picture of a man whom the Bible defines as a “devout man.” But this man wasn’t one a Jesus’ 12 disciples. In fact, he was even a Jew. Cornelius was a centurion in the Roman army. He lived at Caesarea. But this was a man who worshiped the one true God. While Roman soldiers had a reputation of extortion and brutalization of the local population, Cornelius treated the Jewish people with kindness and generosity.

Back at the very end of chapter 8 of Acts, we learn that Philip preached in all the cities until he came to Caesarea. So Christianity had already begun its spread to this area prior to us meeting Cornelius. Here in Acts 10, we get a summary description of five things that tells us what a “devout man” looks like.

Defining “devout”

The word devout means, “having or showing deep religious feeling or commitment; total committed to a cause or belief.” When the Bible says a person is devout, that person is careful to fulfill religious duties. This isn’t a person that is half-hearted. They aren’t the person that shows up at church just on Easter and Christmas. It isn’t even the person that shows up at church every Sunday morning. To be devout in our faith means we are “all in.” So Cornelius respected Jewish beliefs and customs, including the food laws and special days.

Five Characteristics of a Devout Man

1. A Devout Man Fears God

Fearing the Lord means to be in awe of his holiness, to give him complete reverence and to honor him in majesty, purity and power. We must acknowledge that God is merciful, loving, and kind. But He is also pure, holy, and just. Because He is pure, holy, and just, He will judge sin. Because He is merciful, loving, and king, He forgives our sins when we seek His forgiveness.

What Fearing God for the lost person is like:

A person lost in their sin has every right to fear the judgment of God. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death — eternal death. That’s the cost of dying physically without coming to faith in Christ who paid our sin debt for us. So the lost person who dies can expect to receive the wages they earned – eternal death in hell.

What Fearing God for the saved person is like:

However, for a person who has repented of sin and asked Jesus to forgive them, cleanse them, and invites Him to be their Savior, the fear of God has a very different meaning. For the believer, fear of God is having a reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire.”

Deuteronomy 10 gives more details about what fearing God means and how we live out “fearing God” in our lives. Verses 12-13 says, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

Jumping to verse 17, it says, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.” And then in verses 20-21, we read, “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.” This is exactly what fearing God means for Christians.

Difference in being afraid of God and fearing God’s discipline:

When the Bible talks about fearing God, it includes reverence and respect, but we must also have an understanding of how much God hates sin and therefore have a fear of the judgment that sin brings when we die without surrendering our hearts to Jesus. Hell is real and every lost person should be terrified of an eternity spent there.

A Christian who sins can also expect God’s discipline. Just as a loving parent disciplines a child in love, so God will discipline His children. Discipline is meant to instruct, train, and teach. It is for guiding a person in the way they should live. Discipline isn’t fun, but it shapes us more into the image of Christ. But for the Christian, we do not have to be afraid because God disciplines out of His love and mercy. We also do not have to fear eternity being separated from God because we have the promise from God that nothing can separate us from His love and that He will never leave us or forsake us. So for the Christian, fearing God is respecting, obeying, submitting to God’s will, and worshiping the God of gods and Lord of lords who is mighty and awesome.

2. Cornelius’ entire household feared God.

In today’s words, we would say that Cornelius was a “spiritual leader” in his home. When a devout man fears God, his entire household takes notice and the devout man leads his household to know the God whom he loves. It wasn’t enough for Cornelius to be a Christian. He led his entire house – his wife, children, grandchildren, servants – everyone who lived under his roof – to Christ. Then he led them to keep the commandments and statutes of God.

Cornelius was committed to his faith and diligent in his worship – and he saw that his household was too. He reverenced, respected, and honored God, and he taught his household to also do so. Cornelius was a man of prayer and fasting and he instilled this within the members of his household. He was a true spiritual leader in his home. A leader can’t be a leader if no one is following and here we find his entire household followed him.

3. A devout man gives generously

The Roman soldiers had a reputation of extortion and brutalization of the local population. But this Roman centurion gave generously to the people. He didn’t give out of what was left over every month. He gave generously. If there was a need, he helped meet that need. He listened as the Holy Spirit would say “give” and then he gave. He was kind – to the extent that in verse 4 we find that Cornelius has a vision with an angel of God who comes to him and says, “Cornelius! Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” He gave generously – and God took notice.

Generosity catches the eye of God:

God always notices the actions of everyone, but I think here attention is drawn to it because we have someone doing something that is against the norm. While the other Roman soldiers were known for extorting and brutalizing the people, Cornelius does the opposite and he gave generously.

In my overactive imagination, I see a Roman soldier taunting a old widow woman who is giving her last coin to purchase bread and just as the bread is placed in her hand the Roman soldier snatches away, takes a big bite, and then tells the old woman how good it tastes. As he walks on still eating the bread he didn’t pay for, Cornelius quietly places several coins in the woman’s hand that will keep her fed for the month. He then learns where she lives and discreetly has a servant deliver meals to her home several times a week.

Now that’s not in the Bible – that’s just how I see it in my mind because he gave generously. He didn’t just give the woman a coin so she could get another loaf of bread. He didn’t just buy a loaf of bread and then hand it to the woman. Generously, to me, means he would have given her not only what was taken, but more than that.

4. Devout men prays always

1 Thessalonians 5:17 simply says, “pray without ceasing.” That’s the idea here with Cornelius. In fact, as we keep reading in Acts 10, we find in verse 30 that Cornelius was fasting and praying. As a result of his praying, he has a vision and an angel of God appears to him to let him know his prayers have been heard. What was he praying for? We are not given the answer until verse 33 and the answer is the fifth characteristic of a devout man.

5. A Devout Man is Always Hungry to Know More about God.

If verse 33, as Cornelius is explaining to Peter why Jesus spoke to him and sent Him to Caesarea. Cornelius says, “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” And Peter begins to preach and teach Cornelius’ entire household about the things of God. The result was that the Holy Spirit fell on the these Gentile converts in the same way He fell on the disciples.

What if Christian Men today were devout like Cornelius?

Men, as Christians, you have been called to be spiritual leaders in your home. You have been called to be devout. You have been set apart to fear God and to lead and teach your entire household to fear God. God wants you to be kind and generous out of the abundant blessings He has given you. You should be going about your life in an attitude of praying without ceasing – to always be seeking God’s wisdom and guidance and leading your home as God leads you. You are called to lead. But to be a leader, you must have followers. But where are you leading them? To eternal life or eternal death? Are you leading them closer to Jesus? Are you leading them to have an never-ending hunger for God?

If Christian men were like Cornelius, how would our world be different?

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What’s Inside God, Love and Marshmallow Wars?

This book includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

  • Scripture to memorize and meditate on.
  • Conversation Starters.
  • Concepts from the Bible on Godly marriages.
  • Romance Builders.
  • Relationship Builders.
  • Personal reflections.
  • Date ideas.
  • Group date ideas for you and other Christian couples.

Available in hardback, paperback and ebook from Westbow Press Bookstore, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel. Click the icons below to purchase from your preferred bookstore. Now also available at WalMart online.

Westbow logo
Christian book logo
amazon logo
Barnes and Nobel logo
walmart logo

 

Join the community of couples on Facebook who are committed to intentionally growing their marriage and learning how to have a marriage that honors God. Here you can post photos of the different activities as you do them, ask questions of other couples, share how God is using this book to strengthen your marriage, and grow with other Christian couples. We’ll see you in the community.

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904.239.8937
A non-profit ministry located in Jacksonville, FL 
Follow us on:

facebook logo link on Bible reading post
LinkedIn logo link on Bible reading post
Twitter logo link on Bible reading post
Instagram logo link on Bible reading post
Pintrest logo link on Bible reading post
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