Devotions

Author Archives: Philip Piasecki

Cornelius

Lesson Fourteen | Devotion #4: Cornelius
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

Cornelius was a Roman Centurion who feared God. Most Romans believed in many different gods, but Acts chapter 10 tells us that Cornelius believed in the one true God. The Lord sends him a vision and in it tells him to send for Peter to come to his house. So he sends men to get Peter, and as the men were approaching the city, Peter has a vision as well. The details are very interesting, and I encourage you to read all of Acts chapter 10, but the basic message of the vision is found in verse 15. Acts 10:15 says, “And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’” Peter did not fully understand what God was saying to him until he returned with Cornelius’ men to Cornelius’ house. When Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house, he finds Cornelius, his relatives, and close friends all awaiting his arrival. It is at this point that Peter understands the vision from God.

Acts 10:34-36 says, “So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘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. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all).’”

Peter begins to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Up until this point, Jewish people had considered the gentiles unclean. However, God reveals to Peter that His Kingdom is for all people, and Peter responds by preaching right away to Cornelius and his friends and family. As Peter is preaching the Gospel, something amazing begins to happen.

Acts 10:44-48 says, “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, ‘Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” 

Everyone in the house who heard the Word was saved, the power of the Holy Spirit fell upon them, they got baptized, and they began to proclaim the work that Christ had just done in their lives. This would have been such an amazing and powerful moment to be a part of for Cornelius. When we think about world changers in the Bible, Cornelius needs to be towards the top of the list for us Gentiles (anyone who is not Jewish). It was at the house of Cornelius that we see God pouring out His love to the Gentiles, and making it known to Peter that they needed to share the Gospel with everyone! The lesson that Peter learned is so powerful in our lives as well. God loves every single person on earth, and He desires for every single person to be saved. In this day and age hate is so rampant throughout our culture and our churches. We would rather be the one to judge someone, than love someone. Scripture tells us that God is the one who judges, and commands us to love one another. In Peter’s mind, the Gentiles were unclean people, and God had to reveal to Peter that He shows no partiality. Anyone who believes in the work of Christ and surrenders their life to Christ can be saved. The account of Cornelius shows us, “that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). We just need to be willing, as Peter was, to share the hope of Christ with all those people. There are people that the world deems as “unclean,” and there are people that the church deems as “unclean,” but we cannot avoid those people. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, they can all be made holy in the eyes of God.

Josiah

Lesson Ten | Devotion #4: Josiah
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

I recently read a story from the New York Post about a family who stumbled upon some baseball cards while cleaning out their deceased great-grandfather’s house. They found a crumpled up paper bag and inside there were seven baseball cards. Seven identical Ty Cobb baseball cards printed sometime between 1909-1911. After getting these cards analyzed by professional collectors, the family discovered that their find was worth well over $1 Million. Before the discovery there were only 15 known copies of this card, and now this family has 7 of their own. Can you imagine cleaning up a garage or basement and stumbling upon something this valuable? I am pumped if I stumble upon a $5 bill. When studying the life of King Josiah, I could not help but think of this story. However, King Josiah found something much more valuable.

In 2 Chronicles chapter 34, we read the account of Josiah’s reign as king. He became king at the age of 8 and at the age of 16 Scripture tells us that “he began to seek the God of his father David.” Before Josiah, his father and grandfather were both very wicked kings. Idol worship had run rampant in the land of Israel, and they had completely forsaken the God of Abraham. After following God, Josiah knew that this idol worship was unacceptable, so as a 20-year-old he began purging Judah and Jerusalem of all the altars and temples to idols that had been built. At 26 he began repairs on the temple, and this is when his incredible discovery is made.

2 Chronicles 34:14 says, “While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses.”

2 Chronicles 34:19-21 adds, “And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, ‘Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.’”

The laws of God which had been neglected for years had been rediscovered. Hilkiah, the priest, brought the Book of the Law to show to King Josiah and his response is incredible. When he hears the words of the Lord, he tore his clothes. He immediately understood that this is what Israel had been missing. He immediately connects the dots; the wrath of the Lord had been poured out on them because they had not kept these commandments. King Josiah decides to take action and commit himself and the country back to the Lord.

2 Chronicles 34:31-33 continues, “And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.” 

The last line of the Scripture is so powerful, all of King Josiah’s days they did not turn away from the Lord. After a line of wicked kings, God uses King Josiah to turn the hearts of Israel back to Him. All of this happens before Josiah’s 27th birthday. I cannot imagine being a king at his age, let alone being used to bring the entire nation back to God. Josiah’s father and grandpa were both wicked men; he could have used his family history and background as an excuse for not doing what he knew was right. This is such a powerful example that it does not matter where you have come from, God can use you for incredible things. As believers, first and foremost we are a part of the family of God. Being a part of that family comes with the power to do incredible things for Christ. God used His Scripture to show King Josiah what it was that needed to change in the kingdom of Israel. We need to make His Word an essential part of our lives so that we can know how God wants us to live our lives. There is power in the Word of God, and there is power in being a part of His family. When we understand those things, Christ can use us to be world changers like He used King Josiah.

Gideon

Lesson Six | Devotion #1: Gideon
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

The story of Gideon and his 300 chosen men is incredible. God chose Gideon to lead the men of Israel against the Midianites, and God promised Gideon that they would be victorious. Gideon and his army started at 32,000 men, but God told Gideon that there were too many men, because when they defeated the Midianites, they would become boastful. So, God had Gideon let all who were afraid of battle leave, this brought the army down to 10,000. God told Gideon that this was still too many men, He wanted them to know without a doubt that their victory was fully because of the Lord. God tells Gideon to have the army go to the river to drink and to send home whoever laps the water from the river to drink in the same way a dog would drink. This brings the number of men to 300, and it is this group that defeats the Midianites. This is obviously a condensed version. I would encourage you to go ahead and read the entire story in Judges chapter 7. The thing is, this incredible event almost never took place due to Gideon’s lack of faith. Look at what happens first in Judges chapter 6.

Judges 6:36-40 says, “Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.’ And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, ‘Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.’ And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.”

God had told Gideon that by his hand He was going to save Israel, and Gideon doubted. Even though the Lord verbally spoke to him, he still requested another sign from God. Then after Gideon gets confirmation on the first fleece, he decides to test God one more time and ask for another sign. God yet again answers Gideon’s request and confirms what He has already told him. When I was reading this story, my first thought was, “Gideon! You are an idiot! God already spoke to you and told you these things, why would you need two more signs?” Then the Holy Spirit shined a light on my life and convicted me. I am guilty of doing the same thing. God has given us His Word. The Bible is the living breathing Word of God, and yet we so often look for confirmation from God in other areas. There have been so many times in my life when I know what Scripture says, yet I still ask God to give me some other confirmation before acting. Luckily for Gideon, despite his indecision, he did not miss out on the incredible plan God had for him. Imagine if his lack of faith and indecision had caused God just to move on and choose someone else? Gideon would have missed out on an opportunity to be used by God incredibly. When we know God is calling us to do something, we need to hear His voice and act. We hear God by spending time in prayer with Him and spending time reading His Word. If the Scriptures tell us to do something, we can know without a doubt we are supposed to do it. We do not need to wait around for a booming voice from Heaven; we can act in biblical faith that we are doing the right thing. I cannot help but think that believers constantly miss out on God using them for His Kingdom because they lack faith and do not trust God’s Word. God wants to use us to change the world just like He used Gideon. We need to be ready and willing to trust Him and to act upon it.

Jethro

Lesson Four | Devotion #5: Jethro
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

I have never received a speeding ticket over my entire driving career. This is something I pride myself on, much to the dismay of my wife. I will comfortably set the cruise control between 70-72 mph and relax. It drives her crazy. I have however received two tickets for “rolling” through stop signs. The most recent one was last summer, and I decided to go to court to dispute the ticket. When I arrived at court, there were five people ahead of me in line, and I had to wait for what felt like hours. After I finally got in front of the judge, he dropped the points on my license, thanks to my sparkling driving record. I cannot help but think of that long wait to see the judge when I read Exodus 18.

Exodus 18:13-16 records, “The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?’ And Moses said to his father-in-law, ‘Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.’”

This sounds like a gigantic mess. We have all been stuck in a line that felt like it was going to take forever, but can you imagine being in line with all the people of Israel who had disputes? Moses would sit there morning to evening to hear everyone’s disputes. Moses was doing his best to manage the people of Israel, but his plan needed some serious help. Luckily Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was there to witness the whole thing, and God used him to speak wisdom into Moses’ life.

Exodus 18:17-23 adds, “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.’”

We essentially see Jethro come to the rescue with a much wiser plan on how to deal with disputes among the Israelites. He knew that Moses could not continue with his way of running things, he would have burned himself out in a matter of weeks. This way Moses would be able to focus on matters of greater importance. Jethro was a World Changer because he spoke wisdom into Moses’ life that essentially saved Moses’ life! Moses went on to do so many great things for God, and Jethro played a huge role in allowing that to happen.

This passage on Jethro is such a great example to believers. We should all be asking God daily to give us wisdom, asking for the right words to say in any situation. We also need to be willing (brave enough) to give someone godly advice when we see a need. I want to highlight that Jethro was not going up to some random person and giving them his two cents. Jethro loved and cared for his son-in-law. While Moses was in Egypt, Jethro took care of his kids and wife for him. Jethro had invested into Moses’ life, and that gave him the platform to give him advice. We need always to be the best family member and friend that we can be to glorify God. When we have invested in someone’s life, there will be times where we need to speak truth into their lives, and we need to do it boldly. Trust that the Lord will give you the words to say, and pray that they will be received with as much grace as Moses received Jethro’s words. God may just be using us to change someone’s life like Jethro changed Moses’.

There will also be times where we find ourselves in the place of Moses, receiving advice from someone else. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Many people have so much godly wisdom to share, and we often miss it. God does not always boom down from Heaven with a loud voice, very often He uses godly people who are invested in our lives to speak to us His wisdom. If we are too proud to hear it, we may be missing out on a life changing instruction from God.

Lot

Lesson Two | Devotion #4: Lot
Philip Piasecki | Worship Leader

One of my favorite songs is “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by a band called The Postal Service. They are not a Christian band, but there is a line in the song that has always resonated with me as a believer. In the second verse of the song it says, “I am a visitor here, I am not permanent,” and we see that theme carried throughout the song. Anytime I listened to that song it was always a reminder to me that as a believer this world is not my home, all Christians are just visitors on earth waiting to return to our eternal home. While we live here, we have been tasked with the challenge of influencing the world for Christ, while not letting it influence us negatively. Romans 12:2 says, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” This is something that believers have struggled with since the beginning of the world. Many people find themselves slowly becoming more and more like the world without even realizing it. We see an example of this through Lot in the Old Testament.

In Genesis 13 Lot and Abram were living together, but because of their great wealth and disagreements between their herdsmen they decide to split up, and each finds land of their own. Genesis 13:11-13 shows us what they both decided on, So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” We see that Lot decided to move his tent to the same valley as Sodom, even though he knew that the men of Sodom were wicked. I am sure Lot thought being that close to Sodom would not be a big deal, he could handle that temptation! This is the same trap many of us fall into, we get too comfortable and get closer to sin, thinking that it will not burn us. However, in Genesis 19 we find the next account of Lot, and we start to see how much has changed. Genesis 19:1 says, The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth.” Lot no longer just lives in a tent in the valley of Sodom, he now lives in the city and is even conducting business within the city gate. He has gone from living on the outskirts of Sodom to living within the walls of the most wicked city on earth at the time.

The rest of this story is seriously “R” rated, but it shows the slippery slope that sin is. I would encourage you to take some time and read all of Genesis chapter 19 and see how comfortable Lot had become with sin in his life. The account of Lot and the city of Sodom needs to serve as a warning in our own lives. We always need to be vigilantly looking out for sin in our lives and making sure we get rid of it. The more comfortable we become with our sin, the more likely we are to get into it deeper. We need to confess our sin to Christ, asking for his strength and power to conquer whatever we are facing. Unchecked and unrepentant sin in our lives will lead to destruction; there are no exceptions. God is gracious to us, just like He was with Lot, but let us not make the same mistakes that Lot did.



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