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Fasting Day 15: The Good News

The Good News

Cornelius was a religious man in the New Testament who fasted and prayed. He was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2).

In spite of his religious involvement, prayer and seeking, Cornelius was still unaware of a vital element of God’s truth. He had not yet heard the Good News.

One day, as Cornelius was fasting, an angel appeared to him and gave him specific instructions to send for a man named Peter in Joppa (Acts 10:5-8). “When he comes,” the angel said, “he will speak to you.”

In expectation of the news Peter would bring, Cornelius gathered his family and friends. “We are all here,” Cornelius told Peter when he arrived, “waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”

What was this revolutionary word that Peter brought? Cornelius was a very religious, devout man. He was good. He was generous. He seemed to have his spiritual path all mapped out. What could he possibly have been missing?

Each year at Pursuit 21, we encounter a modern day Cornelius – someone who is seeking God. Someone who, up until this point, feels that their eternal destiny is not in question. Yet…as they begin to fast and pray, God speaks truth to them concerning the true state of their soul.

Peter’s Message

Peter told Cornelius, his family and friends about the good news of Jesus Christ.

34-36Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open…

37-38“You know the story of what happened in Judea…Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.

39-43“And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen…We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we’re not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets” (Acts 10:34-43).

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Spirit of God fell upon all those who heard the word. Cornelius, his family and friends all placed their faith in Jesus Christ and were soon baptized as a step of obedience following their salvation.

What About You?

Friend, do you have “assurance” of your salvation? The Bible says to “make your calling and election sure” (1 Peter 1:10).

Within the first week of this fast, there was someone who thought for sure they were going to heaven when they died – they thought for sure they had a relationship with Jesus Christ – but soon realized they didn’t really know God. They realized they didn’t have the same intimate relationship with Him that others around them have.

When we enter a Biblical fast in order to seek God – when we do away with the things we’ve used to cope, to numb our spiritual senses – we become more alert to hear God’s voice. We become more aware of the true state of our soul.

Do you know that…

God created us to be with Him

God loves us and created us to live in a relationship with Him. (Genesis 1, 2) He wants us to experience His peace and abundant life—here on earth and throughout all eternity.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Many of us live our lives void of this peace, abundant life and intimate relationship because there is something that separates us—something we need God’s provision to overcome.

Do you know that…

Our sins separate us from God.

God created us in His image, meaning He gave us free will. God did not make us like robots, to automatically love and obey Him. We chose to go our own way, to rebel against God, and we are still choosing this today. The Bible calls this “sin”. Our sin is what separates us from God because He is perfect and without sin. God is righteous and must ultimately judge sin. The result is death and separation from God.

  • “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT ).
  • “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”(Romans 5:12).
  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Do you know that…

God is going to judge the world by the standard of the Ten Commandments, a standard of complete perfection from the day we were born till the day we die.

Do you believe you meet that perfect standard?

Have you ever told a lie – even a little white one?

The Ninth of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not lie.” Telling just one lie, according to God’s standards, makes you a “liar.” In Revelation 21:8, God says, “…all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire…”

Have you ever looked at someone and had lustful thoughts?

The Seventh of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not commit adultery.” If you’ve ever looked at another person with lustful thoughts, according to God’s standards, that makes you an “adulterer.” Jesus said, “You have heard it said, You shall not commit adultery: But I say to you, that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, God says that no adulterers “…shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Have you ever used “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christ,” as a curse word?

The Third of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.” If you’ve ever used the name “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christ” as a curse word, what you’ve done is take the name of the God who gave you life, and you’ve used it as if it were a “four-letter” filth word to express disgust. That offense is called “blasphemy,” and according to God’s standards, you are a “blasphemer.” In Leviticus 24:16 , God says, “he that blasphemes the name of the LORD, shall surely be put to death…”

Have you ever stolen anything (no matter how small)?

The Eighth of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not steal.” Stealing just one thing (regardless of its value), according to God’s standards, makes you a “thief.” In 1 Corinthians 6:10, God says, “No thieves… …shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Have you ever broken the first Commandment?

The First of the Ten Commandments is “You shall have no other gods before me.” That means that we should love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. The Bible tells us that no one has kept this commandment (see Psalm 14:2-3). If you say you have, you have also broken the 9th Commandment by lying.

Do you volunteer at a charity? Do you go to church regularly? Have you made it a practice to read the Bible regularly?

These are good activities, but none of them impress God. The Bible says, “and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6). That means all our “righteous acts” — these “good deeds” — can never make up for the fact that we’ve broken God’s Holy Commandments. Think of it this way. If a person was guilty of a serious crime… such as murder… but he gave money to charity, does that make up for his crime? No. The person’s crime hasn’t been paid for because he gave money to charity. This “good deed” will mean nothing to the judge when he passes sentence. The murder must still be punished.

The ultimate consequence of sin is eternal separation from God in a literal place called hell. More frightening than hell’s darkness, flames and pain is the absence of love, hope and Jesus Christ.

When the Lord Jesus appears from heaven, He will come with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The gulf between God and us is great—impassable in our own efforts. We futilely attempt to bridge this gap by things that seem reasonable to us, but are not according to the way God has established. The following verses from the Bible show why our attempts ultimately fail:

A Few of Mankind’s Futile Attempts to Bridge This Chasm:

Live a Good Life: No matter how diligently we attempt to live a good life, we cannot meet the measure of holiness God requires. All it takes is one sin to separate us from God, because He is perfect and holy.

  • “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
  • “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
  • “There is no one righteous, not even one…” (Romans 3:10-12).
  • From God’s perspective man is steeped in sin and living a live outside a relationship with Him.

Perform Good Deeds: God looks upon the heart, and knows that the motives behind our good deeds are never completely pure.

“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2).

We cannot work our way to heaven by doing more good than evil because:

“No immoral, impure or greedy person…has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).

Believe in many Deaths…and Many Lives

“It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, NASB).

Believe God is so Loving that He Will Let Everyone Into Heaven

God will judge the world by the standard of the Ten Commandments, a standard of complete perfection. God’s goodness is the very reason He cannot overlook even the slightest failure to keep these commandments. For example, in a criminal case, a guilty murderer stands before a judge. If the judge is a good man, he must ensure that the guilty man is punished for his crimes. He cannot just let the criminal go free. If God is good, He must by nature punish murderers, thieves, adulterers, liars and those who have lived in rebellion to the inner light God has given to every man. (Romans 2:15)

“God…commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). (See also Psalm 9:8; Psalm 96:13; Proverbs 11:4.)

In today’s culture, it is common to believe that there are many paths to God. There are so many religions, each with very nice, good people in them. Because there are so many good people who have done so many good things, it seems natural to assume that each of them is going to heaven. But the truth is that all of us have blown it—all of us have sinned. And all it takes is one sin to separate us from our God, because He is perfect.

People have tried many ways to bridge this gap between themselves and God. But the Bible says:

  • “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
  • “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear”(Isaiah 59:2).

No bridge reaches God…except one.

Do you know that God’s Bridge is the Cross?

Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. God chose to provide a “sacrifice” for our sins, His own son Jesus. Through His death, Jesus took the punishment for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people.

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  • “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
  • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21).

Three days after Jesus died, he rose from the dead. This is not just religious hype; it is historical fact. And because Jesus rose from the dead, He now sits at the right hand of God making intercession for us (carrying messages for us and speaking to God on our behalf).

“Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures…He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve (disciples). After that he appeared to more than five hundred others…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

God acquits us from the verdict of Eternal Justice on the grounds that Jesus Christ paid our fine. We are “justified” (made right with God) by Jesus’ suffering death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was God’s seal of approval of the fact that His precious blood was sufficient to pay the fine. The reason we need a substitute (a savior) to pay our moral “fine,” is because we have broken God’s Law.

Do you know that Jesus is the only Way to God?

The Bible is clear; the only way to abundant, eternal life is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. God proved that He accepted Jesus’ death as the way to life by raising Jesus from the dead.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6; See also Acts 4:12). (For resurrection proofs, see I Cor. 15:3-8; Acts 1:3; Mt. 27:66; Luke 24:38.)

This is hard for many people to believe. There are no other “paths” to God or “ways” of salvation. While the “many paths to God” theory is popular in the minds of many people, it is a lie created to keep people from the truth of Jesus Christ. 

Simply being a good person, believing in God, and doing your best to serve Him do not make you a Christian. It is impossible to be a God follower without accepting God’s son Jesus. Jesus is the way…the only way to salvation for mankind. It was Jesus who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and it is Jesus that we must accept and come in to relationship with if we are to be called by His name—Christians—which means “followers of Christ”.

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life” (John 6:47).

The word “believe” means more than believing Jesus existed. It means “to trust in, to rely upon completely.” We must trust in Jesus alone to forgive our sins and give us life eternal.

Have you responded, receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?

We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by personal invitation. We must invite him to be our leader and guide.

  • “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will 
come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

The Bible promises that when you ask God for forgiveness and trust in Jesus, you will experience new life in Christ.

  • “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
  • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • Today, with all your heart, surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Confess your sins. Ask God to forgive you. Say that you’ll trust in Jesus. And thank Him for the gift of everlasting life. Written below is a very simple prayer of salvation. Only pray these words if they truly represent the desire of your heart and your decision to follow Christ:

    Dear Jesus, I need You in my life. I know that I have sinned against You. Please forgive me. Wash me clean. I trust in You and believe that You are the Son of God. I believe that You died for my sins on the cross, rose from the dead and are alive today. I open the door of my heart and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please take control of my life from here forward and make me the kind of person you want me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

    If you just made a commitment to Christ today, let us know. We’d like to send you some helpful information about your new life in Christ.

    What now?

    Four Important Steps to Growing Spiritually

    1. Get to know God through reading the Bible. A good starting place is the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Before you read, simply ask God to speak to you and enable you to hear his voice as you read.

    We become familiar with His voice through Scripture: “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

    Scripture is a powerful, living resource in our daily lives: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

    2. Talk to Him through prayer. This is merely speaking your heart and mind to Him as you would to a close friend.

    Jesus told us to pray. Luke 18:1 says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” We should pray simply because Jesus told us to and emphasized it in His life and teaching.

    By God’s design, prayer is a way of obtaining things: “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

    God helps us overcome anxiety and obtain peace through prayer: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

    3. Attend a church where the Bible is taught. God directs us through Scripture to meet regularly with other believers.

    “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some do, but encourage each other, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

    No Christian can endure long or flourish if he or she lives in isolation without the support of a church, no matter how many Bible studies, books or CDs they utilize. Nothing can replace the experience of being with other believers.

    The Bible says a lot about the traits of a healthy, vibrant church. You can measure its vitality by comparing its qualities to the characteristics of the first-century church, a model for the modern-day church (Acts 2:42, 44-47). A healthy church meets together regularly, makes Bible study a priority, and develops compassionate people who care about the well-being and spiritual development of each other. It recognizes the power of corporate prayer and worship and demonstrates Christ’s love in meaningful ways. Its members desire to minister to others and seek to share God’s good news with others.

    4. Witness to others. God tells us that it is important to share our faith with other people (see Matthew 28:20). In fact, it’s not just something He wants you to do; He commands us to do it! Sharing your faith can sound scary, but it is actually quite easy and natural. You simply share your story of how God has changed your life. This is powerful evidence of what Jesus can do! And it only takes a minute—it doesn’t have to be a long speech.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Shades of Grace will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    One Response to “Fasting Day 15: The Good News”

    1. LOL about the tail! When I lived in the Middle East, geckos would freak me out every time I found one so I’m not sure how I’d cope with spiny lizards! Glad you guys took care of it though. Today I stocked up on jalapenos, mangos, avocado and tomatoes…. there’s salsa to be made!

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