THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Epilogue – part 2

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES – Caesarea

The years passed and he read of the incredible growth of the church in Jerusalem. As there was incredible growth, there was also tremendous persecutions. He heard of the stoning of Steven. The arrests of Peter and John. Then there was the strange tale of a zealous Pharisee named Saul who vehemently hounded believers even as far as Damascus, but then returns to Jerusalem as a newly professed believer. Many are suspicious, but he heard that Peter took him under his wing.

Not all things were bad news. Cornelius received two manuscripts. The first was a copy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ written by young John Mark whom Jacob wrote was being mentored by Peter. When he read his piece, he could tell it was written more for non-Jews. So, he read it to his wife, his household and to anyone in the garrison willing to listen. The other manuscript he received was a copy of another Gospel of Jesus Christ written by the former tax collector but now one of the Twelve Apostles, Matthew. His manuscript was a lot more extensive than Mark’s. It is quite clear that this gospel was written more for the Jews. He was quite happy of the many references to the older Scriptures in Matthew’s manuscript. This helped when he had his weekly discussions with his Jewish friends at the local Synagogue of which he helped many of its members .

Things are changing for Cornelius. He received a letter from his father that there is a post position opening for him with the elite Praetorian Guards of the emperor. Cornelius considered and prayed about it for a long time. He accepted the position and they are set to leave by the end of the week.

He was meditating in the garden of his house when his eye sight blurred alarmingly. Every where he looked, it was blurry and dim. He was about to call for help, when a man as bright as the sun appeared and was walking slowly towards him. He then realized he was seeing a vision for the surroundings was still blurred, the approaching man was quite sharp and clear.

“Hail Cornelius!” The man said. “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” [Acts 10:4-5]


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WORD Sent Forth #17

Who Pleases God? – The Poor in Spirit

Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Who are the poor in spirit?

Isaiah 66:2
Has not My hand made all these things? And so they came into being, declares the LORD. This is the one I will esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at My word.

Jesus illustrated this in Luke 18…

Luke 18:9-14
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

God made these promises…

Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

So, what is your part?

Matthew 23:12
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Romans 12:2
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.

What action can you do right now? You can pray for the right spirit.

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

IS YOUR HEART CONTRITE?

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Epilogue – part 1

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES – Caesarea

Ten years had passed. Cornelius is the garrison commander of the port city of Caesarea. As his practice, he did not keep residence in the garrison but chose to live in a small villa in the city with his wife, the Lady Pheobe, and his legally adopted son, Trax. Cestus is still with him with a number of his men from Spain who had remained loyal. They with their respective wives are now part of his household. Jacob, whom Cornelius gave his freedom, is at Antioch helping with the developing church there.

During those ten years, Cornelius kept close tabs with some of the disciples. He had heard that Jesus may have appeared to about five hundred people within a span of forty days after his resurrection. Then he got an accounting from Matthew and Simon of how the Eleven watched Jesus literally ascend into the heavens.

Just about three months since He saw Jesus last, at the time of the Pentecost, the Twelve with the newest member being Mathias, were again gathered together for their usual practice of prayer and making plans. With them were the mother of Jesus, including Jesus’ brothers and sisters, Jacob and about a hundred other followers. Cornelius had some expectation that something was going to happen but not exactly what. When he received a message from Jacob, he was filled with amazement.

While they prayed together, the room they were in was inundated with the sound like a violent rushing wind that filled the entire house. Then, a single flame of fire appeared above the heads of each of them. The feeling they all felt was indescribable. Jacob wrote that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, for they began to speak in other languages. But it did not end there. In that particular neighborhood lived devout Jews from other nations. They inquired what was that great noise of rushing wind was? Then the disciples started to talk to them in their respective languages. They were amazed because they knew that the disciples were Galileans and how was it that were conversing in their native language. More people gathered asking what was happening. Speculation upon speculation were doled up until the commotion reached the steps that went up to the Temple Mount. Before it became too chaotic, it was Peter who stood up and gave an incredible sermon about Jesus being the Christ. To Cornelius, what was most incredible was Peter speaking to all those people was feat on its own. The sermon was so arousing that three thousand people professed that they believed and the church in Jerusalem was established.


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WORD Sent Forth #16

The Focal Point for Salvation

In a clandestined meeting with Jesus of Nazareth, Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader and lawyer was given a life-changing lesson on faith.

Jesus said this…

John 3:14-15
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

What is the story about the ‘serpent in the wilderness‘?

This story went way way back in the time of the ancient Israelites after God rescued them from 400 years of slavery from Egypt. They have been wandering in the wilderness for some years now.

One other thing, at this time God had just given the Israelites a victory against a harrassing tribe. Then…

Numbers 21:4-5
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

By the way, the miserable food they were grumbling about was the “Manna” (heavenly bread) that God daily provided for them.

What happens nexts?

Numbers 21:6
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.

This should serve as a lesson on why we should have a healthy fear of God.

Numbers 21:7
The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The people wanted the snakes to go away, but God had something else in mind.

Numbers 21:8-9
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

So, what was Jesus’ point by paralleling himself hanging on the cross to the bronze snake on a pole? What was the lesson?

First consider: How were those bitten by a deadly snake healed?

Numbers 21:9b
Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and LOOKED at the bronze snake, they LIVED.

Incredible! Was the bronze snake magical? It was not the snake! It did nothing!

What saved anyone bitten was the simple act of looking at the bronze snake? How could ‘looking’ heal a snake bite? By itself, it’s impossible. Unless, God commanded it so…

Numbers 21:8
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

This is important! The very act of just looking so that they could be miraculously healed is an act of FAITH that God will keep His word. The fact that verse 9 showed that they did live is proof that…

Joshua 23:14
“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.

Going back to Jesus’ point.

John 3:14-15
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

Just as the bronze snake was the focal point for salvation for anyone bitten, then Jesus being hung on the cross is the focal point for salvation for everyone doomed because of SIN.

Do you BELIEVE?


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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 5

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

It had been twenty days now and yet no other word of Jesus had reached Cornelius. He had heard that Jesus made an appearance twice to the Eleven disciples. He also heard that they retreated to Galilee. So, Cornelius decided to ride to Galilee alone, while Cestus was to take Jacob and Trax to Bethany.

Cornelius went to the one place that he thought he would find Jesus. It was dark when rode to the same copse of trees which was the campsite they used when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. But there was no campsite. There was no tent and camp fire. There was no one about. He sighed and walked up the hill to same place he and Jesus talked that first time. Under the stars, Cornelius stood on the top of that hill that overlooked the glistening water of the Sea of Galilee praying to see Jesus.

“Cornelius,” a voice said his name from behind.

He quickly turned around to find Jesus standing there. His face was not the same ordinary face. It was clean and had no marks or scars at all. His face looked majestic and there was a glow in it. In fact, his whole body emminated a soft glowing nimbus of light.

Cornelius went down on his knee and said, “My Lord.”

“Well met, Cornelius. My Father in Heaven is well pleased with you. Come, sit with me.”

When he sat by him there was no more glow about him.

“I know your heart’s desire, Cornelius. You wish to accompany me. I tell you that where I go, no man can come until I again return. For now, you must abide your time for a little while until you receive that I promised you. There are many things that must happen. The first of which will be unto those Chosen few who believed unto me. Then your time will come. For now, maintain your faith.

“One other favor, I ask. At the time of the Pentecost, send Jacob, your tutor, to be with my disciples and watch the will of my Father take fruit. Then you too will join in to reap the harvest.

“Fare well, Cornelius.”

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WORD Sent Forth #15

How can you be sure if the Holy Spirit is in you? How can you be sure that you are truly born again? How can you really be sure that you are saved from eternal damnation?

The answer is the ‘fruit’ that you produce.

Matthew 7:16,17
By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

What are the bad fruits?

Mark 7:21-23
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Romans 7:5
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

1 Corinthians 3:3
…for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

What is the good fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

John 14:26
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Isaiah 11:2
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Romans 5:3-5
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

John 15:1-17
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …

Ask yourself, what kind of fruit do you produce?


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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 4

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

Cornelius stayed there two days hearing story after story of someone seeing him here and another there. Again the city streets was filled with all kinds of rumors more so the rumors spread by the chief priests that Jesus’ body was taken and hidden by the disciples who are saying that he is alive. Cornelius returned to his post at Emmaus, expecting to be summoned anytime by the Governor. When he arrived Cestus was there with a present for him.

“We captured him one day ago in a tavern. He has an interesting tale to tell you, sir.”

The soldier told his story. He was one out of eight guards that watched the tomb. That fateful morning while it was yet dark, the earth trembled greatly. It shook so much that the soldiers could not keep their footing. Then there was a great light but it did not come from the sun. It was an apparition whose appearance was like a thousand lightnings and his clothing as white as snow. It was he that rolled away the stone like it was a feather. Then even a greater light came from within the tomb. The guards were frozen in fear and could not move. They were like dead men. When their senses returned, the sun was just rising. The stone was rolled far away and the tomb empty. In panic, they abandoned their post. They dared not report back to their commander for they knew it was instant death for desertion. So, they went to the chief priests. They gave each soldier a large sum of money and told them to spread the word that the disciples came by night and stole the body while they slept. The priests promised that they will be protected from the Governor. The deserters did get the money and they spread their lies among the Jews. But three of the guards doubted that the priests could protect them, so they fled south.

“Cestus, let this man go. He is right to run. No commander will believe if they told the real truth.”

This was a dilemma that he had to face as well. Cornelius wanted to tell the whole world of what happened but how will the world believe such a story.


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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 3

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

“Sir, I am not one to cast doubt, but some might say that all of this may have been staged.”

“I do not believe so, Cestus. However, it is important to have proof even if it is for posterity sake.”

“Sir, I suggest witnesses.”

“Ah yes, the guards… Where do you think they would have gone?”

“They dare not report back to barracks. That would mean instant execution for deserting their guard duty.”

“So, what do you think, Cestus?”

“I think, sir, they will run. And some will head South for Egypt.”

“Right! You take my horse and get some of our men. Go to En Gedi. I am certain they will go there first. Go capture them. We will go to Bethany. They will have news there.”

By the afternoon, they arrived at the house of Simon the leper. The old man was there with his son and two daughters.

Cornelius asked, “Is there news of the Lord?”

Old man Simon said, “Mostly rumors. However, we have a woman here who says she had seen and talked to him.”

The woman was Mary of Magdala. She was one of the women who helped bury Jesus. When she saw Cornelius, she smiled and said, “I have seen the Lord. He has risen!”

“I know Mary. Tell me all.”

The Sabbath was over. It was very early in the morning when Mary of Magdala, and another Mary, the mother of James, and Salome were bringing more spices to complete the burial process that was not finished because of the Sabbath. They were discussing on how they were going to roll the heavy cover stone when an abrupt earthquake shook the ground under them. Not long after, soldiers were frantically running past them. One was hysterically shouting that they saw ‘ghosts’. When they came upon the tomb, the stone was rolled far away. When they looked into the tomb, the body was gone. So, they panicked and went to where they knew some of the disciples were staying in the old city. It was Mary that told Peter and John. They in turn ran to the tomb themselves. When Mary returned to the tomb by herself. For awhile she wept out loud outside then she entered the tomb again and to her surprise, two men were there.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Then she heard a call. She turned around and saw another man standing there. She thought she recognized him but could not put her finger on it.

The man said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She wondered if he was the gardener. So, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Then he softly said to her, “Mary! Do you not know Me?”

As she looked closer, it was the face of Jesus as she remembered him but yet different. Mary then fell on her knees and hugged his legs, crying “Rabboni!”

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”

[Italics – John 20:11-17]

Then Jesus helped her to her feet, turned her and said, “Now, go Mary…”

When she turned around, he was gone. But she knew it was no dream. She went again to the disciples and told them what he told her. She went to every house of the Lord’s followers until she arrived here in Bethany.


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WORD Sent Forth #14

WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIST, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Only God can create! So, what is created? In this case, WHO is created when belief in Christ is truly professed? What did God do to us who believed?

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be BORN AGAIN to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

I know what is in your mind. The same question was in the lips of a man who visited Jesus in the night some 2000 years ago.

John 3:4
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”

Nicodemus saw that to be BORN AGAIN is impossible for any man to achieve. However…

Luke 18:27
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

So, how does one become BORN AGAIN?

John 3:5
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are BORN of water and the Spirit.

Say what???

John 3:6
Flesh gives birth to flesh (physical birth), but the (Holy) Spirit gives birth to spirit (spiritual life).

What exactly did God do?

Ephesians 1:13, 14
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

The placing of the Holy Spirit in us was always God’s plan for our salvation.

Galatians 3:14
He redeemed us in order that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Do you have the HOLY SPIRIT in you?


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WORD Sent Forth #13

JESUS DID THE HARD TASK. SO, WHAT IS OUR PART?

John 14:1
“Do not let your heart be troubled; BELIEVE in God, BELIEVE also in Me.”

Why believe?

Hebrews 11:6a
And without FAITH it is impossible to please Him…

What exactly are we suppose to believe?

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must BELIEVE that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Who else should we believe in?

John 6:28,29
Therefore they said to Jesus, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in Him whom God has sent.”

What exactly should we believe?

1 Corinthians 15:3,4
…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

Romans 10:9
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

Do we need to do anything else to be saved besides just believing?

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through FAITH. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

What happens when we truly believe?

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Do you BELIEVE?


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