What is the Devotional Life?

MEMORY VERSE: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.” —Psalm 63:1

ACTS 10:1-8, 30-33

THE word “devotion” appears only once in the Bible. (Acts 17:23) The devotional life is usually thought of as the Christian’s life of prayer, but it would seem to include more than that. It is also the devout study of the Bible, and the putting into practice of that which is thus learned. Thus when we say that one is a very devoted Christian we are describing his total life’s habits as a follower of the Master.

Today’s lesson pertains to a man of prayer who had not yet come to know of Jesus as his Redeemer, but in answer to prayer was informed concerning him, and when he received this information, accepted him. This man’s name was Cornelius, who lived at Caesarea. Caesarea was on the coast of Palestine, about twenty-three miles south of Mt. Carmel. It was the Roman capital of Palestine. Cornelius was a centurion, an officer in charge of a hundred men attached to the Italian cohort. He was a devout man who had accepted, or at least acknowledged, the God of the Jews. He was not considered as having formally been admitted to Judaism because he had not undergone the rite of circumcision.

Our lesson describes Cornelius as a “devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” In response to his prayers the Lord sent an angel who said to him, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”

Cornelius’ servants did as they were instructed. Meanwhile the Lord prepared Peter for their visit. As these messengers from Cornelius, in their journey to Joppa [Jaffa, of today], approached the city Peter went up onto the roof of his host’s house to pray. While praying he fell asleep, and “fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter, kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”—Acts 10:9-14

“The voice spoke unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (vs. 15) Peter objected to eating what he saw in his dream because it was ceremonially unclean. But now the Lord indicated that a change had taken place. Peter did not grasp the meaning of the lesson at once, but what it really meant was that from that time forward Gentiles, previously considered unacceptable to the Lord, were to be accepted.

Meanwhile the men whom Cornelius had sent to Peter had arrived at the home of Simon the tanner. Contact was made with Peter, and after making certain arrangements he returned with them to the home of Cornelius. Cornelius expected him, and had gathered together his household and kinsmen to hear whatever message Peter might have for them.

Peter took in the situation, but was not yet sure just why he was making this unusual visit to the home of a Gentile. Then Cornelius related his experience to Peter—how he had been bidden by an angel to send for him; and forthwith there was no more hesitancy on the part of the apostle.

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Peter now understood the lesson of the unclean beasts let down from heaven. Gentiles, if they accepted Jesus and dedicated themselves to the cause of Christ, were just as acceptable as were believing Jews.


What is the devotional life?

Relate the story of Cornelius and Peter.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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