Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | October 7, 2019

“he is a chosen instrument of Mine”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 9:10-19.

“Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias;  and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.”  And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;  for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”  So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;  and he took food and was strengthened.”  Acts 9:10-19.


Saul a/k/a Paul was “a chosen instrument” of God to do work for God.

Other doctrine preaches and teaches that it is up to man to decide what work to do, it is up to man to exercise his own alleged free-will to do it, and it is up to man to perform the work.  Thus, man gets the glory.

But, Reformed Doctrine preaches and teaches that it is up to God to decide what work man will do, it is up to God to give man the will to do that work, and it is up to God to work in man to accomplish that work.  Thus, God gets the glory.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:11-13.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 9:1-9.

“Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;  and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”  And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”  The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing;  and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.  And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”  Acts 9:1-9.


Other doctrine believes in man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine believes in God’s will.

In this awesome display, God shows that His will rules over all.  Even though Saul was intent on persecuting Christians, God stopped Paul in his tracks. converted him, and completely changed his actions.

“19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!”  Psalm 103:19-22.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 8:25-40.  Here is a link to this Scripture –

I quote only the following verses.

“But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  (This is a desert road.)  So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure;  and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.  …

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.  As they went along the road they came to some water;  and the eunuch *said, “Look!  Water!  What prevents me from being baptized?”  And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  And he ordered the chariot to stop;  and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”  Acts 8:26-28 and 35-38.


Today’s Scripture teaches us the importance of preaching and teaching Jesus.  “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.”  Verse 35.

In contrast, there are many who use Scriptures, such as to have a better earthly life, but fail to come to Jesus.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life;  it is these that testify about Me;  and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”  John 5:39-40.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”  1 John 4:15.

“He who has the Son has the life;  he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”  1 John 5:12.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | October 3, 2019

“the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 8:9-24.

“Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great;  and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.”  And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.  But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.  Even Simon himself believed;  and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  For He had not yet fallen upon any of them;  they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.  Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!  You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.  Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”  But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”  Acts 8:9-24.


Simon astonished people of Samaria with his magic, “claiming to be someone great”.  “and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.”  Verse 10.

And yet, when Simon was rebuked by Peter and commanded to pray for himself, he appeared humble and weak by his answer.  “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”  Verse 24.

Today’s Scripture humbles man and shows that true power comes from God.

We are reminded of the Scripture two verses earlier in this chapter.  “For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice;  and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.”  Acts 8:7.

And in today’s Scripture, we read about God giving the Holy Spirit and humbling Simon to the extent that Simon did not even want to pray for himself.

“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
2 Sing the glory of His name;
Make His praise glorious.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are Your works!
Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You.”  Psalm 66:1-3.

“3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.”  Psalm 145:3-7.

“‘Ah Lord God!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too difficult for You,”  Jeremiah 32:17.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;”  2 Corinthians 4:7.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.  …”  Ephesians 1:18-19.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 8:1-8.

“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.

And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.  But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.  Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.  The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.  For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice;  and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed.  So there was much rejoicing in that city.”  Acts 8:1-8.


In today’s Scripture, we read of a great persecution against the church that scattered all, except the apostles.

Today, there may be groups and individuals that are scattered due to persecution or for other reasons.

But, as Reformed believers, we firmly believe that God is sovereign and in control and causes all things (including such scattering) to accomplish all of His good pleasure.  In today’s Scripture, we read:  “those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”  Verse 4.

“The word of God kept on spreading …”  Acts 6:7.

“The sower sows the word.”  Mark 4:14.

“9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:9-11.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;  as it is written,


“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;  for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 7:54-60.

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.  But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;  and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.  When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him;  and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”  Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  Having said this, he fell asleep.”  Acts 7:54-60.


In today’s devotion, we will meditate on the power and love and discipline of Stephen shown in today’s Scripture and the rest of Acts chapter 7.  We will also meditate on the hope that Scripture gives us that we too can demonstrate such power and love and discipline.

First, we see a demonstration of power.  Stephen’s words “cut” them “to the quick”.  Verse 54.

Second, we see a demonstration of love.  Despite the stoning, Stephen “cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  Verse 60.

Third, we see a demonstration of discipline.  Despite being falsely accused, Stephen recounted with great detail and patience what God had faithfully done for Israel and how Israel unfaithfully responded.  Acts 7:2-53.  And, despite their rage, Stephen also showed discipline in focusing on God.  Verses 55-56.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 7:51-53.

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit;  you are doing just as your fathers did.  Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;  you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”   Acts 7:51-53.


Stephen’s words were both true as to the past and prophetic of what they would do to himself within minutes.

But, we should not leave our meditation to only thoughts of condemnation of them.  Later in this chapter, Stephen’s last thoughts before he “fell asleep” were:  “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”  Acts 7:60.

Rather, our thoughts should extend to the need of all men to have their hearts circumcised and softened.  “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit;  …”  Verse 51.  But, praise God, God’s grace toward His elect is irresistible.  This is “Irresistible Grace”, the “I” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation as more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.    

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof of Canons of Dordt.

“For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”  Colossians 2:9-14.

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—”  Colossians 1:21-22.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 7:44-50.

“44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen.  45 And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46 David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.  47 But it was Solomon who built a house for Him.  48 However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:



Man is proud of his works, what his hands have made.

But, God points to His creation, His word, His salvation, and all other things that are good and asks:  “WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’”

“God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.  …”  Genesis 1:31.

“Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.”  Joshua 21:45.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28.

Man thinks that he is worthy of salvation by his works, things that he Has done even if it is as little as what he considers his alleged free-will choice of Christ.

But, the highlighted part in bold italic in the source of the quote in today’s Scripture provides the answer.

“Thus says the LORD,

“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
2 “For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.
But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”  Isaiah 66:1-2.

“13 The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men;
14 From His dwelling place He looks out
On all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 He who fashions the hearts of them all,
He who understands all their works.
16 The king is not saved by a mighty army;
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,”  Psalm 33:13-18.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 7:35-43.

I quote only the following verses.

“This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.  This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.  This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’  This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers;  and he received living oracles to pass on to you.  Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US;  FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—we do not know what happened to him.’  At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.  But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven;  as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?  YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD OF ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP.  I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’”  Acts 7:35-43.


“At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.”  Verse 41.

There is a sharp contrast between those who rejoice in the works of their hands and those who rejoice in the works of God.

Other doctrine rejoices in the works of their hands whether it be their works or their will which they believe distinguish themselves worthy of salvation.

But, Reformed Doctrine rejoices in the works of God including God providing all that is necessary for salvation from beginning to the end.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-30.

Reformed Doctrine teaches that because of the natural condition of man which it labels as “Total Depravity” (namely, that man is dead in sin, man does not truly understand nor seek after God, man is hostile to God, and man is enslaved to sin and Satan), man needs God to provide everything for salvation from beginning to end:  from the beginning of “Unconditional Election” through “Limited Atonement” through “Irresistible Grace” to the end of “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation, as more fully set forth in the Canons of Dordt.

Today’s Scripture and other Scripture warns us about trusting in man.

“But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven …”  Verse 42.

“Thus says the LORD,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.”  Jeremiah 17:5.

“Because they do not regard the works of the LORD
Nor the deeds of His hands,
He will tear them down and not build them up.”  Psalm 28:5.

In sharp contrast, Scripture teaches us about the blessing of trusting in God.

“7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8.

“For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.”  Psalm 92:4.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | September 26, 2019

“He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 7:30-34.



How marvelous for God to appear to Moses!

How marvelous for God to identify Himself in a personal relationship way:  “I AM THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.”!

How marvelous for God to have concern for “MY PEOPLE”!

How marvelous for God to “COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM”!

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;  for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death;  there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain;  the first things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:1-4.

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD;  you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”  1 Peter 2:9-10.

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