When you add together all the live audiences, radio and television, Billy Graham proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23, to 2.2 billion people during his 99 years on earth. However, someone had to introduce Billy to Jesus. Without this individual’s efforts, the spread of Christianity may not be what it is today. Mordecai Ham was an evangelist who visited Charlotte, North Carolina while Billy was in high school. Moved by Mordecai’s message one evening, Billy invited Jesus into his heart, Romans 10:9-10, as a teenager. When people stay connected to the right things, spiritual fruits blossom.
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment, He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly, Acts 10:1-2.
During the first century, the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Middle East on four different missionary journeys. I guess you can say Paul from Tarsus was the Billy Graham of his day. Yet, if it wasn’t for a man named Cornelius, Paul may have never become a Christian. This military leader developed a stout reputation in his community. This devout believer was grounded, fearing God, a faithful giver and dedicated to prayer. These spiritual disciplines led to a vision from God that set the stage for Paul’s conversion to Christ. Staying connected to the right things opened the door for an angelic encounter, as Cornelius immediately responded by faith.
One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God, Acts 10:3-4.
Before writing the Book of Acts, Luke traveled with Paul on several of his mission trips. In this case, it appears Luke interviewed Cornelius, recounting his recollection in the passage above. Based upon this event, God has the ability to commemorate prayers and offerings from your past. Thus, if you stay connected to the right things, blessings are bound to come. Sure, nearly 2000 years later the apostle Paul receives most of the credit for fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:7-8. Nonetheless, God is searching for the next Cornelius and Mordecai Ham who are willing to stay connected to the right things. While you may never get the attention of a Billy Graham or apostle Paul, those who stay connected to the vine, John 15:1-4, will receive honor and praise from God the Father.
by Jay Mankus