Text: Acts 10
Theme: God makes certain we can see his handiwork and recognize his will.
Key verses: “In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. ‘Cornelius!’ the angel said…’Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore'” (v. 1-6). “The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell in a trance. He say the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles and birds. Then a voice said to him, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’ ‘No Lord, Peter declared. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.’ But the voice spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet suddenly pulled up to heaven. Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? Just then the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house…Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, ‘Three men have come looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.'” (v. 9-20). “They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.” (v. 24). “Peter told them, ‘You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.” (v. 28-29). “Cornelius replied, ‘Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time…Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me…So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come…Then Peter replied, ‘I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of the Good News for the people of Israel–that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (v. 3–36). “Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too….Then Peter asked, ‘Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?’ (v. 44-47).
What God said to me: Unique, amazing, convincing, undeniable, mutually evident, select, unpredictable…these are some words that come to mind when one reads this account of Cornelius and Peter’s encounter with me and with each other. I am the LORD, and there is no one else like me. What I do I do well and, for those sensitive to me, my works are very clear and compelling. Dwayne, please notice first of all that I initiated this whole experience. This was my idea, and I intervened in human affairs to get my will done. Be sure what you are involved with is stuff I have clearly initiated. That’s your first lesson I want you to see today. Secondly, notice that both parties were devout and humbly seeking me. This is imperative for those who desire to see my glory and be used by me. I will do new and powerful things among those who humbly seek my face. Third, notice there was no mistaking it was me who caused this. Even Peter and his Jewish colleagues–as devout as they were not to eat certain meats or to associate with Gentiles–were reluctantly convinced once they saw my undeniable intervention and miraculous life-giving power. You don’t have to work hard to convince people I’m in what you are doing. Just be sure I’m in what you’re doing, and I’ll do the convincing through my powerful, only-God-could-do-that results and tactics. This is how I do things, Dwayne. My ways and will are high above yours. I got this thing called ministry. It’s not your ministry. It’s mine through you. Never forget that. Trust me to do far above what you could ask or think. Trust me to intervene and convince those who need convincing. I’m on my throne. I’m at work in your world. I love your world, and I love you and your family. My will is that none perish, but all come to repentance. Stay faithful, humble, seeking my kingdom and righteousness. Ask each day for your daily bread and provisions. Trust me to take care of your tomorrows.
What I said to God: Father, thank You for speaking so clearly to me today. I have been struggling (again and again) with doubts and concerns. I’m wondering how and if we will be able to pay our bills through the end of this year. And are our major donors going to donate what we need to pay our bills and meet our budget next year? Where and how are we to go next year? How should we plan in light of the impending recession? Should we continue to do ReFOCUS or should we do other things instead, things that seem more successful and easier to do? These are all questions that nag at me, but they are important to consider. And yet, when I dwell too much on them, I sense you reminding me to trust you and only ask for what we need right now. Please help me to do just that. Help me trust the God who intervenes and amazes and convinces and provides. O God, You are my God. Early will I seek You–and daily, by Your grace.