1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
I love the way God works in the Book of “The Acts of the Apostles.”
There is an angel talking to Cornelius. That angel could just say “Worship Jesus. Here is how you do it…” and that would be that. End of story. Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven Cornelius and co.
But that’s not how God works. God lives in His people. He moved around the earth and lived. Jesus was God working through flesh and blood, and God doesn’t change. Since the beginning, He’s been working through His people.
So instead of just saving Cornelius, God has some work to do in Peter and the still-mostly-Jewish church in Jerusalem.
Throughout the book of Acts, God works through people instead of doing the work Himself. This gives us great confidence and guidance on how to pray! May God use us and work through us to accomplish His goals in 2021! May God speak directly to as many people as we can! (See what I did there? He’s going to do that speaking through you!)
Cornelius was active in his faith, but if Peter would have watched and seen what Cornelius was doing, he might have judged that he was on the wrong path. Praying and almsgiving is good and fine, but it’s faith in Jesus that draws you near to God. Cornelius wanted to draw near to God but didn’t know how.
In the coming readings, we’re going to see how God was already at work in this person who Peter would have judged as a gross sinner. Let that drive our prayers too!
God, may we not judge others, but instead, bring us in contact with all of the people that are seeking after you but don’t know how. Reveal yourself to so many people and give us the confidence and the boldness to be used by you to show them life in Jesus.