Verse: Acts 10: 1, 3, 5, 9, 11-13
At Caesarea there was man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 3 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!” 5 “Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.” 9 About noon the following day as they (the men sent by Cornelius) were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went upon the roof to pray. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”
Acts 10 in an interesting story about how God intervenes to help the early church understand that they are to reach ALL people. It starts with a God-fearing Roman officer, likely highly educated and very principled, who was used to giving orders and taking orders. During his prayer time (at 3 PM devout people were at the temple), he saw a vision, an angel called him by name. Basically, the angel told him that God had been watching him and that now he should send men to bring Peter to him to tell him about Jesus.
At this time, Jews were not to eat with Gentiles because they were unclean and the food they ate was unclean, according to thousands of years of Jewish history and tradition. When these men were about to arrive, Peter saw a vision that told him that it was now OK to eat the food that Gentiles eat. While Peter tried to tell this voice that he wouldn’t eat this unclean food, he was told two more times that God has made this food clean now. Just then the Cornelius’ men arrived to invite Peter to come to Cornelius’ house. You can read the rest of Acts 10 to see how this turns out.
There is so much that can be learned from this story. First, we see how much God wants us to be reconciled with him. He sent his angels to embolden a Roman officer, a non-Jew, to ask Peter to come to him. God sent a vision to Peter, the head of his new church, to help him understand that he is allowed to go to this Gentile’s home and eat with him which we have learned is a sign of fellowship and acceptance. Peter was chosen because he would be questioned by the rest of the Jewish believers in Jesus why he agreed to do this. How could they question him since he was told by God to go and eat with Cornelius. This was the beginning of Christians reaching out to all people, accepting them and accepting you and me.
The other thing we can learn from this story is how God wants to communicate with us and help guide us. He can and does still give us ideas and visions and thoughts that can help us with everyday life and can direct us when we need direction. The question is whether we are receptive to him. Do we slow down enough to hear? Both men were in prayer when they were spoken to. Do we spend time in prayer not just talking but also listening? Do we ask for wisdom and guidance?
Lastly do we act on these thoughts and visions from God? If you have a nudge to talk to someone, are you willing to step out and possibly feel a little foolish but do it because it felt like it came from God? This week let’s make ourselves more available to the God of the universe. He knows us and he knows what’s best for us. Try asking God for direction and then taking that risk at least once this week. My guess is that you will be blessed for doing this and you will also bless someone else. Just like Peter blessed Cornelius and his whole family and started the ball rolling to save all us Gentiles.
Thank you, Lord, for wanting to talk with us and to show us how you are moving in our lives. Show us this week who we are to interact with and what you want us to say and do for them. We want to be sent by you. Help us to hear your voice and receive your nudge so that we can bless others.
Author: Brad Dunn