It’s Wednesday! We’re half way through another week together. Today’s passage is a bit of a shorter one where we meet someone new named Cornelius; let’s find out a bit about who he is:
Acts 10:1-4a 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. 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!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
Here we are introduced to Cornelius, a centurion (this could be interpreted as the equivalent of an army captain/commander in modern day ling0), who by all accounts is a generous and God-fearing man, along with his family. Something to note here is that Cornelius is not a Jew, which means he’s a Gentile, and he’s actually the first Gentile we’ve been introduced to thus far in our passage.
It was about three in the afternoon when Cornelius had his vision. At first I thought the detail of time was a peculiar detail for Luke to include when he was writing this passage. Personally I love clocks and watches (seriously, I’ve been known to spend hours in boutique clock stores), and I will often recall random details such as what time something happened. However when I thought about it some more I remembered Acts 3, the story when Peter and John were met by a lame beggar. In Acts 3:1 we were told Peter and John had been intercepted on their way to the hour of prayer, at three in the afternoon.
In this passage, we see that Cornelius has an encounter with an angel during his time of prayer, at three in the afternoon. And immediately when Cornelius encounters this angel his response is to ask, “What is it, Lord?”
10:4b-8 The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
The angel gives Cornelius first of all praise, letting him know that God has noticed his offering, his commitment to prayer and helping the poor. And now he wants Cornelius to meet Peter, God’s devout servant. The angel tells Cornelius where Peter is staying and how he can find him.
Cornelius doesn’t waste any time, he calls two of his servants and also a soldier and tells them about his encounter with this angel. He then sends them as messengers to bring Peter back from where the angel told Cornelius they would find him.
To think about
If you don’t have a set prayer time, I highly recommend you try adding one into your routine and see if it helps build a closer relationship with God. If you already have prayer as a part of your daily routine, how have you encountered God more intimately during these times? What do you think he may be saying to you? Do you see the value in being disciplined in intentionally spending time in prayer?
Like Cornelius, if God speaks to you, are you obedient enough to enquire what he wants, and then to do what it is he asks of you?