June 23, 2019
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to go ahead and open them now to Acts chapter ten, where we’ll be diving in and learning as we unpack the truth from God’s Word today. I think it’s important that we all put our eyes on God’s Word as we learn together, and there may be a lot of things that jumped off of the screen at you as you heard that text illustrated. Maybe it was the power of God speaking in a vision, or maybe it was the epiphany of Peter finally being able to eat bacon. Whatever it may be, it truly is an amazing story that we’re going to dig into this morning. But my prayer and hope is that we will understand, as we look at the text this morning, the reality that God is at work all around us, even when we can’t see it.
God is at work, even when you don’t see it.
He’s constantly at work. Let me give you a couple of examples of what this may look like. My wife graduated from high school here in 1992 at Calvary, and God led her to Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee (Go Lions!). And there, she joined the choir. A year later, in 1993 (I grew up in south Atlanta), God led me to Bryan College, and I joined the choir. It was that mutual interest and connection that allowed us to meet, develop a friendship, fall in love, and it just happened that God coincidentally led us to the same place, having the same interest. Purely coincidental, right?
Or, my eyes really were opened the summer after my freshman year. Our college choir had the privilege of touring Europe (I know. “Suffering for Jesus”, as they say). We sang in ten different countries, and one of the challenges and opportunities, is that through the host churches, we would stay in the homes of the locals, which was an amazing experience to really connect with the culture. Sometimes you’re staying in the home of someone who doesn’t even speak your language, and you’re having to learn how to communicate in hand signals.
But, I remember distinctly, I was staying in the home of the family just outside of Rome, Italy. I began to have a conversation with this brother and sister in Christ, and they began to unpack for me some things that God had been teaching them in their life. Surprisingly, it was the same lessons that all the way back in Georgia, God had been teaching me.
And it was this moment of realization for me of how big God is. -that God is at work. He’s all knowing. He’s sovereign. He’s everywhere, and so many times He works separately and in advance of us to bring people together. That was a moment for me to connect with the brother and sister in Christ, knowing a different language, living in a different country, loving the same God, being taught the same lessons, and able to encourage each other in that moment.
See, God has a history and a pattern over time of supernaturally and sovereignly bringing people together at just the right time, in just the right place. In fact, if you have been with us over previous weeks, we’ve been walking through the book of Acts. You’ll remember a few weeks ago in Acts chapter eight, it was the story of this Ethiopian eunuch being brought at just the right time to hear the Gospel. Or, we could even think back into the Old Testament of Moses. -this little baby who just so happened to be put in a basket that just so happened to float down the river that just so happened to be at the right time, that the princess could pick him up and take him in, and that positioned him to be the leader that God had created him to be. These are all circumstantial, right? All coincidental, right?
Or perhaps, like me, you can look at your own life, and you could rewind the clock of moments and situations where God, in His sovereign plan, allowed your path to cross the path of someone else at just the right time when you needed it or when they needed it. What we may write off as just coincidental may, in fact, be ordained encounters by an all-knowing and sovereign God.
Today, we’re going to look at a passage of Scripture in Acts chapter ten. We’ve already seen it illustrated, but our text describes one of these encounters where God’s supernatural power to bring people together for the purpose of followers of Jesus to grow and learn and for the Gospel to be advanced. And that’s what I hope for us to see. I hope this morning we will all realize that God is supernaturally working around us all the time and putting us in positions to make His name known.
1. DILIGENT: God hears us when we pray.
So, in fact, if you’re taking notes, if you’re following along in that worship guide (I really encourage you to do that. I think that’s a great way that we can learn), you can fill in some notes or thoughts I had. Or, the Holy Spirit may even bring thoughts of your own that you want to write down. In fact, the first blank, if you want to fill it in, is the word diligent. God hears us when we pray. Let’s re-read Acts chapter ten, verses one through eight. I would like to make some observations for us this morning.
1 There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. 2 He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. 3 About three in the afternoon he distinctly saw in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him, “Cornelius.” 4 Staring at him in awe, he said, “What is it, Lord?” The angel told him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, he called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, who was one of those who attended him. 8 After explaining everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
I want to make a couple of textual observations this morning that I think we need to pay attention to. This is a continuation of God’s story throughout Acts. -all the way beginning with Jesus’s command in Acts chapter one, verse eight: “Before he ascended, he spoke to his disciples. Hey, listen; here’s the deal. You’re going to be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, even the outermost parts of the world.”
And as this story and this journey has been unfolded, this is now the third social barrier that we see being burst wide open for the sake of the Gospel. We saw in Acts chapter eight in verse nine, we see it breaking through the Samaritan, breaking through the Ethiopian, and now, in chapter ten we see it into the Roman influence, which we need to understand at this time represents their government authority.
He’s even showing that the Gospel should influence government as well. It should go everywhere and permeate everything. So, here we see it; this Roman guard not only represents government. Interestingly to note, we know that he’s from the Italian regiment. We know that he’s a centurion. I think if we were to compare this into modern-day military ranking, he’s a very high level noncommissioned officer, probably equal to a Sergeant Major. So, he’s a high level leader with lots of influence and leadership over people.
We know here in the text that it describes him as a God-fearer. Now, this is not just a description of a personality trait; this was actually a title given to a group of people. The God-fearers would be Gentiles who hadn’t necessarily converted to Judaism, but they were very much actively worshipping in Jewish practice, and we even see them following some Jewish tradition. We see this here in this moment. This man, he’s giving money/alms/tithes, we may say. He’s praying regularly at the scheduled routine times of Jewish faith, but he’s not a Jew.
A. Diligent to practice religion
What we know here is that this man clearly is religious. In fact, you may even want to write that down. He was diligent to practice religion. The text illustrates that and communicates that. But here’s the reality for us this morning. We’ve got to sink this in: Religion is not enough. Just giving money, just praying, just practicing religion, even if we do it in a disciplined, routine, regimented way, that’s not enough. That’s not what gains access to the Father. That’s not what gives us purpose and peace in life. That’s not what gives us a place in eternity with God. That’s not it. Just practicing religion, even doing it diligently, is not enough.
I remember well the father of my best friend in high school. You have that friend that you just spend a lot of time with, and I would go on family vacations with them. I was just kind of the surrogate extra child. You know those kinds of relationships, especially if you have them growing up. So this was that family for me. The dad was a very good man. -retired from the Air Force, a pilot for Delta, highly successful, very good.
He would occasionally go to church with his family. He was very loving. He was very giving. He would donate to people. He treated people well. He was a good man, but he rejected the Gospel. Every time you would try to help him see the need for Jesus and the need to give his life to the Gospel, this is what he would say: “Why do I need that? I’m better than most of the Christians I know.”
It’s sad that there had been so much hypocrisy, so much sin, that had infected the Christians that he knew, that he didn’t even feel like he needed it. Here’s what he needs, though, and here’s what some people you know and love need: It doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter how much you give. It doesn’t matter how much you go to church or even go and serve and do great humanitarian things. It’s not the same as giving your heart to Jesus. It’s not the same as recognizing, I am a sinner, desperately needing a savior and recognizing that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world so that I could be made right with Him and have a relationship with Him.
Religion is not enough, and we will see, as we continue this story even into next week, that Cornelius would later understand that. But, I think there’s something we can learn from Cornelius right now. He was diligent to practice religion, but he was also diligent to ask an honest question. See, he has this epiphany, this religion, where God kind of rattles his cage and gets his attention, which I hope all of us can point to one of those moments in our life where God got your attention and you began to see.
I hope the response is like Cornelius. “What is it, Lord? What is it that you’re wanting to say to me?” That’s an important question to ask, because here’s the reality: Cornelius is like every other person. What he’s really wanting is peace in his heart. What he’s really searching for is purpose and pleasure. It’s just like the people in the world today, maybe even you in this room.
What I really want in my heart is peace. -to know that all is well. What I really want in my heart is purpose. -to have a reason to live. What I really want in my heart is pleasure. -to have a reason to love. And we search, and we try to find things to fill that gap in our life to give us peace and pleasure and purpose. For Cornelius, he was trying religion, and it’s just not sufficient.
For those of us, maybe even some in this room, we’re trying other things to fill that void, and here’s the reality: The only way and the only place to find peace, to find purpose, and to find pleasure, is in Jesus Christ. It is in the power and the hope of the Gospel. That’s where it is. But even as we live our lives and as we come to those moments, there’s a lot we can learn for Cornelius’ example. -just the courage to say, “Okay, God. What is it you’re trying to say? I want to hear from you.”
B. Diligent to ask an honest question
And even, can we just speak to those of us who love God, who have been called according to his purpose? Do you honestly, maybe ever find yourself saying, “I think God’s talking, but how do I know when he’s speaking?” I mean, that’s an honest question, isn’t it? How do we know when God speaking to us? How do you know when God is telling you something? How do you know when it’s the Spirit of God speaking to you or if it’s heartburn? How can you tell the difference?
Well, I will give you a litmus test, okay? Now, in the time of Acts, before they had the full written canon of Scripture, it was common that God may speak to them in some supernatural way, like a vision. He speaks to us first and foremost in a supernatural way through His Word. This is God’s number one means of communication to you. He has written a love letter to you, and He invites you to read it and to know it and to understand His thoughts and to understand His ways. This is His number one way to speak.
So, if you find yourself in one of those seasons of life (Maybe you’re making a tough decision, or maybe your family is going through turmoil, or whatever it may be in your life), if you’re trying to discern, “God, what are you saying?” How do you know He’s speaking? Go to His Word.
Here’s the second way that I understand: God speaks to us through His Word; God speaks to us through a whisper. The Old Testament often describes it as this “still, small voice”, and we can hear him speak even in that whisper in the quietness when we’re still before Him. Discipline-wise, we may call that prayer. -just talking with God and listening to him speak to us.
And then the third way that we can know God speaks (real practically through this litmus test) is his Word, through his whisper, and then through wise counsel. We see that all the time in Proverbs. -seeking wise counsel from others and watching the Lord affirm His Word to us, and it takes diligence.
The Gospel requires more than just diligence.
2. DISCIPLINE: Spiritual disciplines position us to see God.
But the simple reality, back to the text, is what Cornelius will begin to understand, is that the Gospel requires so much more than just diligence, and as we continue in this text, we’re going to see that that the Holy Spirit is trying to help Cornelius understand that. But he also has a really important lesson for Peter, one of his disciples. In fact, if you’re taking notes and if you’re that guy who has to have every blank filled in, I’ll give you the next one. It’s discipline. Spiritual discipline positions us to see God. Let’s read verses nine through sixteen.
9 The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the roof about noon. 10 He became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. 12 In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. 13 A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean.” 15 Again, a second time, the voice said to him, “What God has made clean, do not call impure.” 16 This happened three times, and suddenly the object was taken up into heaven.
Why is this even here? Why is it important? I think there’s a couple of things that God wants us to pay attention to. Look, if you would, real closely at verse nine. Underline “as they were traveling”, and then underline “Peter went up to pray”. Well, you and I have the advantage of knowing what happened in verses one through eight. Peter had no clue what was going on. There’s an important connection for us to make: While one group of people is obeying God and moving to hear a Word, God is already beginning, without him having any awareness of what is happening, to prepare Peter to deliver that Word. God is at work all around us, even when we don’t see it.
While He’s teaching us one thing, He is already moving and preparing the other people involved. He is a sovereign, all-knowing God that we can trust. He’s so much bigger than us. He understands and sees things that we do not see, and we recognize that here. Notice that God began to work and reveal things to Peter even before Peter even knew what was going on.
Here’s the other thing that I think we have to note: Peter was actively practicing the discipline of his faith. He went up to pray. It was at about noon. This is one of those three blocks of time that any good Jew would practice a regular discipline of prayer. So Peter is just going about his routine, but what’s important for us to recognize in the following verses is that God had a really important lesson for Peter to learn. Now, let’s remember who this guy is.
This is Peter. This is Peter, the fisherman that Jesus went to and said, “Hey, follow me, and I’m going to make you fishers of men.” This is Peter. This is that same guy who had the audacity to say, “If that’s Jesus walking on the water, here I come.” This is that same Peter who defended Jesus in the garden, and as soon as somebody came to his master, he pulled out a sword and cut off his ear because he stood for the defense of those he loved. This is that same Peter who denied Jesus three times. This is that same Peter who went to Jesus in shame, and Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” This is that same guy.
So he’s not a perfect person. This is a guy who Jesus promised that he was going to use him in a mighty way to grow and establish His church. This is that same Peter, and even though Peter had seen so much and experienced so much and been used by God so much, even already in the first ten chapters of Acts, God still had things that Peter needed to learn. Even in this good standing, God desired to mature Peter’s faith and to mature Peter’s understanding of the Gospel.
Now, I don’t know how long you’ve been following Jesus. For me, it’s been over 30 years, and I will say this: I got saved as a kid. I was a boy when I gave my life to Jesus and I understood the Gospel. I was a child, and I’ve been following him and chasing after him for over 30 years. And here’s what I know: I am no more saved today than I was as a 12 year old boy. But as the Lord has grown me, I understand the Gospel so much more today than I did when I was 12. I understand so much more about theology. I understand so much more about His Word.
Does that mean I’m more saved? No. What we call this, the church language is the process of sanctification. This is the process of me growing to become more like Jesus, of me maturing to understand His Word more. -of understanding salvation and the Gospel more, growing up in my faith, becoming mature and confident in who I am and who He is in me. This is called sanctification, and this is one of those sanctifying moments in the ministry and the life of Peter.
Although he loved God, was being used of God, was positioned right where God wanted him to be, although he was disciplined and he was praying, and he was doing all the things he needed to do, God still had some lessons he needed to learn to help him grow and to help him understand more, the fullness of the Gospel. For him, this means, “Peter, you’ve got to acknowledge some things in your life have to change.”
It reminds me of the old joke: How many Baptists does it take to change a lightbulb?
Change? Why would we change anything?
Baptists. They’re notoriously awful at this. Why? Because we get comfortable. We get comfortable in what we know. Is this true? And I get that; there’s safety and security in what is familiar. But Peter had to realize, “Hey, there are some things about even your understanding of the Gospel that are incomplete, and I desire to reveal that to you and to help you grow.” For him, it was some of the ritual practice of the Jewish faith, as God was trying to help His people understand the Gospel influencing the Gentiles, and these kinds of traditions and customs wouldn’t fit in their culture. And so He was trying to help them understand how those things needed to change, but Peter was obstinate. He was stubborn.
Look at his response. The first time that in this vision, he’s told what he said was like, “No, no, no, no, no. All of my life, this is the way I’ve done it. All of my life, I’ve been a good boy and done it the right way.” Three different times he has to hear this Word. Here’s what I know: When God repeats Himself, we’d better pay attention. Maybe there are some rough edges in your life that the Spirit of God is trying to sand off and smooth out.
When God repeats Himself, pay attention.
And some of us, maybe we’re a little stubborn, and He has to repeat these lessons over and over. Pay attention when God has to repeat Himself in your life. Maybe even going back to Cornelius’ example. “Okay, Lord. What is it? What is it that you’re trying to say?” And we have to be aware of two things I would say here: First of all, we have to be aware that when our preferences cross paths with God’s plan, we must submit to His will. I need to say that again. When our preferences cross paths with God’s plan, we must submit to His will.
And we see this in Peter in this sanctification process, and here would be my challenge to each one of us in the room: It should be a regular matter of prayer that you pray for the sanctification of others. -for your brothers and sisters in Christ in this church. We need to pray for one another’s sanctification. “God, help me and help those I love that are part of my faith family continually grow and become moved from where we are to being the people that you want us to be.”
3. DISRUPTION: When God speaks, it may not make sense.
And what a frightening, but fun journey that could be. Moving on; here’s the third word: Disruption. -because the truth is, when God speaks, it may not even make sense. Let’s look at the text and notice the attitude of Peter. Verses 17 through 23.
17 While Peter was deeply perplexed about what the vision he had seen might mean, right away the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, stood at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon, who was also named Peter, was lodging there. 19 While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, “Three men are here looking for you. 20 Get up, go downstairs, and go with them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.” 21 Then Peter went down to the men and said, “Here I am, the one you’re looking for. What is the reason you’re here?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” 23 Peter then invited them in and gave them lodging.
Notice Peter’s attitude. He hears this vision; he hears this Word. It’s disruptive to what he thought, and he’s confused. Has anything ever happened in your life that just left you baffled? Has there ever been a moment in your life where you step back and say, “God, what are you doing? This makes no sense to me.” I’ve had those moments, and you have too. Maybe it’s something deeply personal, like you walk in one day and you’re told to clean out your office. Or maybe you get a phone call, and it’s the word that somebody that you love has been tragically killed. Or maybe it’s “the C word”, that you’ve got cancer. Or there’s some tragic event that you see on the news, that some terrorist activity has happened.
We see and hear those things that happen in our life or happen in our world, and we naturally step back, and we may be confused and say, “God, what in the world are you doing?” And we’re confused. Or, as this translation says, deeply perplexed. I’m encouraged by Peter, though. Even in his confusion, he obeyed. Without even knowing what was going on fully, the Spirit of God told him. “Peter, get up. Go downstairs.” “Okay, I’ll get up, and I’ll go downstairs. I may be walking into an ambush. I may be walking into a something. I’m completely blind in what I’m heading into.” But he had the courage to go there.
Notice then what he does. He doesn’t just go down and just walk down the stairs into the room. He practices hospitality and invites them in and gives them lodging for the night. You’ve got to understand; this was a no-no, according to Jewish custom. -that you would allow Gentiles to come in and eat and sleep in your home. You just would never do that. But he stepped out on faith, and he listened, and he practiced hospitality. He violated tradition, because for him, there was no other option but to obey what God had just told him to do. He wouldn’t consider any other way.
So I think, here’s what’s important for us to note. It is really easy when you read the first couple of verses, to come to the conclusion that Cornelius is the lead actor in this story. Or we may read the second section, and we come to the conclusion. “No no, it’s Peter. He’s the lead actor in this story.” Neither of those is true. It’s the Holy Spirit who is the lead actor in the story. It is God Himself who was orchestrating these people to come together for a specific reason so that Peter could learn a lesson and so that the Gospel could be advanced.
Listen for God to speak when things may not be clear. Peter had to make a decision. He had to get up and go downstairs. You and I, sometimes there may be a disruption in our life, and we’re listening for God to speak and we reach a point of decision. How do you know when you’ve made the right decision, by the way? This isn’t a trick question. It’s an honest one. How do you know when you made the right decision? I’ll give you the answer: After you make it. Because walking by faith is acknowledging, “I’ve got to take a step and trust what God’s doing in this moment without any full assurance of what comes next.”
Understanding comes after obedience.
Understanding only comes after you obey. Understanding only comes after obedience, which I think is why Proverbs 3:5-6 rings so true. You may be familiar with this passage. In fact, many of you may have memorized it somewhere along the way. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Or another translation may say, “He will make your paths straight by acknowledging Him along the way.” And it’s in that verse that brings up the fourth word. It’s the idea of direction. When God speaks, He opens doors for the Gospel to be shared. So we began to see part of the reason why all this happened. Let’s read, verses 24 through 33.
4. DIRECTION: When God speaks, He opens doors for the Gospel to be shared.
23b The next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went with him. 24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up and said, “Stand up. I myself am also a man.” 27 While talking with him, he went in and found a large gathering of people. 28 Peter said to them, “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner, but God has shown me that I must not call any person impure or unclean. 29 That’s why I came without any objection when I was sent for. So may I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this hour, at three in the afternoon, I was praying in my house. Just then a man in dazzling clothing stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your acts of charity have been remembered in God’s sight. 32 Therefore send someone to Joppa and invite Simon here, who is also named Peter. He is lodging in Simon the tanner’s house by the sea.’ 33 So I immediately sent for you, and it was good of you to come. So now we are all in the presence of God to hear everything you have been commanded by the Lord.”
See, this is that moment in my mind. It’s as if two men on either side of the mountain started digging a tunnel and through exact science, or in this moment, through the act of a supernatural God, broke free at the same point. God had led Cornelius on this journey that was led by a supernatural message. God led Peter on this journey, led by a supernatural message so that it just the right time, their paths would cross so that Peter could understand more fully the Gospel, so that Cornelius and all of his house and all of his friends could hear of the Gospel. And we will see next week when we continue through the second half of Acts chapter ten. We will see how they respond, because this is kind of part A to a beautiful story.
It reminds me of a boy named Devon. See, in my current role with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, we lead a lot of summer camps for middle school and high school students. Just two weeks ago, we were at a camp in Toccoa, Georgia, and there was a camper there that week. His name was Devon. Devon, on Tuesday night, was really struggling with some big questions about God, and he was sitting on the dock out by the lake with two of our summer staff counselors.
He was asking all of these questions about who God is, why He does things the way He does them, and why He works the way He works. And he just had some really big, God-size questions, because Devin was searching for peace and for purpose and for pleasure. He’s asking these questions, and the staff are doing their best to help him reconcile some things in his mind and process things through logic and using Scripture.
They were doing their best to help him, but Devon just left that conversation late at night on the dock still with big questions. Here’s what nobody knew: At the same time, God was pressing on the camp pastor’s heart what to say in worship on Wednesday morning. Without any idea, without any awareness at all of what Devon was questioning, the camp pastor stood up on Wednesday as he had read the script and answered every question directly that Devon asked the night before with no clue that Devon even was in the room, nor that he had had any conversation asking questions of the staff. He was simply obeying the Holy Spirit in that moment to say what God had given them to say. We stood back and said, “That was all for Devon.” The Lord had done this work, had moved and impressed on the heart of this camp pastor to share a Word that was directly what Devon needed.
It was as if Peter and Cornelius had come together. It was as if two men on either side of the mountain had tunnelled together at just the right time. See, in this moment, we see that Cornelius had the confidence, we see in verse 24, that God had a message for him. He had so much confidence that Peter was going to show up and that he would have a message, he called all of his family and all of his friends. “You guys have got to be in the room to hear this because I don’t know what it is, but there’s a Word coming from the Lord. Let’s be ready.”
Cornelius had confidence. Peter had courage. We see in verse 28 that Peter had courage to step into something. We see it; he says, “Why did you ask me here?” He had the courage to step into some things that were unknown and just trusting one step at a time what the Lord was telling him to do and that He would make his path straight.
God may use people, but people do not possess power.
But I think it’s important that we notice what happens here in the text. Cornelius’ first response is to bow down to worship Peter, and Peter says, “No, no, no, no, no. I’m just a man.” See, God has a habit of using people, but people do not possess power. Who’s the lead actor in the story? The Holy Spirit. And I think it’s important that I pause here and kind of interject a personal statement. Can I do that? We’re at a benchmark day and moment in our church, and I need you to know and understand: I love God. I love my family. And I love you. -in that order.
I am just a man. I will let you down. I’m not worthy. I’m just a man. -a fallen man. I’m not worthy for this, but I’m willing. And so, I just need you to know, I am not a Superman. I’m just a man serving a super God, and so are you. You need to know that I’m going to do my best to live out this priority. -that my relationship with Jesus comes first. My relationship with my family comes second. My relationship with you comes third. -and I’m going to challenge you to live out that same priority in your life. Jesus is first, our family a second, and then our church is third.
But everybody’s there, including Peter, Cornelius, all their friends and family. Verse 33, they acknowledge, “God has brought us together for something special,” and it wasn’t just a watch Netflix and chill. God had brought them together to advance the Gospel. God had brought them together to make His name known. God had brought them together.
They were all there to hear from God, which I pray is the attitude of our heart every day in our lives individually. Every time we gather as a church, we come expecting to hear from God. “You have a Word for us, God, and we want to hear it, because we know that you speak through your Word. You speak through a whisper, and you speak through wise counsel.” So we as a church, we must stand together in the presence of God and be ready to listen.
• Today, I recognize my religion is not enough and choose to follow Jesus.
• Today, I commit to spending time alone in prayer and in God’s Word to position myself to clearly hear God.
• Today, we as a church, choose to trust God and strive for unity through the Holy Spirit.
1. How did God prepare Cornelius for Peter? (10:1-8)
2. According to 10:4, what caused God to take notice of Cornelius?
3. Why is it important to express our faith in God by praying and giving, to meet the needs of the poor? To what extent are prayer and giving to the poor priorities for you? (10:4)
4. In what ways did God prepare Peter for Cornelius? (10:9–33)
5. What would have been the consequences if Cornelius or Peter had not obeyed God?
6. In summary, how do you see God’s purpose, as stated in Acts 1:8—“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”—being fulfilled in this passage?
7. In what ways do you need to grow in relating to people of other cultures and races?