Sunday, April 1, 2012

Acts 10:4-8

Summary retelling of Acts 10:4-8

Here we see the dark side of “fearing God.”  Cornelius wasn’t expecting a visit from a divine being.  He is literally terrified (and here the word does mean terrified).  Yet, even in his terror the response is servitude rather than flight.  Cornelius asks what the angel has come to tell him.  The angel says that Cornelius’ prayers have risen before God and have been heard by Him.  The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter in Joppa, who is staying with Simon the tanner beside the sea (And we thought Mapquest gave directions that weren’t always easy to read!).  Cornelius sends two of his servants and a devout soldier to go bring Peter to him. 

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
I am really in awe of Cornelius here.  Remember, he is a “god-fearing” person, not a full Jew.  As a member of the Roman Army he would have likely been prevented from becoming a full-fledged Jew.  Yet, he knew that he wanted to serve the God of the Jewish people.  In God’s eyes, his devotion supersedes his physical qualifications.  As someone who is simply a “god-fearer” and not a full-fledged Jew, he would have never expected a visit from one of God’s messengers.  No wonder he is afraid!  But his fear does not prevent him from going forward.  His fear leads to genuine awe and puts him in a servant mindset.

Does it seem natural to think of fear turning into humble service?  Does it make more sense for awe to lead us into service?  Why is it important to have a servant-like mindset before we are in a position to be either afraid of or awed by something?

Second Thought:
The angel tells Cornelius that his prayers have been heard by God.  Honestly, I think that is even cooler than having an angel appear before you.  Your prayers – prayers of a single human being living on the face of a very large planet – are heard by the greatest power in the universe.  Wow.  Let that soak in for a second and tell me that this isn’t a really cool thought.

Do you really believe your prayers are heard by the supreme God?  Have you ever let that inspire awe in you before?

Third Thought:
Cornelius responds to God and follows the plan.  Cornelius sends two of his servants and a soldier.  The soldier is largely to make sure that his servants don’t get waylaid by bandits on the road or by guards in Joppa wondering what they are doing.  The servants are likely to put Peter at ease.  After all, had Cornelius just sent soldiers to get Peter, it would look like an arrest!  No, Cornelius sends regular folks to ease Peter’s mind and he sends a soldier to make sure the regular folks can get the job done.

Does God ever send people into your life to be like the centurion who can watch over you and make sure you can get the job done?  Does God ever ask you to be the centurion and watch over other people so that they can get the job done?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 10: 9-12
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