Last week we continued our teaching in Acts 10; Cornelius had a vision from God about Peter coming to teach them about the Messiah and when Cornelius’s messengers got to the city to talk to Peter, Peter was having a trance preparing him for God’s Purpose.
Let’s pick up the story in verse 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Peter was allowed to see the same vision three times. Seemingly Peter and the number three are always connected. Remember Peter wasn’t able to stay awake in the garden three times, then he denied Jesus three times and a few days later three times Jesus asked him, do you love me. Now the Lord has let Peter see the same vision three times to capture his attention because Peter was still trying to live by the law. The religious teachings of the law were still keeping Peter from being free under the New Covenant. Friends, a religious spirit is probably stronger than any other spirit the enemy uses because its root is in deception and the last person to know they are deceived is the person deceived. Saul, before his transformation, on the Damascus Road was religiously persecuting Christians thinking he was doing it for God’s Kingdom. Religious spirits have torn many families, many ministries and many friends apart. We have to stand for truth but we do it in love.
17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,
Notice the power of the religious spirit on Peter. God has shown him this vision three times and he still doubted what it meant. We understand that the Jews eat no unclean animal as part of their religion in pleasing God but now a new way to Father God had been established, by the blood of Jesus not works. Under the Old Covenant mankind had to work out their walk with God, under the New Testament we are accepted in Father God’s family by faith not works. Now we have works because we want to serve the one who gave His life for us out of love not duty.
God’s timing is always perfect, because when Peter doubted, God was sending men and they were outside the gate trying to find Peter. Father God is so amazing. I know we’ve all had divine appointments in our lives where God has orchestrated meetings for our good.
18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
I love it! Can’t you picture it? Peter just had a God-encounter and he’s sitting there trying to come to Godly truth and the Holy Spirit says, there are three men looking for you.
20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
Once again Peter is being tested, knowing the messengers are Gentiles and normally he would not go with them, so the Holy Spirit said don’t doubt anything just go with them because I sent them. I believe Peter is fishing for information when he asked, why are you here and what do you want with me. He knew he would go with them, but he was trying to find out the purpose.
22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
They report to Peter that Cornelius is a wonderful Gentile man whom the Jews even love and then they rehearse with him the vision Cornelius had with the visitation of angels. I’m sure Peter is religiously asking himself, how can angels show up in a Gentile home but Peter’s own vision keeps coming back to his memory. What God has called clean, do not call unclean. Peter was reluctant in his flesh to go but in the Spirit realm Peter knew Father God was about to do something new.
23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
So now Peter gave them a place to spend the night and the journey to destiny would start the next morning taking along witnesses to testify about what was about to take place.
Next week we will hear of the wonderful conversion of the Gentiles but right now let each one of us examine our own hearts to see if we have been deceived by religious spirits and they are all over this region keeping ministries and ministers from fulfilling the purpose God has for them.
Prayer Points: 1. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you (about you not others) anything in your life which has become so religious that it is stopping the flow of the Holy Spirit in your life. I seen & heard about music, instruments, the way we used to do it, color of carpet, clothes, where a well should be, all kinds of crazy things hinder a move of God. Let’s get free from anything that binds us from following the Presence of the Lord.
Last week Peter had seen the visions and now the men sent by Cornelius had spent the night before they were to leave early the next morning to go to Caesarea.
Acts 10:24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
The first thing I notice is the anticipation, the excitement and the expectation that Cornelius has. They were on pins and needles anticipating the arrival of Peter and he had his relatives and close friends there with him because he wanted those he loved to hear the good news also.
25 As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him up and said, "Stand up! I'm a human being just like you!" 27 So they talked together and went inside, where many others were assembled.
Peter finally arrives and Cornelius fell at his feet probably not in worship but in reverence. This was an act of profound regard for him as an ambassador of God. In Oriental countries it was not unusual for persons to prostrate themselves at length on the ground before men of rank and honor. "Worshipped him" this does not mean religious homage, but civil respect, or profound regard which was due to one in honor. Then Peter does something very contrary to the law by reaching down and pulling Cornelius up because he was a Gentile. We are not given insight to the conversation here but I’m sure they are talking about the vision they both had seen which gave them an instant bond.
28 Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. 29 So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me."
Peter was never bashful or scared to speak what was on his mind and he immediately said, if it wasn’t for the trance and vision God gave me, I would not be here because according to the law I should not even be in your house. But after the revelation God has given us, I’m thankful to be here.
30 Cornelius replied, "Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o'clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. 31 He told me, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! 32 Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.' 33 So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you."
Cornelius rehearses the vision with Peter telling him, I sent for you but it was because I was simply obeying the Lord. Peter I know you have a word for us that will be life changing. What happens next is so exciting!
34 Then Peter replied, "I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 36 This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. 38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 "And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, 41 not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. 43 He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name." 44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter asked, 47 "Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?" 48 So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.
So Peter preaches the gospel to them and while he is preaching they receive the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. So for the very first time, the Gentiles are baptized in the Name of Jesus. What a great day in the history of mankind.
Prayer Points: Lord, help us to never think that anyone or any race of people are not included in John 3:16 but salvation is for everyone who will believe.
Let’s continue to dig into one of the most important chapters to us Gentiles in the whole Bible; Acts 10. Last week we discussed how Cornelius was a man who put himself in position for Father God to use him by a lifestyle of prayer, fasting and giving and now let’s pick up the story in verse 3 One afternoon about three o'clock (time of prayer), he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. "Cornelius!" the angel said. 4 Cornelius stared at him in terror. "What is it, sir?" he asked the angel. And the angel replied, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have not gone unnoticed by God!
I’m not so spiritual that I judge Cornelius for being in terror; God’s angels are amazing, powerful and intimidating. They fight on our behalf, they war in the heavenlies, they are messengers from God’s throne, and they deliver God’s promises to mankind.
When the angel called him by name, Cornelius replied, “What can I do for you?” The angel was on assignment with a message from Father God and he said your lifestyle (prayers, giving, etc) are noticed by God. The way you have lived your life has caught the attention of Father God who sees all, knows all and is all in all. That’s exciting! Every time you give a drink of water, every time you help someone in private, every time you pray in secret, fast in seclusion, give to the poor or give to the Kingdom, God sees and God notices and it opens up the heavens! What a mighty God!
Then God gives him instructions, prayer without obedience will not deliver the promise. 5 Now send some men down to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon, a leatherworker who lives near the shore. Ask him to come and visit you."
I love the supernatural workings of Father God. The angel told him to go get Peter and described Peter to him and told him where he was staying (near the shore) and who he was staying with (Simon who works with leather) not leaving out a detail. The only problem was this, Peter was a Jew and Cornelius was a Gentile and at that point and time the law (Old Covenant) forbade Peter to come into his house.
Remember this, when God is talking to you on one end, once you obey, God will be talking to the person on the other end if we will just be obedient. Then we read in verse 7 As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. 8 He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.
Before fear could set in, before the “ifs” started forming in his mind, Cornelius immediately obeyed what the angel told him.
9 The next day as Cornelius's messengers were nearing the city, Peter went up to the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, 10 and he was hungry. But while lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
It must have been a good distance since it took almost a day to arrive, and as they were nearing the city (in obedience) Peter was going to his closet of prayer to spend some personal time with the Lord before he ate lunch. The reason God tells His secrets to only a few is only a few spend quality time in the secret place of prayer. So while everyone else was downstairs cooking and getting ready to eat, Peter was praying and fell into a spiritual trance (having a spiritual dream but still awake) and what he saw broke all the religious traditions he had been taught and had even taught others.
11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. 12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to him, "Get up, Peter; kill and eat them." 14 "Never, Lord," Peter declared. "I have never in all my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws."
Father God was about to demonstrate to Peter that salvation is now based on relationship with Him not works for Him. We do the works because we love Him and not to be accepted by Him. I’m not talking about a cheap grace where we accept grace and go do our own thing but I’m talking about an undeserved favor which impacts us to the point of living a Godly lifestyle based on God’s word to please Him. Faith pleases the Father but our works demonstrates our faith. Friend, we still can’t live wrong and die right. When the blood of Jesus is applied to our lives, something changes (old things pass away and all things become new).
Prayer Points: Father, open our eyes to the supernatural realm of your Spirit. Help us not live by man’s traditions but by relationship with the Father by the Lord Jesus Christ!