From The Heart

Publish date: 06/11/2006

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the Ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!" 4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do." 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." 14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. 19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them." Acts 10:1-20 NKJV

Cornelius was an Italian, a gentile by birth, but he was a God-fearing man and also a generous one. Because the honor he showed the Lord; because of his continual prayers and his generous, consistent giving; he got God’s attention. God promised Abraham that through his Seed – Jesus – ALL the nations of the earth would be blessed. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from: when you humble yourself before Almighty God and you seek him and act in accordance with His word, God will make a way to get to you and show Himself real and alive to you.

God had showed Himself to the Israelites and made them many promises. He had a special plan for them. He would use their nation to be a blessing to all nations through Jesus Christ of Nazareth, an Israelite by birth. However, they did not appreciate this honor. They took God for granted and did not serve Him with their whole heart. Many of them were downright rebellious and prostituted themselves with foreign gods. They forgot that God blessed them by choice, not because they were anything special themselves. God’s grace extended to them was a privilege, not a right.

By the time Jesus was born, many Israelites were very religious – pious on the outside and rotten on the inside. They were judgmental and exclusive. They wanted God to be a respecter of persons, but God wanted to include ALL and so He gives ALL an opportunity to receive Him – not by works or by lineage – but by faith alone. Faith is the great equalizer – all men have the exact same opportunity to receive God’s precious gift of Life.

The Israelites wanted all of God’s favor for themselves, but they did not honor or serve Him. We must do the opposite – honor and serve Him and reach out to ALL men from every nation, on His behalf! Do not judge another man after the flesh. Do not exclude anyone. If any are to be excluded, let it be by their own choice. You share the Gospel to ALL men and give ALL men the same opportunity to receive the Lord. Jesus paid the price for every person in every nation!

When God showed Peter the vision and told him not to call common and unclean that which God called clean, He was not talking abut food, He was talking about MEN. God was thinking about the three men who were sent by Cornelius at the direction of the angel. God was thinking about Cornelius and his household – his family, friends, and servants. God was thinking about millions of people who now had an opportunity to receive the Son of promise. God was thinking about you and me! For generations before Jesus was born, God had bided His time, waiting for this moment when people from ALL the nations would enter into His blessing by receiving new life through their faith in Jesus: faith the blood of Jesus; faith in His death, burial, and resurrection!

Through faith in Jesus Christ you are clean! Let no man call unclean what God has called clean!