Bible stories of hope: Cornelius - by James Archer
Bible stories of hope is a series comprising a reading about someone's encounter with God, some notes about how they may have seen it, and a prayer.
Reading – Acts 10:1-5, 44-48
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, on officer in the Italian group of the Roman army. Cornelius was a religious man. He and all the other people who lived in his house worshipped the true God. He gave much of his money to the poor and prayed to God often. One afternoon about three o’clock, Cornelius clearly saw a vision. An angel of God came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at the angel. He became afraid and said, “What do you want, Lord?”
The angel said, “God has heard your prayers. He has seen that you give to the poor, and he remembers you. Send some men now to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is also called Peter.”
….. While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given even to those who were not Jews. These Jewish believers heard them speaking in different languages and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptised with water? They have received the holy Spirit just as we did!” So Peter ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
It was frustrating. He’d been posted to Palestine and come to believe in the living God, but he was born into the wrong tribe and wasn’t accepted into God’s people. Still, at least he could pray and use his wealth to help the poor.
Whooa! What was That! He fell to the ground in terror as the ball of lightning headed straight for him. Then he heard a voice call his name: “Cornelius!”
God was obviously more broad-minded than his people realised. He told his trusted batman exactly what had happened and sent him off to fetch Simon Peter. He’d probably arrive around Thursday lunchtime. It was time to go visiting.
Cornelius was so excited, so thrilled, that he could hardly stop talking about the angel and what he had said. But he tore himself away from house after house once each relative or friend had agreed to come. He couldn’t bear not to invite anyone.
Peter hesitated at the door – he knew he’d get plenty of flak for going into the house of a Gentile. But God had made his instructions clear, so he went in.
He looked around in amazement. The house was packed! Every bit of floor space, up the staircase, in every doorway, round every corner – all peering at him, looking to him to tell them the good news of God. Suddenly it struck him – it was just like the day when they lowered the man on a stretcher through the roof to get to Jesus!
Whoosh! The Holy Spirit was here! God obviously wasn’t bothered that they weren’t Jews – he’d treated them just the same. Praise his holy name!
Lord God, make me so excited about you that I want to introduce all my friends to you. Amen
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