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Responding To God's Message

Acts 10:5-8
'Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.' When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa. (NIVUK)

Cornelius, the Roman army officer posted to the military HQ for the occupying forces, wanted to know God. He was kind, generous and God-fearing: but he was a Gentile. But God knew his heart's hunger to know Him. An angel spoke to him in a vision, telling him that God knew all about him, and then told him what to do. It was not a vision of God or mystical experience of His presence; it was a set of instructions which set the pattern for Gospel ministry for the church.

God's chosen method of bringing people to know Him is through the proclamation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:21). But who would tell Cornelius? God's plan was for Peter to go to Cornelius' house and explain how only Jesus is the way to God. But, first, Peter had to overcome his prejudices; for Jews would not go into a Gentile's house lest they became ceremonially unclean (Acts 10:28). So God's angel instructed the soldier to send his men to a specific house in Joppa: they had the right to order Peter to go with them.

Interestingly, the centurion was not embarrassed about the vision and was happy to tell two servants and one bodyguard. Cornelius was excited by the realisation that the God who he admired had sent a personal message to him. The three men were sent off to Joppa even before Peter knew about his next assignment – to preach to a Gentile, and to learn that salvation is not just for the Jews but anybody can be saved (Acts 13:47).

The centurion knew how to give orders and to obey them. So when God's angel spoke, the soldier obeyed. It was his first step in preparing him to respond to the gospel message. Although he did not know why, he did exactly what the angel said. That is faith. There is little point in claiming to love God if we are not willing to obey Him; and each act of obedience will help our faith to grow so that we are ready to obey the next instruction.

Father God. Thank You that salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is for everybody in the world, who chooses to respond in repentance and faith. Forgive me for my failure to respond to Your Word. Please teach me to trust and obey in every part of life, so that You can use me in Your great plan to broadcast the gospel message where I live and work. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams