This is a long chapter, so it’s important to initially survey it all in one reading before we break it down into smaller segments. Take a few minutes now to read the whole chapter before we get started on today’s priority time…
Today, I’m only going to cover Acts 10:1-8. This chapter is important to the Conlees on multiple fronts, but especially as it speaks to our role as Bridge Builders and Unifiers in the Holy Spirit and racial reconciliation.
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Notice the description of Cornelius:
- A centurion.
- A devout man.
- A man who feared God.
- A man who led his household well.
- A man who gave alms generously.
- A man who prayed continually.
Is this basically true of the top 10%-20% of people in any denomination that majors on the majors?
- They are devout.
- They fear God.
- They lead their household well.
- They give alms generously.
- They pray continually.
Let me give you some questions to consider…
- What’s the same between yesterday and today?
- What’s the difference maker, whether it’s yesterday, today, or tomorrow?
- The difference in this context was that Cornelius and his family hadn’t yet received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
- The difference today is that many still haven’t received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
You may be wondering how I relate to this on a personal level. Well, I had more understanding and orientation to the Holy Spirit than most from a non-charismatic perspective.
- Over the past 10 years, I’ve gained more experiences with the Holy Spirit and received more gifts from the Holy Spirit.
- Over the past 5 years, I’ve experienced significantly more of the Holy Spirit in strategic ways.
- Just over 2 years ago, I took a stand for the Holy Spirit and have seen God take us on a “no turning back” journey.
From God’s perspective, did He want to give me more of His Spirit earlier?
- I believe the answer is yes.
What prevented me from receiving more?
- Almost all the teaching I received on the Holy Spirit was fear-based. In other words, most of what I heard was, “Don’t become weird” or “Don’t abuse the application of the gifts.”
Theologically, these people wouldn’t say they were cessationists (ie. holding to the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased in early Christian Church history), but practically they were. They would say they were open but cautious, but they were definitely more cautious than they were open. In fact, every time I experimented with being more open, I was questioned big time by the cautious.
How can we transition the top 10%-20% from:
- fear to faith;
- doubt to belief;
- cautious to open;
- natural to supernatural;
- rowboat to sailboat?
How do we transition from a performance-driven identity?
- Live from identity, not for identity
- Son or Daughter
- Live from intimacy, not for intimacy
- Unconditional Love
- Unlimited Access
- Live from inheritance, not for inheritance
- From stewardship of abundance, not for the abundance of success
What was Cornelius missing?
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.
Notice, it isn’t Word only or Spirit only, but rather the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word.
- We need a convergence of the Word and Spirit.
- We need a healthy hybrid of the Word and Spirit.
What’s missing for a large segment of Christianity today?
- The biblical balance.
- The leadership of the Holy Spirit.
- The unity of the Holy Spirit.
- The gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Back to Acts 10:1-8…
- Cornelius has a clear vision.
- He responds, “What is it, Lord?”
- “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.”
Let’s stop right there before we continue.
- Here’s evidence that God receives and responds to our prayers.
- Here’s evidence that our giving matters to God.
- By the way, that’s huge.
What’s the magnitude of these truths?
- What prayers are you praying?
- What gifts are you giving?
- How is God responding to you?
How has God been responding to the Conlees’ prayers and generosity?
- Many of you are the people God has sent to me and my family. You are our vision of God sending us Peter to give us more of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit spoke to you to invest in me and my family. God may have even sent an angel for you to receive this assignment.
What has been the result?
- The gift of the Holy Spirit is also being poured out on us.
Tomorrow, we’ll pick up the rest of the story from Acts 10:9-48.