A New Thing

Acts 10:1-29

Cornelius was a Gentile but he was also an uncircumcised worshiper of the one true God. He was a devout, generous, prayerful man who was respected by the Jewish people but one who, according to Jewish law, was unclean.

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary explains the concept of clean/unclean this way:

These terms designate negative or positive ritual and moral conditions in persons and sometimes in objects. Uncleanness or impurity is basically defined as that which is a threat to or opposes holiness, and hence must be kept separate from that sphere. On the relationship of purity and impurity to the profane (i.e., nonholy or common) and holy. Impurity may arise from natural and necessary conditions, such as bodily discharges, or from sinful situations.[1]

Basically, unclean means unworthy. If Jewish law said a thing or a condition was unclean, it meant that it was unworthy of being in God’s presence. It made a person unworthy of worshiping God and made anyone who came into contact with the thing or the person unworthy as well.

The Jews considered Cornelius unclean. Jewish law and traditions said it didn’t matter how devout, generous, or prayerful Cornelius was, he was unworthy of coming into God’s presence and unworthy of worshiping God. Because of this, Peter, had it not been for his vision, would have thought Cornelius unworthy. He might have thought well of him and respected him as a man but would not have thought of him as a child of God.

But God gave him the vision to change his thinking. In the vision, Jesus told him, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

  [1] Freedman, David Noel, ed. “Unclean and Clean.” The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary 1992: 729. Print.

Sermon Audio

Daily Prayers

Sunday, October 23
Acts 10:1-5

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 

Thank you, Lord, for making a way for those once considered unworthy. Help us remember that our worthiness only comes because of the gift of your Son. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

Monday, October 24
Acts 10:6-9

6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 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. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa. 9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 

I praise you God! Help us remember that prayer isn’t just a doorway from us to you, it is a doorway from you to us. Help us hear you over ourselves. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, October 25
Acts 10:10-15

10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 

Praise God for His grace! Lord, show me my sheet. What are the things and who are the people that I continue to hold out as unclean. Help me put aside my biases and prejudices and see people as Jesus sees them. Help me look for Jesus in others.  In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, October 26
Acts 10:16-21

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” 

Lord, in you we find hope. Show us our wrong thinking so we will not hesitate to go where your Spirit tells us to go. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Thursday, October 27
Acts 10:22-27

22The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.  

I praise you with every breath Father. Forgive me when I forget that I am not you. Forgive me when I forget that I am only human. Help me remember that you decide who is worthy of worshiping you.  In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen

Friday, October 28
Acts 10:28-29

28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” 

Lord, help me trust you more than I trust myself. In the name of Christ alone, Amen

Saturday, October 29

Lord, we praise you! 2 Chronicles 34:37 tells us that if our hearts are responsive to you and we humble ourselves before you, you will hear us. May the hearts of all who say this prayer grow in responsiveness to you, and may we all bow to your greatness. Help our souls be ready to hear your word tomorrow. Let us put any failures out of our minds as we prepare to gather to worship you. Send your Spirit to fill your servant with your word, and let us put everything aside to hear your word for us. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.