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“Drawing a Circle"

“If you pray to God regularly, irregular things will happen on a regular basis.”

- Mark Batterson


PRAYER:"God, as I open myself up to you in these moments to read this passage fresh and anew, I ask that you reveal to me that which you would have me learn today. Help me see. More than that, I pray for transformation as I take what you show me and apply it to my life. Amen."

The passage is jam-packed with things. I could read, write, and study for days on each version. But I'm looking more at the overall impression I get as I read. What stands out? What gets my attention? If I do this in the morning, then I can carry it with me throughout the day.

As I'm reading the passage now, the first thing that stands out to me is that the angel tells Cornelius that he has gotten God's attention by his prayers and "neighborly acts". Because of this, God asks Cornelius to send for Peter to come to his home. Cornelius had led those in his household to follow God through his way of life.

Was Cornelius surprised in that moment that God had paid attention to him? Did Cornelius question why God would have noticed him? Cornelius was simply living out his faith-- worshiping God, helping others, and being a man of prayer. Somehow, that made him stand out to God and God wanted Peter to come meet Cornelius.

But Peter wouldn't go willingly to the house of a Gentile. Gentiles were unclean people. God had to prepare Peter first.

God did that.

Peter took some convincing. In verse 14, Peter is reminding God that he doesn't eat unclean foods: "Oh, no, Lord. I've never so much as tasted food that was not kosher."

God responds: "If God says it's okay, it's okay."

Peter and God "discuss" the situation three times. Peter wasn't going to let go of his training, his tradition, his Scriptural heritage easily. Yet it was God telling Peter that it was okay.

No wonder Peter was puzzled by the vision and the voice and trying to figure it all out. Imagine something going against everything you had ever learned or heard. That would be difficult.

As Peter was contemplating the vision, the Spirit spoke to him and told him to open the door to those looking for him: "Three men are knocking at the door looking for you. Get down there and go with them. Don't ask any questions. I sent them to get you."

As if the vision and voice wasn't enough, there are three men now at the door, looking for him and he isn't supposed to ask questions, but just go with them.

So, Peter goes to the door and says, "I think I'm the man you're looking for. What's up?" (verse 21)

Here is an example of where I chuckle with The Message: "What's up?" Now in other versions, the question isn't so colloquial. In the Common English Bible, the question is: "Why have you come?" In the New Revised Standard, the question is: "What is the reason for your coming?" In The Living Bible, the question is: "Now what is it you want?" [These are the versions I've looked over so far.]

Regardless of how the question is phrased, Peter wasn't supposed to question in the first place. But, that's okay. He is still trying to figure out the vision and what it has to do with why they are there. Who wouldn't ask a question? If not out loud, then at least in one's heart, mind, and soul.

Peter shows hospitality to the travelers before they return to Cornelius the next day. Peter allows strangers into his home. Not only are they strangers, unknown to him, they are different from him. He invites them in and provides a place to stay overnight and more than likely, a meal too.

I wonder what conversation they had over table fellowship? Peter had been hungry prior to going to the rooftop and having his vision. Eating a meal together would have allowed them time to talk about Cornelius, his family, the travel ahead, even Peter's vision. There are no details to let us know what happened in that time.

When Peter arrived at Cornelius' home and after Cornelius made the introductions, Peter said: "You know, I'm sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don't do this-- visit and relax with people of another race." (verse 28)

Cornelius shared his visitation from the angel and Peter then was able to share the good news with all gathered there. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the listeners (verse 44).

What strikes me today is that there is something to be said for hospitality, table fellowship, opening our homes to others who are different, sharing in conversation with one another, and listening to the nudges of the Holy Spirit who guides us.

God was working in and through both Cornelius and Peter to accomplish a bigger situation.

What can we learn from them? What can I learn from them?

Am I willing to invite others into conversation like Cornelius or be invited into conversation like Peter?

What can be the result of such conversations?

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