A short reading and prayers for today
In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God.
Acts 10.1-2 NLT
Cornelius is a fascinating character. He wasn’t a Jew and neither was he a follower of Jesus. He was a God- fearer and the most positive things are said about him. He was generous, prayerful and willing that God should use him on this crucial mission to meet up with Peter.
Peter was a faithful Jew and struggled to imagine that God could work outside the Jewish nation. Cornelius was going to be the means of helping Peter to see God’s greater plans.
Centurions were immensely powerful army officers and by this time they normally had command of eighty legionaries. It is interesting that centurions played a significant part in Jesus’ ministry. On one occasion a centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant and had complete confidence that if Jesus only said the word, the man would be healed. Jesus responded that he hadn’t found anyone in Israel with such great faith as this (Matthew 8.5-13). And then after Jesus had been crucified it was the centurion on duty that day who was the one to exclaim “This man truly was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27.54).
When I was young, I got the impression that there were two kinds of people. People who loved God and others who hated him. It’s not as simple as that.
The Bible introduces us to many people who were not signed up believers yet in whose lives God was powerfully at work. As we go around today, let’s give thanks that God is at work in the lives of many people who know nothing of the Bible or Jesus. We will definitely want to share with them the Good News of Jesus but we shouldn’t be surprised when we find that God has already been working in their lives.
Can you think of any God-fearers who you know?
Dear Lord, thank you that you are at work in so many people’s lives. Amen
O God, Wisdom of the universe,
you bear the pain of your people.
Grant us the gift of wisdom,
that we may discern your way
and live justly and graciously
amid the struggles of this world. Amen.
God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs.
Loving our neighbours as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world.
Hear our prayers, God of power, and through the ministry of your Son free us from the grip of the tomb, that we may desire you as the fullness of life and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. Amen.