We have all felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit deep within us. The building anticipation of knowing in the deepest part of our heart that something is about to happen! It has been building for many years and the momentum has grown into such great expectation and excitement!
Most of us have either expressed or have heard it expressed, a hearts desire that doesn’t want to miss what is about to take place. None of us want to miss the move of God, but how do we position ourselves before the Lord? Or better yet; are we willing to position ourselves to receive it?
In Acts, chapter ten, we find Cornelius, a “Roman military officer, captain of the Italian regiment, who was in charge of one hundred men.” (Acts 10:1) Unlike most Romans in his time that worshiped many other gods, Cornelius, a gentile, “worshiped God and prayed regularly.” (v. 2) He was not only a leader in the Roman military, but he was also a leader in his family, for when he worshiped and prayed it was “together with all his family.” (v. 2)
Verse two describes Cornelius as “a devout man of extraordinary character”, and “he had a heart for the poor and gave generously to help them.”
One afternoon about three o’clock, he had an open vision and saw the angel of God appear right in front of him, calling out his name, “Cornelius!”
Startled, he was overcome with fear by the sight of the angel. He asked, “What do you want, Lord?”
The angel said, “All of your prayers and your generosity to the poor have ascended before God as an eternal offering. Now, send some men to Joppa at once. Have them find a man named Simon the Rock, who is staying as a guest in the home of Siom the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” (Acts 10:3-6)
God looks at the heart of men (1 Sam. 16:7), and He saw and remembered all that Cornelius had done, so He approached Cornelius; Cornelius didn’t know to come to the Lord in this way.
When the Lord comes to us and speaks to us we have to have faith to believe that it is actually Him who is speaking, remembering “without faith it is impossible to please Him. For we come to God in faith knowing that He is real and that He rewards the faith of those who give all their passion and strength into seeking Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
After the angel left, Cornelius acted immediately. He didn’t wonder if this was really God and he didn’t dismiss it. He was immediately obedient to what God told him to do. He didn’t waste any time as he called for two of his servants and a trusted godly soldier, and sent them to find Peter. (v. 7-8)
As Cornelius acted in obedient-faith—God was already working everything out in his behalf.
Because of Cornelius’ faithfulness to God and his stewardship to others, God personally sets up a meeting between him and Peter, so that Peter could tell him the good news of Jesus! Cornelius didn’t know anything about Jesus, he was just being faithful to what God had already shown him (the parable of the talent). He was simply doing what he knew to do.
God was going to make sure that Cornelius did not miss it! Because of his prayers and godly, obedient life-style, God sent for Peter, and His timing was absolutely perfect! Just as Peter went up to the roof to pray, at the very moment Cornelius’ men were approaching the house, Peter was having an open vision.
The next day around noon as Cornelius men were approaching Joppa, Peter went up to the flat roof of the house to pray. He was hungry and wanted to eat, but while lunch was being prepared he fell into a trance and entered into another realm. As the heavenly realm opened up, he saw something resembling a large linen tablecloth that descended from above, being let down to the earth by its four corners. As it floated down he saw that it held many kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and wild birds.
A voice said to him, “Peter, go and prepare them to be eaten.”
Peter replied, “There’s no way I could do that, Lord, for I’ve never eaten anything forbidden or impure according to our Jewish laws.”
The voice spoke again. “Nothing is unclean if God declares it to be clean.”
The vision was repeated three times. Then suddenly the linen sheet was snatched back up into heaven. (v. 9-16)
As God was preparing Cornelius’ heart, He also was preparing Peter’s heart-working everything out in perfect order-sequencing the events, lining them out for this divine, heavenly appointment. The Lord broke discrimination off from Peter before he even knew what he would be up against. God always prepares hearts for what He is doing and how He is working. This was a tremendous breaking of the Jewish law for Peter, something he had known and followed his whole life was being challenged and he was about to break out of his box of laws and traditions.
Peter was in such deep thought about the vision that he did not hear Cornelius’ men approaching and calling out. But the Lord leaves us with another reminder that He was the initiator of the whole divine appointment and He would take measures to make sure that Peter would not miss his end of the appointment. Not only did He show Peter the vision, He spoke out His request and command to make sure that Peter understood that this was all HIS idea. (v. 19-20)
As Peter arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius was waiting anxiously. Cornelius knew that this was a “holy” moment. He had not been waiting passively, but instead, within just a few days, he had gotten together a large gathering of people, waiting to hear what the Lord had to say. He did not sit idle, but instead spent this time preparing for what the Lord was about to do.
In the same way we can look at the ten virgins in Matthew 25.
“Five of them were foolish and ill-prepared, for they took no extra oil for their lamps. Five of them were wise and sensible, for they took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. When the bridegroom didn’t come when they expected, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. Then suddenly, in the middle of the night, they were awakened by the shout ‘Get up! The bridegroom is here! Come out and have an encounter with him!’ So all the girls got up and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish ones were running out of oil, so they said to the five wise ones, ‘Share your oil with us, because our lamps are going out!’
“’We can’t,’ they replied. ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. You’ll have to go and buy some for yourselves!’
While the five girls were out buying oil, the bridegroom appeared. Those who were ready and waiting were escorted inside with him and the wedding party to enjoy the feast. And then the door was locked. Later, the five foolish girls came running up to the door and pleaded, ‘Lord, Lord, let us come in!’
“But he called back, ‘Go away! Do I know you? I can assure you, I don’t even know you!’
That is the reason you should always stay awake and be alert, because you don’t know the day or hour when the Bridegroom will appear.” (Matt. 25:1-13 TPT)
This encounter was a “suddenly” for Cornelius, but because he kept his lamp full of oil his heart was ready for the day of visitation. He positioned himself to receive from the Lord. He was pressing in and seeking God at the only level he knew, he didn’t know that there was more. He was about His Father’s business, stewarding all that he possessed with dedicated, loyal, faithful, genuine, steadfast, unwavering, sincere, wholehearted, earnest, and passionate allegiance. (devout definition; google.com)
When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, He expressed deep grief over the fact that they rejected Him. The very ones who studied the scriptures day after day, were the very ones that missed His visitation! (Matt. 23:37-39, Acts 13:26-28)
So many are looking for grand explosions but the Lord doesn’t want us to “despise small beginnings.” As we faithfully move forward with a heart of worship and praise, faithfully stewarding whatever the Lord has given us, we will be surprised at just how much those small beginnings can turn into way more than we could ask or imagine. In Christ, every single day is an opportunity for visitation. He is in the midst of every believer and we each get to make the choice to meet with Him, positioning ourselves to receive fresh oil.
Psalm 24:7 tells us to “welcome the King of Glory, for He is about to come through you.” Then in verse 9, “Here He comes; the King of Glory is ready to come in.”
This implies now! We have the opportunity to encounter Jesus this very minute. We don’t have to wait for His return to the earth; the time is now to encounter Him! Fill your lamp with oil (Holy Spirit) and welcome Him in.
So what was the end result and the reward for Cornelius and those who joined him in worship and seeking God?
While Peter was speaking, the Holy spirit cascaded over all those listening to his message. The Jewish brothers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on people who weren’t Jews, for they heard them speaking in supernaturally given languages and passionately praising God.
Peter said, “How could anyone object to these people being baptized? For they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. So he instructed them to be baptized in the power of the name of Jesus, the Anointed One. (vs. 44-48)
As we believe for this great move of God, let us not be passively resigned to just sitting around, waiting, but let us be about our Father’s business. Let us gather as many people as we can! Let us position ourselves before the Lord, and experience an intimate visitation from Him daily! As we do this, God will initiate a divine appointment and He will take every measure to make sure you do not miss it!
The angel said, “All of your prayers and your generosity to the poor have ascended before God as an eternal offering.” (v. 4)