SURPRISED BY AN ANGEL
Acts 10:1-4 ¶ 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.
I can’t imagine what Cornelius thought that day as he stood staring into the eyes of an angel. There was no mistaking this guy for a man, he was stunning. The scripture says he stared at him stunned with terror. Cornelius had never seen anything like this before. The events of the next few days would only intensify in shock value as the Lord began to move in his life and in his family. The Apostle Peter would actually come to his house. Then, the most amazing event of all, the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius, his family, and all his friends. This was all too good to be true. The thing about this story that captures my attention is what the angel said to Cornelius, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” Wow, Cornelius had actually captured heaven’s attention with his prayers and his offerings. Our prayer and our offerings actually make a difference. Adam Clarke spoke about this truth in his comments on this verse.
“These prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God: this is a manifest allusion to the meat-offering, which, in Le 2:16, is said to be azkerah, a memorial, (speaking after the manner of men,) to put God in remembrance that such a person was his worshipper, and needed his protection and help. So the prayers and alms of Cornelius ascended before God as an acceptable sacrifice, and were recorded in the kingdom of heaven, that the answers might be given in their due season.”
If you are a Christian, then your heart is pulling you two ways. First, you have a distinct love and attraction to the Lord. As a result you pray and seek the Lord in worship. Secondly, you have a love for hurting people. You want to share Christ with the lost and broken, as a result, like Cornelius, you support ministries with your offerings. If this is your story, don’t be surprised if the Lord shows up in your circumstances. Maybe, as you serve the Lord or give an offering, you can lift up your need before the Lord in prayer. As you do the Lord will hear, like Cornelius, you too will get the attention of the Lord with your prayers and your offerings. At that point anything can happen. You never know, you might find yourself staring in terror in the face of one of His angels, or at least caught by surprise by the visitations of the Holy Spirit on you and your house.