Fresh Manna for Thursday, December 28, 2006© by Pastor Tim Burt
Acts 10:1-2 “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”
One morning my son Peter was sharing his daily manna with me. He was reading about Cornelius and shared about how God honored this man’s prayers, not because He was in covenant with him but because of the purity of the man’s heart, his reverence for the Lord, and his actions to do what was right! Pete was simply commenting on how even though this man did not have a two-way relationship with God, God saw and honored Cornelius’ heart. I was so touched by the insight the Holy Spirit had given him.
It’s likely that many of us reading Fresh Manna today were like Cornelius at least in one way. I don’t mean in the way Cornelius was god fearing. Even before his relationship with God was fully established, he was God-fearing. I don’t mean in the way he gave generously in behalf of God. That is monumental! Far too many people will not even give generously when they do know God! I don’t mean in the way Cornelius prayed regularly. Cornelius truly sought to know God in prayer. Few Christians spend much time in prayer when they do claim to know the Lord. I think many of us were like Cornelius in that we grew up having a religious relationship with God. God was up there and we were down here and our imagination had to fill in the blanks – something that our imagination is not able to do properly.
We all probably remember at some point, a hunger to truly know God but didn’t know how to make that happen. We probably even prayed but still weren’t able to connect the dots with God. The difference with Cornelius was that he never gave up seeking God and doing what he knew to be right even when God had not yet revealed Himself to Cornelius. Most of us probably faded or gave up to some degree in any consistent pursuit of God.
When we finally did seek Him with an open heart – whether it was because of crisis, heartbreak, or for whatever reason, we finally learned of Jesus and received Him personally. Then our lights came on and the Holy Spirit brought insight to the scriptures and consequently our life in God began.
Cornelius’ pursuit of God in prayer from a pure heart and living righteously has taught me a foundational truth. God is always there and if I pursue Him and live for Him despite what I see or feel, God will answer my prayers and will manifest Himself in my life at some point. I can count on it. Regardless of whether I can see or feel God doing anything, He is there working in my behalf if I have faith in Him. He knew of Cornelius, of his pure and generous heart, and of his good works. Nothing that is good and right escapes God and I can count on that! God looks at and honors the heart. He did so for Cornelius. It was powerful. God sent him an angel to comfort him and then to bring his answer – the Apostle Peter to be the one to get him saved.
Someone living from a pure heart for God – even when they don’t know His will from the scriptures is more important to God then all the religious actions and mindless prayers that go before Him from people doing their own things while trying to appease God.
How do we know if our hearts our pure? John 15:14-15 says, “You are my friends IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
Let me put the statement “you are my friends IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND” in a light that might make it easier for you to see yourself fulfilling. Jesus is saying, you are my friends if you will be accountable to walk out what I have shown you through my word. Cornelius didn’t know all the commands of God at this point in His life. But, he did do what He knew to do and he did it with a pure heart.
Have confidence today that if your heart is pure before God in your attempt to live before Him, He will honor that with great promise and answer to prayer. Learning and growing is a continuing process but a pure heart moves God. Isn’t it just the most awesome things that we can talk to and pray with the Almighty God of this entire universe on a personal level and then know He calls us His friend? Praise God forever more! I am in awe at the thought of it!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
All rights reserved.