While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message [on Cornelius and his relatives and friends]
. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.
— Acts 10:44-45 NIV
Jesus had promised his closest followers that the Holy Spirit would bring them power and enable them to be his witnesses to people all over the world (Acts 1:8). Nevertheless, after several years, they had moved only outside the shadow of Jerusalem and Judea and had done so only reluctantly. With the persecution of believers in Jerusalem after Stephen's death (Acts 8:1-4), they scattered out of Jerusalem, and they used this impetus to begin to tell Jews in other parts of Judea and also Samaritans about Jesus. The Holy Spirit validated this move with the gospel to the Samaritans; they, too, were to be included in the gospel message (Acts 8:1-17).
To this point, however, the leadership in Jerusalem had not made a bold, solid, intentional move to include Gentiles. Just as Jesus promised, God used visions, angels, and the work of the Holy Spirit to show clearly through the conversion of Cornelius that Gentiles are included in his kingdom family. Today's verses are God's unmistakable way of saying, "The good news of Jesus is for ALL people, and here's my proof: They also receive the Holy Spirit!" This day at Cornelius' house is the Gentile Pentecost: The Spirit comes to show the work of Jesus has begun among the Gentiles and an additional group of people is included in the mighty triumph of God's good news of grace.
Father, we confess that as your people we have at times been selfish, short-sighted, and fearful. We have seldom made bold moves in sharing Jesus with others. Part of the reason is that we are fearful of rejection or don't believe others will respond. Sometimes, however, I am afraid we have also not shared Jesus with others because of prejudice or dislike of others. Please forgive us. Continue to move through your Spirit in our day to tear down barriers between people and empower us by your Holy Spirit to bring the grace of Jesus to others. In Jesus' name. Amen.
About This Devotional
God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.