And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. – Acts 10:4 KJV
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Cornelius was a centurion of the Italian band from Caesarea. The Bible describes him as a devout man, God fearing with all his household, regular giver of alms to the people, and always praying to God – Acts 1:1-2. Either knowingly or unknowingly to him, he probably did not realise that there was still something missing in his life. At least, not until an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a vision. The report of the angel, which is the foundation text of today’s devotion, revealed that prayers and alms done by Cornelius only served as a memorial before the Lord. As a form of acknowledgement of these acts of his by the Almighty God, he was to invite Simon Peter who will tell him what he ought to do – Acts 10:5-6. One begins to wonder what is this thing that he is supposed to achieve, or which is at the center of his prayers and alms, and which what he ought to do, will help him to achieve.
Simon Peter, eventually arrived following the invitation that was sent to him by Cornelius, after an initial reluctance to honour what seemed like an association with an unclean person. After the usual exchange of courtesies of welcome by Cornelius, his family members and friends, whom he had specially invited to grace the August occasion, Simon Peter settled down to give what was like a homily – Acts 10:7-43. It was in the course of the delivery of this homily that the Holy Spirit came down on all that were present and this was immediately followed by their baptism as directed by Peter, as he did not see any reason for delaying it any further since the descent of the Holy Spirit on those present was a clear evidence of the non-discriminatory nature of God, on the basis of human personalities. – Acts 10:44-48.
If this was all that the angel expected to happened for the desire of Cornelius to be achieved, it implies then that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and baptism into the body of Christ was all that Cornelius required to achieve whatever this desire was and which probably was the reason behind his constant prayers and alms giving.
The phrase used by the angel in the King James Version of the Bible is; “he shall tell you what thou oughtest to do” – Acts 10:6. There are many Christians today who are desiring of many things in their life and they have been involved in several spiritual activities like special prayers, vigils, fastings, alms giving, etc., but are yet to receive their heart’s desire, probably because they are yet to do what they ought to do.
Today’s scripture reveals that there maybe something that needs to be done, beyond common and known actions that Christians are normally told to be involved with, believing that such actions will aid the receipt of favourable response to their prayer request. It reveals that all those acts are basically what they are, which is memorial. A memorial is something done to keep the memory of something or somebody fresh always before another. The angel says all those prayers and alms-giving only keep the request of an individual on the front burner before the Almighty God.
If such a person is to eventuality get favoured by the Lord, he/she must have effectively experienced two acts of baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and baptism into the body of Christ. Are you baptised? Is your baptism complete? The scripture reveals that it is possible to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit before even being formally received into the body of Christ through the baptism of water and the reverse should also be possible but the two acts of baptism must be carried out.
Just as Paul asked the Christians in Ephesus, the Christian today needs to confirm whether his/her baptismal exercises were complete as their incompleteness could be reason for all those delays in receiving response to that long desire – Acts 19:1-7.
Whereas, one serves the purpose of forgiveness of sins as being spear-headed by John the Baptist, the other empowers the Christian and positions him/her for supernatural exploits and achievements. Effect or perfect both baptisms in your life today and you may just be on your way to celebrating that long desired objective. May your testimony come very soon in Jesus name. Amen.