May 31, 2021 – Monday – Memorial Day USA
Acts 10:3-5 NIV
3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
If you are not familiar with this event in Acts, you might ask who is Cornelius? The answer is in the first two verses, 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.
In the United States of America and in many parts of the world it is common to have memorials, statues of military leaders. However, in the United States there is an unusual memorial not to great generals or leaders, but to the men and women who fought under these leaders. We call it Memorial Day. It is a day of recognition of all those who fought and died yet had little or no personal recognition. Recently there were 9,000 sand drawings representing those who fell on D-Day in World War II. We have no modern-day equivalent unless we consider the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center Tower and the Pentagon where 2,977 were killed and more than 6,000 injured.
However, what God recognized from a man of war, a Roman Centurion by the name of Cornelius, as a memorial offering to God was his prayers and gifts to the poor. Most of us skip right over this as it is Cornelius calling for Peter and Peter’s resultant visit bringing the gospel to the gentiles in Cornelius’ household that we focus on. While this is indeed a great and wonderful event, we would do well to pay attention to the memorial offerings of Cornelius that God recognized. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible adds, Consider Cornelius did not offer sacrifices according to the Jewish laws. Nor had he been circumcised. Still, he acted according to what he knew and his prayers were heard and his offerings to the poor were accepted. His offering was that of the heart, and not merely an external offering. Cornelius did not rely on his morality at all. His was a work of religion. He feared God; he prayed to him; he exerted his influence to bring his family to the same state. There was no way Cornelius did this for recognition as none in the Roman army would understand why he prayed and why he gave to the poor as he thought God would want him to do.
While I am glad the United States takes a day to remember all who have fallen so that we might enjoy the freedoms that we have, I take great joy in knowing God listens to our hearts, our prayers, and our acts out of love for Him. It is wonderful to know, even before he was saved, Cornelius prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. May we all seek to do the same without recognition from any but God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Let my prayers and offerings be from my heart in recognition of You and of the wonderful gift of Grace through your Son, my Lord and Savior. Direct me and correct me so that it might be so. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.