"Call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:13,14).
Does your house need to be saved, literally or spiritually, or both? Is there a physical, spiritual or financial disaster looming just ahead of you, threatening your house? Is your house torn by strife, tension, an impending divorce, rebellious children, an impaired love or troubled relationship? Is your life, your faith, your marriage, your house in any danger? Is there a need for a genuine miracle of God for deliverance and salvation?
From the mail coming into my office daily, I am convinced Satan is trying, with all the cunning of hell, to destroy Christian homes in any way possible. Children are being seduced and deceived by demonic temptations. Many marriages are in deep trouble, with divorce becoming a raging cancer in the church. I have been stirred and moved to prayer by all the reports coming in from Christians whose financial situation is desperate.
Never have Christian homes been under more stress and pressure than right now. The very foundations of the Christian homes are shaking — a direct result of the moral and spiritual decay in our society.
It is a cop-out to blame it all on a lack of faith or on ignorance of certain rights believers are not claiming. It goes much deeper than that, and it is a matter of greatest concern to our heavenly Father.
There is one way to save your home. It is the only scriptural way I can see, and it is beautifully outlined in chapter 10 of Acts. You can save your house the very same way Cornelius saved his. In a single day, with one glorious miracle, his entire household was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. In the one day his house was transformed from spiritual blindness to marvelous light and life. God gave his house a private Pentecost that shocked the church in Jerusalem, upset the theology of Peter, and opened the door for the saving of the Gentile race. All because one man set out determinedly to save his house.
Before I show you how Cornelius saved his house, let me ask you if you are really wanting to save yours? Do you want an open heaven and access to the throne of God? Do you want to be the one God uses to bring revival and supernatural transformation to your entire household?
At times I wonder if many Christians truly want to see God do a new work in their homes. We receive thousands of prayer requests of all kinds, especially from housewives and grandparents, requesting prayer for their troubled homes. Recently, while Gwen and I were praying and grieving over all the sad problems and heartbreaking requests, I found myself saying to the Lord, "Oh God, how many of these dear Christians are really desperate enough to be shut in with you in their own secret closet of prayer? How many are willing to just let us pray, without themselves spending hours before God's throne in intercession?" I know many do pray earnestly, but not all.
Too many believers today want shortcuts. We want to spend as little time as possible weeping before the Lord. We don't want to fast and pray for hours, beholding the face of Jesus and gaining strength and faith to bring down strongholds.
We don't spend enough time in God's holy Word getting our faith renewed. We spend hours glued to the television idol getting our spirits vexed and opening our homes to the power of darkness. We go to the Bible just long enough to pick out special promises we can claim. We want to simply name it and claim it, like the brother who said, "Why all this talk about fasting and praying? It's all been done for us — speak the word of faith, believe, and it's yours. It's so simple." That is simply a lazy Christian's way to bypass our Lord's call to holiness, intercession, prayer and fasting. I can prove to any open-minded believer that it's more than an exercise of faith. It is much more than a mental or word game. The life of Cornelius proves that God seeks absolute devotion, total obedience, and ceaseless prayer.
Consider the ways by which this devoted man of God Saved his house and the miracles his devotion wrought.
I. Cornelius Fasted and Prayed Unceasingly!
"There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway" (Acts 10:1,2).
When I say Cornelius fasted and prayed always, I mean that he was so determined that he and his house come into God's fullness, it made him desperate to the point of neglecting food so he could seek God.
Food was so secondary to his deep spiritual hunger and longing for God. Days of fasting without a corresponding hunger and thirst for God avails nothing — better to eat than use fasting as merit to extract blessings from heaven. Fasting a meal or two is the natural reaction of a heart in pursuit of God — hunger for Him takes the edge off any desire for food. It is simply a matter of losing one's appetite because of deep inner craving for a touch from God.
This man should put us all to shame. He had no teaching tapes or cassettes; he didn't even have a teacher. He was not a Jewish proselyte; he was simply a man desperate for God, and what he had learned had come the hard way. No seminars, no conventions, no how–to–get–it–from–God books. He did not even have the Holy Ghost in him yet, urging him to pray and seek God's face. Yet he fasted and prayed always.
His prayer life made him a giver of alms. God had not yet answered his prayer for his own household, yet he gave generously to all in need. He was not so wrapped up in his own needs that it took all his time, attention and money.
Praying men always get God's attention. He, going to God in prayer, and "God coming in to him, and saying" (Acts 10:2,3). The man praying hears God speaking. It's been that way since Eden.
There are not a handful of Christians today who hear from God directly. God's people never change. The Israelites said to Moses, "Tell us what God says, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (Exodus 20:19). And God's people moved far back from God's holy presence while Moses drew near to the thick cloud of darkness "where God was" (Exodus 20:21).
"Let our shepherd hear from God," was their cry. "We can't take His awesome presence," they said. So it is today. God's people have strayed so far from the secret holy place of God's presence, they have created a "star" mediatorship. Star preachers, teachers and evangelists, to whom you can write and ask for intercession, prayer and direction. People don't seem to know that computers can't pray.
It is entirely scriptural to seek the prayer support of two or three praying, believing Christians. But not until you have come boldly to the throne of grace to receive grace and mercy to help in your hour of need.
Let me tell you exactly why so many Christians are not getting their prayers answered and why their homes are in such deep turmoil. They have been numbed by their problems — so overwhelmed they just sit down and cry and grieve. In frustration many park themselves in front of television and hope to ease their minds of the pain. A stupefying lethargy comes over them and they become possessed by their problems.
We all know where the answer lies! We know prayer is the only way to save our homes and solve all our problems. Not quickie prayer, not lazy praying, but the pouring out of the heart in broken contrition before His holy presence.
We have the Holy Ghost continually groaning in us, wooing us, calling us to hide away in the secret closet to worship and adore the King of Glory. We know that in His presence is fullness of joy, grace and mercy to help in the hour of need, a hearing ear and an all-seeing eye. Then why — oh why — do we not pray?
God's people are running helter-skelter to big meetings and seminars to hear teachers offering simple solutions and easy formulas to produce miracles. I know people who can spend from two to seven full days sitting for hours to hear about God but can't spend two hours a day to talk to Him. If we'd quit running around, heaping to ourselves teachers to scratch our itching ears and, instead, get shut in with God for a day, we'd be seeing true miracles and transformation of entire households.
Marriages would be healed! We don't have a people-to-people problem, just a people-to-God problem. We've become strangers to God; we've ignored and neglected the altar in our homes; and God has left us to our foolish devices.
It is time to get honest, saints of God. There is going to be nothing but continual defeat, restlessness, and unending problems unless we ask God to give us back our hunger for Him; unless we again learn to pour all our problems out in secret prayer; until we again lean only on Him; until we stay in His holy presence; until we get our own answers from God.
We are not going to save our homes with half-hearted praying or by some kind of pumped up carnal faith. Our covenant God does not work on the behalf of those with a divided heart, who toy with secret sin; He is availed only through the effectual, fervent praying of holy believers.
Clear, Detailed Directions Through Prayer
The clear and detailed directions Cornelius received from God is thrilling to read about. "Send to Joppa, and call for one Simon Peter: He is staying with a man called Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea: he shall tell you what to do" (Acts 10:5,6).
At the same time, another praying man, Simon Peter, is getting a vision from the Lord to prepare him to go to the house of Cornelius to bring salvation.
God works on all sides when His people get to praying in earnest. God has countless ministering angels; He has the chariots and hosts of heaven; He has the power and majesty in heaven and earth; He speaks the word and it is done; and nothing can withstand His perfect will. All God waits for is a heart set on Him. A heart that communes with Him; wholly devoted to Him; a heart that lays hold on Him, a heart not only set on Him, but set apart only for Him.
Prayer warriors never have to abdicate their spiritual authority to another. They never have to go, hat in hand, begging others for direction. They are themselves in the realm of an open heaven, hearing daily from their Lord.
When I was a child I remember saints of God talking about "laying hold of the horns of the altar" (1 Kings 1:50,51). By laying hold of the horns of the altar, Israelites placed themselves under the protection of the saving, helping grace of God. The altar was a place of sanctuary as well as offerings, and offenders who took hold of its horns were safe from all harm. Even King Solomon could not slay the usurper Adonijah when he ran to the house of God and took hold of the horns of the altar there.
There is a place of refuge and security, a place of grace and deliverance. It is the altar! But as in the days of Elijah, our altars are broken down. The only altar in many homes today is an idol — atelevision set, to which they sacrifice many precious hours. Mother, if you really want your household saved, healed and delivered, why are you sitting there watching those evil soap programs? Why are you wasting God's precious time watching such abominations as Dallas, Knotts Landing, Dynasty, and all the other horribly wicked shows? Dad, you say you want God to word a miracle of finances for you — you need something to happen soon. Why then, do you not get desperate before God? Do you have time for sports, recreation, rest? Why, if it is so critical, don't you shut all else down, stop everything, and wait on God in secret prayer? Why can't we realize nothing is going to happen, nothing will change, it will just get worse, unless we get back to God in passionate prayer and rededication.
II. Cornelius Was Ready to Obey All That Was Commanded of Him.
"Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God" (Acts 10:33).
Not a word of what God had for him and his family in the way of blessings, riches, health, power or gifts. It was not, "Tell us what God can do for us. Tell us about all the gifts of the Holy Ghost poured out in Jerusalem. Tell us how to be successful, prosperous and healthy." No, all he wanted to hear was, "What does God expect from us in the way of obedience?" And, "What is commanded?"
Saul, immediately after his conversion, cried out, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" These early New Testament saints were more interested in knowing their responsibilities to God than in learning how to get something from Him for themselves. Obedience was of great concern to them. The words of Jesus still rang fresh in their minds, "If you love me, you will obey me." Obedience was the fruit of love for him.
How many of us could pray the way Cornelius prayed, for himself and all his family? Could we go into the secret closet of prayer, laying aside all promises, all requests for blessings and good things, and open up to God for a revelation of what our responsibilities are to Him? If He told us we are responsible as parents to tear down all idols, including television, so our homes could be saved from corruption, would we do it? Why pray for God's protection over your family, especially your children, then set them down before such an idol and let their minds be bent toward evil, under your very own supervision?
What if the Holy Spirit convicted you to quit all gossiping, all hearing and telling of the failures of others — and with the purging of you lips He would shine on your home with great peace and joy — would you obey?
Cornelius set his family down, looked Peter right in the eye and said, "We as a family want to know what we are to do to save our house — what is commanded of God." How quickly God moves to answer that kind of prayer, so quickly in fact, Peter's sermon was never finished — the Spirit of God fell in the middle of this message.
Peter made it very clear that Jesus Christ was "ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and dead" (Acts 10:42). He said, in effect, "Christ not only judged the sins of Sodom and Noah's mockers — but He is the judge of your sins. So repent and believe and be saved."
The truth is, our sins have hindered our prayers from being answered. Sin in us has caused Him to hide His face. Isaiah warned, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). We have forgotten He is our judge to whom we must answer; we have chosen to see Him only as a benevolent giver of good things. We focus only on His everlasting goodness and mercy, while ignoring His ordination by the Father to be our judge. The Spirit seeks to humble us in the Lord's presence, to show us the exceeding sinfulness of our iniquities, to reveal Christ as the holy, awesome judge before whom we will one day give account. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."
We can save our homes by setting our hearts to obey the Lord at all cost. While others go to Him only to be blessed, you must go to Him to listen. With open ears and a willing heart, God will reveal His will, He will show you what is needed on your part, and you can obey and clear the way for true restoration and revival in your home.
III. God Saved the House of Cornelius by Sending an Outpouring of the Holy Ghost!
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. They spake with tongues, and magnified the Lord" (Acts 10:44–46).
Think of it, a private Pentecost, falling upon an entire household with everybody there lifted into the heavenlies. It was miraculous; the praises were thrilling; all the family, all relatives and children getting saved and filled with God's Holy Spirit. All because one man set his heart to seek God until an answer came.
And here we sit, in the day of the outpoured Holy Ghost, with little or no evidence of His workings and presence in our homes. Fearful but true, many of our Christian homes are now under the control of the spirit of the world rather than the Spirit of God. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is unity. Where he abides, there is rest and peace; there is unspeakable joy and a sense of victory over sin and the devil.
We need to take back the spiritual authority in our homes. If a Christian husband and wife are not in total oneness, flowing together in the Spirit and love of Jesus, there is extreme danger ahead. One or both are not walking in the Spirit. When both are seeking God in private prayer and devotion to God, the Spirit works His wonders and brings them into the same resurrection realm.
In recent months, the Holy Spirit has been awakening husbands, wives and grandparents and calling believers back to a deeper walk in the Spirit. There is a cleansing going on everywhere, with the Spirit brooding over homes, bringing back tears of repentance and a growing hunger for reality.
People are getting tired of all the religious games, tired of being victimized by demon powers, tired of all the empty pleasures and unsatisfying materialism. Thousands of Christians, now on fire for God, are throwing out their TV sets and are back to seeking the Lord in earnest. They are casting down all their idols and are turning their homes back to temples of the Holy Ghost.
God is doing something new in the land right now. Something so powerful, so supernatural, it is terrorizing hell. The Holy Ghost has come to separate a people unto the Lord. Being successful is now not nearly as important as hearing from God. Prospering, to these newly baptized saints, means seeing Jesus in a new and living way. Houses, land, furniture, cars, clothes — all these things have lost their charm to a people now in passionate love with the Lord of Glory. The Holy Ghost has come to reveal Christ as the Savior of homes — our homes.
I have seen into the spiritual world, and I see demons fleeing; I see powers of darkness trembling; I see a bereaving devil — because God's true church, a once slumbering giant, has been provoked by the Holy Ghost to shake itself and rise up and claim its place of power and authority.
Entire families, entire churches, entire ministries are being turned upside down. God is saying, "Get serious! Get dead serious about spiritual things or be left out!" From all over the world I hear from ministers who say, "I've never been more hungry for God, more broken and in need! I'm seeking the Lord for total renewal! I want to be a part of what God is doing!"
I call on every child of God who reads this message — PRAY! Pray for cleansing! Pray for new power over sin. Pray for a fresh anointing on you of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon your house. Pray for a great and glorious outpouring of God's Spirit on your pastor and on your church.
If we are ever going to save our homes, it's now or never! God is giving us an ultimatum to get back to His altar, back to humility and repentance. We can save our homes only by prayer, obedience, and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Hear the Voice of the Prophets!
- Hosea — "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12).
- Amos — "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:6–8).
- Obadiah — "But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possession" (Obadiah 1:17).
- Nahum — "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him" (Nahum 1:7).
- Zephaniah — "And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good neither will he do evil" (Zephaniah 1:12).
- Malachi — "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do his, saith the Lord of hosts: (Malachi 4:1–3).