Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
Well, in chapter 9 we read of Peter healing a paralytic, and raising a woman who had died back to life. We read of God's Salvation and call of Paul.
Now we move to an important and momentous transition in the life of the church. That is the move full on into the Gentile world with the Gospel.
Read Ch. 10
Who is waiting for the good news that you hold?
Cornelius wanted the gospel, he wanted to know God, he needed someone to tell him/teach him the ways of Grace
What are your preconceived ideas that keep you from taking the gospel to them?
Just like Peter, as any good Jewish Man, wouldn't eat certain kinds of food, so he would restrict himself from being in full relationship and fellowship with anyone who was deemed unclean, especially a Gentile, considered nothing more than "dogs" and of the Gentiles, the Romans were the worst because they had control over God's people
But God told him NOT to call anything unclean that God called clean.
In Mark 7:14+ Jesus said that nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' … when they asked him what he meant in verse 18 he basically says duh (look it up) nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean
1 Tim 4:4 everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving
God told him that things were changing, that a new dispensation was on the horizon
God told him that a new day had dawned
But as I read this chapter this week, what jumped out at me was putting myself in Cornelius' shoes. Here is a man, trying to live right, trying to straighten things out, but knowing that he's coming up short.
We have all been where Cornelius was.
Maybe you are here today and you are seeking God for him to move in your life, on your behalf, but it seems that no one hears, you are invisible, you are forgotten and alone.
Abraham and Sarah felt that way
Samuel's barren Mother, Hannah, felt that way
Zechariah and Elizabeth felt that way
Daniel after 70 years in exile felt that way
Invisible, unseen, unheard …
Charney's Little Flower
A Frenchman named Charney incurred the displeasure of Napoleon and was put into a dungeon. He seemed to be forsaken by his friend and forgotten by everyone in the outside world. In loneliness and despair he took a stone and scratched on the wall of his cell, "Nobody cares."
One day a green shoot came through the cracks in the stones on the floor of the dungeon and began to reach up toward the light in the tiny window at the top of the cell. The prisoner kept part of the water brought to him each day by the jailer and poured it on the blade of green. It grew until at last it became a plant with a beautiful blue flower. As the petals opened in full blossom, the solitary captive crossed out the words previously written on the wall and above them scratched, "God cares."
But God had a further blessing for this prisoner and the story ends even more happily. The man's next-cell friend had a little daughter who was permitted to visit the prison. The little girl was pleased with Charney's love for this plant. And the news reached the amiable Empress Josephine, who commented: "A man who so devotedly loves and tends a flower cannot be a bad man." And so she persuaded the emperor to set him free.
Charney carried his flower home and carefully tended it the rest of his life. It had taught him to believe in God.
I want to show you some words of hope today.
Perhaps you are here today and you have been calling out to God for a long time for an answer to the deepest desire or perceived need in your life.
Perhaps the Lord has been placing someone on your heart and you might not know it, but they have been asking, hoping, praying for the answers to life that they seek.
YOU may part of the Lord answering their prayers
Well I have 3 quick words of encouragement today from verses 4 and 31.
I was reading this week from the New Century Translation and it renders verse 4 this way … God has heard your prayers. He has seen that you give to the poor, and he remembers you.
If you are Longing for the Lord … if you have been seeking his face … if you have been through a personal dry or desert place …
Will God hear me? Will God Notice Me? Will God Respond to me?
YES, YES, YES
1. God Has Heard You
"Has gone up" means that his life had become like a fragrant offering to God
What gets God's attention?
A. You must be Humble/Contrite
1. Mic 6:8 what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God
2. Is 66:2 This is one I esteem; he who is humble and contrite in spirit
3. Pr 3:34 he mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble
B. You Must be Calling
1. 2 Chr 7:14,15 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place
2. Ps 17:6 I call on you … give ear to me and hear my prayer
C. You Must Be Desiring
1. Ps 25:15 my eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare
2. Ps 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart
3. Ps 42 - as the deer pants for the streams of water so my soul pants for you … my soul thirs for God … my tears have been my food day and night …
You can ONLY do what you can do
You cannot determine the steps of the Lord, but you CAN prevent him from moving if you don't position yourself to receive from him through obedience, humility, passion for him
But as you do what you can do … you can know that he has heard your cry
2 Ki 20:5 Go back and tell Hezekiah … I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you
Da 10:12 do not be afraid … since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them
Lk 1:13 do not be afraid … your prayer has been heard
(v6 both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly)
God has heard … but also
2. God Has Seen
A. You are NOT Unnoticed
If we want to be seen and noticed we must make sure that our motives and actions are pure and right
1. Read Is 58 God says don't accuse me of not paying attention or not noticing when on your fasting days you do what you please, you quarrel and fight, he says in verse 4 you cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high he says if you want to be seen and heard do what I have told you to do … then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear
2. Good or Bad, you can be SURE that you are Seen by the Lord … he doesn't miss a thing
B. You are Not Overlooked
1. I think about Job when his whole world seemed to have fallen apart and it seemed as if God was overlooking him
2. God said, in chapter 38 where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? … or while the morning stars sang together … who shut up the sea behind doors … Have you given orders to the morning or shown the dawn it's place …
3. God was NOT being insensitive, he was saying, look at the world around you. Is the Earth I have created in ORDER or Disorder? Do the Sun, Moon, Planets and stars get out of control? IF I can handle them, can I not handle your life?
4. Jesus said, not a single sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's knowledge and YOU are worth FAR more than sparrows Mt 10; Lk 12
5. Job Answered in chapter 42 I know you can do all things; no plans of yours can be thwarted … surely I spoke of things I did not understand …
C. You are Not Unloved
1. God's love for you drives everything he does toward you
2. Dt 10:15 The Lord set his affection on your forefathers loved them, and he chose you … above all nations
3. Eph 2:4 because of his great love for us, God, how is rich in mercy
4. Zeph 3:17 the Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, and he will rejoice over you with singing
5. Is 49:16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
6. Jer 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness
Just a simple word of encouragement to you today … God has heard you, God has seen You, and
3. God Remembers You
i.e. He WILL do something about it
A. He will Respond
1. God Predicted Cornelius' conversion and yours and mine in Hos 2:21-23 In that day I will respond declares the Lord - I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called "not my loved one. I will say to those called 'not my people' you ARE my people; and they will say, 'you are my God.'"
2. It may have taken hundreds of years, but the Lord responded and did what he said he would do
he will respond because …
B. He Is Immanent
1. Transcendent means that he is ABOVE his creation but immanent means that he is NOT a God FROM a distance, but he is a GOD WITH us Jer 23:23 says he is BOTH a God far off and a God nearby
If he is Immanent that means he is NOT a cosmic "clockmaker" who has made this world, wound it up, and is waiting for it to run down on its own.
C. He is Active
1. Is 40:28-31do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
2. Is 64:4 since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him …
4. How are you Going to Respond to Him?
Cornelius had been living an upright life, he had been doing the right things
He was a righteous man - that means he was a GOOD Man
He was a God-fearing man - means he believed that God was in charge and in control
He was a Respected man
Yet his most important trait is that he was EXPECTANT.
He was expecting Peter to come
He was expecting to RECEIVE the Message he would hear with Faith and Action
So as SOON as he heard the truth about Jesus he received it in his heart.
How do we know? Because the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were baptized as their hearts believed the message of Truth
If you are calling, waiting, longing for God to move on your behalf, you must have an Expectant Heart, Ready to Respond to the Truth of Jesus Christ
How will YOU respond today?
If you are waiting for God to move …
Be strengthened and Be Encouraged, The Lord has Heard you, He has seen your Faithfulness … He WILL reward you
Heb 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him
Be Faithful in the meantime
If you have been seeking him, trying to be a good person, trying to do the right thing, waiting to decide what comes next …
Well the next step is to embrace Christ as Lord, and Receive him as Savior. Then he will be your God and You will be his child.
Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting!
Till next steps made plain shall be;
To hear, with the inner hearing,
The Voice that will call for me.
Waiting! Yes, quietly waiting!
No need for an anxious dread;
Shall He not assuredly guide me,
Who giveth me daily bread?
Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting!
With hope that needn't grow dim;
The Master is pledged to guide me,
And my eyes are unto Him.
Waiting! Yes, expectantly waiting!
Perhaps it may be today
The Master will quickly open
The gate to my future way.
Waiting! Yes, trustfully waiting!
I know, though I've waited long,
That, while He withholds His purpose,
His waiting cannot be wrong.
Waiting! Yes, waiting, Still waiting!
The Master will not be late;
He knoweth that I am waiting
For Him to unlatch the gate.
-J. D. Smith
IF you are still waiting on the Lord, wait actively and faithful
If you have been waiting for Truth, Embrace it TODAY