Summary: God works to: 1. enlighten us about what matters (vs. 1-3). 2. encourage our trust in Him (vs. 4-12). 3. energize our witness for Him (vs. 12-15). 4. establish a life-changing relationship with Him (vs. 16-18).
Confirmation of God’s Work in the World
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church Jan. 31, 2007
*Have you ever seen the Hand of God at work in your life? Most of us can say absolutely yes. And I hope you can too.
*God wants us to see His Hand at work in our world, and here in the Word of God we can see four reasons why.
1. First of all, God works to enlighten us about what matters.
*God definitely wants to enlighten us about what matters. We can see how important this is when Peter returned to Jerusalem. Listen again to vs. 1-3:
1. Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,
3. saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!''
*Sometimes God’s people get their priorities out of balance. The Christians in Jerusalem heard that the Gentiles had gotten saved. That is great news! Nothing in this world is more important to God than that, and we know this because God paid the highest possible price for our salvation.
*So when Peter got back to Jerusalem, was it, “Praise the Lord; those people got saved!”? No. It was, “Peter, what’s the matter with you!?! We can’t believe you went into a Gentile’s house and even ate with him. That’s disgusting!”
*God knew that when Cornelius got saved there was going to be contention in the church at Jerusalem. So (as Peter was about to tell these mixed-up believers) God showed His Hand at work in a powerful way. God sent the angel to Cornelius, and He sent the vision to Peter, knowing that these signs would help persuade the contentious believers that God did mean to save the Gentiles.
*God’s people had gotten their priorities out of balance, and sometimes we do the same thing. It’s easy to see why. We live in a world that is upside down.
*You may have never heard of him, but David Beckham is a soccer star from England. He was all over the news a couple of weeks ago, partly because he signed a 5-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team.
*That contract to play soccer was reported to be worth an incredible $318 million! Sixty million dollars a year for playing soccer! (1)
*We live in a world that is upside down. We’ve gone from Rhett Butler’s famous last words to Scarlett O’Hara, to the point where you can’t turn on the TV for long without hearing the Lord’s name in vain, and now the “S” word too.
*I could give a hundred other examples tonight. We live in an upside down world, and often we Christians get our priorities out of balance. So God reminds us of what is important. God calls us back to the main things:
-Worshiping & witnessing.
-Holiness and helping others.
-Love for God and love for our neighbors.
2. God works to enlighten us about what matters, and to encourage our to trust in Him.
*That is the 2nd reason. He wants to encourage us to trust Him. And this is what the Lord was doing when He sent the 3-fold vision to Peter.
*Listen to Peter’s story in vs. 4-12:
4. But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying:
5. "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me.
6. "When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
7. "And I heard a voice saying to me, `Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'
8. "But I said, `Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.'
9. "But the voice answered me again from heaven, `What God has cleansed you must not call common.'
10. "Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11. "At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea.
12. "Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.
*God acted in amazing ways here to build up Peter’s faith. For some reason in vs. 12, Peter left out the last part of the sentence when he gave his report. But if we look back at Acts 10:20, we see that the Holy Spirit actually said: "Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; FOR I HAVE SENT THEM.''