Summary: The gospel of Easter is that God has opened up Eternity for ALL who will believe in His Son Jesus Christ!
EASTER IS A PARTY AND EVERYONE IS INVITED
MARCH 27, 2005 EASTER SUNDAY
INTRODUCTION: Have any of you been watching the NCAA basketball tournament. Two of my Accountability partners are very happy. Chapel Hill is still in as of Friday night! Do you know what The NCAA tournament, American Idol, The Apprentice and Survivor all have in common? Only a select few get to participate and the group is whittled down until only ONE remains. This is called Exclusionism. Now this may be a new word to you, but when I came to it, I realized that it fits most of life. How many of you have applied for a job and were turned down? How many of you went out for a team and didn’t make it? How many of you applied for a loan and didn’t get it? How many of you just wanted to be included in something and were left out for one reason or another? I have felt this way many times in my life and when you are excluded, the pain is real!
TRANSITION THOUGHT: Our text for today is the exact opposite of Exclusionism. Our text for today is all about Inclusion! Inclusion was a hard lesson learned. Even the great Apostle Peter was having trouble with what the Resurrection meant. Here he was, one of the most out spoken of all the disciples, the one who seemed to get it the quickest (Who do you say I am? Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”). Now, after a vision from God and a trip to a Roman Soldiers house, Peter gets a new revelation: God doesn’t pick favorites, He accepts people from every nation that fear Him! Peter saw and understood something that is vital to all our lives! God wants us all! You see Peter understood Easter is a Party and Everyone is invited!
THESIS SENTENCE: The gospel of Easter is that God has opened up Eternity for ALL who will believe in His Son Jesus Christ!
This day is the greatest day in all of Christianity! Today is the day we together celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
BUT, has it ever dawned upon you why this is the key day? Yes, I know, it is not everyday someone rises from the dead! And yes I know, He died for our sins! And Yes I know, His resurrection brings us life! Yes I know all these things, but here we are again singing Hallelujah Christ Arose and yet I feel we maybe missing the real meaning of it all. Has the story become overly familiar to you and me?
WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING: Just because a person is religious doesn’t mean that they belong to God! Cornelius was a man like many we know! He is a good ole boy. He cares about the people in his life and even helps out folks he doesn’t know. If he were around today, he would probably have sent money to the Tsunami relief fund after watching former Presidents Bush and Clinton! Cornelius was known as a God-fearing man. He was devout, and as I mentioned before, he gave generously to those in need. He was also known as a man of prayer.
As you look at the life of Cornelius, is there anything missing? Don’t you think we would take him into membership in a heartbeat! He was focused on God, cared about others, and was generous with his money to boot! What more could the man need??
Well, there was something missing and God got involved (VERSES 1-6). The Lord sent an Angel to Cornelius in a vision and told him to send for a man named Simon who is called Peter! You see, when God answers prayer, which Cornelius was faithful to pray, He often gives us something to do! Prayer resulted in Cornelius having to send for a stranger!
The other character in our story is Peter. I mentioned him before, but he plays an interesting part in the life of Cornelius. You see, Peter had been praying and the Lord had given him a vision also. Not only had God called Cornelius to go get Peter, He had called Peter to go to Cornelius! Our God covers all the bases!
What even gets better is that when Peter arrives, he tells Cornelius he should be there because Jews and Gentiles are not to mix. Jews are considered pure and clean and Gentiles were considered impure and unclean!
AND NOW THE BIG SERMON! VV. 34-43
Today I am preaching a sermon on a sermon. Peter preaches a sermon to Cornelius and I am preaching about the sermon Peter preached! If you can say that four times quickly, you can have a left over biscuit from breakfast.