Summary: God works to: 1. enlighten us about what matters (vs. 1-3). 2. encourage our trust in Him (vs. 4-12). 3. enlist our witness for Him (vs. 12-15). 4. establish a life-changing relationship with Him (vs. 16-18).
God Is at Work in Our World!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 9, 2014
*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 in today's Scripture, He shows us four reasons why.
1. First: God works to enlighten us about what matters.
*It is crucial for us to keep focused on the things that really matter in life. But sometimes we get distracted. Sometimes we drift away, and God wants to draw us back to the things that matter.
*Think about what happened in Acts chapter 10. God sent an angel to speak to a Roman Centurion named Cornelius. And starting in Acts 10:4, the angel said this to Cornelius:
4. . . "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.
5. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
6. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.''
*Just before those men got to the house where Peter was staying, God gave Peter a vision to help him understand that the Gospel is not just for the Jews. The Gospel is for all peoples! So Peter went to Cornelius' house and preached the truth about Jesus to the people gathered there.
*The heart of the Gospel is found in Acts 10:36-43, where Peter said:
36. "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ He is Lord of all
37. that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
38. how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
39. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.
40. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,
41. not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
42. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.
43. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.''
*The Gentiles there in Cornelius' house trusted in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as He did on the day of Pentecost. That was proof enough for Peter to recognize that they had been saved, and in Acts 10:48 he commanded for them to be baptized.
*Peter had a miraculous testimony to share when he got back to Jerusalem. It was the story of God's amazing grace, not just for the Jews, but for everyone who would receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That's what mattered the most, because that's what mattered to God!
*Unfortunately, some of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem wouldn't let go of the Old Testament prohibitions against the Gentiles. And they were angry with Peter when he returned to Jerusalem.
*Verses 1-3 say:
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. And that's great news! Nothing in this world is more important to God than that! And we know this is true, 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. At least some of those believers said, "Peter, what's the matter with you?!? We can't believe you went into a Gentile's house and 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 God showed His Hand at work in a powerful way. He 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. Muslim terrorists brutally kill anyone who happens to disagree. Millions of people are still out of work or stuck in minimum wage jobs. But a June 2013 Forbes article reported that Tiger Woods pulled in 78.1 million dollars in the previous 12 months. (1)