Summary: Preached on Memorial Day but can be easily altered for any time. Our prayers and service are the memorial that we offer to God.

Your Memorial Before God

By Pastor Jim May

The Book of Acts contains a story that I would like to bring to you this morning. It’s all about a memorial that God has for all of us who serve him. Since this is Memorial Day weekend I thought it would be good to think about what God considers to be the best memorial that you could create in your life.

Acts 10:1, "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,"

The first thing that we need to see here is that this is a most unusual character. In fact, this man, Cornelius, is somewhat of an oddity, especially in the day in which he lived. He was a Roman soldier, and not just common soldier, but a Centurion. He was a man of rank among the enemies of the Jews and was a symbol of the power of Caesar that held Israel as a conquered people. He was despised by most of the Jews and feared by the men of his own band. He was an Italian, and all 100 of his soldiers were very likely lonely for family and home back in Rome. This was a foreign land to them and an unfriendly place. And yet, for all of these things that were against him, there was something very special about this Roman Centurion.

Acts 10:2, "A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway."

What is this? A Roman soldier who served the Lord Jesus Christ? I wonder if he served God in secret? The Romans had many gods that they worshipped, and this Centurion had renounced all of his Roman gods and confessed his belief in the God of Israel. This could easily have been seen as an act of treason against Rome. But somehow I don’t see Cornelius as a man who was afraid of a fight. He wasn’t worried about his position. He put it all on the line to serve God. He was known for his generosity and as he walked the streets of Jerusalem he would drop a few Roman Coins into the hands of the beggars on the street. He was a man of prayer and there is no doubt that he had many things to pray about. He had a stressful job in a dangerous place. He lived life on the edge of disaster all the time. As a commander in the Roman Army he knew that each day brought new dangers and new temptations to exercise his authority, and yet he was able to be a Christian in spite of it all.

Acts 10:3-6, "He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do."

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, we find Cornelius in an attitude of prayer and meditation before God. In fact, he was so caught up in the Holy Spirit that he had a vision of an angel coming to him. What are you usually doing at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon? Most of us are just looking forward to another hour or so, so we can get off of work and go home. Rarely do I hear of anyone whose prayer time is in the middle of the afternoon. Could it be that a Roman Centurion made time for God when we can’t seem to? How important is it for you go get alone with God?

Another thing that strikes me is that Cornelius had a close relationship with God. He knew the voice of the Lord. Even so, Cornelius was fearful at the awesome power and holiness of God. He respected the Lord and this man who had looked death in the face on the field of battle so many times was reduced to a fearful servant at the presence of God.

I see people in the church who claim to love God. They claim to serve Him, but wonder if they even know him? I wonder if they have ever had a close relationship with Jesus Christ? Why do I say that? It’s because I see no fear of him at all. We walk into the House of God like we are walking into a party instead of a worship service. Where is our awe of God? Where is our fear of his power and respect for his glory and holiness? I’ve seen Christians say things about God that to me are almost blasphemous. We shouldn’t use his name in vain and yet so many times God is referred to as just another pal and not as God Almighty. When we don’t have respect for God, how can we expect others to desire to know him?

Cornelius, Go find a preacher and he will tell you what to do! God could have told Cornelius right then and there, in that vision, what to do. But God chose to use a preacher named Peter. The angel that appeared in the vision could have given him instruction, but God chose to use a preacher.

So much for people who say that they don’t need a church, or a preacher, and they can make it to Heaven on their own. God never told us to go on our own or do it our own way. I know that we can’t always find someone to relate to easily but we have to keep searching for someone we can trust. No preacher can save you, but God will often give a Word to you that can only come through a minister that He has placed over you. You can’t get everything you need by sitting at home watching a TV Evangelist, or listening to a Radio Teacher. God’s Word says that we not to forsake coming together to hear the Word of the Lord. Cornelius needed a preacher and so do we. I need a preacher too. I might be yours but someone else has to be mine and that’s why I chose to submit to the authority of my Bishop in spiritual and personal matters. He isn’t there to rule over me or over this church, but to help us get the answers we need or the strength we must have to overcome the devil. None of us can live all of ourselves. We need one another. We are a body that needs many parts, all working together, or we won’t get the job done.

1 Corinthians 1:21, "…For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

We love singing and songs can be a ministry to the lost, but most of the time they only minister to the saved. Teaching can be a method of outreach to bring a sinner to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, but most of the time teachers only reach those who are already saved. Seminars on finances, and seminars on building better relationships, and seminars on how to put together better seminars are all good, but they seldom win souls to Christ. God chose the method and we had better quit trying to change it. The best way to win sinners is by preaching the gospel. If people would sell out to Christ and repent of their sins, we wouldn’t need so many seminars. The Holy Ghost would take care of all that. Let the Holy Ghost be your Teacher and the Word of God be your guide and you won’t fall.

Acts 10:7-10, "And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,"

When Cornelius gave orders they were obeyed. He knew the power of a good commander. But he also had the heart of a servant. I’m sure that most of his closest friends respected him greatly for his character. Now God had given the orders and it was Cornelius who had to obey, so he sent his servants to get Peter.

In the meantime, Peter was praying too. He was praying for God’s will in his life. He was hungry for food and drink, but he was hungrier for the things of God. He needed spiritual food more than a juicy steak, and he needed the water of the Spirit more than the fruit of the vine. Peter was searching for a relationship with God where he would never deny Jesus again.

While he was praying, Peter had a Holy Ghost move in his spirit. The scripture says that he “fell into a trance”. When I look at that I can picture Peter being slain in the Spirit, lying there on the floor, unable to move while the Holy Ghost spoke to him. Folks, we have to get alone with God to have those kinds of experiences. Oh, you can have them right here in the church, if you can shut everything and everyone out of your mind except God. I love to see the real thing happen when people are caught up in the Holy Spirit and experiencing things in God that they have never seen before. There’s nothing like being lost in the Holy Spirit while God speaks to you and gives you direction for your life.

What did Peter see?

Acts 10:11-16, "And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven."

What a vision! A large sheet, or tablecloth came floating out of Heaven, with its 4 corners tied together. Inside was just about every unclean thing that a Jew had been taught not to eat or even touch in some cases. The voice said, Rise Peter, kill and eat! Peter knew it was the voice of God speaking and yet his legalistic teaching that had come from his life as a Jew was still a very strong influence in his life. He just couldn’t bring himself to eat what he considered as unclean.

Three times the sheet came down, and three times God told Peter to rise, kill and eat, but all three times Peter refused. Was this a test from God to see if Peter would remain true to his training? Was this only a trick of the devil to get Peter to commit some sin? Should I have killed a buzzard and made a jambalaya? Should I have taken some grub worms and made a sandwich? Should I have fried up a few beetles, or been the first Jew to eat escargot? And what about those hogs? Surely God, you wouldn’t want a devout Jew to slice up a ham or eat pickled pig’s feet! Why that would have made me guilty of disobeying the Law of Moses. Jesus I know that you came to fulfill the Law but I still don’t think that I should live by faith that much.

Acts 10:17, "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,"

Peter’s prayers for direction and the will of God for his life were rising as a memorial before God too. I believe that all of our prayers and service to God and to our fellowman are recorded in Heaven as a memorial to the kind of servant that we are. Do you know what is written there about you? If you are serving the Lord and your sins have been washed away, there’s only one thing that I have found that is written there. It’s your name that has been recorded in the Book of Life. If your name is recorded there, then there will be no record of the sin that you have committed in this life because its all been erased by the Blood of the Lamb. God will remember your faithfulness and you will be rewarded according to that faithfulness, but the deeds of your life won’t be read for all to hear.

But if you are not saved this morning you should hear what is recorded about you in Heaven. There will come a day, called the Great White Throne Judgment, when the Judge of the Universe will hold open court for everyone whose name in not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 20:12, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

From this verse we can see that every sin you have ever committed, and all the times you rejected the gospel and spurned Jesus offer of salvation, will all be recorded in the books of Heaven. According to your works, which can never be good enough to save your soul, you will be judged and sentenced to eternal punishment.

Make sure that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today.

The Lord told Peter to “rise, kill and eat”, but Peter refused! What about you? Have you taken what God has presented and made it a part of your life?

We seek God’s direction and will for so many things, or at least we should. We seek him for direction in buying a home, in buying a car, in where to go church, and in seeking a husband or a wife.

When God brings souls into the church that need salvation, we are all hoping for a perfect person that will be the picture of a perfect servant, living a perfect life, and living in full obedience to the laws of God. Do we always get what we expect? Sometimes the people that God may bring won’t exactly be what we were hoping for; but they are God’s choice!

When you were seeking after a life-long companion, what was in the sheet that you chose? You reached into that sheet and pulled out someone that you thought might be the handsome prince that would love you and make all your dreams come true and then you could live happily ever after. Did you get what you expected?

Any similarities between people presented here and actual people in your life are coincidental, but if the shoe fits…

Perhaps your handsome prince wound up looking more like one of these characters: (use pics of Disney’s Snow White and 7 dwarfs here)


Never talks, Childlike, hard working and doesn’t mind being a clown. He doesn’t say much and when he does it often doesn’t make sense. He’s the joke of the party, not the laugh of the party, and you’re almost embarrassed to go anywhere with him.


Grumpy is a know-it-all naysayer who has the disposition of an old boot: tough, craggy, and resistant to anything. Don’t you just love waking up with Grumpy every morning? Some people are morning people so they are Grumpy at night. Some are evening people so they are Grumpy in the morning. Then there are those who are just Grumpy all the time. I sometimes wonder if Grumpy people may be grumpy partially to see who cares enough to put up with him?


Doc is the leader type. They like to be in charge of things but they are too good-natured to ever be a real leader because they refuse to make decisions or do anything that might not be popular. They love to make decisions but then they back off when there is resistance. Doc’s mind often works faster than his mouth when he’s excited, but his judgment is usually pretty sound.


More than shy, Bashful is a hopeless sentimentalist. He doesn’t want to get rid of anything because he might need it someday. A virtual packrat that will have your house looking like Sanford and Son instead of the Fairyland Castle.


Sleepy sneaks in his Z’s anytime and anywhere he can, but no one complains, because he works just as hard as the others, just in a more relaxed fashion.

No matter what has to be done, Sleepy will find a way to put it off so he can take a nap. But when the chips are down, he will get it done.


Don’t you love having Happy around? Happy people just breed happiness wherever they go. A smile will win a friend and disarm an enemy. The only one that doesn’t like Happy is Grumpy. He can’t stand people who don’t seem to have a trouble in the world. He just wants to wipe the smile off their face. Grumpy isn’t happy so why should Happy be happy? Why doesn’t Happy just get serious?


Bad habits sometimes show up at the worst of times, like Sneezy. It may be a temper that flares at the wrong time, or a loud mouth that seems to overpower everyone else at the wrong time; or a habit of saying the wrong thing at the right time.

Let’s face it Gentlemen – we often fall very short of being the handsome prince. But then not all the ladies are a Snow White either. Some of you ladies can be just like these characters I’ve been talking about.

So what is the point of all this? The point is that we need to be sending up some prayers before God to help us be a better person. We should be seeking the face of God, listening to the Holy Spirit, helping our fellowman and serving the Lord like Cornelius and like Peter, so that our life can be a memorial before God. We should be praying and listening to the voice of the Lord so that we will see what He brings to us and not make the right choices. Some things that look good are not what God wants for us, and some things that we don’t like, may be the biggest blessing in our lives that we could ever hope for.

Where do you fit in this message today? Are you one of the characters we talked about? Is there something in your life that God has been dealing with you about, telling you to get rid of that thing? Let us give it all to Jesus and let our lives shine as a memorial of his Grace and Mercy.

Peter was receiving the call to preach to an unclean people called Gentiles. Not only that but he was getting ready to meet a Christian Roman Centurion. Peter’s life and ministry was forever changed because of this event. What life-changing event is God placing before you? Don’t miss out on God’s best. Be willing to make a step of faith.