Summary: This message looks at Cornelius in Acts 10; his heart was a prepared heart because God heard his prayers.

Message ‘The Heart God Uses’ Acts 10:30-43 (NIV)

May 4, 2008

o There was a pastor who had a parrot. All the parrot would say was, “Let’s pray, let’s pray.” The pastor tried to teach him to say other things but to no avail. He learned that one of his deacons had a parrot. The parrot would only say, “Let’s kiss. Let’s kiss.” So the pastor decided to invite the deacon and his parrot over to his house. When the deacon arrived they put the parrots into the same cage to see what would happen. The deacon’s parrot said, “Let’s kiss, let’s kiss.” The pastor’s parrot said, “Thank you, Lord. My prayers have been answered.”

o Here is what we can learn from this passage. First there is great power in prayer. The first heart God uses is a praying heart

1. A praying heart

o Supernatural things happen when we pray

o Here we have Cornelius, a Gentile, who is in prayer before God

o God heard his prayer

o Psalm 65:2 literally says God is a hearer of prayers

o The Bible is full of stories of God’s hand moving when people pray

o Remember this, that we do not always see answers to our prayers right away

o Take the life of Daniel, a godly man, a great example

o In 605 BC Daniel was a young man who was deported to Babylon

o He rose to prominence in a foreign land and served in the Royal Court

o Although his circumstances were dire his character and commitment to God were unchanging – so he kept praying

o He knew and believed that God was absolutely sovereign in his people and life

o God has his eye on you – God is not surprised by anything that your going through

o While interpreting a dream for the King he said “God changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and disposes them”

o Even though the laws of the day said he could not pray to his God he never stopped praying

o Daniel was a man of prayer; a man God could use

o He prayed and was thrown into a lions den for destruction

o Now you don’t get thrown into a lions den of starving lions and come out without a scratch

o Unless of course God has a greater purpose for your life

o He noted the sovereign protection of Yahweh when he told the Darius the Mede ‘My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:22)’

o God heard his prayers and sent an angel to help him

o The book of Hebrews says angels are sent ahead to help those receive salvation (Hebrews 1:14)

o As I prepared this message I prayed that God would send a messenger to my family in Southern Ontario

o I prayed for others I have met in this community, that God would send a messenger to them

o I have no doubt that God is moving in our church

o Were praying here every week from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, over every row

o Prayer partners are coming together. This is a really exciting and important ministry. Come and join us for prayer at 9:00 AM every Sunday morning

o We have been in prayer for new deacons to help us

o God put it onto the hearts of two men, Mike D. and Gordon D. to come and help us

o When we started praying we did not know it would be them

o Like Solomon were praying ‘Now my God look at us. Listen to the prayers we pray in this place (2nd Chronicles 6:40)”

o This church will rise or fall based on two main factors, godly leadership and prayer

o I know that ‘Satan does not want this church to succeed.’

o Listen to what the Bible says

o Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour

o That is you. He wants to destroy your faith, your belief in Jesus, he wants to destroy this church, his goal is for us to lose heart

o This is how he works. He places doubts in our minds

o ‘You don’t really believe that the Holy Spirit will bring revival to this area, do you?”

o You don’t really believe that God is going to have Bible study groups all over the area, do you?

o You don’t really believe that Calvary can have a thriving prayer ministry, do you?

o Then the next thing were doubting and not praying for the ministry, praying for our lives, our homes are unhappy and Satan has stolen our joy

o Be aware of his strategy. He is a master at it – he divides Christians

o Billy Graham said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.” Have faith in the God of the dream; let’s ask God to bring the dream to completion. God’s answer is ready; it’s just waiting for our personal and persistent request.

o Well were asking and were going to up the prayer ante in this church

o Now Cornelius was just a normal man who had all those doubts

o So what did he do? He prayed for God’s direction

o I want you to notice a few things about Cornelius prayer life

o First it started in his home

o The Bible says this Gentile was in his home praying at three in the afternoon

o We know he prayed

o Let me ask you this, ‘what is your home known for’ Is it known as a house of prayer?’

o That is what I want our home to be known for – a house of prayer

o I want my grandchildren to know that papas house is a house of prayer

o Do you children know your home as a house of prayer

o Or do you just pray at the odd meal with them

o Cornelius was in prayer and God saw that

o My challenge to you is to become like Cornelius, a person whose house is known for prayer

2. A giving heart

o Secondly Cornelius had a giving heart

o The Bible says God saw that he remembered the poor

o Dear brothers and sisters in Christ when was the last time your children saw you giving something to someone who couldn’t possibly give you anything back

o When was the last time you served Jesus or his church as a family?

o The Bible says were all to serve and give to the poor

o When you give to our church your giving to the poor

o We have missionaries in SE Asia, Africa and Russia who minister to the poor and the needy

o They are taking the gospel around the world on our behalf

o The Bible says Leviticus 19:10 (NIV) Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

o The Bible says Deuteronomy 15:7 (NIV) If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.

o God cares about the poor. God hears the cries of the poor

o God sees when you give to support the poor

o God saw that Cornelius had a giving and cheerful heart

o Now following God’s voice may cost you in this way

o Randy Alcorn was a pastor of a large church in the U.S,

o God gave him a great burden for the unborn

o After searching the Bible and praying he began participating in peaceful demonstrations in non-violent ways at an Abortion Clinic

o He was arrested and put in jail

o The abortion clinic won a court judgment over the church

o Pastor Randy told the judge that he would pay anything he owed but he could not hand over money to people who would use it to kill babies

o Then the church received a notice to garnishee 25% of Randy’s wages so the money would be sent to the Abortion Clinic

o The church was in a bad position

o It would either have to pay the abortion clinic or defy the court order

o To prevent this from happening Randy resigned from the church

o Now you may think Satan won the day?

o Wrong

o God led Randy and his wife to start and new ministry called Eternal Perspective Ministries

o On his WEBSITE he has an online book called “Why ProLife?

o He asks and answers critical questions central to the abortion debate.

o As a result of their obedience they have helped thousands of mothers considering abortions to have healthy babies

o They have helped many women who have had abortions to find forgiveness, freedom and hope in Jesus name

o O Lord Jesus, my prayer is that, like Randy we would follow your ways and become known as a giving and cheerful church

o I thank the Lord for your generosity and sharing

o When I hear about you taking meals to those in difficulty; going to a senior to help them; taking someone out for coffee to encourage them, it encourages me

o That is how you grow in your faith, through giving and serving

o I have found that the most fulfilled Christians are those that are engaged in giving and service. Why? Because growth is taking place, they’re being stretched and the experience of service is making them more like Jesus.

o Remember Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive

o Lord Jesus, may we be like you, like Cornelius, known for prayer and giving hearts

3. A listening heart

o Hearing can be a real problem.

o An old couple was sitting by the fireside. He looked over at her, had a romantic thought, and said, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.”

The wife’s hearing wasn’t very good, so she said, “What?” He repeated, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.” “After fifty years, I’m tired of you too,” she replied.

o Cornelius not only had a praying heart, a generous heart, but he had a listening heart

o You see his prayers had prepared his heart

o There is a reason all the people in his household were ready to hear the message

o That is because a praying group is a divinely prepared group

o Do you recall the parable of the four soils? Jesus said we have bad heart conditions

o First the word of God falls on hard soil

o He said that our ears are plugged and the word of God does not penetrate into our hearts

o What are the things that prevent us from hearing God’s truth

o First, Jesus says the word lands in the heart, and Satan sees it and steals it

o Take this seriously and pray – remember Satan is a thief

o Pray that your own heart is receptive to the messages

o Second problems and persecution steals our joy and then we do not hear the word

o When were going through trials we need to spend more time in the Bible. Also, when you know someone is going through trials, then pray that Satan will not take away their desire to read the word

o I want to say to you, when you are in pain and when you are hurt, don’t run from God. Run to God. He’s the one who can help. He’s the one who can comfort. He’s the one who can care.

o Now when your going through trials you may not feel like reading the Bible

o Do it anyway. Don’t base your actions on your feelings

o The Word of God will help you through those trials and doubts

o David said ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’

o Third, some hear the word and the cares of the world and the lure of money snatch the desire to read the Bible and be in fellowship

o When I ask Christians here why believers struggle with commitment they say it’s the lure of materialism

o That is what Jesus said in the Bible, ‘beware of greed.’

o But Jesus said for some the word falls on good soil and bears fruit

o Is your heart prepared to listen and receive the word?

o Do you pray before coming?

o Do you pray as a family before coming?

o Do your children see you get up and pray at breakfast on Sundays that God will speak into our lives today?

o When our children were younger we brought them to the church and let them see us praying for the ministry with other Christians

o At first we see Cornelius alone and praying

o Watch the connection – he prays – then God moves in his life by sending an angel

o He calls for a man of God, Peter

o And he says were all here (the crowd) prepared to listen and act

o They were prepared to listen because they believed Peter was sent by God

o They believed Peter had a word from God

o Cornelius said Peter I want to thank you for coming

o Peter was lifted up – he felt appreciated

o Then he said “we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.’

o What an encouraging thing for Peter

o To know that his audience believed they were in the presence of God

o Do you believe that?

o When we come together to worship, do you come believing that your in the presence of a holy God

o Because you are in the presence of a holy God

o I remember sitting beside one man in a previous church

o He was the scholar; nothing wrong we scholars – we need them

o I hated sitting beside him

o He would poke me on the ribs and say ‘did you hear that’

o That was not exegetically correct

o And he totally missed what the Spirit was doing in peoples lives

o One Sunday he poked me on the ribs, well we had an alter call after the service

o A lady was visiting Canada from Kenya

o That day she gave her heart to Jesus with tears streaming down her face

o She was in Banff the next few days

o She phoned the church and said ‘God really does love me.’

o People were accepting Christ

o Marriages and relationships were being healed

o But he missed it all

o Not Cornelius

o Cornelius said were all here to listen to all that God has commanded you to say to us

o He believed they needed to hear the word in their lives

o David said ‘truly I love your commandments more than pure gold’

o Is that true in your life?

o Or is the word of God falling upon hard soil in your life?

o Sometimes are hearts are not right, not receptive to the word

4. A believing heart

o Because Cornelius was in prayer God had prepared his heart and the hearts of his household

o So Peter, directed by the Spirit, knew right away what to share with them

o First Peter shared that God had done something in his own heart

o Peter said ‘I now realize that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

o This is huge; for Peter it is ‘wow God accepts Gentiles as well as Jews’

o God says it doesn’t matter who you are or where you have been.

o And we say at Calvary it does not matter who you are or where you have been

o Your welcome here – come along on this spiritual journey with us

o We need you on the team – every one of you

o God says begin to fear Me and do what is right

o Peter said here is how you fear God; show respect to God

o Peter says listen to me, it is not that complicated

o First recognize that there is peace with God for those who know Jesus (Romans 5:1)

o You want peace in your life? Are you tired of turmoil?

o Peace starts by knowing Jesus as your personal savior

o Just admit you’re a sinner. Job wrote ‘How many evil things and sins have I done? Show me my wrong and my sin (Job 13:23 NCV).’

o Second recognize that Jesus came to set you free from your bondage

o Acts 10:38 (NLT) Jesus healed all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him.

o Many of us can testify that Jesus sets us free from the darkness, the inner turmoil in our hearts – He alone sets us free – He will set you free today

o Third, Peter say ‘recognize that Jesus was crucified on the cross for our sins’

o Jesus left the glory of heaven, that perfect and sinless place

o He never sinned, not even once (2nd Co. 5:21)

o You cannot make yourself right with God

o Only Jesus can forgive your sins

o Fourth recognize that Jesus rose from the dead three days later

o Jesus was not a religious leader. Religious leaders are all dead in the grave

o Jesus is a risen savior

o He is in heaven, He is alive forever more

o O church, can you say ‘I believe it; can you say Amen.’

o Fifth there will be day of judgment

o You say judgment

o What does judgment mean?

o First all people will face judgment (Romans 9:27)

o Secondly God’s judgment will be perfect; not like mans (Acts 17:31)

o It really means a day of separation from God

o For the believer in Jesus, we will be free (Romans 8:1); (Acts 4:12)

o It is a day of eternal tragedy for many (Matthew 13:42)

o Cornelius was ready; He responded to the call

o Are you ready? Will you respond to Jesus today? He is ready to accept you now? There has never been a better time in your life

o Closing Prayer

The Spirit of God has been calling you to a relationship with Jesus. Isn’t it time you became a Christian? Here is a prayer for you. The words aren’t that important. It’s really the attitude of your heart that’s important. Say to Jesus Christ, “Jesus, today I see my need to trust in You clearer than ever before. I need Your forgiveness and I need Your guidance. I want a relationship with You. I ask You to save me Jesus. I ask you into my heart. I ask You to rescue me from the things that I struggle with and the sins that get me down. Rescue me from an eternity in hell. Jesus I ask You into my heart. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.”