By Rev Bill Woods
Acts 10:1-8 Matthew 5:6
Today I want to look at a man who had his priorities right and was a blessing to his entire household.
- I wish more Christians would follow these priorities for the home.
In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God- fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said. Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel. And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.” As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.
Matthew 5:6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, (righteousness) for they will be satisfied.
God only fills clean, empty vessels. – God uses people who have made room for more of Him.
Have you ever wanted something really bad? — Cake, car, home?
– When I was 16 I wanted a motorcycle more than anything I’d ever wanted.
– Some of my friends rode motorcycles and I wanted one.
Dad said forget it! — I wasn’t going to have one.
– He thought my reactions were too slow and I’d just get killed.
– There are 2 kinds of motorcycle riders — THE QUICK AND THE DEAD!
I asked Mom for help, but that didn’t do any good.
That didn’t stop my wanting a motorcycle — I used to lie in my bed at night pretending I owned a beautiful Harley Davidson motorcycle.
– I’d visualize it, pray for it, read magazines — that’s all that occupied my mind.
– I couldn’t do my homework because I was dreaming about a motorcycle.
Finally, I found an old wreck of a motorcycle, actually several motorcycles!
– 1927 frame, 1934, 45 cubic inch motor, 1947 tanks and transmission taken from a 3 wheeler — (I was the only one with reverse)
– a ’59 ignition switch
– What a conglomeration!
– The motor hadn’t been started for so long that the gas in the tanks had
turned to varnish.
– I bolted an old iron tractor seat to the back fender for a “buddy seat.” — no springs!
It was “the Frankenstein” of motorcycles.
My longing for a motorcycle was partially satisfied, but soon I wanted more……
– I wanted a real motorcycle that didn’t look like a mechanic’s nightmare thrown together.
That’s how we are with God — We find Him, love Him, but soon we want and need more of Him.
There’s a natural longing in the human heart for God.
– Our hearts hunger to connect with Him more.
– We want more intimacy with God.
– God built that into us and nothing will satisfy that hunger but God.
We long to connect with God, but we don’t know how to go deeper with Him.
Because of things we’ve done or things we’ve failed to do, we wonder how to get close to God or how God will respond to us?
– How can we see God working in our lives and the lives of others?
We pretend to be satisfied with a lesser walk with God, but something’s missing.
– Russ answered, “GREAT!” when it was obviously not great at all.
We try to content ourselves with a shallow relationship with God.
– But, something’s missing — we’re dissatisfied and defeated.
Paul’s struggle: Romans 7:14-25 NLT
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.
17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
22 I love God’s law with all my heart.
23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
(Romans 7:24 (KJV) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?)
Paul was referring to the Roman practice of chaining 2 prisoners together for life If one died the other had to drag and carry him until he died too.
- Imagine being chained to a decaying corpse rotting away—who will deliver me from the body of this death?!
Paul found the answer:
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.
6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.
8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)
10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.
13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
John Wesley said the new convert will realize there’s something more they need within the first week or 7 days.
We call this the 2Nd Work of Grace (Being sanctified.)
- Plant illustration — stem and leaves above ground represent committed sins.
- Root system represents inbred sin or carnal nature.
- Sanctification is allowing God to remove that root system.
Soil is still there so Satan will try to replant seeds of rebellion.
- That’s why a daily walk is so important. Keep weeds out of soil!
When we’re fully committed to Jesus and filled with the Spirit we’ll have more of God — we’ll see greater things.
Acts 10: 2 men wanted more of God.
– Because they were personally ready, God used them and allowed them to experience more of God.
God uses people who are ready and willing to let go of everything keeping them from being what God wants them to be.
— Jeremiah 33:3 “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”
- Matthew 5:6 —“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- Being ready for more of God starts with a commitment to surrender to GOD’S Will.
As a centurion, Cornelius pursued excellence as a leader — he also pursued God as a man devoted to prayer.
– He was committed to his faith — he wanted a closer relationship with Jesus.
– He longed for a closer relationship with God, and was ready to totally surrender to God.
- To have more of God takes an investment on your part.
Acts 10:2-6 He was a devout, God- fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said. Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel. And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.”
Obey now! Cornelius immediately followed the angel’s instructions.
– He didn’t argue or wait for a better time.
We must be willing to pay a cost:
– Cornelius sent three men; two servants and a devout soldier. – He could’ve sent fewer people or less qualified people, but he responded by giving God his best.
Some people worry God will ask them to give up too much — only your all!
Jim Elliot – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Notice Prayer preceded the vision.
– When we follow Jesus, we can expect great things, but 1st it’ll take prayer.
– Prayer precedes readiness and vision — Prayer gets us ready!
If you want God to move in your life — pray first!
What set Cornelius apart was his prayer life — that’s also what set Peter apart.
While God was dealing with Cornelius, He was preparing Peter for a special assignment.
Acts 10:9-21 The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision happened three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven. Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? Just then the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house. Standing outside the gate, they asked if a man named Simon Peter was staying there. Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.” So Peter went down and said, “I’m the man you are looking for. Why have you come?”
God was changing some of the Old Testament restrictions in diet.
- The people had wandered on the desert and had to be extremely careful what they ate because of disease and food poisoning.
- For example, pork, not processed properly will bring Trichinosis which is caused by eating raw or undercooked pork and wild game infected with larvae of a parasitic worm.
- The contaminated meat is infected with the larvae of a worm called Trichinella spiralis. The initial symptoms of trichinosis are stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and fever.
The Bible is awesome for real life answers but in this case it’s really more (time) sensitive.
- They didn’t have the science at the time to understand the dangers and they had no refrigeration so it was wise to stay away from this type of food because it could kill them via (bacteria) so in God’s ultimate wisdom He simply said to abstain for their own good.
Peter wanted God to control his life.
– Peter was raised with a prejudiced towards Gentiles.
– God used this vision to open Peter’s eyes — Gentiles could be part of God’s Church too.
Gentiles were unclean — unfit to be part of God’s Family “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”.
- God showed Peter Gentiles were part of God’s Plan of Salvation too.
Peter woke from his vision and was wondering what it meant when the 3 Gentiles arrived at the door.
They came to bring Peter to Cornelius’ house to teach them how to have more of God in their lives.
- THESE WERE GENTILES! PETER HAD NEVER DEALT WITH GENTILES!
Peter could’ve argued with God, but he wanted to obey God.
– Peter was ready for God to do More in his life.
God uses people who are ready for more! — Empty, clean vessels — Devoted, Willing, Obedient, Generous, Prayerful, Teachable.
John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.
How does this apply to us?
Pursue God: Make an effort on purpose to pray for God to fill you with His Spirit and be ready to obey.
Make the investment: Be ready to rid the clutter in your life and be ready to say yes to God, “What is it, Lord?” — Acts 10:4
It’s the Holy Spirit Who brings us to God and prepares us for the work ahead—all who follow Him are given new life.
Jesus told Nathaniel he’d “see even greater things than that” — John 1:50.
I want to see “even greater things.”
– Do you?
– Do you want to have God do greater things in your family?
– In your marriage?
– At work?
– In your life?
I do, but it will only happen as we surrender our will to Him and follow Him.
– It doesn’t happen with a half-hearted commitment or just a passing interest.
– It happens when we put aside the things of this world, and say, “I’m in. I’m all in. You can count on me!”
Cornelius was the head of his household.
- He understood the importance of Christ being in charge of his home.
- What a blessing! His entire household turned to God!
Do you understand Christ must be in charge of your life and your home to have a successful home full of love and peace?
Does your family see Christ in you?
- Are they wanting to follow Him too?
PODCAST READY FOR MORE
The updated version of Rev Bill Woods’ book “There Is Still Power In The Blood” will be available soon.