A Servant That God Could Use

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Acts 10: 9-23

9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.
18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.
20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”
23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Introduction:

It’s clear from our journey through the book of Acts that the Holy Spirit is at work drawing people, saving people and using people to do His work in the earth. This book is all about what God was doing in His own Great Commission Plan. I am happy about this because it reveals to me that the work of evangelism and discipleship is the work of the Spirit of God. Because it’s the work of the Spirit of God He has chosen to use people to reach other people. In our text today, we see an unlikely person being drawn by God, used by God in the plan of God to save his family and his household.

Background:

Peter has been God’s soldier on Mission for him in Jerusalem. He has been the leader of the church up until this point in the mission of God. Recently he has been sent by God to encourage the Jewish members of the Church who had been dispersed because of persecution. The latest episode in his ministry has brought Him to the coastal Cities of the region, where he raised a very sick man from his death –bed and a dead woman back to life.
When we find him today we find him in prayer and meditation before God. He is waiting to hear what the Lord has next for Him to do.

1. A Soldier that God can use ought to look like this
2. Soldiers that God can use ought to have a posture of prayer and a position of waiting on God
3. Soldiers that God can use ought to always be in the position to move out when the next assignment comes their way

If you are a soldier that God can use then you will find great consolation in today’s word from the Lord.

The Activity of God in Prayer

9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.

Note:

One of the many ways God has chosen to reveal himself to HIS people is dreams/visions. There are 69 accounts in the bible in which the word vision is used. This is an indication of how much God has spoken through this median. We can learn from this that Prayer and visions go hand in hand.

1. The first thing we see in this text is that Peter goes up to the roof of the house of Simon to pray. (To have a little talk with Jesus)
2. I think this is very critical for the life of a soldier that God can use. A good soldier will be in constant communication with his superior officer.
3. I notice that His posture for interaction and intercession is to go up to meet the divine.
4. Prayer is an upward activity! It is a mobile venture, motivated by purpose and participation.
Its divine, deliberate, determined, decisive, and directed toward the one who gives assignments to his servants

Observation:Look at the activity of God in payer…

• When peter went up in prayer God was waiting to reveal himself to him
• When peter went up in prayer God was ready to reveal HIS perfect will to him
• When peter went up in prayer God was standing by to show peter how HE was going to work HIS plan in the earth
• When peter went up in prayer God opened his eyes to see what GOD
saw.
• When peter went up in prayer, God took him to a new level of understanding.

Note:
1. When you and I pray, we ascend up into the presence of God.
2. When you and I pray God can lift our hearts and our minds to search for the deeper things of God.
3. It is in prayer that God can reveal HIS heart to HIS people for the world.
4. It is in prayer that God can call us into partnership with HIM in the earth. [God is looking for people who will give HIM some time in prayer.]
5. God is looking for people who will shut everything down and seek HIS face in prayer.

[This is the activity of God in Prayer]

According to vs. 12 He saw four footed beast in the vision:

This image was disturbing to Peter, because he was a Jew who was not supposed to eat things that were unclean or things that ate other living things. It was against his culture and their dietary laws. That’s why God has to show him the vision 3 different times.

Application:

Sometime God has to do this to us as well. Because our traditions have us held so tight, it is hard for us to see and hear what God wants us to do for him.
Sometime the things that we hold on so dear too are the things that keep us from doing more for God.
In this case God wanted peter to prepare himself for “cross –cultural ministry” but peter’s tradition and culture had him in bondage, so that he couldn’t even think about reaching the gentiles.
On last week I told you that “Peter had the keys to the kingdom! He was chosen by God to issue in the inauguration of the great commission, but his culture, tradition and preferences were holding back what God in store for him.

Question:

1. Is there something holding you back from reaching those that God has need of?
2. Is there some tradition or cultural thing that is keeping you from obeying the word of the Lord in evangelism?
3. Is God showing you something you need to let go of so that you can join God in the kingdom vision?

Note:

Peter didn’t recognize why God was asking him to change his ideas, customs and beliefs. While peter was pondering what the vision was all about, God was working through prayer. The men who were going to be used by God were already in motion on their way to see peter.

Often times while we are seeking God’s face for specific instructions or directions, God has already gone ahead of us to reveal to us what it is HE has for us to do.

• While peter was struggling to understand the vision, God was sending him understanding.
• While peter was struggling to comprehend what God was saying, the answer was on the way.
• While peter was trying to figure it out, God had already worked it out, so that he would receive understanding of the vision.
• As peter struggled to understand the vision, God was getting ready to change the paradigm of the Church through this vision he gave to peter.

The Activity of God through Prayer

17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.
18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.

20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”

23 Then he invited them in and lodged them.
On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Note:

• While peter was pondering what the vision was all about, God was working through prayer.

• The men who were going to be used by God were already in motion on their way to see peter.

• Here we see that God has not only worked on Peter in Prayer, but He has also worked on him through Prayer.

After Prayer God reveals what He was trying to show Peter in a personal way. He brings three messengers from Cornelius who have a message from God. They are evidence that what he was seeing in the dream was sent from heaven. The key verse in this passage is verses 19-20:

19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.

20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Note:
• God the Holy Spirit said to Peter…There are three men looking for you!
• Go down from here and meet with them.
• Go ahead and go with them and don’t doubt anything that they say.
• Go with them for I have sent them to you.

Go speaks, God orders his steps, God gives him and assignment, God proclaims what it is the Peter must do, God reveals that He has sent these gentiles to come and get Peter.

Observation

• This is a divine assignment.
• This isn’t any dream or vision.
• This is from God.
• Peter after 3 times must have the plan of God revealed in this way also, or else perhaps he would’ve missed the invitation from God to join him in HIS ministry. God makes sure that Peter understands what’s at stake.
God makes sure that Peter hears clearly what He must do. God makes sure that HIS communication with his son is clearly defined and that his orders are embraced!

Lastly we see that the messengers come to peter with a message from Cornelius, and they reveal who he is, why he is sending for him, what has happened in his life, and how God is working in this situation.

“22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”

Observation:

Here we see the messengers from Cornelius give peter three things…

1. They inform him of Cornelius devotion to God …”He fears God”
2. They tell him he has good reputation among the Jewish community
3. They tell him that God has spoken to him through an angel…

These three important factors are what was critical to their invitation for Peter to come and see Cornelius.

Note:

• He didn’t send soldiers to arrest Peter, (he could’ve) he sent messengers to beseech him

• He didn’t send trouble to detain him (he could’ve) he sent peace keepers to get help from the lords man

Matthew Henry commenting on this passage suggests the following ideas:

“The message arrived from Cornelius (Acts 10:17–23), and Peter began to understand (10:23–33). The vision was about “food,” yet it really concerned “race” (10:28).

“He understood that God’s cleansing of the impure foods (10:15) related to his cleansing of the Gentiles.”

“There were six believers who went with Peter to Caesarea (10:23; cf. 11:12). Peter had grasped the meaning of the vision (10:28). The primary point was not that Peter should change his diet, but that God had dissolved the traditional distinction between Jew and Gentile.”
This concept would become foundational for the unity of the church, proclamation of the gospel, and mission outreach. ”

Conclusion:

As we close today we have discovered two things that God does in the life of the soldier that he can use…

1. He reveals his plan to him in prayer
2. He implements his plans for him after prayer

This can be seen in the life of every great soldier of God.
• In Abraham’s life God spoke in prayer and then moved after prayer…
• In Moses Life God spoke in prayer and then moved after prayer…
• In David’s life God spoke in prayer and then moved after prayer…
• In Paul’s life God spoke in prayer and then moved after prayer…
• In Jesus life God spoke in prayer and then moved after prayer…
When he was in the garden as a good soldier of God… He was told what to do, and after prayer he followed his instructions to redeem mankind.

All the way to the cross he was a soldier in prayer, under prayer, continuous prayer and motivated by prayer…

Jesus is an example of what A Soldier that God can use looks like….
While persecuted he was committed!
While executed he was committed!
While engaged in warfare he was committed!
When he descended into the grave he was committed!
When he rose from the dead he was committed!
And sitting at the right hand of God he is committed!
This makes him the ultimate example of what a soldier God could use ought to look like!

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