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Jun 19 2022 Jesus Opens the Church to All

Cindy: This song (Heal Our Land) is a great lead-in to what I am sharing about today – it is called the Lord’s Prayer for a reason...

Eugene Peterson – in the Message:

6 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure— ‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity

5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for fifteen minutes of fame! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father – yes, He is our father – but especially for Jesus, to pray to His father…

Hallowed – Holy is His name

Your kingdom come – Dallas Willard – bring in your kingdom so your rule can be set up among us as it already is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread – in some cultures, they don’t have the preservatives we have – and have to either bake or buy bread just about every day! The important thing is that we are relying on God for our provision.

Forgive us our sins or trespasses – it means more than just walking on someone’s yard -but walking on someone’s life. Give us the grace to forgive those who offend us. Help us to not be the ungrateful servant who is forgiven a great debt and then chokes his fellow servant for a tiny debt.

Lead us not into temptation – deliver from evil – We won’t be free from trial, but God can help us through it. Greater is he who is in us…

There is this prayer for protection and strength for spiritual warfare – it was important to Jesus and needs to be important to us.

That which is bracketed in our Bible – was added very earlier – as a Jewish prayer typically has a benediction – it is appropriate to do – Yours is the kingdom and power and glory – this echoes the preeminence of God in His kingdom.

I’m great at trying to be the leader of my kingdom.

I see myself in Jonah – I try to tell God how to do His job and get mad when he doesn’t do it my way.

Mike: Lord, thank You for what Cindy shared – and thank you for being our Father – we, as earthly fathers, have all failed – but You do not fail. Someday we will know that fully. That day will come. As we continue – looking at prayer, open our hearts to You all the more.

Acts 10 – the story of Cornelius –

Now there was a certain man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,

This is the conversion of Cornelius – but it is more than that – it is a crucial point in the crossroads in God’s history. What happened at the cross is all being revealed in this story – for the rest of the world for all of history.

Verse 1 tells us a lot about the type of person God chooses to do His work.

He is a Gentile! That is significant in the first century – and being a Gentile, that means he is not a Jew. UP to this point, all of the followers of Jesus are Jews.

Second – he is a Roman soldier – so he would be a favorite (sarcasm) of the Jewish people – a commander – and an Italian! The ultimate Roman citizen.

There are two characters – Peter and Cornelius, and God puts them together. God chooses the MOST Gentile you can get! But there’s more! He is from Caesarea – Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, but it was ruled by Caesarea – like the Iron Curtain in the day -being ruled by Moscow.

They had a large Gentile majority and a small Jewish minority – known for protests and riots.

God is making an emphatic point by using Cornelius to represent Him.

He is going to tear down the dividing wall – the great barrier between Jew and Gentile.

He is using this one man, along with Peter, to bring it all about.

We know His position and standing:

2 a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually.

Last week we looked at how the disciples were devoted to constant prayer – that is Cornelius.

3 About the ninth hour of the day (the hour of prayer we talked about last week) he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in to him, and said to him, "Cornelius!"

Prayer is at the center of every critical point in the story.

Today is June 19th – Juneteenth is now a national thing – the final release of slavery

Jews and Gentiles – there was this rivalry and racism for thousands of years – and now they are to be one people! The church is meant to be this place where everybody is family – because we have proclaimed Jesus as Lord – no other reason, not politics, or family, or anything – just proclaiming Jesus is Lord.

The story goes on:

Cornelius had developed this rhythm of prayer – and God responds to his prayer. God responds to our prayer. We think it happened right away – but maybe Cornelius had been praying for years and years –

A couple things God does – He speaks and reveals.

4 And fixing his gaze upon him (an angel) and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

This tells us that God hears our prayer – accepts, welcomes our prayers – and He knows our concerns and needs. What are we concerned about? What is important right now. God knows that and He is every bit and in every way concerned about what we are concerned about.

5 "And now dispatch some men to Joppa, and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6 he is staying with a certain tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea."

He gives direction and guidance. This seems like, ok – go do this, go do that – when we think of God giving guidance – we think of ‘which job should I take’ – but God is doing something in the world, something unbelievably dramatic and powerful, but through prayer – God is speaking to Cornelius about how he will participate in the work He is doing.

We will jump now – He sends these folks out, they get to Peter…

9 And on the next day, as they were on their way, and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.

Peter and Cornelius –

Many Jews had morning and evening prayer: Morning prayer – 9 o’clock – evening prayer – 3 o’clock

Devout Jews prayed three times – Noon time as well.

Daniel – when he would open the window and turn toward Jerusalem – would pray 3 times.

10 And he became hungry, and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he beheld the sky opened up, and a certain object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground,

Peter is praying and God reveals himself in a vision just like He did to Cornelius…

12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, "Arise, Peter, kill and eat!"

God is giving guidance and direction. God wants Peter to participate in one of the greatest works God will ever do. Something incredible and unimaginable is about to happen. Bringing Jew and Gentile together.

14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.“

We know that Jews were told to not eat anything unclean. This is reminiscent of when Peter told Jesus, “May it never be!”

15 And again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." 16 And this happened three times; and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.

This is not about food – but about Gentiles.

Prayer changes our perspective and understanding. Peter experiences a dramatic shift in his theology and spirituality. He would have never eaten these unclean animals – it would have undermined his faith and piety, but God changes his Biblical understanding. The reason originally was to make His people distinct and separate – and now He is putting that away to make all one, under God.

We all have things we hold to in our religious faith and devotion to God that God wants us to see that our understanding is not complete – because what we have held to is not complete. How could we think that everything is complete – we are human! We read and see something new! How could that be, when we’ve read it hundreds of times?!

Cornelius’ household had many people – and the Spirit fell upon them!

34 And opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,

Do we believe that God shows no partiality? Do we believe that God does not favor one group, race, gender over another? That is what Peter needed to understand.

Partiality – we think of it – God is on my side. No, He is not! He is FOR you – but you are on His side – but He is for everyone – and all need to decide if they are going to be on His side.

Think of the angel of the Lord coming to Joshua – are you on my side? Joshua asked – No, get on my side!

35 but in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.

Every people – every race, every class – anybody – everyone willing to say Jesus is Lord is accepted.

Lord, thank You – help us to be on Your side – not to seek our own.


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