We’ve all felt like outsiders at one time or another. Whether it was a team we wanted to be picked for or a social group. Maybe it was a job that you really wanted but you didn’t get it. In this week’s teaching, Pastor Stephen talks about how God made the shift in the book of Acts to give access to Himself to everyone. No longer was it for a certain people group or for those who followed religious rules. It was inclusive of everyone. Regardless of what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, or whatever reasons you feel God can’t love you, God has a seat for you at His table. Bit it’s up to you to take your place at the table.
Open Source: Well this week as we continue in our series, Open Source, I’m so thankful to look at how God’s family is not exclusive. God’s grace and his salvation is available to every single one of us. There are no tryouts. There is no “good enough” or “not good enough”. God’s grace is available to anyone and everyone, regardless of your background, of your upbringing, of your past. You can have a spot on the team.
But the choice is yours.
In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. 2 He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. [Acts 10:1-2]
3 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. 4 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! 5 Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. (We know who Peter is…) 6 He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.” 7 As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. 8 He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa. [10:3-8]
And if you weren’t a Jew, you weren’t right with God. You were out. Plain and simple.
And even after Jesus left in Acts 1 and said to go and be my witnesses all over the earth, the early Christians shared their faith with other Jews. In the first few chapters of Acts, the church explodes and grows by thousands in Jerusalem, a Jewish city. So while God has intended for The Gospel, the Good News of J.C. and his sacrifice, while God intended for that message to be spread to everyone, it’s only reached the Jews so far.
So God’s family is about to go from this country club to an open-invite party.
9 The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. (Two sides of the story) It was about noon, 10 and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. [10:9-10]
11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners.12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” 14 “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten
anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” 15 But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” 16 The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven. [10:11-16]
God has a seat at his table for you.
Even if you have messed up, God forgives you and has a seat for you. Even if you feel so inadequate, he cherishes you and has a seat for you. Even if you’re skeptical and doubtful, God’s love for you doesn’t waver. And your seat has your name assigned to it. It’s waiting for you.
There is a seat at God’s table that is reserved for you. Just for you.
Because he loves u. And he wants you to join his family. A lot of us watching have learned this truth and we invited God in our lives and took a seat at the table. And now we are a part of this family. But some of u, your seat remains empty. And it’s waiting for u.
23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. [10:23]
Joppa: The same place where Jonah said “No, I will not take the Gospel to the Gentiles.” So the same place where Jonah said no about going to the Gentiles, Peter said yes. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think it’s just one more reminder that God has always cared about rescuing every single person.
24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped Peter’s. (One of God’s chosen has entered!) 26 But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!” (I’m just like you) 27 So they talked together and went inside, where many others were assembled. [10:24-27]
28 Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. [10:28] (then jumping ahead…)
34 “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 36 This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel, that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. [10:34-35]
Jesus came for all.
42 And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. 43 He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” (Jew and Gentile) 44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. [10:42-45]
God doesn’t play favorites. Being made right with God is your choice. The ball is in your court.
Because he loves you. He just wants you to be a part of his family.
God’s family will never be too big. He will always have a place for you.
1. What stood out to you from this message and why?
2. What is one thing God is telling you to START doing because of this message?
3. What is one thing God is telling you to STOP doing because of this message?
4. How will this message change how you act at home, work and in the your relationships?