Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Oct 23, 2016 Sermon

“New Directions”
Acts 10:1 – 23, 44 – 48
Ted Jansen  October 23, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        I am going to ask you do something at some point in my message that some of you might find uncomfortable.  Some of you when I ask you to do this might find it exciting.  Some of you might refuse to do what I ask you to do.  Some of you might not want to do it but when others do it you will join in.  I wanted to plant the seed of anticipation in your mind and heart as I begin. 
 
2.)        Our scripture from Acts 10 tells us that a man named Cornelius was living in Caesarea, which is located north and west of Jerusalem on the coast.  Caesarea was near the Samaritan area and the Romans used it for a seaport.  Cornelius was a commander in charge of about 100 men, who were serving in the Italian Regiment of the Roman Army. 
Cornelius had a heart for God because of the way he prayed and gave to those in need.  Yet, he didn’t know God in the way that God could be known.  Cornelius was given a vision, a dream.
In this vision an angel told Cornelius to send some servants to the town of Joppa, which was located about 30 miles south of Caesarea on the coast.  The servants were to ask for a man named Peter who is staying in Joppa.  The angel said that God had heard your prayers.  God wanted to make sure that Cornelius would know the ways of God.  So, Cornelius shared his vision with his household and was compelled to action and sent his servants to go to Joppa. 
 
3.)        Acts 10: 9 tells of Peter who is in Joppa, and a vision that disturbs him.  In Peter’s vision he sees a sheet that is being lowered to earth.  In this sheet are all the animals of the earth.  He hears a voice say to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”   (Meaning that all animals are ok to eat.)
            Peter is disturbed and says, “Surely not, Lord.  I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  This vision, this dream, this voice, causes Peter to be disturbed and perhaps angry and confused.  
            Peter is told by the voice to not call anything God has made as impure.  This same vision is experienced two more times by Peter.  This is a dream that troubles him.  He is not sure of what it means and what he is supposed to do with this dream.    
           
4.)        At the same time Peter is trying to figure things out there is a knock at the door and the servants of Cornelius are asking for Peter.  They share why they have been sent from Cornelius, a Gentile Commander, to ask Peter a Jew, to come to this Gentile home.  This doesn’t make sense to Peter.  I can imagine that he is uncomfortable in this thought, in the traveling and in what this might mean when he meets with Cornelius.    
            So, Peter travels a few days from Joppa and meets Cornelius and his family.  Cornelius begins to share his heart and his dream.  Peter knows that he too has had a dream and a heart for God begins to share the message of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit that gave Peter the words on the day of Pentecost is giving Peter the words for Cornelius. 
Peter and the other disciples who came with Peter noticed something amazing while Peter is speaking.  They noticed that the Holy Spirit came upon this household and they were filled with the life of and love of Jesus Christ.  God’s grace and Spirit were being poured out on these Gentiles, just as the Spirit had been poured out on the Jews.    
            Peter says we need to baptize these people because they believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit has come upon them.  They didn’t know anything about Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  Their hearts were open and they could know God in the full sense of His presence.       
           
5.)        This was a new direction, a new thing, for the work of God.  This was unexpected and could not have been planned by people.  How could this message of Jesus Christ, a Jew, be welcomed by those who were not Jews?        
Peter, as he pondered this experience said in Acts 10:34, 35 these words.  “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” 
            Peter had to accept and understand that God was doing something new.  A new direction came about because God wanted all to know of Jesus and His love.     
 
6.)        Here is what I want you to do right now.  I am asking all of you to move to a different seat in this sanctuary.  I want you to make a major change in your seat and in your perspective. 
I want you to move to the front, to the back, to a different side, to the front area where the choir site.  If you want sit with a different person.  I want all of us to move in a new direction and be seated in a different place.  When we have all changed seats I will start my message. 
 
7.)        Thank you for moving to a new seat.  You now have a vision, a perspective of the sanctuary that is different.  It was not the vision that you came in with.  It is one that you might not be comfortable with.  A newer person has not had a place that is comfortable with them.  It might all seem different.  There might be someone that is irritated or bothered by doing this and the perspective you now have.  What is the point you might ask.       
           
8.)        The point was to make all of you uncomfortable and sense your attitude and feeling about having to move seats. 
When you have to change and do something different it makes us feel uncomfortable.  We miss things the way they were.  But as you look now you realize that not much has changed but you notice things in a different way.  You notice different people.  You might think about God and what new things the Lord is wanting to do in our life together.   When we do something unexpected it might cause growth.   
            Cornelius had a God inspired dream, he took practical steps to fulfill his dream.  Peter wasn’t sure of his dream until later on but was willing to take steps to move in a new direction.
            We are never sure of what God is doing in our lives and in our church.       
 
9.)        I believe that there is someone like Cornelius that is praying to God and giving money for a person in need.  There is a person whose heart is open to the love of Jesus but they don’t know what their next step is.  They need someone to be the answer to their prayer.   
            Will the Waynedale UMC see the sheet being lowered from heaven and in that sheet are people, all the people of the world, and especially the people of our community.  Can we pray and hear the hurting people who are crying out to the Lord?  There is someone in this community who is praying.  They are wanting God to answer their prayer.  This person is a neighbor, a customer at Speedway, a parent who drives by this building.   They are praying to God about their life.  God is giving them a vision of a person, a congregation. 
            As Peter was willing to go up the coast to Cornelius house may we be willing to be the answer to their prayer.   God wants us to share the story of Christ.     
10.)      The Church Consultation Team has had a lot of information to read and review about the Waynedale UMC for about a month.  The Consultation Team will read all the information from the surveys you took.  They will read also read the comments and reports of the “mystery guests” people who came to worship at Wayndale UMC the last 5 months. 
This Consultation Team will interview staff and leaders and will listen in the Workshop, the Focus group and Ad Council meetings.  We pray that God will give a new direction for them as they come and lead us into the future.      
 
11.)      I want us to be like Peter and pray.  May we pray as we see a dream and a vision.  May we have a willing spirit while God asks us to change direction.    
What should be changed in the church?  What needs to die in the church?  What needs to begin again?  What needs to be strengthened in the church?  Who do we need to share our faith with? 
As we reflect on our “experience” and feelings about our moving may we also be aware of how we might respond with other changes, or other new directions that God might desire in us, all for the purpose of touching a life. 
 
12.)      I will lead us into a time of prayer and pause after I use the phrase that begins with “offer…”   I encourage you to offer a prayer either silently or out loud.  I will guide our time of prayer in several areas to focus on.     
 
            Lord we bring our praise to you for your wonderful love.  Offer now your own praises to the Heavenly Father. 
 
Lord, we thank you that you sent Jesus, your one and only Son, to die on a cross for us.  Offer now your prayers of thanks for the wonderful gift of salvation.
 
          Lord, we thank you for your Holy Spirit who gives dreams, visions and inspiration.  Offer now your own thanks for God’s Spirit. 
 
Lord, we pray for our leaders and staff of this congregation.  Offer now your prayers for the men and women who lead this church. 
 
          Lord, we pray for our community and people with needs.  May we see them and know them.  Offer now your own prayers for specific needs that people have or ministries that meet the needs of people. 
         
          Lord, we ask that we may be open to new direction for your church.  Holy Spirit renew and revive our lives.  Offer now your prayers for the church and our need to sense your direction.