Acts 11:1-18—May 19, 2019–David R. Denny PhD
Drummondtown Baptist Church–Accomac Virginia
Introduction: Where were you on Christmas Day, December 25th, 1776? If you can’t remember, then let me refresh your memory and remind you what happened on that fateful day in American history. (I do this because the theme of my sermon today is Turning Points so I will begin by taking you to this turning point in American history).
Turning Point #1—An example from American History.
This was the day Washington and his Continental troops decided to take a huge risk and cross the Delaware River. Then they attacked the British at Trenton NJ. Morale had been perilously low for the American forces. They had lost N Y C and they had been chased like rabbits all over the place. Troops were deserting or their enlistments were up. Just before the daring battle plan to attack with only 2400 troops, Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called The American Crisis. Here is what he wrote: READ—-Within one day of its publication and just before the attack, Washington read this pamphlet to his troops. It instantly became a turning point. Morale shot up and the troops were ready to fight.
Turning point #2—Salvation comes to the Gentiles (Acts 11)
Now let’s go back further in time to a breathtaking turning point that took place in a coastal town on the shores of the Mediterranean not far from Mt Zion that we studied Wednesday night. Caesarea is the location of our story today. It was the capital of Palestine after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. It was built by Herod and became the region’s most beautiful city. Herod spent 12 years building a harbor that spilled out beneath his great palace. He also built a hippodrome that stat seated 20,000 spectators to watch chariot races. And there was a huge aqueduct that brought water to the city from Mt. Carmel from the north and a grand amphitheater still used today for modern outdoor events. And in excavations of the 1950s, a plaque with Pilate’s name on it was found proving his existence.
It was in this grand city that Peter, directed by a vision, came to meet with Cornelius, a Roman centurion who though not a Jew still worshipped God with great piety. Peter came to his home nervous about this breach of protocol. Jewish men were not allowed to enter a Gentile’s home or eat with them. And yet Peter did these things because of a vision directing him to this place. And as he spoke to the Gentiles gathered in the soldier’s home an amazing thing happened that stunned Peter and the Jerusalem church to the core. It was so powerful a turning point that the Christians in Jerusalem didn’t believe it and argued with Peter about later when he arrived there In Acts 11.
So what was this amazing turning point event? It happened as Peter told the soldier’s family the gospel story about the death and resurrection of Jesus. While he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44). These non-Jewish men and women began to speak with tongues just as the Jewish brethren had done on Mt. Zion in the upper room. And when the Jerusalem brethren heard the story they finally realized a profound truth that we know today: God Loves Everyone. Not just a select few from a certain city or location, but everyone.
Today we know and accept this truth as almost commonplace. We know that we here in our church on Front Street aren’t the only ones whom God loves. Everyone is invited to our services and everyone is invited to believe in Christ and find salvation. BUT—back in time, back in the ancient city called Caesarea, this was not the case. Then only a select few were considered the chosen ones. Until this eventful day when Peter preached to a soldier’s family along the coast of the sea and the love of God enveloped them all. It was a Turning Point.
Turning Points that come in our lives as a result of this miracle of the past:
Now let’s think about lives today. How does this miracle at Caesarea affect us today? It does every day in countless small and great turning points that make up our lives. Because we know God loves us and we are not excluded from heaven’s blessing, we live so differently. All the decisions in our lives are sparked by this first miracle by the sea.
Your life today would be so different if Peter had not gone to Caesarea. Your life would not be the same one you live today if the Spirit of God had not fallen upon the soldier and his family and friends. Every step you take today is forever linked to this first turning point.
When you chose to marry, what did you do? You prayed for guidance from the God who loves you. (The first turning point now affects this turning point). And the result is that God led you to your husband or wife.
*This was the case with Isaac of old. When he was nearing 40 years of age, he prayed for a wife. It is one of the most beautiful stories of the OT. It is told in Genesis 24. Abraham, very old, sends his servant Eliezer to find a bride. And when he sees Rebekah at the well he thinks this is the one. The story concludes on such a touching scene In Gen. 24:62). Isaac is in the field one evening meditating when he sees camels coming in the distance. He begins to walk toward them for he knows that this might be the woman God has chosen for him. And as he walks ever faster toward the camels, Rebekah also sees the shape of a man approaching and wonders who it is. “That is my master,” said Eliezer. And when they got closer she discreetly covers her face with a veil. Isaac does the smart thing and immediately takes her to his mother’s tent for Sarah’s approval. And then the romance unfurls and they are married and the Bible says Isaac loved her with all his heart.—
It was a turning point. It was linked to the core truth—God loves me. The same truth Cornelius came to know. The same truth you and I know. And now all turning points are forever linked to God as we move day by day through this life.
Have you accepted the first truth—that God loves you? Have you opened your life to the Lord and yielded yourself and your future into His hands? If not make this moment a turning point and trust Him to be our Savior.