Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for coming into our hearts and souls with Your comfort and peace. Thank You for spreading Your love and forgiveness upon us. Thank You for leading us to springs of living water. Yes, thank You for causing us to be baptized! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, YOUR BAPTISMAL LORD!
TEXT: Acts 10: 34-38
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
What would life be without the sense of touch? Imagine if your fingers were made of wood instead of flesh, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves? Imagine not being able to feel heat or cold. Imagine not being able to experience a loving caress. Imagine not being able to feel a coin when you dropped it or a fork when you tried to eat. Touch is a tactile sensation. We use our hands and feet to grope our way through life. It’s one of those little things we never even think about. And yet, when we do consider touch, it really is a big thing, isn’t it?
We touch people with our flesh. But, we also touch them with our words and our actions. Kind deeds certainly touch the heart. They do what the fingers cannot and go where hands are useless. Conversely, harsh words or spiteful actions also touch the heart. But, the heart doesn’t go “Ah”, but “Ouch” when they occur.
Touch, both the internal and external kind, are intimate. They denote a certain familiarity with another. With that in mind, I want you to think about a friend you have who needs the Savior’s loving touch in their life. And then I want to encourage you to:
REACH OUT AND TOUCH A SOUL
St. Peter was a good Jew. That meant that he didn’t have much time for those who were not Jewish. He didn’t socialize with them, hang out with them, or even preach to them. He just didn’t think it was his job. Like many Christians today, Peter was actually selfish with the Gospel. He knew that Jesus had died for him and risen to give him a new lease on eternal life. He knew Jesus had touched His soul. But, like many today, Peter kept this precious comfort all to himself and shared it only with those with whom he had an ethnic connection.
However, Jesus came to save all people. He came to give His life as a ransom for Jews and Gentiles alike. And so, God sent a vision to jar Peter out of his spiritual lethargy. He sent a vision to get him to reach out and touch another soul.
Peter was staying at the great city of Caesarea. While there he was preaching to and teaching Jews about the Messiah they longed for Who had come!—Jesus! But then God interrupted him with a vision in which Peter was told to go to the non-Jews as well. He was told to go to the household of the great Roman centurion named: Cornelius. Well, Peter obeyed. He went. He went to touch some souls. Our lesson picks up with part of Peter’s sermon to these struggling sinners who longed for eternal comfort and truth. All their lives they had been touched by the cold, wooden hand of false Roman gods who offered them nothing more than: “Do you best. Do your best. And maybe the “gods” will smile on you for a brief moment.” They needed real Godly love in their lives. They needed genuine forgiveness to make their hearts sing for joy. They needed their souls touched. And by God’s grace that’s exactly what Peter did.
Listen to his 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.” Isn’t it a joy to know that unlike us humans God doesn’t show any form of favoritism? For if He did, where would that leave you and me? No, instead God reaches out to those folks who yearn for him, who yearn for comfort and peace in their lives. He reaches out to those who seek morality but know that they cannot achieve it on their own. He reaches out to distraught sinners—like Cornelius, you, and me.
“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” Cornelius and his huge extended household—family, friends, and even servants—had heard about Jesus. They knew what had happened in Jerusalem. They had heard the reports of Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection. But, merely hearing this and knowing this inside, in your heart, are two different things. Just like your friends who know something of Christ, but have no real comfort from His grace as of yet, these folks needed to have their souls touched. And right here, by actually going to them personally and witnessing to them personally, Peter was providing that touch. You can do the same! Don’t just invite that friend to church, bring them! Pick them up and chauffeur them right to the door. Reach out and touch their souls with love in action! Show them that Jesus is Lord of all, all the time!
“You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
Yes, Jesus began His ministry with baptism, His own baptism. He was anointed with simple water connected with God’s almighty command and through it the Holy Spirit revealed Himself. Through it the Spirit’s life-giving power showed itself in acts of kindness including hurling Satan out of sin-sickened hearts and lives. And that same Spirit and that same power is showered upon us when we are baptized, too. In baptism God puts His seal of approval upon us because that seal of approval is: Christ Who is holy, perfect, and forgiving.
As a result of Peter’s sermon, Cornelius and his entire household—men, women, children, and infants were baptized. They embraced Christ because He first embraced them. You see, that’s how it always works. In all other religions humans must somehow try to embrace God first on their own. But in Christianity, God embraces us in pure love. And we receive it, accept it, and give thanks for it through faith.
Feeding the hungry is a noble thing. Trying to give human comfort to the sick is admirable. Donating to disaster victims is certainly worthy of human praise. And all those things certainly make us feel better, don’t they? But, when you actually get to touch another’s soul, when you get to give them a gift which will last forever, when you are the one humanly responsible for leading them to heaven, well, that’s a joy beyond all compare! So, my friends, Reach Out and Touch A Soul! Everywhere you look you’ll see people in need of Godly comfort. Don’t be afraid to become God’s human fingers to provide them with your Savior’s loving touch. Amen