Sermon Notes

Acts: The Living Church

“The Living Church” series – Part 21 (6/28/20)

Acts 12:1-24 “The Reality of God’s Overwatch”

Intro: In today’s world it’s easy to overlook or forget the many ways we are observed remotely. While that may be an unsettling reality of the modern era, God has always been in a position of “overwatch” which is a comforting thought.

READ: 12:1-4

I. There is Always a “Herod”

A. He is an example of one desiring power

B. He is an example of one abusing power

C. He is an example of one placing trust in power

(4 squads to avoid another “Acts 5” event)

READ: 12:5-19

II. God is Always Mindful of His People

A. He is sovereign over events

B. He intercedes at His leisure

C. He often surprises us (even though we’re praying)

D. He isn’t bound by collateral effects (v.18-19)

READ: 12:20-24

III. The “Law of the Harvest” Always Proves True

(Galatians 6:6-10)

A. Herod sought the approval of man – (doing what they liked for selfish reasons)

B. Herod enjoyed the praise of man – (believing himself to be worthy of it)

C. Herod reaped the harvest of his actions – (although the opposite seemed true at the time)

D. The Word/Church spread in spite/because of him – (the one thing that remains from the events of chapter 12 is the Word and the Church)

Conclusion

QUESTION: Does the reality of God watching over people/events affect your attitude toward life? How? How should it?

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Father’s Day 2020 sermon notes-click here

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“The Living Church” series – Part 20 (6/7/20)

Acts 11:19-26 “The Church at Antioch”

Intro: Antioch was a very worldly environment and a large municipal city (3rd largest in the empire).

Read 11:19-26

5 take-aways:

I. Barnabas “started with the end in mind” (a modern leadership maxim)

v.23 he challenged them to have “purpose of heart and continue with the Lord”

CSB translation: “remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart”

Note: The goal was to be true to the Lord

II. He Encouraged Them (v.23)

Note: “parakaleo” means to stand beside someone and offer counsel, comfort, hope, and a generally positive outlook that builds confidence and courage

III. He (and Paul) Modeled Commitment to Jesus Daily (v.26)

Note: “met with them regularly for a year”

IV. They Taught them about the Commitment (v.26)

Note: teaching that was focused on Christ

V. The Result was an Identity (v.26)

Note: They were first called “Christ-ian” there

VI. Conclusion – Discussion questions:

  • How are you most encouraged?
  • How is Christ modeled to you?
  • How are you effectively taught?
  • How do we do that for others?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 19 (5/31/20)

Acts 11:1-18 “Telling the Truth”

Intro: The pressure was on Peter to give an account of what happened in Caesarea with Cornelius and his household. His options were to tell the truth or not.

I. Peter Recounted the Events Orderly (v.1-7)

A. Peter explained without attacking those in Jerusalem and their limited understanding.

B. Peter avoided the smaller point that’s less productive (emotions/distraction)

C. Peter’s message was coherent and purposeful-God is a God of order (I Corinthians 14:33,40, Titus 1:5

Point for us: We must strive to communicate orderly truth and maintain orderly conduct

II. Peter Told an Honest Story

A. He admitted his shortcomings (v.8)

B. He was challenged by the threat of their rejection-maybe even division in the church

C. He was challenged by the reality that his story would change the status quo

Point for us: We must be willing to give an honest testimony of our experiences, journey, and questions.

III. Peter was Open to God’s Leading (v.16-18)

A. He went back to the foundational words of Jesus (v.16)

B. He kept proper perspective of God’s authority

  • He was learning to hold tradition loosely
  • A big step for Peter which he continued to struggle with later

C. His obedience silenced the critics and glorified God

Point for us: We must be open to God’s leading regarding methods, traditions, etc.

IV. Conclusion

Question: “Are you committed to telling the truth?”

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“The Living Church” series – Part 18 (5/24/20)

Acts 9:32-10:48 “It was Always About the Kingdom”

Note: (covered 10:1-8 last week)

Intro: There has been a steady progression in Luke’s narrative of the church since the resurrection of the church:

  • The church was established in Jerusalem but soon dispersed under persecution
  • Samarian people hear the gospel and are saved (mixed race group)
  • An Ethiopian heard the gospel and was saved (another race)
  • Saul of Tarsus encounters Christ and is saved (an enemy of the gospel)

Peter then goes to Lydda and Joppa where God does miraculous work: READ 32-43

And he ends up staying with Simon the Tanner (who is an unclean Jew because of carcass handling)

At this point, it still appears that the church is going to be a Jewish organization and God will allow various people & groups to join, however God’s plan was always bigger:

Read 10:1-48

3 points about the bigger picture:

I. God is not Limited to our Definitions and Expectations

A. Joshua – (Joshua 5:13-15 – neither side even though chosen people/Godly leader)

B. Framing – We naturally try to frame spiritual reality with “Who’s side are you on God?”

C. Timeline – He moved the church out of Jerusalem very quickly

II. Our Pride can Cause Resistance to God

A. (v.14) Peter’s refusal – “I” can be a dangerous pronoun

B. (v.28) Pride can lead to prejudicial thinking

C. (v.28) God will correct our thinking if we let Him, “God has shown me”

D. (v.29) God will use us if we’re willing, “How can I help?”

III. The Gospel has Always Been About the Kingdom

A. From the beginning, John the Baptizer and Jesus preached the “Kingdom of Heaven”

B. From the beginning, the family of faith was meant for “all people” (Jesus’ statement at the cleansing of the Temple)

C. Galatians 3:26-29 Gives us the completed big picture

IV. Conclusion

Question: “What are your Kingdom expectations?”

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“The Living Church” series – Part 17 (5/17/20)

Acts 10:1-8 “Never Judge a Man by His Appearance”

Note: 9:32-43 (will be reviewed & connected to next week)

Intro for today: (personal story of a friend’s appearance)

  • There is a powerful principle given to us in I Samuel 16:7 when Samuel was looking at the sons of Jesse for a new king to anoint, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • Jesus further built on this truth by identifying the heart as more important than appearances

Read 10:1-8

I. Cornelius on the Outside Represented What the Old Peter Despised

A. Ethnically – Gentile (Italian Cohort-“Italian Roman”)

B. Politically – Roman occupier

C. Positionally – Commander of Roman soldiers- “Centurion”

Note: A typical Roman ‘centurio’ as described by Vegetius of the 4th Century,

“The centurion in the infantry is chosen for his size, strength and dexterity in throwing his missile weapons and for his skill in the use of his sword and shield; in short for his expertness in all the exercises. He is to be vigilant, temperate, active and readier to execute the orders he receives than to talk; strict in exercising and keeping up proper discipline among his soldiers, in obliging them to appear clean and well-dressed and to have their arms constantly rubbed and bright.”

(as quoted by Carlos Marcelo Shaferstein, Historian)

  1. Socially – He lived in Caesarea Maritima (a monument port city built by Herod the Great to honor Caesar which represented Jewish compromise and Roman paganism)

However, (as I Samuel 16:7 teaches), that is not what God saw:

II. Cornelius on the Inside Represented What God Values

A. (v.2) Devout – a description of sincerity

B. (v.2) Feared God – a professional combat soldier, but feared God.

  • Like Acts 9:31 & Proverbs 9:10 he acknowledged God for Who He truly is
  • Godly fear produces a realization of our need for Him and pride lowers

C. (v.2) W/ his household – He led others to embrace the One True God (in a pagan context)

D. (v.2) He gave alms (gifts) – he was generous with his resources

E. (v.2) Prayed to God always – he was a man of purposeful prayer

III. Cornelius was a Man God Heard

A. (v.3) The angel called him by name – God knows us individually

B. (v.4) His prayers were documented – God is aware of our prayer and petitions

C. (v.6) His prayers were answered – God responded to his sincere petition (even though he was a gentile Roman Centurion)

IV. Conclusion

Questions:

  • What do you consider most in others?
  • What do you focus on for yourself?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 16 (5/10/20)

Acts 9:26-31 “A Quiet Strength” (Mother’s Day)

Intro: Mothers embody a quiet strength. As the story of Saul pauses in Luke’s narrative, there is a summary of the church that reflects a similar quiet strength:

Read 9:26-31

Based on verse 31, let’s consider 5 components of quiet strength:

I. A Quiet Strength is Peaceful

A. There is the peace of Christ on the inside (John 14:27)

B. There is a seeking of peace on the outside (Romans 12:18)

(a person of peace)

II. A Quiet Strength Builds Others Up

A. Quiet strength recognizes Christ as Cornerstone/Builder (I Peter 2:4-5)

B. Quiet strength focuses on the individual (I Thess. 5:11)

C. Quiet strength is done in love (I Corinthians 8:1)

III. A Quiet Strength Walks in the Fear of the Lord

A. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov.9:10)

B. The fear of the Lord is the substance of Godly courage – (consider Moses, Joshua, and Nehemiah)

IV. A Quiet Strength Draws Comfort From the Holy Spirit

A. Through His reassuring presence in our heart

B. Through His guiding of our thoughts (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

V. A Quiet Strength Influences Others

(They were multiplied)

A. Individuals

B. Family

C. Extended family

D. Friends of family

E. Vocational

F. Synergy in the Church

VI. Conclusion

Question: Are you person of quiet strength? Are you influencing others in it?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 15 (5/3/20)

Acts 9:1-25 “Chosen to Serve”

Intro: The Lord does as He pleases and it pleased Him to meet up with Saul of Tarsus to change his life and the lives of many others as a result.

Read 9:1-25

4 parts of the process for Saul:

I. The Lord Confronted Saul

A. Saul was on a mission

  • He genuinely thought he was weeding out heresy
  • He didn’t listen to his own mentor (Acts 5:33-40)

B. Saul was a “chosen” vessel

  • “Chosen” is a term that connotates favor toward the vessel
  • This means it was motivated by love-not just strategic or practical

C. Jesus considered aggression against the Church as against Him personally (Why do you persecute Me?)

Note: Application for us is that sometimes the Lord must confront us for our own good and He does it out of love.

II. The Lord Redirected Saul

A. “Arise and go” – limited information is often God’s way

B. 3 days blind – Saul put in a position of deep contemplation & waiting

C. The Lord then provided information and confirmation (Ananias)

Note: Sometimes the Lord must redirect us to be more effective. In the process there may be some days of “blindness” while waiting for information and confirmation.

III. The Lord Connected Saul

A. First, with Ananias as an individual connection

B. Second, with the Church (universal) through baptism (v.18)

C. Third, with the fellowship of believers (v.19)

Note: The Lord connects us on purpose. We must be willing to follow His lead and be connected to the people He brings. Church connection needs to be for the right reasons, not superficial or consumeristic ones.

IV. The Lord Empowered Saul

A. He was empowered to speak (v.22)

B. He was empowered with knowledge (v.22 & 24)

C. He was empowered to escape (v.25 – w/ help of others)

Note: The Lord empowers us for His work. We are beneficiaries of the empowerment, but it is for His glory!

V. Conclusion

Question: Has the Lord ever confronted you? Redirected you? Connected you? Empowered you? How and why?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 14 (4/26/20)

Acts 8:26-40 “The Communication of Faith”

Intro: Communicating faith and Biblical truth can be intimating. Questions come to mind like:

  • What if I say something wrong?
  • What I’m asked a question I can’t answer?
  • What if it damages our relationship?

In Acts 8, we have the record of Philip (who was one of the original 7 deacons) teaching in Samaria, who was suddenly enlisted to go talk to someone:

Read 8:26-40

3 things about communicating faith and scripture:

I. We Must Follow the Holy Spirit’s Lead

(although an angel did the talking, it was God orchestrating)

A. Philip received no reason or explanation as to why (and it was a physical journey, not like after), but he went

B. The ministry he was doing in Samaria was both successful and promising (compared to a desert road with little to no people on it)

C. He was instructed to overtake the chariot as just the right time

II. We Must Speak God’s Word

There are several reasons why it’s important to be focused on the Word:

A. It is the foundation of faith – Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

B. (v.35a) Philip started where he was at in his question

C. (v.35b) Philip “preached Jesus” to him – focused on Christ and His work

D. The word is to always be the points of reference (II Thessalonians 2:15)

(faith, relationships, politics, parenting, vocation)

III. We Must be Patient While God Produces the Fruit

A. God was already at work in the Eunuch’s life

B. God used the words of Philip to “connect-the-dots” of faith

C. The Eunuch is who asked for the chariot to stop for baptism (not Philip)

D. Remember the important balance – patience shouldn’t be to the point of not speaking, or speaking too much without patience

Trust the Lord with the balance!

IV. Conclusion

 Question: Which is the hardest part of the three:

  • Following the Spirit?
  • Speaking the word?
  • Being patient for the results?
  • Why?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 13 (4/19/20)

Acts 8:4-25 “The Center of Faith”

Intro: As the church grew, things began to happen that help us understand much of what happens in our own time regarding genuine faith.

Read 8:4-25

I. There is Word-Centered Faith

(Remember how John began His gospel account-John 1)

A. It is an articulation of the Truth of Jesus: (like dot-to-dot) (v.4-6)

B. It is a receiving of the Truth of Jesus (John 4:41)

C. It produces joy from having learned the Truth of Jesus (v.8)

D. It results in a life lived according to the Truth of Jesus

However, as we see in the scriptures, we need to be aware of two other kinds as well:

II. There is Works-Centered Faith

A. Emotional ascent is temporary – consider (read) John 6:48-66

  • There was energy
  • There was hope
  • There was a crowd
  • Hard teaching thinned them out (and Jesus didn’t apologize)

B. Effort falls short – Galatians 1:6-9

  • From the beginning there were those peddling a works-based system
  • A “gospel” that includes additional requirements is heresy
  • A “gospel” that excludes repentance/faith exclusively in Christ is heresy

III. There is World-Centered Faith

(Simon is an example)

A. It accommodates pride (v.9-10)

  • There was the self-promotion
  • There was the “being heeded”

B. It accommodates envy (v.23)

  • There no longer was a “heeding” of him
  • There no longer was a crowd following him

C. It accommodates worldly values (v.23)

  • Simon was chained to habitual wrong (bound by iniquity)
  • Simon was fearful, but not repentant
  • According to early church father writings, Simon became the foundation of several heresies

IV. Conclusion

(recap) There is:

Word-centered faith

Works-centered faith

World-centered faith

Question: What do you see as the primary differences between the three?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 12 (3/29/20)

Acts 8:1-15 “God is in Control”

Intro: Story – Someone once said when you bring home a baby, you bring home a little dictator! Yes, it seems we come into the world wanting to control! We say the words sometimes “God is in Control”, but what does that mean in practical life? Here are a few thoughts regarding the early church in Jerusalem and how it relates to us and daily challenges:

Read 8:1-15,

II. There are Events Outside of our Control

Things were going great in the church at Jerusalem before ch.6v8 (probably felt like it would always be that way!)

A. For them: Political/Temple leadership arrangement was not of their choosing

B. For them: God had foreordained the reduction of Jerusalem’s influence

  • Its reduction meant the gospel to Samaria and others was providential (John 4)
  • Its reduction meant new leaders stepping up (like Philip) was also providential

C. Application for us: Very little in life will remain constant and static – life is dynamic (story of a “dynamo” making power – harness the power of the flow)

Remember: God is in control of events…

  • Abraham – God laid out the next 400 years to him
  • Joseph – His trials were outside his control but completely in God’s
  • Moses – God’s judgement on Egypt was the bigger picture
  • Jesus – He was in the boat all along with the disciples during the storm (but was always in control-spoke peace into the storm, Mark 4:35)

II. There are People Outside of our Control

A. For them: Peers such as the Synagogue of the Freedmen and Stephen (Ch.6)

B. For them: Authorities such as High Priest and Saul (his actions were a direct attempt to control the situation even though his mentor Gamaliel had advised against it)

C. Application for us: People make choices that can affect themselves (and us)

Remember: God is in control of people…

  • Abraham – could not control Lot’s choices
  • Joseph – Brothers, Potiphar’s wife, fellow prisoner forgetting him
  • Moses – The people rebelling and complaining, the 10 spies spreading doubt
  • Jesus – Lies, schemes, abandonment, (but He was always in control)

III. Time is Outside of our Control

A. For them: the timeline of the church was on God’s schedule

B. For them: more time for Stephen would have made strategic sense/been desired

C. Application for us: We often don’t understand God’s timing because we cannot see the bigger picture as He does

Remember: God is in Control of time…

  • Abraham – waiting period for Isaac (tried to facilitate the prophecy w/Hagar)
  • Joseph – perfect timing for famine preparation/provision
  • Moses – 40 years waiting in the desert before the bush encounter
  • Jesus – He waited, moved and ministered specifically by the Father’s timeline

Two take-aways:

  1. Attempting to maintain control of events and people can be very problematic (Abraham, Saul, Peter)
  2. Hope is built on the truth that God is in control
  • He is with you “in the storm”
  • He is aware of the people and even providentially uses them
  • He knows waiting is tough but asks us to trust in the meantime
  • Romans 8:28 really is true…”for those who love God and are called according to His purpose”

Question: What have you learned about trusting that God is truly in control?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 11 (3/22/20)

Acts 6:8-15, 7:54-60 “Determined Purpose”

Intro: There is a local man who walks to McDonald’s every day at the same time whether it’s sunny, raining, hot, cold, or storming. It absolutely does no matter what the weather is, he leaves at the same time. We see him on our school commute each day (before the virus intermission). He has what I call “Determined Purpose”. Yes, it may be just a trip to get coffee, but the idea is that he has predetermined that he is going…period.

Read 6:8-15, (story/recap Stephen’s sermon), 7:54-60

In consideration of Stephen, 3 things about determined purpose for the follower of Christ:

I. Determine to be Faithful

A. Be led by the Spirit (6:3) (yielding to His lead)

B. Walk by faith (6:3) (forward movement, live action)

C. Demonstrate good character (6:3) (building a reputation over time)

D. Commit ahead of time (like the guy walking, conditions are irrelevant)

II. Determine to be Truthful

A. Seek wisdom of the Lord, not man (6:10)

B. Speak of what you know to be true (which is enough 7:1-53)

C. Be mindful ahead of time:

  • There will be dishonest people (6:11)
  • Your words can/will be twisted (6:13)
  • Conviction always produces something (7:54)

III. Determine to be Graceful

A. Seek a “settled peace” based on Christ in you (6:15)

B. Look to Jesus for reassuring power (7:55-56)

C. Be an agent of forgiveness (7:60)

Being faithful is determining to make the walk…every day.

Questions:

  1. What do you consider the hardest of the “determines”?
  2. What helps you overcome the challenges?

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“The Living Church” series – Part 10 (3/8/20)

Acts 6:1-7 “Three Values of the Jerusalem Church”

Intro: Political mailers and ads often tout “values”. Conservative, traditional, small town, etc. to convey an idea about the personal character of the candidate. When we consider the early church, what were some of its values? In other words, what did they value most in their practice of faith? Let’s consider that question with verses 1-7 of chapter 6.

Read Acts 5:1-7

I. They Valued People (v.1)

A. There was significance in the church taking care of widows

  • The ancient world was generally very cruel to widows (but the church cared for them)
  • There was a mix of both local Jews (traditional Hebrew culture) and Hellenized (Greek speaking and culturally different) widows

B. Division is a constant danger (subtle and slow at times)

C. There was healthy respect for the Hellenist’s concerns

  • The Apostles didn’t ignore their grievance
  • The Apostles didn’t overreact
  • The Apostles acknowledged the problem instead of denying or deflecting

II. They Valued Ministry

A. They recognized the practical part of ministry

  • Ministry happens where we actually live
  • Ministry involves routine things (like bread)

B. They recognized the spiritual part of ministry (v.24)

  • They didn’t lessen their commitment to the Word
  • They didn’t neglect spending time in prayer

C. They recognized the need to prioritize both which brought balance and synergy

III. They Valued Disciple-making

A. They sought leaders from among the people (v.3 & 5)

B. They established qualifications

  • Good reputation
  • Full of the Holy Spirit
  • Wise
  • Which is further built on in 1 Timothy 3:8-13

C. They recognized and commissioned them with the laying on of hands (v.6)

D. The delegated ministry to them

IV. Conclusion

The values of the church at Jerusalem spoke for them. With priests coming to join (v.7b), the atmosphere must have been welcoming and compelling.

Question: “What values are being communicated by your life?”

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“The Living Church” series – Part 9 (3/1/20)

Acts 5:12-42 “This Life”

Intro: I recently saw the beginning of a George Washington biography and unfortunately is a victim of history “revisionism”. It was an example of “deconstructing” the facts and writings and putting them back together to form a modern interpretation with an agenda driven narrative. For example, it’s problematic for a commentator to make pointed statements starting with “He was thinking…” or “He thought…”, without a letter, journal entry, speech or other form of expression to substantiate it. The study and interpretation of historical figures cannot be separated from their context. With the events of the early church in Jerusalem, it’s important (as with all scripture) to be aware of both the scriptural and literal contexts. One such teaching was Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 (read) and with that parable in mind, let’s read the first portion of text for today:

Read Acts 5:12-32

In the middle of a jailbreak story, we get an insight into their approach to “this life” (v.20)

I. They Were Teaching Holistically (v.20)

A. They taught the big, complete picture

B. They scattered the same seed to everyone

C. “Greater Jerusalem” represents the first two groups (Matthew verses 19-20)

  • Seed on wayside soil
  • Seed on stony soil

II. They Were Focused on Obedience (v.29)

A. Temple leadership was like the thorn-filled soil

B. In the beginning, they engaged Jesus (at 12 years old an early ministry)

C. They even agreed with Gamaliel and took a wait and see attitude

D. Thorns grew and choked out any possibility of truly appreciating/receiving the gospel for what it is (and the messengers that carried it)

  • Jesus described it as “the cares of this world” and the “deceitfulness of riches”
  • They had heard the truth clearly from Jesus/disciples and witnessed miraculous power, but the “thorns” choked it out.

III. They Were Empowered by the Holy Spirit (v.32)

A. The good soil involves obedience

  • Peter connected obedience to themselves (v.29)
  • And to “this life” of following Christ (v.32)

B. We are surrounded by all four soils (that’s our context)

C. Obedience like v.29 is to be our approach

IV. Conclusion

Be consistent in sowing the seed. The soil is what makes the difference, so don’t get too distracted by what the crop is/isn’t.

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“The Living Church” series – Part 8 (2/23/20)

Acts 5:1-11 “The Ways of Pride”

Intro: Personal story of a symptom of pride

Today we’re looking at a shocking moment in the Jerusalem church that highlights the reality of pride:

Read Acts 5:1-11

I. Pride is a Schemer (v.4)

A. There was premeditation (under no obligation or command to sell the land and give the money)

B. They recognized an opportunity for recognition (Barnabas 3:35-37)

C. They envisioned an end result focused on themselves (honored as charitable, etc.)

II. Pride is a Liar (v.4)

A. There was dishonesty with the church and the leaders

More importantly,

B. There was dishonesty with God

III. Pride is a Resister

A. There was an opportunity to tell the truth or a lie (v.4)

B. There was a “doubling down” (v.8) (dug in the heels)

IV. Pride is a Betrayer

A. Ultimately the truth comes out (v.9)

B. The church was shocked back to reality and the real possibility that sin can be present within the fellowship (v.5 & 11)

C. The “Law of the Harvest” always proves true (Galatians 6:7-10)

D. “And let us not grow weary in doing good” (Gal. 6:9)

V. Conclusion

Questions:

  • Pride is a sneaky nasty thing
  • It can show up unexpected and in unexpected ways
  • Remember the Law of the Harvest…sow good seeds

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“The Living Church” series – Part 7 (2/16/20)

Acts 4:23-37 “Strength under Control” (the concept of “praus”)

Intro: Personal story of motorcycles and power under control

Read Acts 4:23-37

Today we’re considering the reality that the early church leaders were empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great signs and miracles, but they did not seek to wield it for personal glory or revenge:

I. They Acknowledged God

A. They acknowledged His supremacy (v.24 “You are God”)

B. They acknowledged His authority (v.24 “Maker of everything”)

C. They acknowledged His Sovereignty (v.28 “whatever Your hand”)

II. They Asked for God’s Help

A. They admitted vulnerability (v.29)

B. They affirmed service the Lord (v.25-27 – models of David and Jesus)

C. They demonstrated faith (v.30)

D. They prayed for boldness to speak the Name in the face of threats (v.29)

E. They gave witness to the Lord and directed attention to Him (v.33)

III. They Lived in Grace

A. Grace was upon them from the Lord (v.33)

B. Grace was shown to one another (v.32)

C. Grace was evident to others (v.34-37)

IV. Conclusion

Questions:

  • Are feeling intimidated?
  • Are you struggling with fear?
  • Are you tempted to react in your own power?
  • Remember, strength under control is God’s way…seek the Holy Spirit’s empowering to act, speak, and respond in His power.

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“The Living Church” series – Part 6 (2/9/20)

Acts 4:1-22 “Facing an Unfair Audience”

Intro:

  • So far in the narrative of the church, things have been going fine (people responding to the gospel, lives changed, Holy Spirit working, miracles and signs)
  • Then out-of-nowhere trouble showed up
  • They were singled out and put at a disadvantage

Read Acts 3:1-26

Today we’re considering three encouraging points when facing an unfair audience:

I. We Can Have Confidence in the Truth

A. Peter communicated the real truth of the gospel (v.12)

B. Peter presented the present reality as it really was (v.10)

  • “You crucified Jesus and God raised Him from the dead”
  • “It is in His name this man was healed”
  • There was no softening of the facts in order to be more diplomatic

C. Peter pointed out the truth of prophecy (v.11)

D. Peter echoed Jesus about the exclusivity of the gospel (v.12, John 14:6)

II. We Can Have Boldness from our Relationship with Jesus

A. Peter simply connecting-the-dots speaking in the same way Jesus modeled it (v.13) not sophisticated philosophy

B. They were “found out” to be simple fishermen “who had been with Jesus”

C. They had moved beyond the fear of being looked down upon by the Temple leadership and were comfortable with who they were (no more talk of pride-filled glory in a new political kingdom)

III. We Can Rely on the Purity of the Message

A. We are to speak of “what we know” (like Peter)

B. There are many confirmations for one willing to look (such as people glorifying God and evidence of a beggar’s changed life v.21-22)

C. There will always be the ones who refuse to accept/submit (and winning a debate with them will not cause them to surrender and accept the message-speak the truth in love and let the results be what they are)

IV. Conclusion

Questions: “Are you confident in the truth? Bold in your relationship with Jesus? Relying on the purity of the message?”

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“The Living Church” series – Part 5 (2/2/20)

Acts 3:1-26 “Giving of What We Have”

Intro: Last week we considered some of the take-aways from the Jerusalem church. Next is the story of a generous act, but not in the sense of what was expected. Let’s take a look:

Read Acts 3:1-26

I. There was a Need

A. An obvious physical need

B. A less obvious spiritual need

C. Along with a social need

D. There are a variety of needs all around us

II. There was an Opportunity

A. It was a routine day – “a typical Tuesday”

B. It was familiar surroundings (including the beggar who was a daily presence)

C. It was a divine appointment (God takes routine moments and makes them extraordinary!)

III. There was a Willingness

A. A willingness to notice him

B. A willingness to identify the source of power

C. A willingness to act without knowing the full outcome ahead of time

IV. There was a Change

A. Physical healing (like the beggar sometimes)

B. Spiritual healing (the primary need)

C. Change in others as a ripple effect

V. Conclusion

Questions: “What do you have to give? And how can you give it?”

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“The Living Church” series – Part 4 (1/26/20)

Acts 2:40-47 “7 Timeless Take-aways from the Jerusalem Church”

Intro: “The difference between descriptive texts and prescriptive texts”

Read Acts 2:40-47

I. There was Preaching of a Complete Gospel (v.40)

  • Testified to the real story (v.14-39)
  • Exhorted, challenged and offered a chance to respond
  • Challenged them to separate to a new way of life

II. There was Public Testimony (v.41)

  • They were publicly immersed as a display of their commitment
  • There were 3,000 at once which means it was not a quiet event in the shadows

III. There was a Healthy Spiritual Balance (v.42)

  • Steadfast commitment
  • Teaching
  • Fellowship
  • Worship (through communion meal)
  • Prayer

IV. There was Validation (v.43)

  • With a confirmation of soul level resonance
  • With a deep sense of spiritual affinity

V. There was Authentication (v.43)

  • Authenticated the Apostles specifically as the leaders
  • Authenticated the message spoken by the Apostles
  • Was the beginning of a pattern to authenticate message and messengers

VI. There was Spirit of Generosity (v.41-45)

  • Context of previous chapters is important (who the people were and that many were sojourners)
  • Temporary situation, not a prescriptive text in the strict sense, but very revealing of their selfless attitudes after conversion

VII. There was Spiritual Harmony (v.46-47)

Harmony was produced by:

  • People that were full of gladness
  • People with an attitude of simplicity (humility)
  • People eager to give God praise

VIII. Conclusion

My Prayer for us this week is to reflect all 7:

  • Preaching of a complete gospel message with our life and words
  • Living a public testimony of Christ in us
  • Having spiritual balance
  • To be validated by the Holy Spirit
  • To be authenticated by the Holy Spirit to others
  • To have generosity
  • To live in harmony because of lives that are full of gladness, simplicity and praise

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“The Living Church” series – Part 3 (1/19/20)

Acts 2:14-39 “The True Gospel”

Intro: Pick a major person or event from history. The facts of their life or the event are what they are, whether known or not. In other words, there is only one set of facts, regardless of whether the correct information is told, or even known. What actually happened, is what really happened. Telling the story of the gospel and the early church is the same way. The true gospel of Jesus; which are the facts of His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, establishment of the church, and sending of the Holy Spirit happened as they did, and communicating a true version is relating a biblically accurate one (not a loose or edited one).

Read Acts 2:14-39

I. The True Gospel is Doctrinal

A. Built on the foundation of the old Testament (v.16-21, v. 25-28, v.34-35)

B. Facilitated by the scripture:

“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” – Romans 10:17 NKJV

II. The True Gospel is Historical

A. Jesus’ life on Earth divided time (even if modern historians try to change the reference to a non-Jesus acronym like B.C.E. etc.)

B. Jesus’ accomplished mission launched the church

III. The True Gospel is Transformational

A. The example of Peter

B. The new beginning (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

C. The on-going transformation (sanctification) (Ephesians 5:8-21)

IV. The True Gospel is Available

A. It’s an open call (for now) (v.21, v.39, John 3:16)

B. It’s a personal call (Romans 10:9-10)

V. Conclusion

Questions: “What is the Gospel to you? How do you describe it to others?”

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“The Living Church” series – Part 2 (1/12/20)

Acts 1:15-2:13 “4 Ways the Church is Empowered”

Intro: “Wireless”

  • Wireless listening devices (personal story)
  • They are enabled to do their work (playing music, voice by the base unit)
  • Holy Spirit enables us in the same way to produce something as ones “connected” and empowered

Before reading the text, there are a couple of points of interest:

  • Story of choosing Matthias
  • Description and context of Passover, crucifixion, resurrection, Offering of First Fruits in the Law of Moses, 40 days, ascension, Feast of Weeks in the Law of Moses (Pentecost-Hellenistic “50 days”)
  • Pentecost Feast was on a Sunday-The Lord’s Day

Read Acts 2:1-13

4 ways the church is empowered:

I. There is Empowerment Beyond Natural Limitations (v.4)

A. Holy Spirit’s filling included all disciples (not just the 11 or most likely) (v.3)

B. Other languages – unique and specifically the listeners heard in their own first language, not a common one like Greek, Latin or Aramaic

II. There is Empowerment of Unlikely People (v.7)

A. Their heritage: Galileans were known as uneducated, less sophisticated, at times rough and rebellious

B. Completely without position or official recognition

III. There is Empowerment for God’s Glory (v.11)

A. True empowering from the Holy Spirit directs glory to God (not the messenger)

B. True empowering identifies God’s involvement and goodness

IV. There is Empowerment that Prompts Reactions

A. Many reacted by seeking answers (v.12) (as many will do today when presented truth)

B. Some reacted by mocking what they didn’t understand (v.13) (as many still do today)

V. Conclusion

Questions: “Are we empowered?” Constrained by our natural limits? Feel unlikely? Remember, it for His glory and expect various reactions

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“The Living Church” series – Part 1 (1/5/20)

Acts 1:1-14 “3 Ways the Church was Established in Power”

Intro: 40 days with someone is long enough for the opportunity to have many good conversations. 40 days ago, it was the day the before Thanksgiving. Imagine having an important quest with you since then and every day was committed to having meals together and engaging in conversation. That was the case for the disciples and the time spent with Jesus between the resurrection and the ascension was powerful, encouraging, enlightening, affirming and necessary. Jesus didn’t leave the disciples to simply figure it out to preach a half-baked gospel. He spent weeks with them to answer questions, share new information, ease fears, correct misunderstandings, forgive sin, restore confidence and give guidance.

When we read Luke’s account of the origin of the Church, it’s the story of a unified fellowship moving forward (without all the future details) with a confidence in the Savior.

Read Acts 1:1-14

3 ways the church was established in power:

I. The Power of Jesus’ Resurrection

A. Proof of life (v.3)

  • 40 days of physical presence and seen by many (including 500 at one time-I Cor. 15:6)
  • Debunked false story of body theft being spread by Jewish leadership
  • Coupled with the fact that Romans proved He was dead by a spear to the lungs/heart, resurrection was undeniable

B. Proof of payment (Luke 24:44-49) His death fit all the specifications to meet the Law’s requirements (Paid in full)

C. Proof of a new body (I Cor. 15:50-58 – Last Adam, firstborn of the grave)

Power over sin and death achieved!

II. The Power of the Holy Spirit (v.7-8)

A. The Holy Spirit changes us

  • Initially in salvation transformation
  • On-going in sanctification

B. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin (John 16:5-15)

  • The Lost to be saved
  • Th Saved to be obedient

C. The Holy Spirit guides (John 16:5-15)

  • In truth
  • Only according the Father
  • Points glory to the Son (according the Father’s plan)

Power of the Holy Spirit’s presence and ministry!

III. The Power of the Message

(The job of a witness is to tell the truth of what they observed, did, etc., not to be creative and try to fill in the blanks)

Based on the early church’s example and the scriptural mandate:

A. We are to be witnesses of the scripture record

  • Not getting creative by “reading between the lines”
  • Not attempting to “fill in the blanks”
  • Not adjusting the text to be more palatable to a sinful culture
  • Not pulling verses from context to support non-connected points
  • Witnesses to the Biblical record!

B. We are to be witnesses to a changed life/active faith

  • Your personal story of faith and what Jesus has done in your life
  • Your personal story of on-going life as a believer (not glossed over, but an honest one)

C. We are to be witnesses to a future hope (Colossians 1:24-29) “Christ in us the hope of glory!”)

D. We are to be witnesses wherever we go as God expands the kingdom through us

  • Like He did with the early church (He orchestrated the process)
  • He does the same with us (guiding out steps)

Power of a message that changes lives!

IV. Conclusion

Question: “Is there power in your life?” If you have been transformed by Christ, then:

  • Prayerfully consider the power that lives in you (Holy Spirit)
  • Prayerfully consider the power of the message that changed you and can change others

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