Monday, March 28, 2011
Sermon Title: The Church You've Always Longed For - Encounters the Living God
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Theologian John W. Scott has written about this passage the following: "When ordered to be silent, the apostles make clear that they "cannot help speaking about what [they] have seen and heard" (4:20). How did they sustain such determination? They looked in prayer to their sovereign Lord and found the strength to continue its advances with boldness.
The first Christians were realists, and so must we be. These threats, coming as they did from the highest civil authority, had the force of law. Obedience to Christ in the midst of a hostile environment was costly. Will we realistically face that cost when confronted with the same scenario?"
The early Church was able to face and overcome great opposition because they knew and served the Living God. Through their love for God, they were able to see that God is over and in control of their past, future and present. And, we, too, can be comforted and inspired with the same perspective. On Sunday I will speak about this as continue our sermon series, "The Church You've Always Longed For..." Hope to see you then!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
A member of the international ministry team, The Power Team, will bring the sermon on Sunday. The members of New Beginnings Baptist Church will join us for the service. Please invite someone to come and join you, as God is sure the speak through this man's testimony. Hope to see you then!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sermon Title: The Church You've Always Longed for Models Integrity
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
George MacDonald has written, "Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not." This is what Ananias and Sapphira was doing in this story - they were true hypocrites, in that they were "wearing a mask, playing a part" and not truly who they claimed to be. Warren Wiersbe wrote that the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was, "...putting on a lovely front in order to conceal the shabby sin in their lives, sin that cost them their lives." We, too, often commit the sin that Ananias and Sapphira committed - we often hide our sins with a covering of false righteousness and ultimately, if we allow our hypocrisy to remain unchecked, it will destroy our relationship with God.
This coming Sunday we will discuss more about Ananias and Sapphira, and see how Satan, pride and a desire to replace God caused them to lose their integrity and led to their demise. I hope to see you then!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Sermon Title: The Church You've Always Longed for - Empowers Each Individual
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.
The City of Alexandria was in Egypt on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean, named after its founder, Alexander the Great. The city was a fusion of Greek, Jewish, and Oriental beliefs, and it was there that Apollos, who was an intelligent Jew, was educated. Through his study of Scripture and influence of the ministry of John the Baptist, he came to understand that the Messiah would be coming through the Person of Jesus Christ. However, he did not know about Christ's death and resurrection. Notice that Priscilla and Aquila did not shun Apollos because of his lack of understanding. Rather, they both took him into their home and spent time with him so that he could fully understand what Christ had done. Priscilla and Aquila are examples to us all, showing how we, too, should invite others in our lives to show them the way of Christ. This coming Sunday I will speak about the example that Priscilla and Aquila set for us, and how we as a church can empower others to be all that God had intended them to be by following their example. Hope to see you then!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Sermon Title: The Church You Have Always Longed for – Captures the Heart of The Community
"The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed."
In many communities all across our country, the local church is irrelevant and powerless to make a real difference in people lives. There are many reasons for this, however, there is no disputing the fact that a majority of churches in America are declining in attendance and influence. This was not true for the early church that is referenced in the above text. They were a church that others in the community “esteemed” and thought very highly of. They impacted the community, and through their ministry the lives of many, many people were literally changed and transformed. This was not a dying, powerless church – it was truly a church alive with the power of the Holy Spirit that eventually captured the heart of the community that it resided. How did they do this? This Sunday we will examine this question as we continue the sermon series, “The Church You Have Always Longed for…” Hope to see you then!