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A Shared Focus

August 28, 2016 | Acts 2:42-47 | community, prayer

The early church had a shared language–– it was the language of prayer. It was a shared focus, one that focused on spending time together talking to God in prayer. How are you doing in this area? Do you pray? Do you pray with your spouse, with your kids? Do you pray with your family? How about with other believers? Are you devoted to praying together with God’s family? We can experience the same devotion to prayer that the early church did.

A Shared Food

August 21, 2016 | Acts 2:42-47 | community, food

There’s something about shared food, a shared meal that leads to authentic community. Every culture has its own distinct food. So does the family of God. However, isn’t the physical, but the spiritual food that makes for an authentic Christian community.

A Shared Family

August 14, 2016 | Acts 2:42-47 | community, fellowship

Just as our physical birth means we are a part of a family, our spiritual birth makes us part of God’s family. The early church cultivated that shared family by being devoted to the fellowship. Learn how we can cultivate a shared family in our church today.

A Shared Faith

August 7, 2016 | Acts 2:42-47 | community

The first century church had four devotions. The first was the apostle’s teaching. They were devoted to the preaching, teaching, study, and obeying of God’s Word.

“And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.” (Acts 27:35-36 ESV)

July 10, 2016

Paul’s status changed from prisoner to priest and from accused criminal to acting captain as everyone aboard the storm-driven ship began to listen to him. Although others may disregard our Christian testimony or even demean it, when storms come they often turn to the one who knows the Lord. This is what happened to Paul. Both the sailors and the soldiers were encouraged to hear his words.

“And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius” (Acts 27:1 ESV)

July 9, 2016

Dr. Luke once again includes himself in the Acts narrative with the use of the first person plural “we.” This is the last of the four “we passages” found in Acts (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-8; 27:1-28:16). Although there is some debate about these passages, the simplest explanation is that Luke was actually an eye witness of these four events. This explains the great detail of these passages, where Luke even gives the name (“Julius”), rank (“centurion”) and company (“Augustan Cohort”) of the one responsible for transporting Paul to Rome to appear before Caesar. Throughout the account of their sea voyage to Rome, this Roman centurion showed favor to Paul, allowing him to receive comfort from his friends when visiting a port and protecting him from his soldiers when they were shipwrecked. Luke speaks so favorably of Julius, and they spent so much time together, that one must wonder whether he came to faith during this time. Will “we” meet Julius the Centurion in heaven someday?

‘But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.’ (Acts 26:25 ESV)

July 8, 2016

When Felix, the Roman governor over Judea, heard Paul’s testimony, he accused him of being “out of his mind.” Felix recognized Paul as an educated man, referring to his “great learning” (v.24). Yet, Paul’s report of his vision of the resurrected Christ was too much for the Roman governor. He dismissed it as insanity. Paul’s response was notable. He replied that his testimony was both “true and rational.”
This reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ observation that the testimony concerning Jesus as the Christ can only rightly be answered in one of three ways:
1) It was false and Jesus knew it = Jesus was a LIAR.
2) It was false and Jesus didn’t know it = Jesus was a LUNATIC.
3) It is TRUE and Jesus proved it = JESUS IS LORD!
Felix dismissed Paul’s testimony as lunacy. Yet, many others believed. The truth is, many are “out of their minds” in this world. However, it isn’t those who believe, but those who reject Jesus as Lord, who have been given over to a “debased mind” (Rom.1:28).

“having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. ” (Acts 24:15 ESV)

July 6, 2016

Paul’s defense before the Roman governor Felix was simple, yet profound. While it was aimed at showing that he affirmed the same Scriptures and God that his accusers did, it also had the effect of elevating even the governor’s awareness that there was a court higher than Rome’s. Paul’s hope was in God. Not in Rome, nor Jerusalem. But in God alone. The only judge in whom he hoped to find favor was the Lord and his hope was secured in Christ as his advocate.

‘The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”’ (Acts 23:11 ESV)

July 5, 2016

Paul testified one last time before the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, but their hearts continued to be hardened. After being arrested by the Roman authorities, he heard Christ’s call to be encouraged and to set his sights on Rome. It seems that Paul’s final assignment was to testify of Jesus to those in authority in Rome. Paul had planted churches throughout Asia Minor and Greece, but his final mission was to represent Christ before the world’s greatest political leader, namely Caesar. If one viewed history only through a 1st-century lens, it would seem that Paul’s mission was a failure. Sure, he appeared before Caesar, but it ended with Paul’s execution. However, by the 3rd century, the Roman empire, including its emperor, had embraced Christianity.

“And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language” (Acts 21:40 ESV)

July 3, 2016

Even though Paul was beaten and falsely accused by a mob in Jerusalem, he was still determined to tell them the story of his conversion on the road to Damascus. The only reason he was in the Temple area was because the apostle James had asked him to take part in a Jewish purification rite in order to show his observance of the law to those who accused him otherwise. Paul’s submission to Christ and to the apostle James is in view here. Paul was a man under authority. So, when his life was threatened, instead of making a plea for his own life, he made a plea for those who persecuted him, that they might hear and believe the gospel.