Acts

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A Shared Focus

August 26, 2018 | Acts 2:42-47 | community groups, prayer

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In the book of Acts, Luke described the “authentic community” of the first century church. He said they were marked by four “devotions.” They were: a shared faith, a shared family, a shared food, and a shared focus. We can experience this authentic community when we pursue these four devotions. Today, we’re going to focus on the 4th devotion, “A Shared Focus.”

A Shared Food

August 19, 2018 | Acts 2:42-47 | community, community groups, food, Lord's Supper

Full Transcript Available

There’s something about shared food, a shared meal that leads to real community. The same was true of the first century church. In the book of Acts, Luke described the “authentic community” of the first century church. He said they were marked by four “devotions.” They were a shared faith, a shared family, a shared food, and a shared focus. We can experience this authentic community when we pursue these four devotions. Today, we’re going to focus on the third devotion, “A Shared Food.”

A Shared Family

August 12, 2018 | Acts 2:42-47 | community, community groups

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Sin causes us to be separated from God and from each other. But when we come to Christ, He reconciles us to God and to one another and causes us to be devoted to God and one another. This is what we see in the book of Acts. Luke described the “authentic community” of the first century church. He said they were marked by four “devotions.” They were a shared faith, a shared family, a shared food, and a shared focus. We can experience this community when we pursue these four devotions. Today, we’re going to focus on the second devotion, “A Shared Family.”

A Shared Faith

August 5, 2018 | Acts 2:42-47 | community, community groups

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While communities based around politics, sports, BBQ and regional accents may help us find people to associate with as friends, they fall far short of the authentic community that God has in mind for us. In the book of Acts, Luke described the “true community” of the first century church. He noted that they were marked by four “devotions.” We can experience this authentic community when we pursue these four devotions.

“As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip” (Acts 28:10 NLT).

July 12, 2018

PAUL’S MALTA MISSION
Paul spent three months on the island of Malta after being shipwrecked there. He healed people from all over the island, including the chief official’s father, in the name of Jesus. What should’ve been a disaster turned out to be a divine opportunity. Paul had been rejected in Jerusalem, but he was honored in Malta. The gospel was going out to the Gentiles.

“The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan” (Acts 27:42-43 NLT).

July 10, 2018

MIRACLE ON THE MED
When it appeared that Paul and the 276 people aboard the ship would survive the storm, he and his fellow prisoners were threatened by the soldiers. Yet, even in this, God protected Paul, giving him favor with the commanding officer. The storm, the sailors and the soldiers, all at different times, threatened Paul’s life, but God intervened every time. Not only did Paul survive, but all 276 passengers did as well. Many a ship and all aboard have lost their lives in lesser storms on the Mediterranean Sea, but God had called Paul to go to Rome, and to Rome he would go. The miracle on the Med gave Paul a platform to preach the gospel to every passenger with great credibility.

“But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul” (Acts 27:11 NLT).

July 9, 2018

PAUL’S INFLUENCE GROWS THROUGH TRIAL
The Roman officer in charge of getting Paul and the other prisoners to Rome showed great favor to Paul, allowing him to travel with his friends, Luke and Aristarchus, and permitting him to go ashore at Sidon to visit friends and get personal supplies. However, his kindness didn’t extend to taking advice from Paul on maritime matters. Ignoring Paul’s warning not to sail, the Roman officer chose to follow the advice of the ship’s captain and owner, who preferred a more comfortable winter’s anchorage in nearby Phoenix. Yet, as soon as they set out on what should’ve been a short journey along the Southern coast of Crete, a “Northeaster” of typhoon force blew them far out to sea. As their condition grew more desperate, Paul’s prior warning must have continued to ring in the Roman officer’s ears.

Paul’s influence began to grow with the Romans and the sailors from that day. As their situation in the storm worsened, Paul’s voice would became the only voice of hope in their midst. The Lord gave a Paul a platform of influence everywhere he went, that he might share the gospel with everyone.

‘Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”’ (Acts 26:29 NLT).

July 8, 2018

PAUL’S PURPOSE AND PRAYER FOR HIS AUDIENCE
After Paul gave his defense before Festus, King Agrippa, Bernice and a crowd of Roman military officers and Jewish dignitaries, Agrippa realized Paul’s purpose. It wasn’t only a defense of his innocence, but a testimony of his salvation through the resurrected Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to persuade his audience to join him in believing and trusting in Jesus. This is why Agrippa interrupted Paul, saying, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”

Agrippa got the point. Paul’s purpose and prayer was that they believe the gospel and follow Jesus. Agrippa had used the name “Christian,” a name first used in Antioch to describe disciples of Jesus (See Acts 11:26). It was a new name, more respectful than that which Paul’s accusers had used, calling him a “ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).

The “Nazarene” is what they had called Jesus. And it is the name that ISIS recently used to label Christians in the Middle East, forcing them to wear the Arabic letter “N” on their clothes and painting it on their houses.

Paul was proud to wear either name, as long as they identified him with Christ. His purpose and prayer was that others would join him.

“So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent men of the city. Festus ordered that Paul be brought in” (Acts 25:23 NLT).

July 7, 2018

PAUL’S DEFENSE MARKED BY POMP AND PROMINENCE
Porcius Festus was the new Roman governor over Judea. He replaced Felix who had been recalled to Rome by Nero. As a result, Festus inherited the case against the apostle Paul, which Felix had delayed, hoping for a bribe. Historians agree, that overall, Festus was a better governor than Felix, who was actually recalled because of his poor administration. Yet, even Festus was easily wooed by the Jewish leaders who wanted Paul’s trial moved to Jerusalem, so they could kill him along the way. Festus was ready to move the trial from Caesarea to Jerusalem as a favor to the Jewish leaders, but Paul appealed to Caesar. Festus had to honor Paul’s request because of his Roman citizenship.

The next day after the trial, Festus received King Agrippa II and his sister, Bernice, who came to pay their respects to the new governor. Agrippa II, whose birth name was Marcus Julius Agrippa, was raised and educated in Rome, while his father, King Herod Agrippa I, reigned in Judea. It was his father who had beheaded the apostle James. Coincidently, Agrippa’s sister, Drusilla, was the wife of the previous governor, Felix. So, when Festus began to talk about the unusual case concerning a man named Paul that Felix had left to him, Agrippa was, no doubt, fully aware. When Agrippa asked to hear Paul for himself, Festus happily agreed.

Can you visualize the scene where the auditorium is arrayed in the banners of Rome as trumpets sound announcing the arrival of King Agrippa and his sister, Bernice? Can you see all the Roman military officers decked out in their dress uniforms, gathered there at the order of Governor Felix, along with the prominent Jewish leaders of the region who had received his invitation? Can you see the apostle Paul being led in to face this illustrious crowd, dressed in a plain robe with chains on his wrists?

The apostle Paul was given this amazing opportunity to give his testimony and preach about the resurrected Jesus to all the pomp and prominence of the region. And preach he did.

“After two years went by in this way, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And because Felix wanted to gain favor with the Jewish people, he left Paul in prison” (Acts 24:27 NLT).

July 6, 2018

PAUL’S TWO YEARS IN CAESAREA MARITIMA
Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and delivered to Marcus Antonius Felix, the Roman Governor of Judea, at Caesarea Maritima (“By the Sea”). He was imprisoned there for two years, but was allowed the freedom to be visited by friends and receive help from them. Although it was the unscrupulous Felix who kept Paul there, hoping for a bribe and seeking favor with the Jewish leaders, surely it was God’s will for Paul to stay there for a while. For Paul had the freedom to regularly preach to Felix and his wife, Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Agrippa I. Paul also had the freedom to reach out to his Christian brothers and sisters in Israel, while being protected by mighty Rome from his Jewish enemies.

Caesarea Marítima was the major seaport for the Judean Province. It was a beautiful place. Herod’s summer palace was there. And so was the home of the Roman Governor. Paul was able to expand his ministry influence, while living in a Roman prison at this important crossroads. Soon Porcius Festus, the new governor, would hear Paul’s testimony and ultimately send him on to Rome to appeal to Caesar.