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Share Your Story, Share God’s Heart (Acts 26)

As we near the close of the book of Acts Paul is in Jerusalem defending himself once again, this time to King Agrippa. In giving his defense he boldly stands before Agrippa and shares his testimony. He shares his life before Christ, his credentials as a Pharisee and his own disbelief of Jesus and his participation in the church’s persecution. Then he shares his conversion, his encounter with the risen Jesus and how that encounter changed everything. Even as he stares down the possibility of imprisonment or even death, Paul is less concerned with his physical life and more concerned with the spiritual life of those around him. When Agrippa asks Paul “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul shares the heart that motivates the entirety of his life: “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but that all who hear me this day might become such as I am – except for these chains.” What motivates Paul to share his testimony, no matter the opposition or the cost, is that he shares the heart of God “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

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Starting Where People Are (Acts 17:16-34)

Paul’s engagement with the people of Athens gives us some very helpful principles for how to engage people with the gospel. One of the key skills we need to learn if we are going to be effective witnesses for Christ is that we have to meet people where they are. Paul contextualized his message to the people he was dealing with and the questions they were asking. In Acts 17:2 we see Paul addressing Jews by appealing to scripture. Here, in dealing with Greek Philosophers who had a different source of authority and different questions they were asking, he changes his approach while keeping his message. As we engage with people who don’t know Jesus we, like Paul, ought to be grieved by their lostness, look for points of agreement, expose the weakness of their answers/solutions, proclaim God’s greatness and point them to Jesus and His resurrection.

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Jesus + Nothing (Acts 15 with reference to Acts 13:17-43)

It’s one thing to confess that salvation comes through Christ alone, but it’s another to truly believe it and live it out. With Gentiles now being included into what had previously been a Jewish-only church the idea that Jesus alone saves began to be put to the test. What about circumcision? What about the Jewish dietary laws? Doesn’t being a Christian also require one to follow the law of Moses? Even today it can be a struggle for us to believe that Jesus alone is enough to save. Can you be saved and not baptized? Doesn’t being a Christian also require giving to the church? Serving in the Church? Reading your Bible? While all of those are good things, maybe even obvious fruit of someone who has truly been saved, what the council of Jerusalem proclaimed and what God makes clear in scripture, is that salvation = Jesus + nothing.

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Good News for Everyone (Acts 10-11)

These two chapters mark a pivotal moment in the history of the church. Here God makes it clear to Peter and through Peter to the rest of the church community that the gospel is not just good news for Jews, it is good news for gentiles as well. In fact what we see throughout the pages of the New Testament is that when it comes to the gospel barriers and partitions that divide and exclude are broken down and destroyed. As Paul says in his latter to the church in Galatia: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This means all our old prejudices need to be put to death and all our previous identities are made secondary because of the supernatural unity we are given through Jesus.

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Good News That Annoys (Acts 4:1-27)

In Acts 4:2 Luke writes that the Sadducees were “greatly annoyed” with Peter and John “because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” When we function as Christ’s witnesses in this world, sooner or later (and likely sooner rather than later), we will end up saying things that greatly annoy the people and the culture that we find ourselves in. We should expect opposition and even persecution. That opposition and persecution shouldn’t cause us any worry or fear though, instead, we can speak with boldness like Peter and John did because we are convinced of the truth of what we have believed, seen and experienced and because God is in control and sovereign over all things.

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Powered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-47)

When Christ gave the mission of being His witnesses to the world it was accompanied by a promise: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” In chapter 2 of Acts we see the promise of Jesus fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. It was on that day that the church was born. Without the person of the Holy Spirit there is no power in the church, we have no ability to accomplish the mission God has tasked us with, but with the power of the Holy Spirit a fisherman who fled Jesus at His hour of need can preach boldly and see thousands repent and come to Christ, language barriers can be stripped away so that the gospel can be understood, a community of radical connection and generosity can be formed amongst people who may share nothing else in common, and God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

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Can I Get A Witness (Acts 1:1-11)

In the book of Acts, Luke continues his writing to Theophilus, moving from an account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to an account of the birth of the church and its growth from a group of 120 Jewish followers of Jesus in Jerusalem to a multi-racial movement that spread across the entire Roman world. A movement rooted in a mission given by Jesus to His followers just before He ascended to heaven: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The mission Jesus gave to His original disciples remains the mission of the church until Christ returns.

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Vision Sunday

Vision Sunday: Be Disciples Who Love God, Love Others, Serve the World

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The Purity Filter

Purity, in our culture, can seem like an old-fashion and outdated notion but God calls us to be people who are concerned with purity. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says that the pure in heart will be blessed because they will see God. In Colossians 3:5, Paul commands us to put to death impurity including sexual immorality, evil desire, and covetousness. As the people of God, we need to make sure that the things we are watching, listening to, and thinking about are pure and clean, and that we aren’t being tarnished by the pollution of this world in drawn into sin.

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When God Draws Near (Exodus 40)

God is honoured and worshipped through our generosity. In Exodus 35, the people of God responded out of hearts of generosity bringing their gold, silver, bronze, onyx, precious jewels, acacia wood, fine linens and all the other materials needed to build the Tabernacle. In fact, they brought so much that they had to be commanded not to bring anymore. In the same way, God stirs in the hearts of the people and those who He had blessed with gifting and skills to offer their service in the building of the Tabernacle. It is by means of the generosity of God’s people that the place of God’s dwelling comes to be.