As you read through the book of Acts look for…

  • How Jesus continues His work through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • Keep Jesus as the main character throughout the book of Acts.
  • In chapter 2, how the disciples began to answer the question, What Now?
  • How these apostles were sold out for the message of the gospel, completely surrendered.
  • The importance of individuals carrying forward the message of Jesus as His witnesses.
    1. Peter began leading the movement.
    2. Stephen and Philip were bold witnesses
    3. Other Christians shared their faith as they had opportunity.
    4. Paul went as a missionary to the Gentiles, rulers and Jews.
  • How the gospel message could not be stopped from spreading.
    • Acts 17:6– The men who were known for turning the world upside down.
  • Witnesses facing imprisonment, physical harm, and even death.
  • Acts 28:31 Everything that took place in the beginning of Acts that led to a man named Paul who was awaiting trial in Rome, the epicenter of the known world.
    • He was proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hinderance.
  • The book of Acts, starting with Jesus, the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit and a small group gathered in a room.
    • Devoting themselves to prayer
  • The gospel message spreading to the Jews, to the Gentiles and across the Roman world and beyond.
    • Only by the work of God.

Below are links to a couple of resources that are helpful in understanding the overall theme and history in the book of Acts.

“Pastor, I thought I was done with homework.”

First of all, I want to give you a couple of links for the “homework” I assigned during my sermon this past Sunday. If you are reading a print copy of this article, simply search some of the keywords below.

The first is a three-minute clip from the S.M. Lockridge sermon “Sunday’s Comin.’” This is the famous section of one of the greatest sermons on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRiIpsbJW8o

The second item of homework is a Breakpoint Podcast episode featuring J. Warner Wallace. Wallace is a former detective with the Los Angeles Police Department and a former committed atheist. Wallace came to faith in Christ after examining the evidence of the claims of Jesus Christ and the evidence for His resurrection.
http://www.breakpoint.org/2019/04/podcast-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-with-j-warner-wallace/

Proverbs: Continually Relevant
If you have ever done a study or even a cursory reading of the book of Proverbs, you know that it is a book of eternal relevance. The entirety of the Word of God is perpetually relevant, and nothing illustrates that more than the book of Proverbs. For example, just listen to this gem: Proverbs 12:15 –”The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

As you read this collection of practical wisdom, you will be amazed at just how fresh and applicable the truth is in the twenty-first century. This is why I believe it is a perfect focus for our next sermon series.

Preaching the book of Proverbs is not without its challenges. At first blush, it can seem like a random collection of very important, yet disconnected nuggets of wisdom. In fact, one title for a sermon series on the book of Proverbs was, “God’s Post-It Notes.” I wish I had thought of that! However, the more you examine the book, the more you see that there are themes that rise to the surface.

Allow me to pull back the curtain for a moment regarding good preaching. Many of you have heard the term expository preaching. Without getting into the manifold variations, expository preaching basically means that you allow the text to speak for itself. The opposite, and I believe poorer practice, is to start with one’s own thoughts, and then attempt to interpret the text in such a way that it supports those thoughts. All too often this practice destroys coherence, draws scripture out of context, and most damagingly, clouds the overarching thrust of the preeminent author, the Holy Spirit of God.

After some good research on the plans that expository preachers have used through the decades, I believe I have some good direction. Practically, I will walk through the first several chapters of Proverbs in sequential expository format. The second part of the sermon series will follow a topical expository format, arranging the remaining verses of Proverbs around common themes that arise naturally from the text.

I would also like to challenge you to make the book of Proverbs a part of your daily reading during this sermon series. Nothing will drive these truths home like your own personal study reinforced by collective examination of the scripture. As you may know, the book of Proverbs contains thirty-one chapters, so that breaks down nicely to one chapter a day for most months.

Finally, I encourage you to come to this series with an open heart and active mind. The book of Proverbs is a book that is continually relevant.

Richest Blessings,

Pastor Mason

 

People are not pawns…

It is not revolutionary to state that addiction is difficult.  As I reflect upon this last week’s sermon, that becomes self-evident and further reinforced.  Whether it is substance abuse, pornography, technology, gambling, food or a myriad of other issues, addiction can seem helpless.

What is our response as a church?  How can we feel like we can have any effect?  Is it fair to ask if we are wasting our time?  Am I wasting my time to take on a discipleship relationship with a person consumed with an addiction?  Are we as a church wasting our time working with addicts?  The answer is a resounding “No!”  The answer is “no” because people are people.  People are not pawns.  People are not pawns in our game to grow a church.   

If we see people as pawns to grow our church, or as pawns to help us personally advance in life, then we will see their struggles as a waste of our time—not to mention that we are blindly forgetting our own struggles.  Just imagine if Jesus had that mindset.  What if He would have seen the struggles of ordinary people as a roadblock to building His kingdom?  If humanity had drawn up the plan for Jesus, He would have spent His time exclusively with the ruling elite.  If humanity had drawn up the plan, Jesus would have never spent time with the leper, the woman with the issue of blood, the man born blind, nor His inner twelve for that matter. 

However, all people are created in the image of God and therefore have infinite worth and value.  The King knows this truth, but often we, His servants, can easily forget.

Let us be people who do not automatically calculate the time that people will consume, but let us see them as our fellow image-bearers.  People are not pawns.  We are all image-bearers with scars of a fallen world.

Sermon Extras: Technology

What a challenge from God’s eternal Word this past Sunday as we examined technology and our need to make the “best use of the time” from Ephesians 5:15-17.

In 1 Timothy 6:10, God tells us that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” It is important to note that money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money. This shows us that money is a tool that may be used for the glory of God or for our own glory and the subsequent sin. Similarly, technology is a tool that may be used for the glory of God or a portal for the deepest of sins.

This tool also comes with a unique challenge in that it has such a tremendous capacity for feeding our temptation for distraction. The inherent problem is that distraction doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We are allowing ourselves to be distracted from God Himself. As John Bloom says:

“Our fundamental and most dangerous problem in distraction is in being distracted from God — our tendency to shift our attention orientation from the greatest Object in existence to countless lesser ones. The Bible calls this idolatry.”

[1]https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lord-deliver-me-from-distraction

So the question becomes, “What can I do about this issue?” Andy Crouch gives us some helpful tips in his list of “Ten Tech-Wise Commitments”

  • We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
  • We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
  • We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play and rest together.
  • We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
  • We aim for “no screens before double digits” at school and at home.
  • We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
  • Car time is conversation time.
  • Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
  • We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
  • We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms.[2]

[2] https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/parenting/how-to-become-a-tech-wise-family.html


Other Resources:

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/unplug-igen

https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/struggling-concentrate-fight-fully-human-part-1/

https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/struggling-to-remember-the-fight-to-be-fully-human-part-2/

https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/struggling-empathize-fight-fully-human-pt-3/