Recently, there was a new report about a man who was poaching (illegally hunting) rhinos in Africa. The story explains that while he was doing this, he was trampled by elephants and eaten by lions. All that remained was his skull and some clothing fragments. While I'm all for hunting, I'm for doing it legally and responsibly. Part of me said when I read the article that this man got what he deserved.
There is a big part of us that longs to see justice served. And when it doesn't we tend to cry out that it isn't fair. This week, we will see that no one is able to escape God's justice - even if it looks like they might for a season. And because of that, we need to trust God all the more.
I'll never forget when we were in the process to bring George home. We asked people to pray. Pray for us, pray for George, pray for his caregivers, pray for the legal process, pray for the finances - you name it, we prayed for it. And, it must have worked, right? I mean George is here and part of our family. So, Julie and I have the faith that moves mountains ... of paperwork, because that's what adoption feels like!
Not really. Julie will tell you that early in the process, she went to look at his picture on the waiting child website and it wasn't there. In that moment, doubt crept into both of our hearts and minds. Was there a problem? Is he OK? Did someone else ask before us? Does he have another family? It turns out that they took him off of the waiting child website ... because we were in process to adopt him!
Prayer is a funny thing. We pray with hope, but deep down, we often doubt. But so did the early church when King Herod had Peter arrested. What can we learn from this? We see that God works in the prayers of ordinary doubters like you and me.
The Bible says that we will know who the disciples of Jesus are by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). But what fruits? What characteristics would cause someone to look at you and say, "Yes, that is a person of Christ!" This Sunday, we will look at a passage that records the very first time people were called "Christians". Why? That's what we will find out.
Once, noted pastor and evangelist D.L. Moody was confronted by a critic who said they didn't like the way he did evangelism. Pastor Moody looked at the man and simply asked how he did evangelism in order that he might learn. When the man confessed he didn't really share his faith, Pastor Mood said, "I like my way of doing evangelism better than your way of NOT doing evangelism. This week, we will look at how Peter similarly responded to the critics who were upset at his reaching out to gentiles.
This past week, I attended a workshop to help me train others to study the Bible better. One of my coaches pointed out that Jonah went down to Joppa to find a boat as he ran from God. Where was peter when the Centurion's men find him? In Joppa. It would seem that God is using the city of Joppa to point out that he has a heart for the Gentiles. This week, we will learn more about that heart as we see the results of these two visions we looked at last week
Since the beginning of Acts, we've read and seen how God is taking the Gospel message to those beyond Israel's ethnic borders. Gentiles are part of God's plan as well. But, let's be honest, old practices and prejudices die hard. Even for an Apostle like Peter. Over the next three weeks, we are going to look at how the gospel is for everyone no matter your ethnic background and how we should react when we see people crossing those lines. It's "A Tale of Two Visions" and over the next three weeks, we will see what they mean and the fall out of those visions.
As a pastor, I get asked to pray for things all the time. And I honestly don't mind - I'm grateful that people are aware that prayer changes things. But, what if the purpose of an answered prayer or a miracle in someone's life wasn't to see them just feel better or beat cancer but instead to draw them closer to God?
This week, we will look at a text chronicling two very powerful miracles. But the bigger question is why did they happen? That's what we will look to answer this week as we continue our study of Acts with "What's the Point". See you Sunday at 10am!
Have you ever known someone who got really excited about something and then flamed out? Maybe it was a hobby or a new job and they were convinced that this was what they needed to do. But soon enough, they no longer were interested in the hobby, sport or activity and they packed up all their stuff in a box to collect dust. This week, we will see that Saul is a man who not only is changed for the gospel, he is on fire to spread the message as well. Hope to see you and a friend there this Sunday at 10 am as we explore "What's Next".
One of the things I love the most about our faith is just how scandalous it truly is. The people that God picks to take his message of love and redeption to a lost and dying world are not the people that I would pick. I would pick the all stars but God picks the least likely of people to spread his message. This week, we meet one of the most unlikely people of all but the good news is that if God can use a "Man Named Saul", then he certainly can use any one of us.
When was the last time you shared your faith? When was the last time you talked to someone about Jesus? The sad part is for all of us, talking about Jesus is something we don't do with any regularity. There are many reasons for it but for the most part, we are afraid that we will blow it or they will make fun of us. That's why prayer and Scripture are so important. This week, we will look at the next thing that Philip does after Samaria. And what he does is amazing! Join us this week as we continue our look at the book of Acts!