First Called Christians

Luke, the author of the book of Acts, tells us when the apostles sent Barnabas from the church in Jerusalem to the church in Antioch, he saw the grace of God. What does that mean, he saw the grace of God? What does the grace of God look like? How can you tell when you are seeing the grace of God? Have you ever seen the grace of God? When was the last time you can definitely say you saw the grace of God? I have spoken on several occasions about the importance of being able to recognize the grace of God, in your life. I have encouraged us to write them down, keep a list. I believe if you do this it will have the same effect on you that it did on Barnabas, it will make you glad. It will give you joy, encouragement, hope and increased faith and trust. I see at least seven ways in our text that Barnabas saw the grace of God. See how many of these you have seen.

Be Careful How You Judge

I’m not sure I can prove it, but Matthew 7:1 might be one of the most quoted verses in America. It’s certainly one of America’s most favorite verses. There are few passages that have had more error in thinking come out of them, I would be willing to put this one in the top ten. We live in a post-modern and post-Christian culture that says in order to be politically correct (PC) and socially acceptable we must be tolerant of all the ideas, words and actions of others. Abortion is a personal choice, homosexuality is a viable alternative lifestyle, the lottery is government approved entertainment, and what people do in private should have no bearing on their public lives and professional positions. To pass judgment on the lifestyles, choices and actions of others is considered the height of arrogance and certainly intolerant and even un-Christian. Who are we to say and by what standard can we say it? The word for the day is tolerance and this is the text. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” The world wants the church to be quiet, to stay out of the public arena, to not make pronouncements. So, they say to us, judge not, don’t judge, never express an opinion about the words or actions of others. We are to be tolerant and quiet. This is a challenging text to understand well and get right. But we have to get this right or we are going to continue to be just as muddled and confused as the world. So, what are we to do with Matthew 7:1? Jesus says do not judge, right? Does it stand by itself as an absolute? Well by itself, we can’t understand it rightly. And the problem with America is it doesn’t know Scripture.

The Son Does Nothing on His Own

What Are You Afraid Of?

Thank you to those of you who turned in questions. I got about 15 cards with about 30 questions that were all over the map, or should I say all over the Bible. Some were topics, some were issues of our day, some were specific passages of Scripture or single texts of Scripture. This evening we will focus on one of those texts, one that is bigger than we might first think. Let me begin asking you, what are you afraid of? We all have fears or phobias. Phobias typically fall within five general categories: • fears related to animals (spiders, snakes, insects, rodents, Suriphobia- fear of mice) • fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness) • fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls, dentist) • fears related to specific situations (flying, riding an elevator, speaking in public, crowds) • other (choking, loud noises, drowning) • today social media has created some more related to being alone, being disconnected. I came across a couple I had never heard of before: pogonophobia, fear of beards Pentheraphobia- Fear of mother-in-law. (Greek penthera-mother in law) There is even a fear a duck is watching you Most of us think of fear as something we want to get rid of, it is a negative thing, not something we want more of. For some of us the fear of the Lord is a negative thing. Maybe we grew up afraid of God, afraid of going to hell, afraid of God’s punishment for our sin, that He would make our lives miserable. If we grew up in a home with a very strict and severe father, who was demanding, punishing, one we could never please, one who never expressing love or compassion then we would view God the same way. We learned no sense of God’s love and grace and mercy. But sometimes someone will say about a person, he is a God-fearing man. When we hear that we think of it as positive, it is saying something good about that person and the way they live. What does that mean? Scripture has a lot to say about the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of fearing the Lord.

To the Gentiles Also Part II

This is our fourth sermon on the Cornelius conversion and the Gentile Pentecost. Luke sure thought it important to repeat the details this much, and more importantly the Holy Spirit thought it was so important to inspire Luke to record it and repeat it for all generations to know. But this is not just repetition for repetition sake. There is something important going on here, without which the story would be incomplete. This isn’t just be an event in the life of Peter. This story has ramifications for the whole church and the spreading of the Gospel. Paul’s conversion story is told three times in the book of Acts. These are pivotal, sea-changing stories. Their impact reverberates through the rest of salvation history. The conversions of these two men may be the two most important events in redemptive history until the return of Christ. After these two there is no stopping the church as it advances through the world.

To the Gentiles Also Part I

This is our fourth sermon on the Cornelius conversion and the Gentile Pentecost. Luke sure thought it important to repeat the details this much, and more importantly the Holy Spirit thought it was so important to inspire Luke to record it and repeat it for all generations to know. But this is not just repetition for repetition sake. There is something important going on here, without which the story would be incomplete. This isn’t just be an event in the life of Peter. This story has ramifications for the whole church and the spreading of the Gospel. Paul’s conversion story is told three times in the book of Acts. These are pivotal, sea-changing stories. Their impact reverberates through the rest of salvation history. The conversions of these two men may be the two most important events in redemptive history until the return of Christ. After these two there is no stopping the church as it advances through the world.

Here I Am

If you go to Cairo, Egypt today you can visit two very famous graves. You can go to the pyramids and visit the tombs of the great kings of Egypt, the most famous of which is the tomb of King Tut. “He was only seventeen when he died. He was buried with solid gold chariots and thousands of golden artifacts. His gold coffin was found in a burial site filled with tons of gold. The Egyptians believed they could take earthly treasures into the afterlife. But all the treasures intended for King Tutt’s eternal enjoyment stayed right where they were until Howard Carter discovered the burial chamber in 1922. “The other grave is much harder to find. It’s off a dusty back alley in a graveyard for American missionaries. The tombstone reads: “William Borden, 1887-1913.” In 1904 when William Borden graduated from high school, he was already a millionaire and heir to the Borden Dairy Estate. As a graduation gift his parents gave him a trip around the world.

The Gentile Pentecost

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. While Peter was saying what things? He was preaching the Gospel. He was testifying to person and work of Jesus Christ, His life, ministry, death, resurrection and coming again in judgment. I hope you are still preaching the Gospel to yourself daily.

The Heart of the King

Today is Reformation Sunday, the Sunday before October 31, the day credited with marking the beginning of the Reformation in 1517. On this occasion we celebrate the providential goodness of God for the history and heritage that is ours because of His great grace. This evening I want to focus our attention on one of the great and central pillars of what it means to be Reformational and Reformed people. The sovereignty of God. What metaphor would you use to describe the sovereignty of God? It is the bedrock of Reformed Theology. It is the foundation and the pillar of Reformed Theology. It is the shining crown jewel, the heart, the head waters, the continental divide. It is affirmed from Genesis to Revelation in countless texts. Let’s consider one together, one that happens to be a personal favorite for some very practical reasons.

Gentiles Hear the Good News

Three men came from Caesarea, sent by the Roman centurion Cornelius to find Peter in Joppa. Now ten men are on their way from Joppa to Caesarea for a historic encounter arranged by God. Why does Peter take six brothers with him? To be witnesses of God’s divine grace. Keep your eyes open and be ready to testify to the grace of God wherever you see it. I saw it yesterday. It encourages your soul and strengthens your faith and encourages the saints. May our text do all of that for us. God’s grace is all around us, live expecting to see it and testify to it. When they arrived, Cornelius was ready and waiting, he had gathered his relatives, mom, dad, wife, kids, grandparents, friends, associates, servants, and close friends. Why did they all come? No doubt Cornelius had told of his vision from God to send for a great man to come. There was great anticipation and expectation. This is truly remarkable. To invite a crowd to take up a new religion. What a risk for the glory of God. Cornelius wasn’t just interested in this for himself, he wanted it for everyone he knew. He was a beggar not interested in keeping the bread for himself. He wasn’t going to keep the treasure buried. What humility, grace, honesty, openness.

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