Skip to content

Tag: trust

Faith in the Name of Jesus

This morning we continue our look at the book of Acts – specifically today we are in Acts chapter 3. And if you haven’t been with us for the last two chapters, there are basically three key things that have happened in the story so far:

  1. After his resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven and commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses throughout the world.
  2. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his disciples and every believer – just as he had promised earlier – empowering them to boldly share about Christ where ever they went.
  3. As the disciples shared the message of Christ, more & more people accepted their message, trusted in Jesus, and the early church began to take shape.

In fact, when we last left off, the church had just exploded in growth as 3000 people were added to the church as the result of Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost. Acts chapter 2 describes it like this:

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.

Acts 2:41-44

Now when we went through this passage in chapter 2 a couple weeks ago, we talked mostly about how the believers were devoted to God and devoted to each other. But we didn’t really spend much time on verse 43, which says “A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” But this, too, is an important verse.

This verse points out how God affirmed the Apostles’ message & authority by enabling them to perform miraculous signs and wonders – very much like the signs and wonders that Jesus performed during his ministry on earth or even like the prophets of old – such as Moses, Elisha and Elijah.

These signs and wonders not only gave credibility to their message – but it also provided for them many opportunities to share their message with the people who witnessed these amazing miracles!

And that’s what we’re going to see today. Today, chapter 3 gives us a specific example of the signs and wonders that Peter & John were performing and how they used that as an opportunity to preach about Christ.

So we are going to start in Acts chapter 3, verse 1.

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Acts 3:1-3

And we’ll pause here for a minute. So far, this is a pretty normal day for everyone involved.

Leave a Comment

Just Have Faith

Back in January, we began our current message series – following the life and ministry of Jesus from birth to resurrection – from Christmas to Easter. And since we are trying to condense all of this into a fairly short timeline – from Christmas to Easter – it’s been a challenge to decided exactly what parts of Jesus’ life and ministry to include in our study. A more in-depth look at the life of Christ could easily take several years worth of sermons to fully explore, but we’re trying to fit it all into a 4 month window. So what do we include and what to we leave out?

Well, so far, we’ve covered the early life of Jesus and the beginnings of his public ministry – and we’ll certainly give some significant attention to his final days as he journeys to the cross – but for this middle part, I’d like to just give us a sampling of what Jesus’ ministry typically looked like. 

Last week we touched on how crowds of people followed Jesus everywhere – and while Jesus often tried to get some time away by Himself to relax and reconnect with his Heavenly Father – none-the-less, He always seemed to have time to minister to people. He had incredible compassion for them and always provided for their needs! Sometimes in miraculous ways – such as feeding 5000 men and their families with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish! But of course, more importantly than meeting their physical needs, Jesus came to address their real spiritual needs. He hadn’t come just to feed them fish and bread – but he had come to feed them the Bread of Life! He had come to offer Himself as the sacrifice for their sin so that they could have eternal life through faith in Him.

Of course, at this point, the crowds of people didn’t understand that – all they knew is that Jesus had incredible compassion and love for them – and that He had met their physical needs in an amazing way!

And so today, I want to look at a similar but slightly different aspect of Christ’s compassion for people and how he met their needs. This time not by providing food for the hungry, but this time by providing healing for the sick and the suffering.

And I do confess that today’s story will be slightly out of order on our timeline – we’re actually jumping back in time just a little bit before the feeding of the 5,000 – and so I probably should have switched these two sermons around and done this one first – but hopefully, you can make that adjustment in your notes and we won’t be too confused.

Our passage begins in Mark chapter 5 – and we’ll begin reading at verse 21. 

Leave a Comment

Mary – Eagerly Submitting to the Will of God

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at some of the key characters of the Christmas story. And I’m not talking about Rudolph or Santa Claus – that’s a different story all together! I’m talking about the original Christmas story – the historic events that actually happened some 2000 years ago and are still packed with meaning and significant for us even today.

And I expect that most of us are familiar with the events of that first Christmas – how Jesus was born and laid in a manger – how the angels appeared to the shepherds and how the wisemen brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Those are all the traditional Christmas scenes that we sing about in our Christmas carols or we display in our nativity arrangements. 

And of course, if you’re not familiar with those events, I’d invite you to come to our Christmas Eve service this Friday as those events will be the focus of our Christmas celebration.

But for our Sunday morning messages as Christmas approaches, we’ve been taking a deeper look not at the events of Christmas, but rather at the characters of Christmas.

We started by looking at Jesus Himself. Who is this baby who was born and was laid in a manger? And what is so significant about that child that we continue to celebrate his birth even 2000 years later!? To find those answers, we looked in the Gospel of John and saw that Jesus was not just an ordinary baby, but was in fact, the second person of the Godhead – the eternally existing Creator of the world – now born as a human being. He truly is Emmanuel – which means God is with us. And what’s all the more amazing is that He came to be with us so that we could be with Him for eternity.

Then last week we took a closer look at Joseph. We don’t read a lot about Joseph’s life in the Bible – he kinda comes across as a minor player in the pages of Scripture, but as we saw last week, Joseph really was a spiritual giant – truly a model of righteous character and faith in God. He is perhaps one of the best examples for us to follow in how to be a godly father and husband.

Now today we want to look at a third major character in the Christmas story – and that of course, is Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Like Joseph, she too, is a pretty amazing example of someone who displayed an absolute trust in God. When you consider all that she went through – especially considering how young she was at the time – her faith and obedience to God are truly remarkable. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I mentioned last week, when Matthew writes his Gospel and records the birth of Jesus, he focuses almost exclusively on Joseph. He begins with Joseph’s family tree, he talks about Joseph’s dilemma when he discovers that Mary was pregnant before they were married, and he records the four different visits that Joseph had from the angel. But he really doesn’t say anything about Mary. 

In contrast to that, when Luke writes his Gospel, he hardly mentions Joseph at all. He focuses his attention primarily on Mary. And that’s why it’s so great that we have four different Gospels. Each Gospel tells the true story of Jesus, but they all tell it from a slightly different perspective. That really helps us get a well-rounded understanding of really happened.

And so now, having looked at Joseph through the eyes of Matthew last week, today we’re going to look at Mary through the eyes of Luke. So if you have your Bibles with you, you can turn with me to Luke chapter 1.

However, we’re not going to start at verse 1 because Luke doesn’t begin his Gospel with Mary – he actually begins with Mary’s relatives – specifically, a priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth.

And I don’t want to spend a lot of time going through their story this morning, but let me just quickly summarize it for you so you know what’s going on when we get into Mary’s story. 

Zechariah and Elizabeth have been unable to have children and the Bible describes them now as “both being very old.” Obviously too old now, to have any expectation of still being able to have children.

But one day, an angel named Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him that his wife, Elizabeth, is going to have a baby and that their baby would be the one to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. Of course, every Israelite had been waiting for the coming of the Lord for quite some time now. In fact, for the last several hundred years, God had promised through the prophets had that he would send a Messiah – a descendant of King David who would save the Israelites and would rule Israel forever! 

So this was pretty huge news for Zechariah and Elizabeth – not only where they finally going to have the baby that they had always wanted, but their baby would prepare the way for the future King of Israel!

Oh and one more thing, their baby was going to be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth – and his name was to be John – we would eventually come to know him as John the Baptist.

So with that as the backdrop, Luke begins to tell the story of Mary in Luke chapter 1, verse 26.

Leave a Comment

Out of the Frying Pan – Into the Fire

We have been hanging in suspense for three weeks now – waiting to see if there is any way that David will get out of the mess that He has created for himself.

If you’re just joining us for the first time this morning, we’ve been working our way through the book of 1 Samuel – examining the lives of Samuel, King Saul, and of course, David.

And at this point in the story, David has fled from King Saul – who has been tying to kill David for the last several chapters – and David has found refuge in a most unexpected place – in the land of his enemies, the Philistines.

King Achish of the Philistines had accepted him as a defector from Israel and had even given David his own Philistine city to live in – the city of Ziklag – where David and his 600 men (along with all their families) had lived for nearly a year and a half.

Now the tricky part in all this is that David had not actually defected from Israel. He was still loyal to his home country, but had been lying to King Achish about… well, just about everything. In fact, during those 16 months that David lived in Ziklag, David had told Achish that he had been raiding the cities of Israel, but in reality, David had been attacking the enemies of Israel – and leaving no survivors to tell Achish what had really happened.

And so Achish was convinced that David had turned against his homeland and would be a loyal Philistine subject for the rest of his life. In fact, Achish trusted David so completely that he made David his own personal bodyguard and insisted that David and his men accompany him into battle against Israel. It says in 1 Samuel 28:1

About that time the Philistines mustered their armies for another war with Israel. King Achish told David, “You and your men will be expected to join me in battle.”

1 Samuel 28:1

And certainly creates quite a pickle for David. On one hand, David has been anointed as the future King of Israel – and he has no intentions of fighting against his own people. It would be unthinkable for David to fight against the armies of Israel – against King Saul and against his best friend Jonathan! But on the other hand, if he refused to join the Philistines in battle, the jig would be up! 

Achish would realize that David was still loyal to Israel, and David would effectively be caught in his lies and and he, his men, and all of their families would be at the mercy of the Philistines!

So really, David has no choice but to agree to go to war alongside the Philistines to fight the armies of Israel. And so he responds to King Achish in verse 2.

2 “Very well!” David agreed. “Now you will see for yourself what we can do.”

1 Samuel 28:2

I mean, what else could he say? David was forced to continue his charade – but he was probably desperately trying to figure out, how in the world, he was going to get out of this pickle!

And what makes this all the more interesting, is that the author of 1 Samuel never tells us what David is thinking. He never reveals David’s true motivations or why he does what he does. The author simply states what David says or does, but then he leaves it to our imaginations to try to figure what what’s going on in David’s heart and mind….

So we don’t know what kind of scenarios David had been running through his mind as to how he was going to get out of this situation… But I imagine there was one option that perhaps David considered. Maybe David had planned to turn against King Achish in the heat of the battle. He could flip sides and join the Israelites and hopefully bring about a great victory for Israel. 

But that was risky too – because if David turned against the Philistines and Israel still lost, you can be sure that the Philistines would seek their revenge on David by destroying David’s family and the all of the families of his 600 men who were left behind in the Philistine city of Ziklag.

So if David was going to turn on the Philistines, he’d better make sure he wins!

But of course, that’s going to be a problem too, because unbeknownst to David, God had already decreed that Israel was going to lose this battle. We saw last week, as Saul tried to talk to the dead prophet Samuel through a medium, that God’s judgement was about fall upon Saul for his disobedience. God had decreed that both Saul and his sons would be killed in battle the very next day, and the Israelite army would be defeated at the hands of the Philistines.

Now of course, David doesn’t know that – but we, the reader of this story know that – and so we’re really left scratching our heads – HOW in the world is this all going to play out? What kind of miracle is God going to have to do to rescue David from the web of deceit that David has woven for himself?

Well, this morning, we will finally find out!

Leave a Comment

David & Abigail

Last week we looked at just the first half of a story in 1 Samuel chapter 25.

It’s the story of David as he interacted with a sheep farmer named Nabal. Now Nabal, who was known for being crude and mean in all his dealings, was quite a contrast to his wife, Abigail, who was known for being sensible and beautiful! These two characters couldn’t be more different!

And we haven’t seen much of Abigail in this story so far, but we’ve had a quite an introduction to Nabal!

You see, this story all begins at sheep-shearing time – a time of feasting and celebration – very much like our own Thanksgiving celebrations this weekend! David has recently been camped near Nabal’s shepherds around the town of Carmel. And David had been very good to Nabal’s shepherds as they camped near each other. David’s men had kept them safe from the Philistine raiders and nothing was ever stolen from them during their time together… 

And so, when David hears that Nabal is sheering his sheep and is having a great celebration, he sends messengers to Nabal asking if Nabal could kindly share whatever provisions he could with his friend David and his men!

Nabal, however – true to his reputation, would do nothing of the sort and responded by heaping insults upon David and sent David’s messengers home empty-handed. 

As you might imagine, this did not sit well with David who’s only recorded response was to tell his men “Grab your swords” as he strapped on his own! In a classic case of wild over-reaction, David sets out to murder Nabal in retaliation for his insults! Of course, this is quite out of character for David – a guy who is called “a man after God’s own heart” – a guy who has repeatedly had compassion and mercy on King Saul even while Saul was trying to kill him.

So it seems kinda odd that David would foolishly rush to murder Nabal simply for being rude and selfish! And we talked a little bit last week about why he might have done so, but one thing is for sure: Even the best of us are aways susceptible to sin! We ought not think we’ve matured beyond the point of being able to mess up big time – cuz that’s just what David is about to do.

And that’s about where we left off last week – David and 400 of his men are armed and headed towards Nabal’s house with the intent to murder every man in Nabal’s household.

So this morning, we’re going to see how this all turns out.

We pick up the story now as the scene shifts back to Nabal’s home. It says in 1 Samuel chapter 25, verse 14…

Leave a Comment