Archives from July 2018

Three Gospel Conversations

Sunday Sermon Series Gospel Conversations

Acts 16:13-34

Background: By 325 A.D. Christianity had spread to over half of the Roman Empire. It began with twelve guys on a hillside with no power, no money, no endorsements, and no celebrity recognition. All they had was an absolute conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead and a power poured into them called: the gift of the Holy Spirit. The key to this exponential growth was that every person, not just a handful of specialized apostles, carried the message of the Gospel. The whole church saw it as their responsibility to have Gospel Conversations.

The question we want to ask this morning:
What does evangelism by the ordinary people look like?

We are going to observe three Gospel Conversations with three persons of interest:

Conversation #1: Lydia the Merchant (Acts 16:13-15). … Lydia was a merchant who was on her way to a prayer meeting. She believed God existed but was not yet a Christian. God opened her heart to hear the message in such a way that she craved to hear more.

Conversation #2: The Slave Girl (Acts 16:16-18). … Paul and friends went back to the same place they met Lydia. Why? When you make return trips to a place, you can get to know the people there and build relationships with them. Those relationships can lead to Gospel Conversations. … This time Paul and his friends meet a slave girl. (Human trafficking is still something that is a problem today just as it was then.) This slave girl has a demon inside here that allows her to predict the future. The demon also who the apostles were and who they serve. So, she followed them around for a few days announcing who they were. Eventually Paul got annoyed and cast the demon out. As a result, she lost her ability to predict the future and earn money for her owners. This causes problems and leads to the next Gospel Conversation.

Conversation #3: The Roman Jailer (Acts 16:19-34). … This Roman jailer would have likely been a well-decorated, retired veteran of the Roman military. They put Paul and Silas in the inner prison, which was likely down below the other cells and also where any refuse from the upper cells would go. To make it even worse, Paul and Silas were likely hanging by their feet. … Somehow they had the idea to sing praises to God. Then the prison shook and the doors opened and the chains came loose. The jailer knew if anyone escaped, his life was forfeit, so he prepared to kill himself until Paul called out to him. No one had left. The jailer was so moved that he asked what he needed to do to be saved. So Paul and Silas preach the Gospel to him and he and his family become saved.

Why are these stories included?

  1. To show the transformative power of the Gospel.

  2. To give a glimpse of different people in our community and show us how to reach them.

    1. The Spiritually Interested
      How to reach them: Engage them. Invite them to read the Bible with you. Ask them to come to a service. Invite them to join your connection group.

    2. The Physical and Spiritual Captive
      How to reach them: Get involved in their life. Get to know them. Do life with them. Have cookouts with them. Build relationships with them.

    3. The Skeptic
      How to reach them:

      1. Be joyful at all times. People are always watching and God can use even the worst situations to further His kingdom.

      2. Show them God’s grace.

The Greatest Commandment

Sunday Sermon

Matthew 22:34-40

Context: Matthew 22 shows Pharisees and Sadducees following Jesus around asking questions they think will trap Him or stump Him. Finally they ask Him what the greatest commandment is.

Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. … His answer might surprise you. It’s not the Golden Rule, but to love God. You don’t have to be spiritual to follow the Golden Rule, but at the center of Christianity is a relationship with God, and that requires loving God.

Do you love God? How do you know whether you love God? Jesus said your actions (or obedience) will reveal your love (John 14:23-24). … We are told that our obedience to His commands show our love for Him. While the greatest commandment is not centered on people, the evidence of our love for God is seen in how we treat other people. This is why Jesus states that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” … If the greatest commandment is to love God and the evidence of that love is obeying His commands and the second greatest command is to love other people, then it follows that if we love God, we will love other people, but if we don’t love other people, we don’t love God. … How do we know what love? A strong indication of what love is what we spend time doing, even if you don’t realize you love it.

Jesus says three things will compete with God for your first love in your life:

  1. Money or material things (Matthew 6:24). … Money and material things aren’t inherently bad, but a love for them is a root of evil.

  2. Approval from other people (John 12:42-43). … Approval and praise from others isn’t bad, but seeking it and desiring it so much that it keeps us from confessing our faith is sin.

  3. Self (John 12:25). … We like to make our lives comfortable and sometimes that means putting ourselves before God, which is idolatry of self.

How can you cultivate a love for God? Change your habits (John 21:15-17). … Jesus asks Peter thrice if Peter loves Him. All three times, Peter says yes and Jesus tells him to take an action: to feed His lambs, to take care of His sheep, to feed His sheep. Love is evidenced by our actions.

We cannot love God of our own volition. Our love for God is a response to His love for us (1 John 4:19; John 8:42).

How to Have a Clear Conscience

Sunday Sermon

Your conscience is your moral capacity to recognize right and wrong. Your conscience is where you experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit. … In this sense, a guilty conscience is good.

The New Testament uses four adjectives to describe the condition of one’s conscience (Titus 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:2).

  • Seared

  • Corrupted

  • Guilty

  • Clear

Treat the above bullet points as a type of thermometer. We want the reading to be as low as possible. … A corrupted corrupted conscience is one that makes it more difficult to respond to guilt. A seared conscience is one that no longer even feels the guilt. The “guilt nerve-endings” have been burned and no longer function. … Where are you on this scale and which way are you moving?

How can I move from a guilty conscience to a clear conscience?

  1. Religious acts are not able to clear a guilty conscience (Hebrews 9:9). … No matter how much we try to make up for whatever wrong we did, the guilt won’t go away. Nothing WE DO can rid of us guilt.

  2. The Blood of Christ can cleanse you from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 9:13-14). … Only the Blood of Jesus has the power to rid us of guilt as the once and for all sacrifice. We accept His offer of salvation and His righteousness that cleanse us.

  3. The result is confidence and assurance (Hebrews 10:19-22) and a clear conscience (Hebrews 13:18). … Christ’s sacrifice is the only one we need and it allows us to (figuratively) enter the inner portion of the temple. We have confidence that we can approach God

Baptism is the pledge or testimony of a clear conscience (1 Peter 3:21). … This is the sign of a new Believer. … Now, we continue to sin even after baptism and need to clear our conscience. The Lord’s Supper is another symbolic act that helps us maintain a clear conscience. (Sometimes we need something physical to help us remember to do something spiritual.)

God Cares about You

Sunday Sermon

Deism says God created the world, but He is not now directly involved in the world. … Some may not have known this term, but this is how many live. They believe in God and that He created everything, but then they live their lives as if God isn’t involved in His creation.

Christians believe in God’s providence: God is actively involved in His creation at every moment and personally cares for us.

Sometimes we doubt this:

  1. Sometimes we see terrible things happening in this world and think God can't possibly be active in it.
  2. Other times we wonder: How can God care about me in a world so large? How can God care about little old me?

Matthew 10:16-28 gives context to what we’re about to go over. Jesus is sending His disciples out to preach and warns them of the danger but also gives them reasons to not be afraid when bad things are happening to them.

Jesus gave two illustration of the personal care of God:

  1. God cares about every sparrow that falls to the ground, so He cares about you because you are more valuable than they are (Matthew 10:29, 31). … The Father knows and cares about every little bird, even the most common of birds. If God cares about something so invaluable, and says we are much more valuable, then He must care about us.

  2. God knows the number of hairs on your head, so He knows your smallest concerns and fears (Matthew 10:30). … Scientists estimate that the typical person has about 100,000 hair follicles and that we lose about 70 hairs each day (unfortunately for some of us, not all of them grow back). If God keeps track of how many hairs we each have, then He must care about each of us on a personal level.

Matthew 13:44-46

Sunday Sermon

Big Idea: The value you place on something is shown by what you are willing to give up for it.

Two very similar stories making one distinct point.

Recap: Two men

  • One blue-collar, one white-collar

  • One with relatively little, the other with quite a lot

  • One wasn’t looking for treasure, the other obsessed with it

  • One stumbled upon treasure, the other went searching for it

  • One poor and common, the other rich and educated

Both of them encounter something of such value that it makes everything else in their lives look worthless by comparison. … Jesus says this is what discovering the Kingdom of God is like; this is what understanding the Gospel is like.

Three applications from these two parables:

  1. The Gospel is hidden.

    1. The glory of Jesus was hidden in an earthly body

    2. The power of the Gospel is hidden in its simplicity

    3. The beauty of the Gospel is hidden in ordinary believers
      Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade helps illustrate these points. When they finally reach the Holy Grail, they must choose the right cup. The greedy partner chooses the most ornate one and drinks from it. He then ages and dies because “he chose poorly.” Then Indiana chooses a plain cup because it’s “the cup of a carpenter” and Jesus was a carpenter. The plain cup did not look glorious but it held the glory of Christ and water that gives life. It’s not the packaging that matters; what matters is what’s inside the package.

  2. The Gospel brings greater joy. … God doesn’t want us to serve just out of sense of duty but because we want to. We should find joy in Jesus and that joy should drive us to serve.

  3. The Gospel requires leaving it all. … Both men gave up everything for the treasures they found and that is what Jesus asks of us too. How much are we willing to give up for Jesus?