O God, the joy of this day, the hope for every day to come, Move in our midst, fill us with Your Spirit, and make us one. May our words, as well as our actions, and even the secret thoughts of our hearts, be a part of Your worship this hour, O Lord of great power, displayed in sacrificial love. For we pray focused upon the One who died for all, Your only begotten son. Amen. Shall we now pray in unison the Lord’s Prayer
You have given us so much, O Lord. We have more than we could ever need yet, we often keep it to ourselves. Just as we share your love to those we encounter today, we share these gifts with your church. Teach us not only to be generous, but to be content. Amen.
In the morning when we rise and in the night when we lay down, and in all the moments in between, O Lord, you are there. In the night while we sleep, or toss and turn in anxiety, even then, O Lord, you are there. You are waiting for us to turn to you. You are waiting for us to look for you. You are waiting for us to make time for you, to pay attention to you, to take time to attend to our relationship with you. Far too often we are too busy. God, you call us to be still. We confess that this is difficult for us. We prefer to be active. We prefer to be busy. We prefer to be surrounded by activity and noise. Silence unsettles us. Solitudes intimidates us. Reflection rattles us. So we seek diversions and welcome distractions. We fill our schedules to overflowing. And yet . . . and yet . . . deep within us, there is a hunger that grows and grows. A hunger for silence. A hunger for solitude. A hunger for time to reflect. A hunger for you, God. And the busier we get, the more this hunger grows. We feel it – an ache, an emptiness. Grant us, O God, the strength of will to feed our hunger, to step away, even when there are other demands on our time. Shield us from the temptation to put off our prayers and postpone our time for reflection. Drive away the fears that make us shrink back from silence. Teach us how to be still and know you. We pray this day for the sick. Show us how to provide good care for them in whatever ways we can. Bless their doctors and nurses with both skill and compassion. Bless their families and loved ones with patience and the strength to give support. As bodies heal, let faith grow and relationships with others become deeper. We pray your peace for all who mourn, O Lord. Send your Spirit to lead them through the valley of the shadow. Fill their minds with positive memories and their hearts with comfort and resurrection hope. Answer the cries of the desperate and the discouraged, the frantic and the frightened, the anxious and the alone. Protect the poor and weak from the rich and powerful. Continue to guide and sustain those who are committed to showing the world a better way – your way. We rejoice and give thanks for your offer of love and friendship, O God – for your presence with us and your sacrifice for us. We thank you for answers to many prayers. We thank you for friends who are faithful, for people we can call upon and count upon when we are stretched beyond our limits. We thank you for the forgiveness of our sins and the new life we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. And we thank you for the sense of purpose and worth we derive from our call to follow Jesus and to continue his work in this world. Now help us as we prepare ourselves to hear and obey your word. Amen.
May the peace of God surround you
Like the trees of the forest
May the peace of God warm you all over
Like the sun in the sky
May the peace of God swell and roll over you
Like a wave in the sea
May the peace of God fill you
Like the cool wind
May the peace of God be with you
Further on Down the Road with Saul on the Damascus road
Last week we looked at Saul’s conversion on the Damascus road. We looked at the two most important questions that he and we must answer.
1) Who are you Lord?
2) What do you want me to do?
Today we will see where Paul’s Damascus Road leads him. Before Kings, before gentiles and the children of Israel,and how much he will have to suffer for the sake of Christ. Indeed for the sake of the Gospel, and we will see how that relates to us as well.
Acts 9:19-22 New International Version (NIV)
19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
A complete 180 turn-around. Sauls conversion.
· Before: zealous persecutor; Christ was not the Messiah; love the law
· after: zealous defender; Loves Christ
A) How did Paul preach that Christ was the Messiah?
B) From where other than his conversion/vision, would he get his information or authority?
Answer: from the old Testament...the same place where we get our information, but now we have the whole cannon of Scriptures.
So what happens next.
Acts 14V 9 New International Version (NIV) Stonning :
9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed
then Act 16 V 22 beatings, imprisonment.
Acts 16:22 New International Version (NIV)
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.
How does apply to us? In this world you will suffer. Christ suffered. Are we above our Master that we should not? The Scriptures say we all share in the "fellowship" of His suffering.
Paul teaches in another place; Corinthian, better to suffer for doing good, than for doing evil.
Acts 13, 16 ff
Acts 13:16-52 New International Version (NIV)
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct] in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.
Paul preaches to the Jews. 13 v 44-47 he turns to the gentiles
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
Acts 20 vs 21-24 get’ er done kind of guy
Acts 20:21-24 New International Version (NIV)
21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Now we will look at how a plot to murder Paul turns into an open door to go to Rome, and be a witness before Kings, just as prophesied.
Act 23 vs 11-12 vs 17. "Send him to Felix" vs 23-24
Acts 23:11-12 New International Version (NIV)
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The Plot to Kill Paul
12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
Acts 23:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.”
Acts 24:24-25 New International Version (NIV)
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
Chapter 24 vs 24-25 application: sometimes what looks like persecution and troubles is just a change of direction and it is really God's Hand.
Acts 25:12 New International Version (NIV)
12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”
In Chapter 25 vs 12 Paul appeals to Caesar, then we see he goes before King Agrippa, one of the Herods.
Here then is the point of all of this: God had a plan for Paul. We, too, share in that plan. And that is to be brought into the family of God through Christ Jesus, and to testify, and indeed suffer as well. And we testify not necessarily to Kings, but to whoever we come across. And it is to have that same attitude which Paul received from the Holy Spirit, which is a spirit of joy in the midst of suffering. And that we too, may have a part in winning people to Christ.
We, the Church, have been entrusted with the Gospel, and you and I were given the same command that the apostles were given. "Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the simple Gospel" le: The death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ," who is and was and is to come"
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