Acts 20:17-38 After the riot in Ephesus and return visits to Macedonia and Corinth, Paul was eager to get back to Jerusalem with the offering he had collected from the Gentile churches before the day of Pentecost. On the way he summons the elders in Ephesus to meet him in Miletus, for his farewell speech, where he commissions them to follow his example in life and ministry as the new leaders of the Ephesus church. This text not only sets a high bar for church leaders, it also sets forth what all followers of Jesus should aspire to.
Acts 19:21-41 Last week we observed how Paul’s tireless preaching unleashed the power of the Spirit bringing life and healing throughout the city of Ephesus and the wider community. The most striking example was public confession and renunciation of former magicians demonstrated by the public burning of their costly magic books worth 50,000 pieces of silver. In our text this week we learn what happens when the gospel begins to have a financial impact on a community and threatens the profits of the powerful. The enemy does not go down without a fight.
Acts 19:8-20 In our previous study in Acts, we celebrated the gift of the Spirit poured out afresh on twelve disciples, as Paul began his ministry in Ephesus. This week we will witness the power of God’s Spirit as it is unleashed and confronts the magical, political and religious powers that made Ephesus the greatest commercial center west of the Taurus Mountains. This will be the climax of Paul’s public ministry and his most productive time, as he proclaims the gospel in Ephesus for almost three years. Looking back on those days, Luke says, “The word grew and was strong in accordance with the power of the Lord.”
This week we get the privilege of hearing from our good friend from Regent College, Bruce Hindmarsh. Bruce and Carolyn are dear friends of ours who have poured into the PBCC family over the past few years in different ways. Carolyn will also be the women’s retreat speaker next year. Bruce will be preaching this Sunday on Christ being the solid rock. Come near to him, as near as you can. He is the living stone, the precious stone, the cornerstone and capstone, and the scandalous, stumbling stone. Come near to him as the new people of God, as the new temple of God, living a life that in every possible way is centered on Jesus. And, we will appropriately finish our time this Sunday coming near to Jesus at the table.
Acts 18:18 – 19:7 This week as we resume our studies in the book of Acts, Luke gives us two incidents where deficient faith is addressed and corrected. The text addresses the questions—What truly defines a “Christian?” Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit a second blessing after conversion? What is the difference between being “baptized” by the Spirit and being “filled” with the Spirit? And more importantly, “how” do we correct others when their faith is deficient?
Acts 26:1-32 This Easter we will have a dramatic presentation of the Apostle Paul’s testimony of the risen Christ before the Roman Procurator Festus and King Agrippa. This is Paul’s fifth and most elaborate defense speech. It is a masterpiece of rhetoric, designed to not only acquit him of the false charges against him, but also to present the living Christ before his hearers in a rational, yet persuasive way. At the conclusion even Agrippa is unable to refute his claims and responds, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” To which Paul responds, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” Now that we have heard, we too can no longer remain neutral. How will you respond to his testimony? Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Exodus 40:34-38 God’s Gift of Himself. God saved Israel, but this was not his greatest gift. He gave Israel the Ten Commandments, but this was not his greatest gift. He gave Israel the gift of order in time with the sabbath, and the gift of order in space with the tabernacle, but these were not his greatest gifts. He put his Presence in the tabernacle; this was his greatest gift—the gift of himself.
Exodus 36:8-40:33 “Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell in their midst,” the Lord commanded Moses. But how can you make a suitable container for one whom the highest heavens cannot contain? Will God really dwell in a house made by human hands? What sort of a container is the Tabernacle?
Exodus 35:1 – 36:7 Jesus was invited to dinner in the home of a Pharisee who neglected to show him true hospitality. But a woman poured out her alabaster flask of ointment and anointed Jesus. Jesus said of her, “Her many sins have been forgiven — as her great love has shown” (Luke 7:47). After God had forgiven Israel for worshiping the golden calf, it was those whose hearts moved them that were to contribute materials for the tabernacle. The key to giving oneself and one’s resources is gratitude and love.
Exodus 34:29-35 Moses spent forty days and nights in God’s presence on the top of Mt. Sinai. When he came down his face shone. God’s presence was a transforming presence. God knows us and loves us as we are, but he also wants to transform us so that we become who we are meant to be. But how are we transformed? How do people change?
Exodus 34:10-28 Passionate Presence. God loves his people with a passionate love. The Biblical word for this passion is “jealousy.” To us this seems a negative trait, describing inappropriate longings. But jealousy is appropriate within a covenant relationship. The two parties have pledged their troth to each other; they are bound to loyalty. One of the Lord’s names is Jealous (Exodus 34:14). He has won our affections and bound our soul fast. He wants us to be able to say of him: my love he owns, I have no longings for another, I’m satisfied in him alone.
Joshua recap We have completed our time in the book of Joshua. I hope the Lord has met you and has opened the eyes of your heart to His ever-faithful presence with you. This Sunday we will recap where we’ve been with Joshua this year, followed by a time of body life. The two questions I’d like you to ponder and possibly briefly share with the body: As a result of focusing on God’s faithfulness to Joshua and His people, how have you been reminded of God’s faithfulness to be with you in your life? Secondly, we have learned that remembering God’s faithfulness is critical in following Him, so how have you gone about remembering God’s faithfulness in your past, or, how will you do so moving forward?