Sermons from 2017 (Page 3)
Gal 2:1-13 Jesus ushered in a new era for the people of God, one where we are set free from rule-keeping and empowered by the Spirit to live a transformed life. But the free life is not easy to maintain. There are many factors that pull us back into slavery under the law. We can know intellectually that we are a new creation but the reality of our lives is often different. Freedom goes against our natural inclinations and default mechanisms. If we want the free life we are in for a battle. This week we continue the journey from law to freedom by looking at the apostle Paul and his battle for freedom against the early church leaders. We realize that if Paul had not taken such a firm stand on the gospel of freedom that was revealed to him by God the Christian life would still be defined by rules. In preparation for this week I would encourage you to read Galatians 1:11-2:14 and think about the question, why is it hard for you to live in freedom? You might even want to post a response to #free2livepbcc before Sunday.
Gal 1:6-9 Many people outside the church have a negative perception of organized religion. And many others who have attended church deal with negative experiences. Church is often viewed as an oppressive system of do’s and don’ts where people keep track of your progress. Tragically, people live with a distorted picture of God. In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul dispels the myth of a rule-keeping God and calls us to life and freedom. As Paul explains the gospel through the lens of Israel’s story, we get a clear picture of God and his love for us. Christ sets us free from the bondage of law, and the Spirit empowers us so that we can become the holy and loving people of God. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But living this out isn’t always easy. This Sunday we are going embark on a journey from law to freedom. Plus, since Paul’s explanation of the gospel centers on Israel’s story and the “seed” of Abraham, we will have two evening forums to allow more in depth discussions: July 16 – Israel and the Church August 6 – Understanding Islam (Both forums will be from 7:00-8:30pm) Our hope is that God would open our minds and hearts to a deeper understanding of the gospel and a renewed relationship with God. Indeed, Jesus has set us #free2live. Bring your friends. This is exciting stuff!
Acts 15:1-29 The Apostolic Council in Acts 15 is the watershed moment in the book of Acts. Luke demonstrates how the church has finally caught up with God’s initiative and formally declares that God has fulfilled his covenant with Israel and that the door is now thrown wide open to all without distinction to be part of God’s family. The implication is that we must never make ethnic or national distinctions a barrier to welcoming all races and nationalities into the kingdom. It is an on going battle, but as a church we are called, like Paul, to preserve the freedom of all, even when it is costly. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).
Acts 14:20-28 On their first missionary, Paul and Barnabas have endured more violent resistance than one can imagine-slander, ridicule, death threats and stoning. After their final stop in Derbe, one would think they would choose the shortest and safest route home. To our surprise, they head straight back into the fire and retrace their steps all the way home. For the fledgling groups of disciples must be strengthened and the foundations of their faith fortified, if they have any chance of surviving the onslaught of persecution they will experience in the apostles’ absence. How strong are your fortifications? Could you withstand such an attack on your faith? How do we remain strong and strengthen each other’s faith?
Acts 14:8-28 Commenting on our text for this week, Luke Timothy Johnson observes, “The growing resistance to Paul’s messianic preaching by Diaspora Jews reaches a savage pitch in Lystra.” After jealous rage and ridicule in Antioch and death threats in Iconium, Paul is now stoned and left for dead in Lystra. However, as God would have it, Paul’s life is anything but finished. He simply gets up, goes back into the city and the following day Paul and Barnabas set out for their final destination, Derbe, where they make many disciples unhindered. What Luke demonstrates is that the more violent Jewish resistance becomes, the more receptive is the Gentiles’ acceptance of the gospel. What a mystery! Given the violent resistance they’ve encountered, one would think they would choose the shortest and safest route home. To our surprise, they head straight back into the fire and retrace their steps all the way home. What are they thinking?
Acts 13:42 – 14:7 As we continue following Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, things begin to heat up. After the conversion of the Roman proconsul in Cyprus and a very positive response to Paul’s sermon in Antioch, opposition arises and quickly becomes violent, spreading like wildfire among the people. Yet, to our surprise, Paul and Barnabas refuse to be intimidated. Instead of cowering in fear, they appear more courageous and confident with every move the enemy makes. They are like champion chess players, who had predetermined their responses to every move their opponents will make to the very end of the game. However, in this case, God has predetermined all the moves and has given them their endgame strategy. There is no need to be anxious when you know how the game ends. Do you?
Acts 13:13-43 What makes the difference between a boring sermon and one that strikes like lightning? On a more personal level, how do you have a significant encounter with people who are well versed in religion and already have their minds made up? In this week’s text, Paul and Barnabas travel north through the Taurus Mountains and enter the city of Pisidian Antioch. On the first Sabbath day after their arrival they are invited to give a word of exhortation to the congregation. For three hundred years Jews in the Diaspora have been reading the Scriptures and listening to countless sermons exhorting them to remain faithful to the law. But never have they heard a sermon like this with such good news, declaring God has fulfilled all of Israel’s longings and is on the move, doing revolutionary things where new life is breaking out for whole world and nothing is going to remain the same. And unless you jump in with both feet, you are going to be left out! So don’t you be left out.
Acts 13:4-12 In this week’s text we come to a historic moment in the history of the church, when Paul, Barnabas and John Mark set sail for Cyprus on the first missionary journey. Up until now evangelism was the spontaneous, less-systematic work of individuals. But now the task of missions will be intentional and strategic, following the lead of the Spirit coupled with wise strategy. Straight away we will discover the pattern of outreach that will be repeated in place after place. We will see the power of prayer to open doors, the approach Paul takes with politicians, the inevitability of fierce and sometimes violent attacks, and the relentless power and authority of the Holy Spirit to overcome all opposition. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction”. (1 Thes 1:5)
As we have been learning in our studies of the Book of Acts, Stephen and Philip were engaged in social ministry caring for the poor and the marginalized before their evangelism ministry (6:8-15; 8:5-40). Barnabas and Saul followed the same pattern, demonstrating their godly character by caring for needy disciples before being sent out on their mission of evangelizing the greater world. In the last few weeks God has done wonderful things among our people through the ministry in King City and Service Sunday. This Sunday we will have the privilege of hearing testimonies from you, those in our body, on the work God has done in you and through you. So come prepared to share. We will conclude our time with the feast of the Lord’s Supper.
Acts 12:25 – 13:4 This week we begin an eight-week series following Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in the book of Acts. It is a historic moment in the history of the church. As Luke has shown how God was faithful to his promises by restoring a faithful Israel in Jerusalem, now in the person of Paul, he demonstrates how God is calling out for himself a people from among the nations – the ultimate goal of salvation history. As we travel along with Paul and Barnabas, I have three goals in mind: That we have a greater appreciation for our apostolic foundation and the price they paid that we might be full heirs of the gospel of Christ That we will come to understand the vital role of the Spirit for mission and personal evangelism That our hearts be transformed to have a passion for God’s mission for the world
This week Christians all over the world will remember the last days and hours of Jesus’ earthly life. Some will act out the events of the passion on Good Friday. Others will gather at sunrise on Sunday to rejoice in the resurrection. Even non-believers and non-churchgoers will be reminded that it is Easter weekend through the programs on television, signs they see in front of churches, or relatives who invite them to church. Most people know that Easter is not about bunnies and egg hunts. On Friday night, we will gather to read the story and sing the hymns reminding us of Jesus’ suffering and death. And then on Sunday we will gather to rejoice in the resurrection. Both events are crucial to the Christian faith. Death and resurrection are the story of Jesus, and they become our story as well because we have been united with Christ. We surrender our life to be raised to new life. Even though we are in our earthly body we live a resurrected life now. Hallelujah!
1 Pet 5:6-14 I recently watched the film “Silence” about two Portuguese priests who traveled to Japan during a time when the Catholic faith was forbidden. The movie depicted many scenes of believers suffering and even losing their lives for their faith. These scenes inspired me and made me think: how do I react when I face suffering or loss? I realize that I often respond in the flesh; I may complain, get anxious, blame others, or worse. In this final passage of his letter, Peter gives us succinct and helpful exhortations to help us overcome the tendency to respond in the flesh and how to resist the devil during trials and temptations. As this passage brings us to the end of the epistle, I will also give a thematic summary of the whole book of 1 Peter.