The King God Wanted

The book of 2 Samuel can be divided up into two sections--the first describing David’s rise, and the second outlining his fall. This week, we will look at the last of the chapters which follow his rise and the greatness of his reign. We will see all of the ways that David embodied God’s ideal chosen king. While ultimately David fell short, he did foreshadow the true and better King who is to come.

Surprising God, Surprising Grace

King David stabilized the kingdom and is enjoying peace. With time for reflection, it does not escape his notice that the tent containing God’s house pales in comparison to his own. Driven by the evident disparity, David hatches a plan with his friend to tip the scales the other way. He is going to build God an amazing house. But God has other plans, and in saying "No" to David, He sets in motion an intimate and surprising human/divine conversation. It is a conversation revealing more grace than David could ever have imagined, a grace that reaches down to us.  

Every Spiritual Blessing

Is there something that prevents you from experiencing the blessing of God? Do you have an everyday confidence and awareness that He is alive and working in you? In our journey through 2 Samuel, the fifth chapter marks a significant turning point in the life of David. David’s scope of responsibility grows exponentially and the writer reaffirms why success came to him. That same pathway of blessing is available to you. It is not easy, but it is remarkably simple. Sound interesting?

Hospitality: Bob & Angie Valtman

In this message, we continue in our three-week series A Mission for Everyone. Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. (Luke 19:10)  He left the 99 to search for the one lost sheep. (Luke 15:4) How can we join Him in that which He cares for? We will explore an old, yet up-to-date, method of communicating the gospel to others and making disciples. It is a simple way to be where Jesus is.

Church-Planting: Chris Old & Awaken Church

The book of Acts ends with Paul talking about Jesus while under house arrest. What a compelling picture of his relentless pursuit to serve Jesus. It is a perfect bookend to a book beginning with a prophecy on how the gospel will spread to the whole world. How can we continue the book of Acts today? A significant part of Linworth’s strategy is to plant churches in spiritually needy communities where the gospel can be lived and proclaimed. To help us envision our future, we are reaching into our past. Chris Old, who led a church plant from Linworth in 2010, is returning to tell the story of Awaken Church. Joining him is a member of the church planting team and a young woman recently introduced to Awaken. Each perspective will help us appreciate how God grows His Kingdom and us through bold steps of faith.

Empowered to Suffer Well

The Bible promises, in multiple places, that every believer will experience suffering and sorrow at some point in life. In Acts 16, we see that even the very place that the Lord led Paul and his missionary team, for the purpose of ministry, came with troubles and suffering. When thinking about situations like this in your life, how do you respond? Do you resort to fear? Do you worry? Do you question God? These are normal responses to suffering for human beings. But, as we continue in the book of Acts, we will see that Paul and Silas respond to significant suffering in a much different way through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Empowered to Hear

What do Christians mean when they say, "God spoke to me"? When Vice President Mike Pence said that Jesus has spoken to him, Joy Behar of ABC’s The View said this: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.” If Behar had a problem with our vice president, I am afraid she would share an equal concern about Peter, Paul, and the other heroes profiled in the book of Acts. The author Luke repeatedly states, “The Spirit said” when referencing how early Christians experienced personal guidance. What did that look like? How did the Spirit speak? Can God speak to us today in the same way? Can we hear Him when we are discouraged, lonely, or at a fork in the road?

Empowered for Unity

We live in a world of broken relationships--in families, in communities, and in other institutions. Praise God that He has raised up the church to be a place where peace and harmony reign. But what happens when disagreements do arise in the church? And what about church conflicts that are centered on theological questions? How does the church navigate the difficult waters of theological disputes? This is the very situation facing the early church in Acts 15.

Empowered to Send

Much of the success of the early church can be attributed to hearing God’s voice and following His guidance. Our failure to follow this example--listening carefully and boldly obeying--is the most underutilized resource in the world today. Of course, hearing God’s voice is easier said than done, but God still speaks today, calls people to specific tasks, and blesses them as they step out in obedience.

Pride, Prejudice, and the Gospel

Are there any forces powerful enough to stop the advance of the gospel and Christ’s kingdom? Undoubtedly, there were powerful external forces aligning against the early Christians in the first century. Namely, the might of the Roman government and its ego-driven Caesars. But could it be that the greatest threat to the growth of the church was not the government, but the heart condition of its own members? Acts 10 and 11 represent a massive turning point in our story. A dream, a vision, a reluctant apostle, and a spiritually eager Roman make up the operating room for God’s open heart surgery.

Everyone Has a Story

In this message, we return to the book of Acts and its central character, the Apostle Paul. In chapter 9, Luke tells the story of Paul's amazing conversion. It is a story Paul will retell over and over again. Paul was turned from a violent persecutor of the church to its most passionate missionary. His story reminds us we also have a story. But are you aware of your story and how God has changed you? Can you share your story with genuineness and clarity? The book of Acts makes talking about Jesus the normal activity of Christians, and sharing our stories is one of our most underutilized tools.
 

Empowered to Serve

If we are honest, most of us find problems to be really annoying. However, sometimes problems can lead to opportunities. As we move on in the book of Acts, we are going to see the early church facing a pretty major problem. There is a segment of the church that is being marginalized and neglected. Through this problem, the early church learns a vital lesson on serving. Not only that, this problem also opens up an opportunity for new leaders to emerge in the early church.
 

Bold as Lions

Have you ever been afraid to take a stand for Christ? At one time or another, most of us have. Well, there's good news! Boldness (courage) is one of the first characteristics the Holy Spirit imparted to the early church. The disciples, who had been hiding in fear of the Jewish authorities, became fearless preachers. Those who had been hiding in fear became as bold as lions!
 

Grace Over Greed

The early believers were awestruck with the grace of God--an extravagant grace freely poured into their lives. But the gospel did not stop with a new spiritual understanding. It dislodged the control wealth and possessions held over them; it erased traditional economic divides since rich and poor all shared in the same grace. This edition of the Empowered Life shows how the Holy Spirit can help us experience this extravagant grace and be freed from the clutches of greed.

Prayer and the Early Church

In the previous message of this series, we looked at Acts 3 and saw Peter and John perform the first healing miracle in the book of Acts. In Acts 4, we see that as a result of that miracle, the religious authorities begin to take notice and the early church experiences its first interaction with persecution. However, in response, they don’t run. They don’t stop sharing the good news of Jesus. Instead, they come together and they pray. In fact, when you survey the book of Acts, you see that prayer was to the early church what oxygen is to life--it was essential.