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.
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.
When Christians re-tell the story of Easter, they are describing a story of hope. And that hope is more than a wish - it plants a foot in real space-time history.
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.
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!
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.
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.
So far in the book of Acts, we have witnessed the Kingdom coming in power, the appearance of the promised Holy Spirit, and the birth of the church, when many signs and wonders occurred. Healing was one of the signs of that power. The idea of God healing opens us up to many questions. How does God heal? Does God still heal today? Why doesn’t God heal everyone? In this message, we will explore some of these questions as we continue to learn what it means to live a Spirit-filled empowered life.
All of us long for community and a sense of togetherness. At the same time, the values our culture prizes most teach, reinforce, celebrate, and undermine the very thing we want. Most people are lonely and relationally unfulfilled. This is not how God intended life to be. In the last message, we learned that the birth of the church launched a new community in which individuals shared their life together at every level--spiritually, relationally, and economically.
In Week One of our new series The Empowered Life, Pastor Chris gave us an introduction into the book of Acts and into the role of the Holy Spirit. This week we want to look a little closer at this idea of receiving power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, as it says in Acts 1:8. What is this power? Why do we need it? Who is it for, and how do we receive it?
Christians have believed for centuries in the Trinity--that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet many Christians give only a nod to the Holy Spirit. He has been forgotten, neglected, and misunderstood. When we fail to grasp His Presence, we default to what we know: self-reliance. Our lives lack power and are marked more by defeat than victory.
Seven churches in the ancient world received the most remarkable evaluation a church could ever hope for. Jesus' message to these select churches was given to the Apostle John and is recorded in the book of Revelation. To the faithful members of one church Jesus said, "Hold on to what you have until I come." A church's character and beliefs are not inevitable...they are the result of conscious choices.
As we continue on to the last message in our Worship series, we will address the question, “How Do We Worship?” We will see how our deepened knowledge and understanding of worshiping God requires a response that reaches far beyond singing songs at church.
In the last message, we kicked off our new series on worship by trying to answer the question: What is worship? In this message, we move on to answer another important question on the topic of worship: Why do we worship?
There has been a lot of confusion recently when it comes to the topic of worship. Many churches have people called worship leaders who sing “worship” songs, but is that really all there is when it comes to worship? Is worship just singing certain types of songs on Sundays, or have we missed something more? In this first message we will answer the question, "What is worship?"
Pastor Bob Hearon
Pastor Chris Martin
Pastor Rich Hendricks
Pastor Chris Martin
Pastor Nick Carruthers