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Acts 24:1-27: On Trial for the Resurrection Print E-mail

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Trials are known for the dramatic.  Someoneís life, or at least their freedom, hangs in the balance as the prosecution seeks to prove their guilt and the defense labors to prove the opposite.  Of course, the trials in books and movies and on TV are often more dramatic than those in real life, but that is not always the case.  When a life rests in the judgeís hands, the drama is real, which adds weight to what is spoken in those moments.  When Luther stood before the Diet of Worms, his life was at risk.  If he was condemned as a heretic, then it was seemingly just a matter of time until he was executed.  And when the prosecutor asked him if he repented of his writings, the drama was real.  It is why his response is still quoted today: ďSince then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth.  Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reasonóI do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each otherómy conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand.  God help me.  Amen.Ē 1  It was a dramatic moment indeed.

Last Updated ( Monday, 10 November 2014 )
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Acts 23:12-35: God's Mysterious Ways Print E-mail

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Frederick III, or Frederick the Wise, as history knows him, was a ruler in Germany for most of his life.  He was born in 1463 and died in 1525.  He was a Roman Catholic throughout his life (although there is debate about where he stood on spiritual things when he died).  He is remembered for a couple of reasons.  First, he was known for his collection of relics, or holy objects, believed to grant the owner freedom from years in Purgatory.  His inventory listed over 17,000 relics in 1518 (and perhaps grew to over 19,000).  It included objects like a thumb from St. Anne, a twig from the burning bush, and some hay from Jesusí manger.  Frederick was known for this great collection.  But second, he was also known as the German prince who saved Martin Lutherís life after the Diet of Worms, where he was condemned as a heretic.  Frederick arranged for Luther to be secretly kidnapped and taken to a castle for safety, where he continued to translate the Bible into the German language.  Yet, does it not seem strange that a ruler like Frederick would take an interest in Luther.  After all, Luther was known for his condemnation of relics in particular and the Roman Catholic Church in general.  So, why did Frederick protect him and support him?  Of course, many different answers could be given, but all of them point back to Godís providential care for Luther at this point in his life.  As He often does, God used mysterious and unexpected means to protect Luther from harm.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 November 2014 )
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Acts 21:27-22:29: Paul Testifies in Jerusalem Print E-mail

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Every Christian has a testimony.  Every follower of Christ has a story to tell about how they came to know Jesus as their Savior.  The simplest way to tell this story is to break it into three sections: who we were before Christ, how we came to know Christ, and who we are since Christ.  Perhaps at some point, you have been asked to write down your testimony following these three guidelines.  Perhaps you have used that in sharing the gospel with others.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 November 2014 )
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Acts 21:1-26: Willing to Die and Submit Print E-mail

WILLING TO DIE AND SUBMIT


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None of us can escape the necessity of dealing with tension in our lives.  We face it at work.  We face it at home.  And we even face it in the Church.  Hopefully, we could all give examples of times when the tension was dealt with in such a way as to promote unity and peace among the parties involved.  Yet, I fear that all of us could also give examples of times when the tension escalated and resulted in anger and division.  The truth is that not every tension can be resolved peacefully.  We live in a fallen world.  Our relationships are plagued by sin and selfishness and pride (and not just from others!).  Sometimes we have to take a stand for truth or whatís right in the situation, even when we know that such a stand will be costly.  Yet, there are other times when we can and should fight for peace, doing all that we can to resolve the tension.

Last Updated ( Monday, 10 November 2014 )
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Acts 20:17-38: Encouragement in Ministry Print E-mail

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I am preaching to myself this morning.  In one sense, that is always true, but especially this morning as we look at Paulís speech to the Ephesian elders.  As a pastor, an elder, I need to hear what Paul says in this passage.  I need to pay attention to his encouragement and his charge to these men.  So the sermon is for me.  Yet, what about you, right?  I mean, should I just dismiss you guys and preach to myself this morning?  Before you start packing up your things and heading for the door, let me help you see why you should listen to this sermon as well.  There are many expectations for ministers today.  Unfortunately, not all of those expectations line up with Scripture.  And lest you think that I am arguing for an easier job, I fear that most of the expectations for a pastor are far too small, or at least too occupied with lesser things.  So what should we expect from our ministers?  What does the Bible say about this?  I think a good place to start in answering these questions is Paulís speech to the Ephesian elders.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 October 2014 )
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Acts 20:1-16: The Mission to Encourage Print E-mail

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One of the greatest sources of encouragement for believers should be other believers.  Look around the room.  Look at the person sitting next to you, the one setting in front of you, behind you, across from you.  These are some the greatest sources of encouragement that God has placed in your life.  And guess what?  He has placed you in their lives to encourage them.  We noted a few weeks ago that God is the Great Encourager of His people.  We saw how he encouraged Paul in Corinth by giving him a people to minister to and a promise of protection.  We pointed out that another way that God encouraged Paul was through Aquila and Priscilla, who were tentmakers like Paul and provided him with a place to stay.  God used them to encourage the Apostle, who came to the city in weakness and in fear and much trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3).  Paul received much encouragement from his fellow believers.  And as we have noted in the repeated missionary journeys, Paul was intentional with his encouragement of the Churches that he planted.  He sought to evangelize the lost and encourage the saints.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 October 2014 )
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