Category: Sermons

Sovereign Fuel for Faithfulness (Acts 18:1-11)

In Athens, Paul had engaged with the great thinkers in the Areopagus. He had understood their culture and connected with their understanding. He quoted their poets to show that their religion would only condemn them. He showed that God is the Creator of the world, the Sustainer of life, the Ruler of all nations, the Father of human beings, and that one day He will judge the world through the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (v16-34).

What did he have to show for it? Many believed, including members of the Areopagus. So, did he stay to lead the church in the most influential city of the world?

No, he moved on to a much worse city. He sacrificed the opportunity to be the pastor of an influential church in an important city. For Paul, success was not building a large congregation. His task was to lay the foundation of Jesus Christ on which others would build (1 Corinthians 3:10-11, Ephesians 2:20).

But what does that have to do with us? None of us is Paul, the apostle. But we are all “ambassadors for Christ”, representing Jesus and His kingdom in a foreign land (2 Corinthians 5:20).

What does God expect of you and me? If we believe in Jesus, what are we supposed to do?

  1. Work Hard and Sacrifice (v1-5)
  2. Say What Needs To Be Said (v5-6)
  3. Depend on God’s Promises (v7-11)

God requires faithfulness not success (Matthew 25:21 & 1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

Sunday 14th July 2019

Review questions:

  • God requires ____________________ not success (Mathewt 25:21, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
  • Paul’s task: lay a _________________ which is ____________ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)
  • Who welcomed Jesus (Matthew 9:10-11)?
  • Why did Paul choose to make tents (v3-5, 1 Corinthians 9:4-9)?
  • What am I sacrificing (Romans 12:1-2)?
  • People are responsible for rejecting Jesus (v6): True/False
  • I can summarise the Gospel (v5):
  • Jesus promises His ________________, ____________ & ________________ (v10)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Accommodation and Confrontation (Acts 17:16-34)

If you travel, what do you look for? When you’re a tourist in another place, do you look for beauty? For skill? For ideas? Do you look to see what you can learn about people’s beliefs?

God tells us that we are foreigners in our own culture too. In Hebrews 11:13-16, we are told about the OT believers: They “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” We should think of ourselves as exiles living in a foreign culture. We are strangers even in our own city. Because we are waiting for a better, heavenly one.

So, what do we find when we look at our culture with the eyes of outsiders? What matters to our neighbours? What does it tell you about their beliefs?

Well, one thing we’ll see is the growing distance between Christianity and the culture. Once we could assume that our message would be welcomed, or at least tolerated. Or that people had some Biblical knowledge, but not we can’t.

But we see in Acts 17, that God has a universal message for all people, everywhere: He commands all people everywhere to repent, because there is a universal judgement coming for all people everywhere (v30-31). So, how should we engage with our neighbours in a culture where Christian ideas are so foreign?

  1. Anticipate Collisions (v16-21)
  2. Look for Connections (v22-23, 26-28)
  3. Engage in Discussions (v23-32)
  4. Expect Divisions (v32-34)

Sunday 7th July 2019

Review questions:

  • Christians are __________ (Hebrews 11:13)
  • How did Paul feel (v16)?
  • Why did Paul speak (v17)?
  • Everyone has a story about where the world _________ from, what’s ________ with the world, how we can _______ it, and what our ultimate ___________ is.
  • How will they believe in Him whom they have not _________? (Romans 10:14)
  • Start with God the ____________ (v24) God is ____________ forever (Romans 9:5)
  • God doesn’t ___________ you (v24-25)
  • God rules _________________ (v26-27)
  • The judgement will be _____________, _____________ & _______________ (v31)
  • “Repent” means turning from _______ to God for ________________ness (v30)
  • Is resurrection true? (1 Corinthians 15:13)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

My Soul Refuses to Be Comforted (Psalm 77)

Psalm 77 speaks to us about an experience that is common, that many of us know all too well. It speaks of suffering. It speaks of how we face suffering, and where we can turn for God’s help.

Hear this account of a suffering man:

“I tried to sleep but couldn’t. Part of it was that I was scared to wake up with a feeling of panic in the pit of my stomach. Anxiety was always present, and for no good reason it just got worse. I wanted to be out of the house, but I was scared to be alone. No matter what I did, I couldn’t concentrate except on questions such as “Am I going insane? What have I done to deserve this? What sort of punishment is this?””

– Bruce Springsteen

“I am now a man of despair, rejected, abandoned, shut up in this iron cage from which there is no escape.”

– Hopeless in The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

“The iron bolt… mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison.”

– Charles Spurgeon

These accounts reveal something of the despair of depression. And they all come from Christian people. How can that be?

In the introduction to his book of sermons entitled “Spiritual Depression” doctor-turned-preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,

“Believing as I do that the greatest need of the hour is a revived and joyful Church the subject dealt with in these sermons is to me of the greatest possible importance. Unhappy Christians are, to say the least, a poor recommendation for the Christian Faith; and there can be little doubt but that the exuberant joy of the early Christians was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity.”

So, it is not a diversion from our consideration of the spread of the Gospel in Acts for us to turn to Psalm 77. Here, we see:

  1. The Symptoms: My Soul Refuses To Be Comforted (v1-4)
  2. The Cause: “Has God Forgotten Grace?” (v5-9)
  3. God’s Remedy: “Remember My Redemption” (v10-20)

Now, of course, this is not medical advice. We can receive much help from medicine and counseling in these areas. But there is more to suffering than what medicine can help with. So, we turn to God’s Word to hear what He says about the spiritual aspects and effects of suffering.

Sunday 30th June 2019

Review questions:

  • Is it okay to cry to God (v1)? Yes/No
  • The fact we go through suffering proves God is ________________ (v7-9)
  • What shall separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:31-39)?
  • A Christian may be depressed if we believe that God has ________________ to be gracious (v9)
  • For God to forget His grace to us, He would have to forget ___________ (v9)
  • God ____________ His people because of His covenant promises (v15)
  • Jesus’ death and resurrection were His _____________________ (Luke 9:31)
  • Most unhappiness comes from __________________ to yourself instead of ________________ to it. Lloyd-Jones
  • What should I tell myself?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Being People of the Book (Acts 17:10-15)

Last time as we were looking at Acts 17, the main lessons for us were about how Paul preached, how he opened the Scriptures to the people at Thessalonica. The lessons there are particularly about how the Scriptures should be taught.

Today, we’re looking at the other side of the conversation, looking at how we should listen. And there are three basic principles for us here that we need to recognize and to put into practice:

  1. Receive God’s Word Eagerly (v10-11)
  2. Examine God’s Word Daily (v11)
  3. Receive God’s Word with Faith (v11-15)

Sunday 23rd June 2019

References:

Review questions:

  • Eager means _________________________ (v11)
  • Those who hear God’s Word are _____________________ (Revelation 1:3)
  • Christopher Ash: “If you want a better pastor, you can get one by __________________________________________“
  • I can prepare to hear eagerly by _______________________________________
  • I need other believers to be ______________ & to _______________ them (Heb 10:24-25)
  • What stops me hearing (Mark 4:19)?
  • Examine means __________________________________ (v11)
  • Bible reading takes special skill: True/False (2 Timothy 3:15)
  • The Bible can be twisted: True/False (2 Peter 3:16)
  • Faith: staking e_____________ on God (v12)
  • Scripture examines my _____________
  • Satan’s best lie: There’s no _____________
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Jesus is Christ and Lord (Acts 17:1-10)

Ladies, I have something to tell you: Men have a secret ability, a super power if you will.

We learned it from our dads, and we teach it to our sons: Men can hear instructions, directions, plans, concerns, hopes, dreams, and feelings, without listening to a word. And you probably haven’t even noticed!

Hearing doesn’t take much effort. It’s easy to listen passively, like having the radio on in the shed or when you go for a drive. But listening is a conscious choice to give your attention and concentration to what is being said.

Jesus said, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4:24-25). If we listen a lot, we will receive a lot from God. If we listen just a little, then what we have will be taken away.

This passage is a warning: Are you listening?

  1. We Can Be Closed To Reason (v1-4)
  2. We Can Be Blinded By Prejudice (v5)
  3. We Can Be Looking For An Excuse (v6-7)
  4. God May Not Give Us Another Opportunity (v8-10)

How do you hear?

Sunday 16th May 2019

Review questions:

  • Did Paul stop in every city (v1)? Yes/No
  • The message about Jesus is open to ________________________________ (v2)
  • Paul put the Jesus of _______________ alongside the Christ of the ______ (v3)
  • Where is the death & resurrection of Christ in the OT?
  • Topical preaching is what _____ want to hear about. Expositional preaching is what _________ wants to say (v2-3).
  • Why did Jesus use parables (Mark 4:1-12)?
  • Stott: “The NT knows nothing of an un________________ed Christian.” (v4)
  • How do we reinforce our biases (v5)?
  • Does disliking Christians make our message any less true (v6-7)? Yes/No
  • Can we reject God’s word (v9)? Yes/No
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

What Must I Do To Be Saved? (Acts 16:16-40)

We saw last time how the Lord Jesus opened Lydia’s heart to believe the message Paul brought, and she was saved.

Luke records for us here the conversion of one more person, but by the end of the chapter, there is already a group of believers meeting at Lydia’s house (v40). How does the church go from one person to many?

Lydia was well-off. And she was well-connected. And we can think of Christians like that today:

  • This week, Relevant Magazine featured a story about the actress playing Jasmine in the remake of Disney’s Aladdin, Naomi Scott. She’s a PK, and she’s spoken publically against the persecution of Christians.
  • And many Christians are glad that Israel Folau is in the news. He doesn’t believe in the Trinity, but it’s good to see him fighting for freedom of religion anyway.
  • And our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is a practicing Christian, the first we’ve seen in many years.

Will the message about Jesus be acceptable because prominent people believe it? Does it take one influential person to accept of the good news for many to believe?

There are four things the Gospel does as God’s Church grows:

  1. The Gospel Frees the Enslaved (v16-18)
  2. The Gospel Removes Profit for God’s Enemies (v19-24)
  3. The Gospel Saves from Death (v25-34)
  4. The Gospel is Publically Vindicated (v35-40)

Sunday 9th June 2019

Review questions:

  • Magic tries to ___________ gods (v16).
  • Why does Satan sometimes tell the truth (v17)?
  • The message about Jesus challenges p____________ & p__________ (v19-24)
  • Why did they pray (v25)?
  • What can I sing in bad times (v25)?
  • You have to ___________ the message before you can ______________ it (v30)
  • People listen if they ________ us (v30)
  • A ________________ proves I can’t save myself (v27, 30)
  • How can I be saved (v31)?
  • Paul didn’t accept release so that the gospel would be ______________ (v37).
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Open Doors to Open Hearts (Acts 16:1-15)

We saw that conflict is a part of life in the church, we saw that last Sunday. And one reason why conflict arises is that we have expectations. We expect that the church will do this, or be like that. We have expectations of other Christians. We expect things of ourselves.

What do we do when things aren’t how we expect? We blame someone. That’s often where conflict starts. Or we get discouraged. We question whether any of this is really real. Does it work?

Why do we blame? Why do we get discouraged? Because we believe that the church can do things that it can’t do.

There are some basic things that the church should do: prayer, Bible teaching, telling people about Jesus, teaching each other to follow Jesus. But we can do all of those, and see no results.

So, we ask, “What are we missing?” Maybe we need more resources. Or a different style. Or better events. Or a different pastor.

Now, some of those things may be important. But, if the good news about Jesus is going to change us and our neighbours and our community, there are three things we absolutely cannot do. Three things that only God can do. And we must trust Him to do them:

  1. Trust God to Open Doors (v1-10)
  2. Trust God to Close Doors (v6-10)
  3. Trust God to Open Hearts (v11-15)

Sunday 26th May 2019

Review questions:

  • Why was Timothy qualified to help (v2)?
  • Why did Paul circumcise him (v3)?
  • Doctrine weakens churches (v4-5): True/False
  • Does having a good plan mean God will bless it (v6-7)? Yes/No
  • Why do we need help (v9)?
  • “__________________ the spirits” (v10, 1 John 4:1).
  • Paul was led by the Spirit, but had a _________________________ and used w______________________
  • Why did Lydia listen (v14)?
  • When happened when she did (v14-15)?
  • Hospitality puts ____________________________ first.
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live: