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Parables of Jesus

Lord's Day Update May 28, 2013 Comments Off on Parables of Jesus

Elder Dave Langley will be preaching from Matthew 25. Here are some questions to help you prepare for the sermon:

· What time frame is Jesus talking about in these parables?

· In the parable of the talents and the parable of the sheep and the goats, what seems to be the basis for being rewarded?

· Do the parables seem at odds with the doctrine of salvation by faith through grace? Why or why not?

· What might the talents be representing in the parable of the talents?

Fruit of the Spirit

Lord's Day Update May 20, 2013 Comments Off on Fruit of the Spirit

Pastor Steve Walker from CVP will be filling the pulpit this coming Lord’s Day. His sermon text will be Galatians 5:22-26. This is a favorite for many Christians as it deals with the Fruit of the Spirit. Here are a few questions to help you prepare for the sermon.

1. Do you think it is significant that Paul describes a “fruit” of the Spirit and not “fruits” of the Spirit?

2. What is a biblical definition of love?

3. Can a person be sacrificial and yet not loving?

4. What is it that motivates sacrifice? How can we tell if we truly love God or other people?

5. How can we love the “unlovable”? Is there such a thing?

Paul’s Crime

Lord's Day Update May 14, 2013 Comments Off on Paul’s Crime

We learned from our sermon last Lord’s Day that Paul had been drug from the temple and beaten by the Jews who were in Jerusalem. The arrival of the Roman tribune, along with his soldiers, saved Paul from being beaten to death. The tribune immediately arrested Paul, assuming that he was guilty of a crime, and then tried to learn the details of that crime by asking the Jews what Paul’s crime was. The Jews could not agree upon their charges and so the tribune took Paul back to the barracks in the Fortress Antonia. Once there, the tribune had intended on whipping Paul into confessing his crime, but when he found out that Paul was a Roman citizen he realized that Paul could not be whipped without first having a fair trial.

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day will be Acts 22:30-23:11. This text describes the tribune’s third attempt to learn what Paul’s crime was. The tribune commands the council of the Jews to meet in order to question Paul and determine his crime. But Paul does not want to play this game. Paul answers them with a “red herring,” deliberately pitting the Pharisees against the Sadducees and causing an uproar within the council. The tribune as compelled to rapidly escort Paul away from the council in order to protect Paul’s life.

When dealing with this passage, we’re forced to focus on the Christian’s requirement to tell the truth. There are two incidents of, what some people call, “deliberate deception” by Paul. The first incident is in 23:5 where Paul says that he didn’t know that Ananias was the high priest. On the surface, it would appear as though Paul was lying because we know Paul knew who Ananias was. Yet there are some technicalities that we need to consider, as well.

The second “deliberate deception” is in 23:6, where Paul answers the council by telling them he was on trial because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead. Yet if we go back to last week’s sermon, the charges the Jews had brought against Paul had nothing to do with his belief in the resurrection of the dead. What they specifically were charging Paul with was (1) not upholding the law and (2) bringing a Gentile into the temple (21:28).

So the challenge we have before us this week is to understand why Paul appears to be deliberately deceiving the leaders of the Jewish council. Is Paul guilty of lying? Or is there a legitimate moral loophole that Paul is aware of that permits him to mislead the council? Our passages ends in 23:11 with Jesus appearing to Paul and apparently approving of the testimony that Paul gave to the council.

Paul’s Arrested

Lord's Day Update May 07, 2013 Comments Off on Paul’s Arrested

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day is a long one! We’ll begin at Acts 21:27 and carry it all the way through to Acts 22:29. This section of Acts covers Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem and his address to the Jews. The bulk of these verses constitutes Paul’s address to the Jews.

You’ll find a lot of familiar information is Paul’s address. He begins by telling of his heritage and education (22:1-5); something we’ve heard from Paul multiple times. Then he proceeds to articulate how he was converted by the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (22:6-16). We studied this incident back when we covered Chapter 9. After describing his conversion, Paul then concludes his address to the Jews by describing how God has called him to witness to the Gentiles (22:17-21).

The Jews’ response to Paul’s address was anger and hostility. They proclaimed, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live” (22:22).

Why were the Jews so upset with Paul? What specifically did they dislike about Paul? At what point of Paul’s address did the Jews object? Is this consistent with the charges they brought against him in 21:28?

According to Jewish law, was it appropriate for the Jews to attempt to kill Paul without a fair trial? What parallels do you see between the way the Jews treated Paul and the way they treated Stephen (Acts 8). Or the way they treated Jesus?

In what ways did the prophecy from Agabus come true in this passage (21:11)?

Why did Paul ask to address the Jews (21:39)? What did he think he would accomplish? These are the people who would have killed him if the Roman soldiers had not intervened, and now Paul wants to try to reason with them? What’s his intent?

Paul’s Nazirite Vow

Lord's Day Update May 01, 2013 Comments Off on Paul’s Nazirite Vow

The sermon text for Sunday will be Acts 21:17-26. After all the controversy about whether Paul should go to Jerusalem, he finally ends up there. He is warmly greeted by James and the elders of the Jerusalem church (v. 17-18), but then is promptly warned that the Jewish Christians in the Jerusalem church do not think very fondly of Paul (v. 20-22).

James and the elders decided to make Paul look as appealing as possible to the Jewish Christians. Since the Jewish Christians placed such a heavy emphasis on the Mosaic Law, and it was their assumption that Paul didn’t uphold the Mosaic Law, the leaders of the Jerusalem church thought it would be a good idea of Paul participated in four men’s Nazirite vow. Since the Nazirite vow was distinctively Jewish and was a component of the Mosaic Law (Num 6:1-21), the leaders of the Jerusalem church hoped that anyone who observed Paul participating on this vow would give Paul a more favorable interpretation. Namely, they were hoping that the Jewish Christians would think more favorably of Paul because of his participation in the Nazirite vow.

Upon receiving this instruction, Paul complied and went forth with the plan.

Questions: Does this seem deceptive to you? Do you think the leader of the Jerusalem church were acting inappropriately by instructing Paul to become involved with these four men’s Nazirite vow?

Should Paul have refused to participate with the vow? After all, the vow is intended for those who desire to “make a special vow to the Lord” (Num 6:2) and not to influence the opinion of man.

When Peter began to behave differently in front of the Jewish Christians while in Galatia, Paul rebuked Peter to his face (Gal 2:11). How are the actions of Paul (here in Acts 21) any different from those of Peter? Is Paul playing the hypocrite?

Farewell Tour Ends

Lord's Day Update Apr 24, 2013 Comments Off on Farewell Tour Ends

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day is Acts 21:1-16. This is the final leg of Paul’s third missionary journey as well as the last part of his “farewell tour.” Luke traces Paul’s travel through seven different towns in these sixteen verses, but little is said about five of the towns. The two towns that Luke does focus on are Tyre and Caesarea.

Paul spent seven days in Tyre (v. 3-5). During this time, there were certain “disciples” in Tyre that prophesied “through the Spirit.” The disciples warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Paul was not persuaded. He did not heed their warnings and continued on to Jerusalem.

Then Paul arrived at Philip’s house in Caesarea (v. 8-14). There he met his old friend, Agabus (see Acts 11:28). Agabus prophesied by the Holy Spirit, explaining how Paul would be bound hand-and-foot by the Jews in Jerusalem and delivered over to the Gentiles. This time, Luke and all of Paul’s traveling companions, along with the household of Philip, “urged [Paul] not to go up to Jerusalem” (v. 12). Once again, Paul was not to be persuaded. He did not heed the warnings of his friends and continued on to Jerusalem.

Paul’s behavior in these two cities has caused many people to question Paul’s motives for going to Jerusalem. Both in Tyre and Caesarea, there were Christians who prophesied in the Spirit concerning what would happen to Paul if he went to Jerusalem. In both cities, the Christians urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But in both cases, Paul ignored their concerns and went to Jerusalem anyways.

Did Paul choose to ignore the instruction of the Holy Spirit during his stay in Tyre and Caesarea? Did Paul usurp his own will over the will of God? (v. 14) How do we explain Paul’s behavior in these two towns in light of some of the verses we’ve recently dealt with; verses that seem to indicate that the Holy Spirit did desire for Paul to go to Jerusalem? (19:21; 20:23)

Deviled Ham

Lord's Day Update Apr 16, 2013 Comments Off on Deviled Ham

This Sunday, Carl Schroeder will be preaching from be reading Mark 5 1-20, which provides us with the account of our Lord healing the demon-possessed man who is living in the tombs. You might also prepare by reading the parallel account in Luke 8: 26-38. We will be learning about the dangers of falling into sin, which the man in the tombs is a picture of, and the powerful redemption that our Lord provides to all of us. Here are some questions to help you prepare for the sermon:

· In many ways, fallen mankind is pictured perfectly by this man. For example, he has forsaken his home and is living in the “land of the dead” (the tombs), in the same way that Adam left his home in the garden of Eden with all of mankind to live in “the land of death”. Christ has come to save him in the same way he comes to save us. Can you identify any other themes or images in this passage that picture fallen mankind and the redemption of Christ for us?

· How did this man try to fix his problem?

· In what ways was the man different after he was redeemed by the Lord, compared to how he was before he was redeemed?

· Why didn’t the Lord allow this man to travel with him after he was healed? Why do you think the Lord made him stay behind?

Paul’s Farewell Tour

Lord's Day Update Apr 09, 2013 Comments Off on Paul’s Farewell Tour

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day is Acts 20:17-38. As Paul continued his “farewell tour,” he left Troas and arrived at Miletus, a town about 25 miles away from Ephesus. Paul’s plans were to make it to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost, therefore he could not spend time in Ephesus. So instead, he stopped in Miletus and sent for the elders from the church of Ephesus to come to him in Miletus.

The rest of Chapter 20 records Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesians elders. Paul reminds them of the pastoral leadership he provided in Ephesus for the three years he lived there. Then, in much the same way Moses passed his ministerial duties on to Joshua, Paul affirmed the elders’ responsibility to carry on that same pastoral ministry to the people of Ephesus. This tells us a lot about God’s plan for the government of the local church.

In verse 28-35, Paul outlines for the elders some of their foundational duties in the church.

This chapter comes to an emotional end as Paul prays with the elders and they all grieve Paul’s departure. Of all that Paul said to them at that occasion, there was one sentence that stood out about the rest (v. 38). It’s the one in which Paul said to them, in verse 25, “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.”

This was Paul’s farewell, and it was received with much grief.

Guys’ Night Out in Troas

Lord's Day Update Apr 03, 2013 Comments Off on Guys’ Night Out in Troas

This Sunday, as we return to our preaching series through the Book of Acts, we’ll pick up where we left off eight weeks ago. The sermon for this Lord’s Day is entitled, “Guys’ Night Out in Troas” and the text is Acts 20:1-16.

A significant portion of our text describes Paul’s travels around the Aegean Sea, going up from Ephesus, over and hrough Macedonia, down to Greece, and then back-tracking all the way to Miletus (which is near Ephesus). There are some interesting details about these travels and I’ll highlight some of those details during the sermon, but the primary focus for the sermon is going to be on verses 7-12.

It occurred to me that what was happening in verse 7-12 was something very similar to what happens when the men of RPC get together for Guys’ Night Out. Not that any of us doze off while those others are speaking, but we enjoy engaging each other in meaningful conversation. This is what Paul was doing with the believers in Troas, hence the sermon title.

As you prepare for this coming Lord’s Day, consider the benefits that accompany Christians who gather together to converse about the things of God. Do you find enjoyment in speaking and hearing about our triune God? How might such activities encourage the body of believers?

There are several indicators in our text that these conversations went on for an extended period of time. Paul obviously had much to say. Please plan to join with the body of believers at RPC this Lord’s Day as we will be considering those things that Paul spoke about.

Christ must increase and I must decrease.

Lord's Day Update Mar 27, 2013 Comments Off on Christ must increase and I must decrease.

This Lord’s Day will be the last week of our Bumper Sticker Theology sermon series. Our sermon text will be John 3:25-30 and the bumper sticker that we’ll be analyzing is that which says, “Christ must increase and I must decrease.”

This statement was first spoken by John the Baptist as he was answering a question from his disciples. John was acknowledging his proper role as the forerunner to the Messiah. John had completed his job; he had proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and now that the Messiah had come, the role and influence of the forerunner must decrease while the role and influence of the Messiah must increase.

This Lord’s Day we’re going to consider what it means, particularly in light of Jesus’ resurrection, for the Lord Jesus Christ to “increase.”