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The Disrupting Affects of the Gospel and the Power of Jesus

This text introduces us to a significant event in the history of the world. Today, people tour the great Cathedrals of Europe. But before there were Cathedrals, a small group of faithful followers of Jesus crossed the sea from Asia to Europe and shared the gospel on the banks of a river in Philippi.

When Paul and Barnabas introduce the gospel in Philippi a businesswoman is saved, a demon-possessed slave girl is delivered, and a jailer is also saved. At the same time, the gospel of Christ disrupts people’s lives, stirring up conflict and fights. But it also comforts hearts. Through it all, the Church of Christ is planted and God continues to unleash the gospel to the world.

Scripture: Acts 16:6-40

The Seed of a Faithful Church

Jesus promised His disciples that we would be hated as He was hated. We would be mocked, misrepresented, shamed, even killed for following Him. The persecution of Christians began within days of the birth of the church, and it will continue until Jesus comes.

In this text, we read about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Not an Apostle or church leader, but an ordinary member of the church, serving Christ, and being used by Christ in amazing ways.

His story can teach us how persecuted Christians around the world – those who suffer much more than we in America – persevere with grace. But it can also show us how, in the face of cultural shifts that challenge us and cause us to hesitate to be Acts 1:8 witnesses for Christ, how to also persevere with grace for God’s glory and the spread of the gospel.

Scripture: Acts 6:8-8:3

Opposition and Blessing in God’s Providence

In Acts 4-7, the Christians face a lot of opposition. This passage shows us how they handled that opposition, the threat of death, and a beating with heroic courage.

At the same time, God proves that He is not going to let anything or anyone get in the way of the Gospel going out. He intervenes not once, but twice in this text.

In the midst of it all, we learn that it takes courage to live and share in a world that will oppose the gospel. So what is courage, where did they get it, and how do we get it?

Scripture: Acts 5:12-42; Hebrews 2:10, 12:2

Esther the Queen

Esther is a compelling and beautifully told story in the Bible. At the same time, it’s a bit obscure for some people. The story is told with many coincidences and reversals. Perhaps most impactful is that God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. However, just because He seems to be hidden, doesn’t mean He’s absent from the story.

If you read Esther in the context of the rest of the Bible, you see God’s unconditional, covenant promises made to Abraham and David are in jeopardy. You also see God’s faithfulness to His promises as He providentially saves His people and defeats their enemies through the actions of Esther, the Queen.

The big idea from Esther 4 is this: God providentially positions His people to face defining moments and calls us to die to ourselves and act in faith for His glory and our good.

Scripture: Esther 4:1-17; Matthew 16:24-26

The Prophet Isaiah

What does it mean to serve God successfully? Can good come from insecurity? What is better than success? Is affluence always bad? Isaiah answered all of these questions and many more.

Why is the Book of Isaiah considered by many as the best and most important of the Old Testament? His book is quoted more times in the New Testament (55 times) than any other prophet. And Isaiah teaches us a great deal about Jesus.

Isaiah doesn’t fit the mold of an Old Testament prophet. He was born with the silver spoon in his mouth; some think that he was a cousin to the king. He wrote with eloquence and fantastic skill. Isaiah is a person you should get to know.

Scripture: Isaiah 1:1; 6:1-12

Fickle Faith to Courageous Faith

God’s promise is certain. Abram’s faith is fickle. But by God’s grace his faith is growing.

Scripture: Genesis 13-14

God Blesses So That His Kingdom Can Be Made Known

Despite the unfolding of God’s promises as seen in Noah and now in Abraham, there’s a nagging question… what’s the deal with human nature?!? Sin is still present. Mankind has as Thomas Schreiner said “a depth of corruption that still inhabits the heart.” The world is spiraling and then what happens? God intervenes. The account of Abraham is where we see God begin moving humanity towards blessing.

Scripture: Genesis 11:27-12:20; Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16

God Through Judgment Brings About New Beginnings

The world is quickly unraveling as sin reaches its tentacles into every nook/cranny of civilization. Chapter 4 Cain, in hot fury, murders his brother. Chapter 5 Lamech shows himself to be an arrogant and ungodly individual and sin seems to continually have the upper-hand. And then in the latter part of Chapter 5, you see the pronouncement that such-and-such person died, indicating that sin and death reigns. Evil is multiplying and deepening its clasp of humanity. In Genesis 6 we see that “God through judgment brings about new beginnings.”

Scripture: Genesis 6:9-9:17

The Commitment to Bless Despite Sin!

God hasn’t forgotten you. You don’t fight alone. You don’t go out into this crazy world alone. You will never be alone (a lie from the enemy). No matter how desperate and alone you feel, no matter how much opposition you face, no matter how precarious your circumstances become, no matter the difficulty and physical suffering, He has said, “I will be with you.”

Scripture: Genesis 5:1-6:8

Who We Are and What We Do

The church was God’s idea – and as such it’s not ours to run to the exclusion of His word. The church belongs to Jesus. He established and made it come into being – by His life, death and resurrection, and since Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came and opened their eyes to Jesus, He’s building the church… one person after another.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:1-2