Love is in the Air!
Happy Valentines Day everyone! I really hope you are able to reach out to your significant other, family and friends today and tell them you love them. It can go a long way to hear a friendly voice on such a day where we celebrate love between those closest to us! Don't just make it about romance! Love those around you with the Love Christ poured out on us. You might not agree with me here or you may want to talk about pagan origins of this holiday and stuff but hey, if anything, let's love like Christ today and everyday! :)
Welcome to another week in 2018! God is good! I am excited about what God is doing at our church. He wants to awaken our hearts to what He longs to do throughout Parkland and the surrounding area. Isn't it crazy that God uses you and I to bring change into the atmosphere of our everyday lives and those surrounding us? He has singled you out from before the beginning of time to do good works through the power of His Spirit! Jesus thank you for calling our church to more. Thank you Lord that you are a living and animate God. You move and live and breathe! Thank you Lord!
Acts is an exciting book and I am thrilled to see God already at work in my own heart to bring about hunger and thirst for God to move in our midst and in our community! Thank you Jesus!
We have some exciting things coming soon for our church!
An Introduction to the Book of Acts
Pastor Dan's Sermon
The Book of acts was written almost 2000 years ago. Amazingly it impacts us and teaches us so much about what we need today. There are many purposes as to why this book was written but primarily we can see that this book is evangelistic. The Book starts out with a continuation of an appeal from Luke before a certain Theophilus started in the book of Luke. This book is pointing Theophilus (and us) to look at the person of Jesus and His acts, both through Jesus' personal works while in the flesh on earth and his continuation of power shown in His Holy Spirit filled disciples.
The name "Acts (of the apostles)" is not the original name of this letter. It was a title given long ago but it does not totally wrap up the Spirit in which Luke is writing this letter. Luke is not trying to get Theophilus (and other readers) to focus in on the apostles. He is presenting the person and works of Jesus Christ continued even past his physical presence on this earth. Jesus is a living God. He didn't just leave his works to the apostles to sink or swim. He empowered them to do the works he prepared for them to do from the beginning of the world. Surely, one should look at the apostles and be in awe of the wonderful things accomplished by them, but we need to move a step further and see that it was God's Holy Spirit working in them and leading them and perfecting them. From this point we can see that God, who is still alive today, is more than able to empower present day Christians to walk in the works he has prepared for us. We can look at the apostles and see an ever moving God wanting to move even in our little town of Parkland through His church.
Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
As we read the book of Acts we should keep the above mindset front and center. Does God want to empower His church? Yes! "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." But why is this power here? Is it just to have a great church service where we walk away "changed," but unwilling to reach out to those lost without Christ? NO! "AND YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES... TO THE END OF THE EARTH." Christ was empowering them, not to just help them have cool magic tricks to show their friends and look cool, but to bring the Good News of Christ's redemption and Salvation for those who would believe and call on His name. This is why we are empowered. To bring everyone's eyes to Christ!
We see this in Revelation 12:11 "And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." We conquer the lies of Satan, the powers of this world and desires of the flesh by "the blood of the lamb" (what Jesus DID), "the word of their testimony" (What Jesus Continues to do), and "did not love their lives even unto death" (a disciple's devotion to the Person of Christ and exalting Him.)
We have already established that Luke has written the book of Acts, but what do we know about him? He is a coworker with Paul in the mission to bring God's good news throughout the world (Philemon 24.) He is a physician, affectionately mentioned in Paul's farewell to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14.) He was an amazing apologist(see below). He could defend the historicity and facts behind the beliefs espoused by Christians as he was one who spoke and interacted with Jesus' contemporaries daily. Luke knew Jesus and he wanted to continue to establish in the mind of Theophilus, and others, the accuracy of what was taught and he did it with amazing potency.
When we talk about apologetics we are talking about a defense of a belief, philosophy or worldview. In Luke's case (and in the case of Christian apologetics,) he is defending the Christian faith by presenting evidences for the veracity of what was written before (the Scriptures) and the overwhelming truth of the Christian worldview as seen in day to day life. Christian Apologetics studies evidences as diverse as manuscript evidence, geological phenomena, archaeological and historical support, and philosophical presuppositions.
Who is Luke going to great lengths for in his apology of the Christian Faith? Theophilus. He wrote the whole book of Luke and the Book of Acts to this man. So it would seem necessary to explore this historical character.
Who is Theophilus? Well he was definitely a real person who Luke was legitimately concerned for. It is important to note that Luke addresses him as “most excellent,” a title often used when referring to someone of honor or rank, such as a Roman official. Paul used the same term when addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:2) and Festus (Acts 26:25). Therefore, one of the most common theories is that Theophilus was possibly a Roman officer or high-ranking official in the Roman government. Yet another theory about the identity of Theophilus is that he was the Roman lawyer who defended Paul during his trial in Rome. Those who hold this theory believe that Luke’s purpose in writing Luke and Acts was to write a defense of Christianity, somewhat akin to a legal brief. If this theory is correct, Luke’s writings were designed to defend Paul in court against charges of insurrection and, at the same time, to defend Christianity against the charge that it was an illegal, anti-Roman religion.
In Acts 1:3 we see that Luke writing this to Theophilus to assure him that there is a sound, historical basis for his faith. The declaration that Jesus rose from the dead was no myth or unconfirmed rumor. Many people saw Him during that 40-day period —honest, reliable people, some of whom touched Him and even ate meals with Him. His appearances were not momentary visions, brought on by a state of religious ecstasy. People, going about their daily activities, who weren’t expecting to see Him alive, encountered Him. There were times of prolonged conversation with multiple witnesses present. In other words, Theophilus could be confident that his faith was founded on something that really happened. He was no fool for putting his faith in Christ.
What makes Luke a great apologist is his extensive knowledge of the Eye Witness accounts of Jesus and His works and his clear and thorough articulation of these accounts to present a complete defense of the Faith Theophilus is dealing with. Therefore, as we read the book of Acts, let us read it with the lens in which Luke wrote it: As an evangelistic legal brief written to a man to win him to Christ and defend the character and nature of Jesus through the testimony of Paul and the early church.
Please continue to pray for our congregation and please feel free to share answers to prayers and your requests.
Continue to pray for the Gesslers and the Faheys as they get closer to delivery of their babies.
Please pray for wisdom and revelation to be poured out on Pastor Dan and our congregation as we read and pray through Acts.
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