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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Encouraging Leaders of the Church to Lead Well (Elders/Pastors/Bishops) Acts 20:17-38

Here is the audio recording for Acts 20:17-38 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church.

In this section Paul addresses the elders (bishops, overseers, bishops) of Ephesus. The elders ("presbyteroi" v. 17- see Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) are the leaders of the church who lead with maturity. They are also the bishops or overseers ("episkopoi" v. 28, 1 Tim. 3:1; Phil. 1:1) who over see the church in all spiritual matters. *They are also the pastors ("poimen" v. 28, only once to refer to leaders or elders as a plural noun - Ephesians 4:11. As a singular noun see 1 Peter 5:1-2) who shepherd (guide-direct, feed, protect) the church in all spiritual matters.


Paul the Apostle encourages the elders of Ephesus to shepherd the church of God as he has done. In a very personal way he reminds them of his example to them and encourages them to do likewise. It is a passage relevant and applicable to our church today. Those of us called to be elders must heed the words of Paul. After all, it is not our church but God's church that we shepherd. It is an honor bestowed by the Holy Spirit because of the grace we have received in Christ.








* Notice a correction on the audio. I forgot the use of "pastors" ("poimenes") in Ephesians and a brother in our class pointed out to me after class! It's good to be kept accountable.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Count My Life of No Value to Myself

Paul had a singular life focus but not for himself. In this over thirty years as a believer Paul travelled over 8,700 miles by foot, about 15,000 in his lifetime, planted at least 14 churches and wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament and suffered a lot. All for the Gospel of Christ. His life in of itself had no value unless it had to do with what God had called him to do, preach the Gospel. He knew it would cost him "his" life. According to tradition he was beheaded by Nero around 64-65 A.D. He finished his race, faithfully. 2 Timothy 4:8.

In our modern culture, even as Christians, we see the opposite. Our care is about ourselves (just look at our endless "selfies"), especially our bodies. We love ourselves (remember Narcissus?) and our comfort. What if we Christians really just lived for Christ? No, I mean really! What would it look like?

Acts 20:24. "But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace."

 

 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Encouraging & Strengthening Others, Worshipping on the Lord's Day! Acts 20:1-17

It is interesting too that today in our Sunday School we got to put into practice much of what we learned. We had a visitor that showed up seeking help  and from the moment she walked into our church one of our class members spoke to her. She came to our class, listened and cried. After class she told us how what she heard applied to her. Many of us were involved and we were able to all help her both in tangible and non-tangible ways to get where she was going. God gave us an opportunity to apply his Word.

Here is the audio recording for Acts 20:1- 17 taught during our Sunday School hour at Village Bible Church.



It is interesting too that today in our Sunday School we got to put into practice much of what we learned. We had a visitor that showed up seeking help  and from the moment she walked into our church one of our class members spoke to her. She came to our class, listened and cried. After class she told us how what she heard applied to her. Many of us were involved and we were able to all help her both in tangible and non-tangible ways to get where she was going. God gave us an opportunity to apply his Word.

Applications from this section:

1. Encouragement in the faith comes through worship on the Lord's Day through the preached Word, the Lord's Supper. through exhortations, divine interventions and fellowship (meals).

2. The Bible is preached, taught, proclaimed, used for dialoguing, explaining, convincing others of their need of the Gospel of Christ.

3. Ministry involves plurality of leaders and co-laborers.

4. Helping the poor in the Church is an obligation of the Church. Those who have more need to help those who are needy.

One correction I need to make in the audio. 2 Corinthians was written from Macedonia not Troas.





Thursday, January 01, 2015

What Keep Us From Believing God

Yesterday I was listening to Numbers 13:26-33. This passage struck me as I thought about what keeps us believing God's promises.

"The men went back to Moses, Aaron, and the entire Israelite community in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back a report for them and the whole community, and they showed them the fruit of the land. They reported to Moses: “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites are living in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.”
Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!”
But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are!” So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size. We even saw the Nephilim, there — the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.” (HCSB)

There were twelve spies sent to scout the land that Israel was to conquer. They went and came back saying the land was flowing milk and honey. It was as God had said it would. But, they said, it had powerful nations even giants and they were no match for them. Their report influenced all the people which started complaining and moaning. A mutiny was started. They thought God had brought them out of Egypt to let them be killed by other nations.

They forgot the most important character in all of this, God. God was with them. The all-powerful, all-mighty God had been with them all along. He had delivered them from Egypt with great power. He had led them throughout their desert journey and provided for them. The Lord would fight for them.
How could they forget this? How could they not believe in Him? Fear paralyzed them. Fear took away their belief in God.

Only Joshua and Caleb believed. These are Joshua's words:
"If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us.
Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” " (Numbers 14:8-9 - HCSB)

He had the right perspective. God was with them, why be afraid?

This happens with us. Fear keeps us from believing the promises of God. I am not talking about this idea of being positive and saying that if we believe anything is possible. No. God had clearly told them what He would do for them. They just had to believe but fear paralyzed them. For this, God punished them. (Read Numbers 14) Disbelieving and disobeying our God is serious. It replaces God and puts ourselves first. It is idolatry. None of the spies who disbelieved God entered the Promise Land, except two, Joshua and Caleb.

As we start this year, let us not allow to fear keep us from believing the promises of God. Let us put all of our trust in Him. The Lord is leading us.  Let us follow his guidance without reservation. Let us trust Him. Let us not allow fear to keep us from acting on the promises of God.