As we celebrate the first week of the Advent Season, Brother Danny reminds us to look forward in the hope of Jesus’ return. Using the text from Romans 13, Danny reminds the church that time is running out for us to wake from our restful slumber of complacency and our predilection towards the ways of darkness. To try to walk the line between the world of darkness and the kingdom of God is not right, nor is it safe. Rather, it is time to be fully clothed in the righteousness of Jesus as we await his return in a spirit of Hope.
The Gospel message cannot be hindered by those who stand against it. It is a triumphant Gospel that is welcomed by those who are drawn to it; it is a message that goes into the world with boldness, when God's people are obedient to his call. Paul demonstrated this throughout his ministry, even when he was on house arrest in Rome, awaiting his trial before Caesar.
Paul demonstrates how Christians can be ready witnesses, even in the face of great bias against our message. – Please note, there is a break in the audio at 14 minutes, 20 second, sue to a microphone failure.
On Paul's final visit to Jerusalem, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. From bad advice on how to correct wrong perceptions, to a misunderstanding and a mob mentality, Paul could have been understandibly bitter with the results of this disastrous visit. However, he kept the right perspective, that God can use bad situations, caused by bad information, and acted upon by bad people, to spur us to deeper commitment.
Every time we participate in the Lord's Supper, we should remember that this special time of remembrance is a symbol of the love of Jesus. We should also celebrate the truth of His return. Finally, we should treat this as something special because we come together with the church, not just of today, but with the church throughout time, when we observe this ordinance.
As Paul was making his way to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit was telling him, and others, that he was headed for much trouble there. Many of these other people discouraged Paul from continuing; though their intentions were good, they were completely misunderstanding the message they were being given. We, too, must be sure that we do not misinterpret what God is telling us, and be careful to not end up playing the role of the tempter in their lives.
In today's passage, Paul bids goodbye to the Ephesian church. While it was sad from an emotional perspective, looking at Paul's message to them shows us what we should leave behind us when it is time to go - a testimony to others, faithfulness that helps others, and a sure foundation for their faith.
When Paul encountered philosophers while traveling alone through Athens, he siezed the opportunity to address the people where they were, using that as an inroad to preach the gospel. We, too, have a great opportunity in our world, where 90% of Americans still believe in a “higher power” of some sort, to speak about the gospel. It still runs contrary to human understanding, but God can still change hearts when His truth is declared.
As Paul continued through his travels in Macedonia, he finds himself in the city of Athens. Struck by their idolatry, Paul seeks to meet the residents of Athens where they are, in their context to share the truth of the gospel. This passage is a great example of how we, in 21st century America, should seek to share the gospel message with the people around us, wherever they happen to be.
Paul and Silas find themselves thrown in prison after casing a spirit of divination out of a slave girl who had been following them. As they were locked in a cell, their feet in the stocks, singing and praising God, an earthquake of supernatural origin caused all of the doors and locks to be opened. When the jailer saw that the prison was open and all of his prisoners must have escaped, he despaired and planned to take his own life. When Paul called out to stop him, and assured him that all of the prisoners were still in their cells, the jailer asked the most important question of his life. What must I do to be saved.