Paul: Rabbi to the Gentiles Sept 19th
The title of Rabbi to the Gentiles captures Paul’s commitment to the Torah as well as his God-given mission to take the good news of Messiah to the people who were not Jews: the very mission God gave to Israel. In the same way God prepared Moses before him, God uniquely prepared Paul for exactly the task he called him to accomplish—being the Jewish messenger to the Gentiles who would take the message of the kingdom of heaven to the Roman world.
(Portraits of the apostle can be identified by a book or scroll, since he was a New Testament writer, and a sword, the instrument of his martyrdom)
The example of Paul in the Roman world of Macedonia will encourage us to engage our culture as a minority, seeking the welfare of the culture in which God places us. The early church in the world of Imperial Rome had a dramatic effect by being a faithful minority committed to carrying out their mission to a broken world. So we must be as well.
October 3 “Radical Conversion” (World Communion)
The Word: Acts 9:1-31
Feel: This young rabbi from Tarsus zealously wanted to exterminate Christians. He had no intention of letting the persecution of the church end with the death of Stephen and the expulsion of believers from Jerusalem.
Know: God is now ready to appoint a highly trained, full-time missionary to the Gentiles. He selects Saul of Tarsus and changes his life to fit this role. The one who had spoken publicly against the name of Jesus now proclaims it at every opportunity.
Desired Outcome: God can call anyone he chooses to open new work for his kingdom. There can be no more life-changing event than to accept God’s free gift of redemption and submit ourselves to his reign in our lives. Do you need a fresh start? Do you hear Jesus calling you today? You wonder, where do I begin.
Oct 10 “A Life on Mission”
The Word: Acts 13 & 14
Feel: The Gospel of the grace of God was preached to the Roman world, to people who live by the gospel of Rome
Know: This is a story of the power of God at work in the course of history, converting individuals on the basis of what Jesus Christ had accomplished in his life and death, creating fearless communities that cared little about the consequences by a hostile world, and anticipating even greater things as they continued to experience God’s blessing on them.
Desired Outcome: Are you believing and depending upon your Lord so that He alone is sufficient for you in your present circumstances and need (14:23)? Do you personally care for those connected to you by God leading them into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ?
Oct 17 GUEST Jason Martin, Elder at Valley Life Community Church in Meridian, ID (Gary on vacation)
Oct 24 “Come Over and Help Us”
The Word: Acts 16:1-15; Philippians 1:1-6 (The Gospel of Caesar)
Feel: Paul brings the Gospel of Christ to Philippi. Luke brings together four individuals who are converted, each one brought very differently to faith in Jesus Christ.
Know: Today, the Word of God in Scripture, together with his unfolding providence, are to be the guides that enable us to discern his will. We must reason just as Paul and his companions did, reaching careful conclusions in answer to questions in discovering God’s will for us.
Desired Outcome: Ministry Partnership: Words alone will not convince our broken world of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we live a self-righteous, self-serving, self-absorbed lifestyle, we won’t persuade anyone of the radical truth of the gospel—they already live this way.
Oct 31 Independent Message- “The Reformation of the Church”
The Word: Hebrews 10:23-26 plus a variety of other Scriptures
Feel: The Protestant Reformation has shaped our identity as Reformed Christians. When Martin Luther, John Calvin and others examined the Word of God, they found truths that were like lost gems.
Know: The Reformers had 5 slogans or mottos that indicated their return to New Testament Christianity.
Desired Outcome: May God in our day revive these great truths for which many Reformers died.
We all believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God-- eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.—The Belgic Confession
Nov 7 “Prison Time” (Communion)
The Word: Acts 16:16-40
Feel: In the Roman world a person couldn’t go anywhere without seeing “monuments” of all sorts that were reminders of the “gospel” of Rome and Caesar reigned as lord.
Know: Those that live by the gospel of Jesus as Savior and Lord that is lived out in daily life will always have powerful repercussions in a world that clings to a different gospel-Paul found himself squarely in the crossfire.
Desired Outcome: A famous author once said, “The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle.” We are citizens of the kingdom. Ask God for wisdom, grace, and faithfulness to live good lives that bring glory, honor, and praise to his holy name (1 Peter 2:12).
Nov 14 “The God You’re Looking For” Confronting the Empire
The Word: (Acts 17)
Feel: Athens was the intellectual center of the world during Paul’s time, full of idols and false religions. In what ways is our 21st century culture similar?
Know: God chose us not just to tell who He is, but to show who He is. We serve a God who is real, who is true, and who is knowable. What we need to do that Paul did so brilliantly is to take biblical phrases, biblical texts, biblical ideas, and speak those in the metaphors of the culture I’m addressing.
Desired Outcome: Who are the “Greek philosophers” of our day? Whose voices are most influential? Are there ways you might use one of those cultural touchstones as a jumping off point for a deeper conversation with someone who doesn’t know Christ? Salt your language with biblical phrases, ideas, and even quotations, because once you turn God’s Word loose, it is unstoppable if God wants it to be.
Nov 21 “A Discouraged Rabbi”
The Word: Acts 18:1-18 -on to Corinth, the largest, most cosmopolitan city of Greece.
Feel: Paul’s fifty-mile walk from Athens to Corinth must have been filled with the discouragement of so little response in Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.
Know: Luke tells how, shortly after Paul’s arrival in Corinth, he had a vision one night in which the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid: speak, and do not be silent. I am with you, and no one shall harm you by any attack; I have many people in this city” (v9). The account of Paul’s time in Corinth is not only a record of how the Spirit ministered through him, but also a stirring description of how He ministered to him.
Desired Outcome: Prayer-Heavenly Father, Thank you for placing our family at this time and place in history. Help us understand the culture around us and be able to demonstrate Your love and truth in ways that will advance Your Kingdom here on earth. Amen!
Nov 28 Advent-We Wait in Expectation Sometimes our waiting is short lived like when the Amazon package arrives on my doorstep early, even before I had begun to wait. And sometimes our patience is tested as it seems that the waiting knows no end.
Waiting is one of those spiritual disciplines that we as Christians exercise as we await Christ’s second coming, but also as we wait for answers to our prayers and as we show patience toward individuals or circumstances that we wish would change but haven’t yet. As the world around us rushes toward Christmas and demands instant gratification, the church pauses to experience the waiting of Advent.
January: 1 Corinthians Living as God’s Community in a Roman World