April 7, 2019 – “Herod”
March 31, 2019 – “Saul”
March 17, 2019 – “Peter”
March 10, 2019 – “Chosen”
Lesson Begins With Concluding Thoughts on Baptism
March 3, 2019 – “Baptism” – Part 2: Salvation & Forgiveness
February 24, 2019 – “Baptism” – The Ethiopian Eunuch
February 17, 2019 – “Magic” – Simon the Sorcerer
February 3, 2019 – “Temple”
Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin declared that God’s purposes are accomplished wherever God chooses. He concludes, declaring with Solomon and Isaiah that God is not limited to a specific place. The temple, a creation of men’s hands, had become something it was never intended to be.
January 20, 2019 – “Moses”
January 13, 2019 – “Joseph”
January 6, 2019 – “Abraham”
November 25, 2018 – “Worthy”
Being worthy is commonly attached with the idea of having accomplished a task, met a minimum requirement or achieved a specific goal. Once completed, the person is then ‘worthy’ to receive the gift or reward of some form.
It is another thing entirely to consider oneself ‘worthy’ to suffer humiliation and shame on behalf of someone else. Yet, this is exactly what the apostles did. In these earliest days of the church, the scars they bore on their backs from the flogging they received reminded them that they were made worthy by Christ. Therefore, they were given the opportunity to suffer for Him.
November 18, 2018 – “Appearances”
The incident of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-11 is anchored in the closing verses of Acts 4:32-37. They wanted to appear benevolent and generous towards the poor like Barnabas. They anticipated the same recognition and celebration that would emerge once they laid their ‘gift’ at the apostles’ feet. This became the motivation for their gift, leading them to lie about it.
The chilling effect that their sudden deaths had upon the first church in Jerusalem (see Acts 5:13) is not lost on us today. Becoming a follower of Christ is not the same as joining the good-old-boys-club down the street. This is serious stuff!
November 11, 2018 – “Boldness”
Boldness points to a confident assurance of knowing what is true. No doubts. No second-guessing. The ability to publicly perform miraculous signs confirms the likelihood that the bold claims are, indeed, true. Confirmation may also be added by pointing to the ancient, trusted texts of Scripture that predicted the things about which the speaker is being bold. Finally, multiple eyewitness accounts from believers, non-believers and the undecided further corroborate that the boldness is justified. Peter appeals to all of these sources as he presents the gospel message to his listening audience.
Boldness characterized the emergence of the first church in first century Jerusalem. In Acts 3, Peter spoke boldly to the 40 year old man who had never been able to walk, commanding him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). He spoke with boldness to the crowd that had gathered to witness the miracle. When the religious rulers met to challenge them in the same court in which they had condemned Jesus to death–even before the same people–Peter accused them with boldness. The rulers were impressed by their boldness, noting that they had been with Jesus. When they were told to stop speaking about Jesus Peter and John boldly asserted,
“Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
When they went back to their fellow Christians they all prayed for more boldness. The affirmation of their supplication came with an earthquake, another manifestation of the Holy Spirit and, as one might expect, more boldness!
November 4, 2018 – “Anchors”
The healing of a life-long cripple who was begging for alms at the entrance to the temple courts attracts attention of the crowds. This provides the perfect setting for Peter’s second gospel sermon in the book of Acts. Of the many lessons that can be drawn from this chapter, one that stands out is the heritage of those who repent and turn to Jesus for their salvation. The cross of Christ anchors believers in a Israel’s history that reaches back past the time of the prophets, Moses and Abraham. The cross of the new Israel also reaches to the future as we altogether anticipate the return of Jesus one day.
October 28, 2018 – Grow!
3,000 new converts, soon to grow to more than 5,000. Many were from far-away places like Italy, Northern Africa, Asia Minor and beyond. Most would be the only Christians when they return to their native regions. How did the apostles prepare them to return home to remain faithful and to plant new churches? They focused on the Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, sharing meals and communion, and prayer. They met in the temple courts and in each other’s homes (i.e., large, medium and small groups). What a great way to grow a church!
October 21, 2018 – Gospel
It’s Pentecost Day and the apostle Peter is presenting the Gospel for the very first time. The prophet Joel had prophesied about this day with a glimpse of the future. Now, in ‘these last days’ Peter introduces the gospel message that will stand until Jesus returns. This is the ‘Good News’ and it is echoed repeatedly in the remainder of the New Testament. As Peter said, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God” (Acts 2:38, NLT).
October 14, 2018 – Fire!
Luke continues the crescendo of activity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as God’s unfolding kingdom takes on new dimensions with the beginning of the church. Preparations for the Day of Pentecost began with the coming of Christ, His death, burial and resurrection and, after spending 40 days with His disciples, Jesus ascends back to heaven. Now, a mighty wind is heard in Jerusalem and tongues of fire confirm God’s presence through His Spirit, just as God had done in the past with Moses (Exodus 3; 19-20; Deuteronomy 4), Elijah (1 Kings 18:16-46), Solomon ( 2 Chronicles 7). John the Baptist had announced that the Messiah would come with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:15-18) and now the Holy Spirit announces His presence with tongues of Fire (Acts 2:1-4).
Today, we pray for the wind of the Holy Spirit and His fire in our hearts that confirms God’s presence to guide us through those times when we feel deserted and alone.
October 7, 2018 – Introduction to Acts
“Church on Fire” Introduction – God’s intentional purposes are chronicled in the two-volume history written by Luke, commonly known as Luke-Acts. In this series on Acts we will be looking at the emerging church. The block of material begins with Herod, placing a royal robe on Christ while mocking our Savior (Luke 23:8-12). The conclusion of this series of studies will be when Herod, himself, puts on a royal robe, accepting the praise of his audience that proclaimed: “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” (Acts 12:22), mocking God. Today’s lesson introduces the series by looking at the crescendo of the church that begins at the cross.