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Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “Contend for the Gospel” (Billy Russell, 10/06/19)

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “Contend for the Gospel” (Billy Russell, 10/06/19)

October 7, 2019

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus

                           “Contend for the Gospel” (Acts 19:21-41)

 

You will never stand and contend for the Gospel without first knowing it, living it (from being taught how to apply it), and being convinced of its prevailing power. The believers were changed by the Gospel, shared it’s truth, and were targets of evil men because of it. Let us be convinced of the hope of the Gospel and contend for it in our day.

 

The Gospel has a prevailing impact on the community (vv.22-27):

       “... there arose a great disturbance about the Way” (v.23).

       The Gospel contending with the prevailing cultural values counter to 

           the Way of Jesus (economic impact felt by idol-worship merchants).

       Incident- Demetrius throws an Artemis Party! (business/civic/religious)

       “The Gospel is bad for pagan business” (D. Garland).

 

How believers respond & contend for the Gospel (vv. 28-41):

 

     They exercise... wisdom- they consider what to do before they

           respond. 2 brothers, Gaius and Aristarchus, are seized and bum-

           rushed into the great theater of Ephesus (v.29).

 

     They employ... patience- they do not respond impulsively. Paul is kept

           from intervening/speaking by the brothers (v.29). They do not add

           fuel to the fire. They wait out the evil day!

 

     They live... righteously- No charge could legally be brought against

         them (v.37- of robbing temples nor speaking against the goddess).

         How you live in the culture is seen and matters!    

        

     They practice... silence- Without a formal public debate of the issues

           or even an informal exchange of ideas. Evidence of prayer!

 

     They await... rescue- Sometimes it’s better to outlast than rush in. The

           incident, after hours of riotous chanting, is eventually put down by

           the city clerk (vv. 35-41). A discerning sensitivity to the Spirit!

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “The Prevailing Power of the Gospel” (Billy Russell, 09/29/19)

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “The Prevailing Power of the Gospel” (Billy Russell, 09/29/19)

October 7, 2019

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus

                   “The Prevailing Power of the Gospel” (Acts 19:13-20)

 

In Ephesus, the prevailing power of the Gospel is seen in a bizarre episode of a failed exorcism. It reveals how the mighty work of God impacts different people and their community. Today, our great hopes for Living Beyond Us are that a version of the Spirit’s life-changing work might happen among us, revive us, reach the lost, and honor Jesus!

 

 

                 The Prevailing Power of the Gospel Experienced by:

 

Pretenders/posers (19:13-16)- exposed/embarrassed

     In Ephesus, Paul is sharing the Gospel with great favor (vv.10-12).

     A strange episode occurs: some Jewish guys are parroting the

          Gospel’s power through exorcism, “...trying to invoke the name of

          the Lord Jesus” (v.13).

     These 7 sons of Sceva (v.14; a self-appointed chief priest), run into a

         talkative demon, who verbally confronts, then physically assaults

         them (vv.15-16)! “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who   

         are you?” (v.15). Don’t trifle or toy w/ Jesus!

     The prevailing power of the Gospel exposes pseudo-belief.

 

Believers (19:18-19)- convicted/maturing- sanctification/spiritual growth!

    The Spirit’s work through this episode brings conviction & leads to:

           *open confession- private conviction & public confession.

           *repentance- a turning from sin and their old way of life

                                 by a public act (scroll burning- costly sacrifice!).

     How are you growing spiritual?

     How is the prevailing power of the Gospel at work in your life?

     The prevailing power of the Gospel convicts us of sin, so we lead lives

            honoring to Jesus!

 

Community @ Large (19:17, 20)- awed and honored Jesus!

     This powerful episode caused great awe and fear among all the people!

          “The name of the Lord Jesus was held in honor” (v.17).

     The Gospel’s prevailing impact is observable, powerful, and known!

           “... the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (v.20).

     How do you see the prevailing power of the Gospel act work?

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “Teach the Gospel Persuasively”  (Billy Russell, 09/22/19)

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “Teach the Gospel Persuasively” (Billy Russell, 09/22/19)

October 7, 2019

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus

                        “Teach the Gospel Persuasively” (Acts 19:8-12)

 

Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them how to live and share the Gospel (Mt.28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Together, we must know the Gospel, so we can teach it well. Every believer in our fellowship needs to know the gospel and be teaching it to someone. Yes, you are included in this charge! The Gospel is bridged into our community as we collectively know and teach it boldly and persuasively.

 

               Lessons for Us to Bridge the Gospel to our Community

 

Personal conviction and decisive Gospel involvement (19:8-9)-

     The Gospel matters most and outlasts everything else!

     Paul uses an “inside-out” approach: synagogue (known, available

           access to a like people group); then, to a lecture hall (w/ broader

           access and expansion possibilities).

     Notice the serious time commitment Paul makes by investing in

           disciple-making (daily x2 yrs+ and, he was bi-vocational too).

        

Faithful commitment to teach the Gospel (19:9-10)-

     It takes time, wisdom, and boldness!

     Let us commit ourselves to know the Gospel well.

     Let us commit ourselves to faithfully & persuasively teach the Gospel.

     Who are you teaching the gospel?

     Who are you helping to learn how to follow Jesus?

     Let it be said of us: “They know and teach the Gospel.”

                                     “They walk in its truth/grace, love/light.”

 

Unswerving trust in God to produce a fruitful ministry (19:11-12)-

     Paul’s faithful ministry was very favorable and fruitful in Ephesus!

     It was a powerful, miraculous time of ministry:

          People are changed, healed, and set free!

          Gospel expansion, churches planted (in/around Ephesus).

          Community impact (including opposition).

     We can trust God to produce a fruitful ministry among us!

     Let us commit to faithful Gospel ministry for God’s glory!

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “How Well Do You Know the Gospel?” (Billy Russell 09/15/19)

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus “How Well Do You Know the Gospel?” (Billy Russell 09/15/19)

September 18, 2019

Bridging the Gospel to our Community - Lessons from Paul in Ephesus
“How Well Do You Know the Gospel?” (Acts 19:1-7)

Acts 19 describes the Spirit’s work through Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Later, the Spirit would lead Paul to write to the church there from prison. We call it the “Letter to the Ephesians.” This chapter study will challenge and encourage us to bridge the Gospel to our community... and beyond!

How well do you know the Gospel? It’s crucial we know the Gospel well!
Bridging the Gospel to our community and culture only begins when we
know the Gospel well ourselves.
Let it be said of us collectively, “They know the Gospel well.”

What is the Gospel? Literally = the “good news” about Jesus.
The Gospel is about Jesus’ life, death, burial, & resurrection (1 Cor.
15:1-8).
The Gospel is about who Jesus is, why He has come, what He has
done for us (Mt.1:21; Mk.10:45; Jn.10:10).
The Gospel is about what Jesus continues to do through His people
until He comes again!

Have you been changed by the Gospel (19:1-3; Mk.1:15)?
The Gospel calls us to “repent and believe the good news” (Mk.1:15).
Paul was transformed by the Gospel of Jesus (Acts 9).
Paul was unafraid to ask people about their faith in Jesus (vv.1-3).
How were you changed by the Gospel?
The Gospel must happen to us before it happens through us!

Commit yourself to know the Gospel! (19:4-6)
We will share the Gospel when we have been changed by the Gospel.
It’s good to ask people questions about their conversion (vv.2-3).
Share your story about your conversion (e.g., Acts 22, 26).
Ask people to live the gospel with you (vv.4-6).

Early lessons from Paul on bridging the Gospel in Acts 19-
Willingness to start small- just a group of guys (19:1, 7).
Heart to invest for the long haul- Paul stayed for 3 years (Acts 20:31).
Humility to trust God- confidence in the Gospel’s power (Rom.1:16)!

What’s a Believer to Do?  Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy “Serve the Master” (Billy Russell 09/08/19)

What’s a Believer to Do? Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy “Serve the Master” (Billy Russell 09/08/19)

September 18, 2019

What’s a Believer to Do?
Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy
“Serve the Master” (Lk.17:5-10)

The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith (Lk.17:5). What a needed request for all of us in this day of tragedy! Jesus tells a story to teach how faith grows. Do you want your faith to increase? Jesus says our faith increases as we serve the Master and His purposes. Will you serve Him?

Forgiveness challenges our faith to grow (17:4)-
Forgiveness is the context for the request for greater faith (17:5).
The ability/opportunity to forgive becomes a case study model.
Forgiving others takes faith.
Faith (trust) that God has forgiven me, so I can forgive you.

Faith growth begins by confessing our desperate need for it (17:5)-
The disciples conceptualize this as a “forgiveness challenge.”
They seem to wonder if such forgiveness is even possible.
Hear their exclamation as a confession/request: “Increase our faith!”

Even small faith can do great things according to Jesus (17:6).
Jesus affirms: small faith can accomplish more than we think possible.
Jesus teaches: small faith can do great things: “If you have faith (and
you do) you could...” (Stein). Practice small faith (Garland)!
Jesus illustrates by a small seed: it germinates/grows like faith does.
it becomes vital/vigorous (Gideon)!

Faith grows from humbly serving the Master (17:7-10).
Jesus tells a parable to help them conceptualize a growing faith.
Jesus teaches: our faith grows as we serve the Master!
no faith growth when we expect the Master to serve us.
Stop expecting God to serve you like some cosmic genie.
We are His slaves (douloi) merely doing our duty in His Kingdom.
“Service demands all we can bring to it.” (France)
This mindset and lifestyle grows faith even in an age of tragedy.
How will you humbly, obediently serve the Master?
Your faith will grow as you serve the Lord & His kingdom’s purposes!
Jesus invites us to obedience- do what the Master says!

What’s a Believer to Do?  Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy “Pray!” (Billy Russell 09/01/19)

What’s a Believer to Do? Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy “Pray!” (Billy Russell 09/01/19)

September 18, 2019

What’s a Believer to Do?
Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy
“Pray!” (1Sam.12:23)

Samuel is facing leadership challenges w/ Saul’s anointing as king. The tragedy is the people have rejected God's leadership over them. While Samuel could quietly step away, he instead vows publicly to engage in the ministry of intercessory prayer. We have much to learn from his example.

Intercessory prayer is... talking with God about the needs we see/sense
around us.
It is asking God to intervene in His wisdom, His way, and His timing.
It is not directing God to act or perform as we think best!

Intercessory prayer is intensely personal (v.23). Twice Samuel professes
his personal conviction (“as for me... far be it from me...”).
He embraces this responsibility to intercede personally.
Prayer is doing something! Prayer is and does more than we think.
Intercessory prayer is entrusting to God what is beyond our control,
ability, and influence.
Intercessory prayer acknowledges His power & our dependence on it.

Intercessory prayer is costly (v.23)-
He sees failure to engage in such personal prayer ministry as breaking
his relationship w/ God (“...sin against the Lord...”).
Prayer costs his preference, attitude, energy, time, etc.

Intercessory prayer changes us (vv.23-25)!
It changes our role. He desires to teach "what is good and right" (v.23).
It changes our reach. He stands in the gap for God's people (vv.24-25).
It changes our relationship with God (perspective/attitude changes).

Let’s practice what Samuel (and Jesus) did- pray! (cf. Jn.17:20-26)
Does a situation viscerally move me? (sad/concerned/frustrated/angry)
Am I helpless to intervene and feel desperate to do something?
Does the situation cry out for God’s intervention?

What’s a Believer to Do? “Repent” (Billy Russell 08/25/19)

What’s a Believer to Do? “Repent” (Billy Russell 08/25/19)

September 18, 2019

What's a Believer to Do? "Repent"
Luke 13:1-5

This passage seems a harsh word by Jesus in the face of human tragedy. However, it clearly connects that call to repent with the offer of mercy. Let us gladly respond to Jesus' command and let mercy triumph judgment!

What do we know about these two tragic Jerusalem events? (v.13:1,4)

Jesus' preaching centers around the command, "Repent!" (v.13:3,5)

What is it Jesus expects to happen when He commands "Repent"?

Repent or Perish: Are those the only two options? (vv. 13:3, 5; John 3:16)

Jesus' teaching thankfully connects mercy with repentance! (vv.13:6-9)

What’s a Believer to Do? Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy (Billy Russell 08/18/19)

What’s a Believer to Do? Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy (Billy Russell 08/18/19)

September 18, 2019

What’s a Believer to Do?

                             Following Jesus in an Age of Tragedy

                                                (Mt.14:1-23)

 

We can be inundated and overwhelmed by the traumas of our day. Jesus was no stranger to the calamities of his time. Today, we observe how Jesus responded to the news of the traumatic death of John the Baptist. John’s loss impacted Jesus personally. How can we follow Jesus in our age of tragedy?

                                        Follow Jesus’ Example

 

Jesus grieves privately (14:13)-

      He “... heard about it...”- exposed to the tragic death of John.

     “He withdrew by boat to a remote place to be alone”-

            What does Jesus do? “withdrew”-

            How? “by boat”-

            Where? “to a remote place”-

            Why? “to be alone”-

     

Jesus serves publicly (14:14-21)-

      “When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd...”- He re-engages in the

           reality of the needs of now.

      “He had compassion on them...”- His heart went out to the crowd.

      He heals, teaches & feeds the mega-crowd: ministry in the moment.

 

Jesus gets ready for what’s next (14:22ff)- practices spiritual preparation

      “... he went up on the mountain by himself to pray” (14:23)- He re-

            engages in caring for himself through prayer.

      “Well into the night, he was there alone.” (14:23)- purposeful solitude.

     

Observe Jesus’ helpful rhythm for us to follow (14:13; 14ff; 22ff):

     He spends time w/ the Father.

     He invests time w/ the disciples.

     He shares time w/ people.

 

Ultimately, John’s tragic death foreshadows Jesus’ path to the cross.   

     Jesus’ way will be fraught with suffering before glory.

     Jesus continues ministry and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Table Talk: Sharing Food, Time, and Jesus with People “Eat. Love. Follow Jesus.” (Billy Russell, 08/11/19)

Table Talk: Sharing Food, Time, and Jesus with People “Eat. Love. Follow Jesus.” (Billy Russell, 08/11/19)

August 14, 2019

Table Talk: Sharing Food, Time, and Jesus with People

                             “Eat. Love. Follow Jesus.” (Jn. 21:1-22)

 

In this post-resurrection appearance, Jesus and some of the disciples enjoy a miraculous catch! Then, they have a great fish breakfast on the beach at the lake. This scene is one challenging conversation for a fish fry on the beach! Let us all take inventory of how we are following Jesus as the new school year kicks-off. Whatever it takes- Follow Jesus!

 

 

Eat - “Come and have breakfast” (v.12)- This hospitality scene sets the

     stage for a restoration conversation. Jesus initiates the invitation and

     the conversation. Meals are great times for spiritual conversations.

 

 

 

Love- “Do you love Me?” (3x- vv. 15-17)- a commitment conversation!

     Jesus initiates a conversation with Peter, taking him aside.

     The well known triple commissioning exchange (“Peter, do you love

          Me”...“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you...”/“Feed my sheep...”).

     Just like there were 3 denials, now there are 3 affirmations of Peter’s

           restored role and purpose.

     Love is the motivation to follow and serve Jesus. Love acts.

     Do you love Jesus? Are you committed to follow Jesus?

 

 

 

Follow Jesus- “You must follow Me” (vv.19, 22)- grand “must” for us all!

     Jesus says, “Follow Me” (v.19). This command is the very center of life.

     This command, though initially for Peter, resonates down to all of us.

     Jesus says, “You must follow Me” (v. 22). No matter what happens with

          others or what they do, you keep your focus on Jesus!

     For Peter, following Jesus will include: shepherding people, teaching

          and preaching the Gospel, leading/equipping God’s people, an

          inspired writing ministry, traveling, and, eventually, martyrdom.

     Why follow Jesus? He loves you! He gave His life for you. He’s the Way!

     What does your commitment to follow Jesus include?

Table Talk: Sharing Food, Time, and Jesus with People  “Believing is the best dessert” (Billy Russell, 08/04/19)

Table Talk: Sharing Food, Time, and Jesus with People “Believing is the best dessert” (Billy Russell, 08/04/19)

August 8, 2019

Table Talk: Sharing Food, Time, and Jesus with People

                            “Believing is the Best Dessert” (Jn.2:1-11)

 

A well-known example of a hospitality occasion occurs at the wedding in Cana. Jesus enjoys a weeklong celebration with his family and disciples. His first miracle (sign) occurs here. John says the disciples believe in who Jesus is and has come to be. Believing is the best dessert!

 

 

Accept the invitation and enjoy the festivities! (vv.1-4)-

     Jesus, his family, and disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana, not

          far from Nazareth (~8 miles).

     Jesus accepts and enjoys the week-long celebration!

     Jesus invests great time in his early ministry to this social commitment.

     Who’s wedding was blessed to have Jesus attend? (A family member,

         John, Nathaniel?)

     A social crisis occurs (wine depleted). Mary asks Jesus to intervene.

              

 

Practice this lifetime wisdom (v.5): “Do whatever He tells you”-

     Learning to believe in Jesus and do what he says is at the heart of

          being a follower of Jesus.

     Mary sets the stage, if Jesus decides to act on her request.

     This is a truth to practice. (Not always practiced by Mary, cf. Mk.6:21)

     This truth makes a good focus verse, or even a life verse.

     Followers of Jesus seek Him and learn to do what He says.

     Will you do whatever He tells you?

 

 

Believe in the display of Jesus’ glory (vv.6-11)!

     Jesus, using a process, turns “H2O into Merlot.” Jesus’ 1st miracle.

     Miracle (sign) - glory - belief

     The miracle is a sign. What does a sign do?

     The sign points to Jesus’ glory (Who He is - God’s Son, Messiah)!

     Jesus’ glory displayed is occasion for belief in who He is.

     Believe in Jesus. Put your trust in Him.

     Learn to do what He says. Train yourself to trust Him.

     Believing is the best part! (cf.Jn.4:41-42)