The More Accurate Way

Apollos began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. ~ Acts 18:26 (CSB)

Apollos was a young man who had a great desire to tell others about Jesus. He spoke well and had a boldness that was evident to all who heard him. Yet, there was a problem. We’re told in Acts 18:25 that he spoke accurately about Jesus but only knew about John’s baptism. This seems to mean that Apollos was unaware of Jesus’ words we find recorded in Matthew 28—to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, welcoming them in as part of the Christian family.

We’re not told why Apollos was unaware of this, but it seemed to be deficient in his teaching. It was likely the case, then, that as he led people to faith in Jesus he did not proceed to see them baptized in obedience to Jesus. In this way, his teaching was lacking.

When he spoke in Ephesus he was heard by Priscilla and Aquila, a spiritually mature couple who loved Jesus and together proved to be a great help to Paul during his time in Corinth. When they discovered this deficiency in Apollos’ teaching, they took him aside (that is privately) and explained to him the bigger gospel story. And what was the result? Apollos continued on to the next town with the blessing of the church and “was a great help to those who by grace had believed” (18:27).

For us, we find here a lesson in correction. Christians who are more spiritually mature are humble. They can reflect back on their lives and they realize the growth they have experienced along the way. They understand they have had times where they had to learn the “more accurate” way. As they learned about Jesus through Scripture, some of their beliefs changed and sharpened with time.

What, then, is their response when they hear a younger Christian saying or doing things that might not be quite right? They seek to correct and offer guidance in love, just like Priscilla and Aquila.

This involved four things: First, they were willing to listen. They waited until Apollos had finished. They listened to everything that he had to say. Second, they were willing to engage. They didn’t say, “Oh, that doesn’t sound right” and then ignored it. They wanted to help this young man grow and mature. So, they went to him and engaged with him. Third, they corrected him in private. We don’t know exactly what this couple said to Apollos, but likely they opened scripture and shared things they had learned from Paul and others. In doing so, they didn’t make a scene. They didn’t browbeat the young man or try to show themselves superior. They didn’t want to embarrass him. They simply took him aside and spoke with him in private. Fourth, they encouraged him in his gifts. When everything was said and done, Priscilla and Aquila would have been among those in 18:27 who wrote to the disciples in Achaia to welcome Apollos. Though they had to correct him, they supported his continued efforts to share.

These same four things should be true for us. When we face a situation where we need to correct someone else, we should be willing to listen to them and observe what is happening, be willing to engage with them, be seeking ways to speak to them in private, and then be encouraging of them. This is a better path, or a more accurate way, than the harsh criticism that we see so much today in the world.

Sunday 02.18.18 (the long, patient plan of God)

This Sunday we’ll begin our journey through the book of Exodus and see how in Exodus God began to fulfill promises he made over 400 years earlier to Abraham. This reminds us that God works his plan in his time and that is best. We will also be having Sunday School teacher training in the afternoon and our video study on fighting for joy in the evening. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@2pm Sunday School Teacher Training in the gym
@6pm Evening Study in the youth room

Sermon Notes
The Long, Patient Plan of God ~ Exodus 1:1-14, 2:11-25

The sermon in one sentence: God faithfully works his plan for the good of his people, but does so in his time and we must learn to be patient and to trust.

  • God fulfills all of his promises (Exodus 1:1-7)
    • Therefore, trust God to keep his word to us
  • God rights the wrongs that are done against his people (1:8-14, 2:11-25)
    • Therefore, cry out to him with your hurts and rest in his grace
  • God acts in his time, which is the best time
    • Therefore, be proactively patient–pursuing Jesus and righteousness, but understanding that the best is not always immediate

Songs for Worship
From the Rising of the Sun
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Standing on the Promises
Give Us Clean Hands
In His Time

Exodus

Image used and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Good Reads 02.15.18 (on: resolutions, respect, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On the forgiveness of sin: White as Snow, Though My Sins Were as Scarlet! by Tim Counts

In Isaiah chapter 1, the LORD of Israel has just laid out a court case against his people. They are guilty. He does not even want their sacrifices anymore, because going through the motions without hearts that love God–as seen in their actions–is detestable to him (Isaiah 1:11-17). So, what will it cost them to receive forgiveness? If verse 18 which promises purity like snow is not enough, the answer becomes crystal clear near the end of the prophecy: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!…Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isaiah 55:1-2). The holy God offers sinners a free banquet–and promises to satisfy them in himself. (click here to read more)

On manhood: How to Teach Boys to Respect Women by Russell Moore

First, fathers and male teachers, especially, can highlight the ways they learn from and are sharpened by godly, strong women—from the biblical examples of such leaders as Ruth and Priscilla and Lydia and our Lord’s mother Mary to our more immediate mothers- and sisters-in-Christ. If you are married, men, pay attention and give respect to the counsel of your wife. If you are a pastor, do not patronize women in your sermon illustrations or introductions. Highlight the creation and eschaton callings of women bound up in our common inheritance.

At the same time, emphasize the horror of a man mistreating women. Do not let the boys and young men around you ever, even for a millisecond, see you waving away or justifying sexual predation, misogynistic comments, or violence against women by a sports figure because he plays for your team or a politician because he belongs to your party or an entertainer because he makes you laugh. Your hypocrisy cannot only point the next generation away from Jesus, but may also point them toward the way of predation. (click here to read more)

On our plans failing: When Your New Year’s Resolutions Have Flown Out the Window by Stacey Reaoch

When our plans go awry it can be easy to spiral into complaining and self-pity. I’ve definitely battled that temptation the past week. But more importantly, God is teaching me to hold my resolutions with an open hand, realizing He is working in the midst of the daily trials that come my way. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Maybe you feel like you’ve already failed in keeping up with your Bible reading, or had too many cookies at bedtime. Here are a few things I’m learning in the midst of faltering resolutions… (click here to read more)

On God saying “no” to our prayer requests: When God Says ‘No’ by Melissa Kruger

I paused and really considered this verse for perhaps the first time. Jesus—always perfect, always righteous—offered up prayers and supplications. He cried out with tears. He was heard!

And, the answer he was given? No.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. God heard Jesus’s cries and tears. He heard his beloved, perfectly obedient Son. Yet Jesus still suffered and died. He wasn’t rescued from the cross. And God does not always rescue us from the trials we face.

When God says no, we often wonder if we’ve got a bad connection: “Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?” This passage reminds us that God hears our prayers. In Christ, we’re heard because we share in his righteousness. God’s not deaf to our cries, pleading, and longing. But, sometimes, for reasons that we may not understand, his good purpose is to say no. (click here to read more)

A Reflection on Love (thoughts for Valentine’s Day)

Many of us know the passage well. People quote it, read it at weddings, hang it on plaques on the wall—Paul’s famous words on love from 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:6-8 (CSB)

When we read this passage in their context, we find that it’s not primarily about marriage or romance, but about serving one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus. Paul wrote these words right in the heart of correcting the church on how to use spiritual gifts to serve and not to show off or exalt self. Still, the application is broad. Serving others is a universal call for we who follow Jesus. So, we can apply this to marriage and friendship and how we treat our neighbors.

If we were to boil down Paul’s teachings into a single statement, it would say this: Love happily seeks the best for others. And, oh, how that should be us!

Love, in this way, is other-focused. It is like when Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. There’s an assumption here: We typically are patient with ourselves and want others to be patient toward us. We tend to be kind to ourselves and want others to be kind toward us. We tend to be… and want others… the list goes on. The Bible assumes that in normal situations, we love and want the best for ourselves. But it also knows that it is harder for us to freely extend this attitude toward others.

But that is the command here—we’re to be patient with others, kind to others, not envious of others, etc. And nowhere do we see that we are to be these things only if they reciprocate. Love is not self-serving through what we gain from others. In Christ, we are already perfectly loved by the Father. We love because he loved us. That should be enough to motivate us to love even if no one loves us back the way we would want. Love is other-focused.

Love also looks for the best. We can say this in two ways: First, love seeks to bring the best to others. True love seeks ways to better the life of another both in the present and in eternity. It seeks to show the person Jesus and meet their present needs—physical, emotional, and relational. Second, love looks for the best in others. Living in a fallen world and being repeatedly hurt in a fallen world can cause us to be jaded. We jump to conclusions, question motives, and make assumptions without the facts. Love fights against these trends. Love refused to ignore evil and will deal with it when necessary, but love is also willing to believe and hope. Love looks for the best.

Finally, love continues. Paul was making this point in light of eternity: Eventually, when Jesus comes back and we see things clearly and no longer as through a blurry mirror, the need for various gifts will drop away. But love will remain. God is love, as John the Apostle wrote. God is also eternal. So, if love will continue forever, our present moments of love should be long-lasting. The “loving feeling,” as the song says, sometimes gets lost. But love itself, as a commitment and an act to seek another’s best, should continue. If someone loves us, we continue to love them. If someone is indifferent to us, we continue to love them. If someone hurts us as an enemy, we continue to love them. Jesus, after all, loved us when we were his enemies. He loves us when our hearts turn momentarily apathetic. And he loves us all the same when we love him well. That is his example for us. Love continues.

heart 02 (pixabay 02132018)

Picture used with permission from pixabay.com

Exodus: The Rescue

This Sunday (02.18), we’ll be starting a new sermon series through the book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible. So, why Exodus? Isn’t that one of those long Old Testament books about ancient history? Yes, but it’s also so much more.

As with every book of the Bible, it’s God’s very voice to us and profitable for our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, Paul even briefly mentioned some of the events in the book and then said in 10:6, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (ESV).

Old Testament or New, every page of Scripture is exceedingly relevant to our faith and lives today. And this is how:

It’s the story of God. Whether you’re thinking about how God hears the cries of his people, or the calling of Moses, or the plagues and crossing the Red Sea, or camping at Mt. Sinai, or the proper worship of God, every account recorded in Exodus tells us of God and his glory. He is the One who rescues and delivers his people. He is the One forever faithful. He is the One truly worthy of our reverence and awe. And all of this points forward to his greatest rescue plan of all–bringing us out of our enslavement of sin by giving us Jesus.

It’s the story of those who lived it. Moses. Aaron. Israel. The lives of many men and women, young and old are laid out for us. We read of their highs and lows, their acts of faithful obedience and their acts of faithless rebellion. We read of these, not simply as ancient figures, but as our ancestors in the faith. These are real men and women, just like us, who lived and experienced the events described. What they did well is an encouragement for us as we seek to follow faithfully after Jesus, and what they did poorly is a warning to us.

It’s our story. Just like ancient Israel, enslaved in Egypt, we need rescue. Each of live enslaved to sin, unable to rescue and free ourselves, and in need of someone to pull us out of our darkness. We need Jesus. And when we are rescued by him, his presence through the Holy Spirit dwells with us, guiding us through the ups and downs of the wilderness until we reach the Promised Land of eternity where true joys and unfading glories await. Reading Exodus in light of the New Testament reminds us of these things.

So, join us this Sunday as we begin our journey! And you can prepare by reading Exodus 1&2 this week…

Exodus

Image used and modified with permission from pixabay.com

Good Reads 02.08.18 (on: joy, midlife crisis, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On praying and pastoring: How to Pray for Your Pastor by Todd Benkert

As a pastor, one of the greatest encouragements is to hear the words “I’m praying for you.” Truly, one of the great blessings of being a pastor is knowing that prayers are being lifted up on your behalf. Often, people ask how they can be praying for me. While there are particular needs that I have from time to time, here are some prayers for pastors that are always in season… (click here to read more)

On joy: I Am Eeyore by Adam Kareus

My mom nicknamed me Eeyore. She thought it truly expressed my soul. By nature, I have always been melancholy. Where others might reside on a baseline of 5 on the joy scale I was always resting at 2. My life has been good. It is not circumstances that have me down. Rather it is part of my personality. I experience joy and happiness, it just seems to be smaller peaks of happiness than others. Something pretty extraordinary has to happen for me to experience true joy. And because of that, I have looked upon others who seem to be happy in small stuff and it is hard not to wish to be more like them.

But that might explain my fanatical feeling toward God. For it was from Him and Him alone that I have found true lasting joy. This is joy uplifts all that I do so that I can now find joy in the most mundane task or everyday circumstance. In fact, this joy transforms my world in that circumstances aren’t the main thing that determines what I feel, rather what determines it is who I am in God’s eyes. (click here to read more)

On guilt: Christ Turns the Tide of Guilt by Amy Mantravadi

For the redeemed, the arms of the Lord are wings of protection in which they feel utterly at peace. For the sinner, there is only the arm of judgment spoke of by the prophets. They are not children wrapped in a familial embrace, but “sinners in the hands of an angry God”, to quote Jonathan Edwards. Overwhelming guilt and absence of trust: this is why the prisoner of the sinful nature takes no comfort in the phrase, “I am not my own”. (click here to read more)

On growing older: Why I Thank God for My Painful Midlife Crisis by Akos Balogh

If the root of midlife struggles is a wrong interpretation of life, then we are faced with a choice: will we let the theology of Scripture exegete and interpret our life, or let life reinterpret our theology?

In other words, will I let my midlife pain overtly shape my view of Godleading to doubt and uncertainty in Him? Or will I let Scripture interpret my painleading me to my suffering Saviour, who knows my distress?

The choice is clear.

Looking back, I had let a secularised view of reality frame my experience of midlifewhich is why I felt so fearful and starved for meaning.

But a biblical view of reality provides a different interpretation, a different narrative: one that gives meaning, hope, and joy. (click here to read more)

Prayer and Boldness

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:31 (ESV)

What do you do when you feel threatened? We hear about the fight or flight response. When someone threatens us, hurts us, or makes us insecure we either boil into a rage, ready to defend ourselves, or we withdraw and seek to distance ourselves.

Peter and John had already experienced this as part of Jesus’ Twelve. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, and crucified, the other nine of the party scattered (flight). John stuck around but mostly kept out of the way (a type of flight) whereas Peter followed close but denied, even vehemently, that he knew Jesus (a type of fight).

Yet, something changed after the resurrection. Jesus commissioned them (and us) to take his gospel into all the world, even if it meant facing great dangers. And to empower us, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be with us, strengthen us, and direct us.

So, in Acts 4, Peter and John went about healing people and proclaiming Jesus. This time, they were the ones arrested and taken before the leaders. There they were threatened and told to stop, or else worse would come to them.

After their release, however, they went back and joined their fellow followers of Jesus. They told of what had happened, and together they prayed. This time, though, there would be no fight to protect themselves and there would be no flight to escape. They prayed, the Holy Spirit strengthened them further, and they went out and faithfully spoke about Jesus, emboldened.

This is what prayer does when we’re threatened. When we feel tempted to fight or to flee, prayer takes the focus off our own anger, hurt, or fear. Prayer reminds us that we are helpless to be faithful in our own power. Prayer focuses and connects us to the God of all strength and grace. And God will answer those prayers for spiritual boldness because he loves us and he has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us away from fear.

Thus, we can be faithful to Jesus and we can say along with Peter and John, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard!” (Acts 4:20)