Millions of people don’t know the good news that Jesus is King with all authority over the universe who loves them, died for them, rose to live with them, has a purpose for them and promises a restored future for them and the whole world. Most of these people live on islands and continents far away but some live as refugees right here in Denver. Today we will discover how Paul was brought unexpectedly to the island of Malta in order to show the Maltese people who Jesus is and what His kingdom looks like. We will also meet Ben Sooy who, along with his wife, was unexpectedly brought to Denver to be with and love refugees who would otherwise have been isolated from the knowledge of the love of God. Could it be that part of God’s plan is to direct all Christ-followers unexpectedly to places and people, near and/or far, whom we may have never imagined for the same reason He did this for the Apostle Paul and the Sooys?
Relay runners must receive the baton before they can run with it. Wide receivers must catch the ball before then can advance it. Followers of Jesus must receive our unique ministry from God before we can faithfully and effectively walk in it. Do you ever wish you could be used by God to a greater extent? Fortunately, Paul’s talk with the pastors in Ephesus (Acts 20:13-28) along with his letter to the church in Ephesus reveals that King Jesus has a unique ministry for everyone with an openness to receive it and then steward it faithfully.
Today we step away from our journey through Acts to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. “Advent” means “coming” and it is a term to describe the four Sundays that precede Christmas in which God’s people celebrate Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem as well as His awaited second coming. On this first Sunday of Advent, just before the busy month of December begins, we discover that faithfulness to King Jesus produces peace and enables us to become His couriers of peace in our distressed world.
Disappointment comes from unmet expectations. Like everyone, followers of Jesus know how difficult life can be when things don’t go as we expect. Does God see? Does He care? As we study what happened in the 10 days between the ascending of Jesus to heaven and the descending of His Spirit to earth we discover that there is something about God that we need to learn in this world of disappointments. Before we head into Acts 2 (next week, hopefully) we must first discover God’s plan and vantage point in order to walk faithful in the midst of unmet expectations.
When we buy a book, car or home we consider it “ours.” We have the receipt, title and/or bill of sale to prove that the product, building and land is ours. When we are given an unexpected day off, that day is “ours.” Yet, a careful reading of the Bible reveals that we, who are students of Jesus and lovers of God, are not ultimately owners but stewards. “Stewardship” is the management of the property or resources belonging to another in order to achieve the owner’s objectives. In this message we discover that God, the Owner of everything, is clear to reveal both his objectives, through his written word, and to give us a perfect example of stewardship, through his Son, his living word. This is great news for all who long to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Do you ever drift away from God and His ways? If so, you are not alone. We all are “prone to wander” from the God we love. In this message you will see that Israel repeatedly abandoned God during the time of the Judges, you will discover two hazards that can cause us to drift, and you will be encouraged by God’s consistent compassion for His children both then and now.