Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. However, he left things behind. We're glad you're joining us for worship to hear about the power and the promise Jesus left just for you.
Encouragement. The word probably makes you smile. We can never get enough of it, really. Oh, some value the encouragement of a friend more than others, but everyone needs it. The apostle Paul was many things: convert, world traveler, missionary, martyr, but he was also an encourager. Welcome to our study of Acts. In today’s verses, we learn about the entourage accompanying him on his journey from Greece back to Turkey, but notice what he's doing—"speaking many words of encouragement." What would words like that sound like coming from your lips? We’re glad you’re with us today to be encouraged by the gospel of Jesus and pray that what you receive from him moves you to speak words of encouragement to others. We call that, church.
“I like to keep my options open. Something better might come along.” Some people are drawn to new and exciting experiences and relationships, and are reluctant to limit their options. It sounds appealing, but it usually leads to shallow or ruined relationships and careers. Embracing Christianity means limiting options for the sake of following Christ, but it only leads to deeper and more satisfying experiences. Paul taught that to the people of Ephesus. Some could not limit their spiritual pursuit to one god. We call that idolatry. It's an easy trap for pagans and even for Christians. Learn from a mob in a theater in Ephesus about limiting your options to embrace Christ more fully. We’re glad you’re here and pray for the Spirit to bless your worship.
The last thing any of us wants to be is an expert on demons and spirits. It's possible to have an unhealthy interest in such realities. On the other hand, none of us wants to be unaware of such things. The apostle Paul frequently refers to demonic spiritual “powers” which inspire false religions and oppose and undermine God’s work and God’s people. We live in the same world. The same demonic spiritual powers are at work today. But the same God who overcame them in Ephesus overcomes them in our day. And he does it through the same means he used in Paul’s day: the message of Jesus. Paul’s time recorded in Acts 19 is testimony for you today: the risen Jesus, your Good Shepherd, will protect you, his sheep, from every evil spirit.
What helps you to be patient? How about Easter? There's something about the risen Christ that can make us the most patient people in the world. Christ is alive, he’s ruling, and he’s for us. That kind of confidence can make us unhurried, patient, and humble people. Two thousand years ago, God changed the world through two followers of Christ, Aquila and Priscilla, who demonstrated patient confidence. We’re glad you’re with us today to hear how Christ’s resurrection changed their lives. It’s still God's plan to change us…and the world.