Welcome to the ACTS Podcast!

When you have prayed, followed God's Word and done all you can, but your situation does not improve, and you are exhausted with pain and shame; what do you expect God to do?

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Lysa TerKeurst, writes: There's nothing we can do to eliminate rejection. Oh, how I wish there were. With every fiber of my being, I wish I could remove it from my world and from yours.  But I can't the only thing I've seen work in my life to protect my heart from these deep wounds is the constant pursuit of the sweetest grace. (Uninvited, Nelson Books, Nashville, TN, 2016, p. 82)

Direct download: Sermon_10-20-19.mp3
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When we are caught between a rock and a hard place, we too need to experience our God's presence and protection

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The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly. 

Direct download: Sermon_9-15-19.mp3
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You may argue, no one can be happy all the time.  While that is certainly true, there are scientific, as well as spiritual, guidelines that can help you cultivate a lifestyle of happiness.  If you choose to follow the proven protocols for happiness, you can develop a happy state of mind and heart that will effectively reduce the stress of your life. (Colbert, Don, MD, Stress less, Siloam, Lake Mary, Florida (2005, P. 219))

Direct download: Sermon_8-25-19.mp3
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Turning from sin impossible without God' grace and mercy. Our trouble is that we so easily forget all that has been secured for us in redemption  For the Christian to seek significance apart from Christ (is wrong.) Worse, it is an arrogant pursuit that distorts our testimony for Him.  What a powerful opportunity we have to demonstrate to a watching world that Christ has liberated us from this clamoring, driving obsession to gain  significance that can never be found.  Stowell, Joseph, M.  Perilous Pursuits, Moody Press, Chicago IL, (1994, P. 93)

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When the Holy Spirit is paramount in our hearts, He frees us from the law of sin and death, for where the Lord's Spirit is there liberty to be found. He purifies us and exerts in us the power of attraction that the interest of others may be captured, but above all, He establishes between God and us perfect unity since He forever and increasingly eliminates all that would separate us from God. (Pache, Rene, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL (1954, Pp. 133, 134))

 

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Here is something true and rich: God is personal, so we are personal with Him and each other.  Personal means that God comes close to His people.  When He comes close, He speaks to us and invites us to respond, and when we respond to Him, He hears.  This means that He listens and is actually influenced by what we say.  We could think of it as being invited into His home, where He speaks openly and with love, and He offers the best divine hospitality.  All that is almost too much to take in, but then He invites us to speak of what is important to us,and as we speak, He is engaged, undistracted, and responsive.  We could call it fellowship, even communion. (Welch, Edward, T., Caring for One Another, Crossway--Wheaton, Illinois, (2018, pp. 45).

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"Christian fellowship in the local church cannot be legislated by a constitution, although constitutions are useful; true fellowship must come from within, from the hearts of the believers. If a believer is out fellowship with another believer, it is because one or both of them have gotten out of fellowship with God." Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (pp. 582-583). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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"A Christian Lifestyle" is not always modeled by the leaders of our day: Parents, police, politicians, presidents, nor preachers, or teachers. So, how do we raise and influence a generation of individuals who will preserve a true "Christian Lifestyle", into the next generation? Social media and society's acceptance of its demand to center the world of affections on self must be re-directed, or at best Christians must dwell on teaching more on true Christian principles in our homes and in the Churches. We must teach more, in order to re-orient some and both introduce and inform others of God's order, in regard to, affection.

Direct download: Sermon_July_7_2019.mp3
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In the shipwreck, you may feel like you lost it all. Everything is in pieces.  But in the fragments, there are planks that remain-- pieces of desire, of dreams, of hope, of imagination, of longing, that rise to the top of you even now.  They are no longer attached neatly together, but they are still afloat in the swirling chaos of you. You may not need all of them. But almost certainly need one of them. (Martin, Jonathan--2016)

Direct download: Sermon_6-9-19.mp3
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James concerns his discourse with the outward fruits of faith as a man sees them.  God knows whether or not I am a true believer on the basis of my faith apart from any works, but men can only know whether or not I am a true believer as they observe my life outwardly. Jesus said we can distinguish between the true and the false only by man's fruits (Matthew 7:16, 21). (Leman Strauss, 1956, 1989)

Direct download: Sermon_6-2-19.mp3
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After appealing for qualities such as courage, willingness to suffer, and faithfulness in the life of a minister, (all Christians are ministers, servants) Paul borrowed images from daily life to illustrate the traits necessary for effective service. He pictures the effective minister in terms of a teacher (2:1-2), a soldier (2:3-4), an athlete (2:5), and a farmer (2:6).  He concluded with an appeal for Timothy to consider carefully the application of these images (2:7). Lea, Thomas D., Griffin, Hayne P. Jr., 1992, P.200)

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Sandra D. Wilson, PH.D., write in her book, "Hurt People Hurt People":Most of our adult life problems are the result of childhood solutions. In other words, something happened a long time ago that hurt us. We protected ourselves the only way we knew how.  But somewhere along the way to adulthood, our method stopped working. (1938; 2001, P. 85)

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The Apostle Paul often talked about the itinerant missionaries who were recognized by churches as constituting a distinct group among participants in the work of spreading the gospel (cf., e.g., Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Th. 2:7).

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The storms that come will test us all, and it is entirely possible one comes to you that will in failure before the wind and waves recede.  But the Spirit in the wind whispers the words of Jesus again, inserting your own name for Simon's: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail-- and even when you do.. that your faith may even grow stronger through your failure. (Martin, Jonathan; How to Survive a Shipwreck--Help is on the Way and Love is Already Here, Zondervan, (2016, P. 33))

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The first ambassadors of the resurrection message were the devoted women who were faithful to Jesus.  They gave the message to the eleven apostles who did not believe it! Did the apostles think that the women were deceived or delirious? Peter and John ran to examine the evidence (v. 12; John 20:1-18), but this left them bewildered.  What a difference it would have made had the believers only remembered and believed His promises! (Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbes expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 204).Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

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Jesus taught the the key to surviving suffering was to remain connected to God. If we allow God to remain with us in our suffering, no matter how bad it feels, we can mature through the difficult times.  The intolerable becomes tolerable if we do not have to endure it alone. (Baker, Mark W. Ph. D. Jesus the Greatest Therapist Who Ever Lived.  Harper One, New York, NY 2007, P. 174)

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But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

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Betrayal is treachery, deception, and violated trust. It can appear as a broken promise, duplicity, lies, sexual affairs, and even affairs of the heart.  The injury is so great some people seen to never recover.

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4 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

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This book begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding! It opens with famine and closes with fullness! Ruth's love for her mother-in-law and her willingness to obey the Word brought her into joy and blessing.  The decision she made in Chapter 1 determined her future.  Had she gone back to her heathen way of life, she would have been heard of no more.  Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Ru 4). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Direct download: Sermon_3-3-19.mp3
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We like to say, nothing happens by chance.  But clearly in this Book of Ruth we can see a theology of chance threaded throughout the writing.  By chance Ruth comes to the field of Boaz (2:3). There she receives the blessing of grain through the faithfulness of Boaz. By chance Boaz lies down at the end of the heap of grain (3:7). By chance Mr. So-and-So appears at the city gate (4:1) so that Boaz can faithfully settle the issue of redemption to effect blessing upon the widows. Within human luck, then lies divine intentionality.  A faithful God blesses through a faithful people. (David N. Freedman, 1922, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, V. 5)

Direct download: Sermon_2-24-19.mp3
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Before God changes our circumstances, He wants to change our hearts. If our circumstances change for the better, but we remain the same, then we will become worse. God's purpose in providence is not to make us comfortable, but to make us conformable, "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29).  Christlike character is divine goal for each of His children. (Wiersbe, W. W. 1993).

Direct download: Sermon_2-17-19.mp3
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This is the eight book in the OT, and eight is the number of new beginning.  The events in Ruth take place during the days of the Judges, but what a difference between these two book! Instead of violence and lawlessness, we see tenderness, love, and sacrifice.  It is good to know that there are still good people in bad days, and that God is at work in the "corners of the land" though violence may fill the news. (Wiersbe, W. W. 1993)

Direct download: Sermon_2-10-19.mp3
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There's been a transition in sports from social activism to social service since the apex of social protests in the sixties.  Today's athletes are discouraged from identifying with a progressive or unpopular cause, the way Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph, Althea Gibson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Oscar Robertson did in the 1960's  when the civil rights movement was seen a destructive and disruptive.  Their activism helped to bread down barriers and increase pay and open doors for others, including those who hadn't protested. Still, we must not forget that they were strongly discouraged from their activism and harshly rebuked by the powers that be.  (Dyson, Michael Eric, Tears We Cannot Stop- A Sermon to White America, St. Martin Press, New York, NY (2017, Pp. 121, 122))

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To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communication with Him, always leaning on Him, resting Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our chief Fountain of life and strength, as our chief companion and best friend.  To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior. (J. C. Ryle)

Direct download: Sermon_1-27-19.mp3
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A transition is the in-between period of life development of a Christ follower. In a transition, individuals consolidate past learning, process issues of character, deepen convictions and values, and are prepared for the next phase of their development.  Transitions bring closure to the past in order to move forward to the next stage of personal development.  (Walling, Terry B.: Stuck! Navigating the Transitions of Life and Leadership, Church Smart Resources, (2008, p. 8)

Direct download: Sermon_1-20-19.mp3
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As you seek direction for your life, remember that true wisdom is in keeping with God's priorities, whether it comes from your inner voice or from those around you. (Burton, Valorie; What's Really Holding You Back, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO (2005, p. 153))

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Dr. Wayne Cordeiro tells a story in his book, Dream Releasers: Over the years I have closely watched several world-class tennis players, as well as many Olympic figure skaters. In nearly every case, I have seen a common practice: they always travel with a coach. ...A Dream Releaser is a kind of coach.  Coaches can make the difference between winning and losing.  Often, the greatest ideas, the most monumental thoughts and the most creative answers lay suffocating beneath the rubble of mistakes, character flaw, the fear of failure, a history of rejection, the fear of accountability or personality quirks.  These are dream killers. (2002, p. 98)

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