Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church

October 28, 2012 - I Found the Answer!!

Acts 11.19-30
Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Jews who spoke Greek. The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.

When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw evidence of God’s grace, he was overjoyed and encouraged everyone to remain fully committed to the Lord. Barnabas responded in this way because he was a good man, whom the Holy Spirit had endowed with exceptional faith. A considerable number of people were added to the Lord. Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul. When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”

About that time, some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, Agabus, stood up and, inspired by the Spirit, predicted that a severe famine would overtake the entire Roman world. (This occurred during Claudius’ rule.) The disciples decided they would send support to the brothers and sisters in Judea, with everyone contributing to this ministry according to each person’s abundance. They sent Barnabas and Saul to take this gift to the elders.

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October 21, 2012 - A Living Breathing Church

Acts 4.8-14, 32-37
Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered, “Leaders of the people and elders, are we being examined today because something good was done for a sick person, a good deed that healed him? If so, then you and all the people of Israel need to know that this man stands healthy before you because of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is the stone you builders rejected; he has become the cornerstone! Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.”

The council was caught by surprise by the confidence with which Peter and John spoke. After all, they understood that these apostles were uneducated and inexperienced. They also recognized that they had been followers of Jesus. However, since the healed man was standing with Peter and John before their own eyes, they had no rebuttal.

The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need.

Joseph, whom the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (that is, “one who encourages”), was a Levite from Cyprus. He owned a field, sold it, brought the money, and placed it in the care and under the authority of the apostles.

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October 14, 2012 - Unstoppable

Acts 5.17-39
The high priest, together with his allies, the Sadducees, was overcome with jealousy. They seized the apostles and made a public show of putting them in prison. An angel from the Lord opened the prison doors during the night and led them out. The angel told them, “Go, take your place in the temple, and tell the people everything about this new life.” Early in the morning, they went into the temple as they had been told and began to teach.

When the high priest and his colleagues gathered, they convened the Jerusalem Council, that is, the full assembly of Israel’s elders. They sent word to the prison to have the apostles brought before them. However, the guards didn’t find them in the prison. They returned and reported, “We found the prison locked and well-secured, with guards standing at the doors, but when we opened the doors we found no one inside!”

When they received this news, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were baffled and wondered what might be happening. Just then, someone arrived and announced, “Look! The people you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain left with his guards and brought the apostles back. They didn’t use force because they were afraid the people would stone them.

The apostles were brought before the council where the high priest confronted them: “In no uncertain terms, we demanded that you not teach in this name. And look at you! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. And you are determined to hold us responsible for this man’s death.”

Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than humans! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God has exalted Jesus to his right side as leader and savior so that he could enable Israel to change its heart and life and to find forgiveness for sins. We are witnesses of such things, as is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When the council members heard this, they became furious and wanted to kill the apostles. One council member, a Pharisee and teacher of the Law named Gamaliel, well-respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be taken outside for a few moments. He said, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you intend to do to these people. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and some four hundred men joined him. After he was killed, all of his followers scattered, and nothing came of that. Afterward, at the time of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared and got some people to follow him in a revolt. He was killed too, and all his followers scattered far and wide. Here’s my recommendation in this case: Distance yourselves from these men. Let them go! If their plan or activity is of human origin, it will end in ruin. If it originates with God, you won’t be able to stop them. Instead, you would actually find yourselves fighting God!” The council was convinced by his reasoning.

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October 7, 2012 - Zygological Insights

Acts 6.1-7
About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Greek-speaking disciples accused the Aramaic-speaking disciples because their widows were being overlooked in the daily food service. The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples and said, “It isn’t right for us to set aside proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables. Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.” This proposal pleased the entire community. They selected Stephen, a man endowed by the Holy Spirit with exceptional faith, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. The community presented these seven to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. God’s word continued to grow. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased significantly. Even a large group of priests embraced the faith.

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