Summary: The reason the first century church turned the world upside down was not because of some religio-socio-economic “perfect storm” that made their message ripe for the but rather it was the fixed and unswerving centrality of Jesus Christ as their message.
Welcome & Call to Worship
Good morning. We are honored that you have chosen to worship with us today.
In September of 1985, The Times-Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, reported a celebration of a New Orleans municipal pool. The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at the New Orleans city pool. In honor of the occasion, 200 people gathered, including 100 certified lifeguards. As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, 31, but it was too late. He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season.
Sometimes I fear the something similar is happening at a spiritual level. People are dying and headed into a Christ-less eternity surrounded by others who know the Good news of Salvation.
Nobody wants this to happen and it stirs us to share Christ’s love and grace. As we begin week #2 of the sermon Series “Bridges and Ditches” we will focus on being “PEOPLE OF THE WAY” whom God can use to lead others into His care.
Listen as I read Luke 9:18-20 & 26
18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Let’s worship together.
BRIDGES AND DITCHES: THE BOOK OF ACTS FOR TODAY**
THE PEOPLE OF THE WAY
ACTS 9: 1-2
Big Idea: The reason the first century church turned the world upside down was not because of some religio-socio-economic “perfect storm” that made their message ripe for the but rather it was the fixed and unswerving centrality of Jesus Christ as their message.
• 2 Kings 5:1-5, 9-14
• Luke 9:18-20, 26
• Romans 1:13-17 (Responsive Reading)
ACTS 9: 1-2 (ESV)
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to The Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Did you read the tragic news a week or so ago about the house fire in Blanchard, Oklahoma (December 28, 2014)? It was early Sunday morning; an 18 year old and his grandfather escaped but his 59 year old grandmother (Bonnie) perished in the fire. Sadly, they thought Bonnie was right behind them; following them out through the smoke-filled home.
Sometimes I fear the something similar is happening at a spiritual level. We think those we know and love are following us out of the impending Christ-less eternity only to discover, too late, that they did not know Christ as Savior at all.
Nobody wants this to happen and it stirs us to share Christ’s love and grace just as it did the Christians of the first century.
Those Christians were so faithful to their task that they were given nicknames reflecting their passion. Saul and others of that day referred to them as people who followed “the Way.”
I kind of like that – “PEOPLE OF THE WAY.”
That’s not a bad description of Christ followers. That sums it up rather succinctly. At least it did for Saul and those complicit in his persecution.
I am certainly not the only one who reads that and immediately thinks about the words of Jesus himself. In John14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“The Way” has a direct reference – a direct link back to Jesus Christ himself.
And that, in a nutshell, is what we are talking about today. The people of Acts had a one-track mind. They are the epitome of “staying on message.” Every time they are filled with the Spirit and every time they give account for the hope that is within them they make a bee-line to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
They didn’t dilly-dally with existential angst, philosophical backdoors, psychological self-help or political ranting they had one message and one message only. As far as they were concerned – the bridge between them and those they spoke to was none other than Jesus Christ. He and he alone could get their family and friends out of the ditches they were stuck in.