Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God delivered a nation through Moses. He delivers the world through Christ. In delivering a people several things that grip us must be broken.


Advent Series-Part 1

Acts 7:20-37

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Pastor Brian Matherlee

Read Acts 7:20-37


The Barna Research Group poll, conducted for the Lutheran Hour Ministries found that:

37% of adults in the national survey (88% of whom identified themselves as Christian) said the birth of Jesus is the most important aspect of Christmas.

More than 75% of evangelical Christians placed Jesus’ birth as of first importance on Christmas.

Only 32% of those who identified themselves as fundamentalists gave that answer.

Only 29% of Catholics placed Jesus’ birth first.

Only 24% of theological liberals said the birth of Christ made Christmas important for them.

44% of the respondents said family time is the most important part of one of the three most sacred days (along with Good Friday and Easter) on the calendar.

26% of respondents ages 18 to 34 said the birth of Jesus was the most important aspect of Christmas.

39% among respondents 65 and older said the same thing.

Only 3% said presents or parties were the most important part of Christmas. The same percentage that said the best thing about Christmas was getting a paid holiday.

"I guess it demonstrates what preachers have been wringing their hands over for some time: Christ has been evacuated from Christmas," said the Rev. William Willimon, a theologian and Duke University chaplain. "It’s good to know where we are. Christmas has been a co-opted holiday."

"Americans are more likely to correctly recall the significance of April 15 than they are to connect Christmas with the birth of Jesus. As America becomes increasingly anesthetized to Christian principles and practices, it seems only fitting that we have contracted acute amnesia regarding the spiritual significance of December 25," said pollster George Barna.

SOURCE: From "Making Room For Christ At Christmas" by Mike Hays. CITATION: www.barna.org

• Nine-year-old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday School. "Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge, and all the people walked across safely. He used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters and call in an air strike. They sent in bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved." "Now, Joey, is that REALLY what your teacher taught you?" his mother asked. "Well, no, Mom, but if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!"

God delivered a nation through Moses. He delivers the world through Christ. In delivering a people several things that grip us must be broken.

1. The grip of enticement

a. During the days of Joseph the Israelites prospered. After Joseph died and the King of Egypt died a new king came into power that began to despise the Israelites because they had become so numerous.

b. Until the Israelites hated the life they had they wouldn’t cry out to God.

c. It’s no different for us. Unless we see that the life we have is miserable we will not change.

d. Dr. David Wells (GCTS) observes, "Worldliness is what makes sin look normal in any age and righteousness seem odd."

e. Jesus first delivers us from wanting the way of the world more than His way.

f. Is there anything you want more than Jesus?

g. "The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church...grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil."

Ravenhill, Leonard

2. The grip of the oppressor

a. There is always a way free from the things that bind us.

b. But the grip of oppression is never broken by the oppressed but by a deliverer.

c. Think about Peter being ushered out of jail by an angel.

d. Think about Paul and Silas being freed by the angel from their stocks and being taken home and fed by the jailer they led to Christ!

e. Pharaoh was a difficult case. Slave labor departing with no compensation was not a very attractive deal. But God finally broke the grip of the oppressor, didn’t He?

f. John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, "Who were all those men with you there?" Paton knew no men were present—but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.

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