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Influential Women in the Book of Acts

As the church grew and began to spread, the influence of many women are recorded in the book of Acts.  These women were integral to the development of this new church.  Because of the work of the 12 Apostles, the focus is often on the men of the Bible, but God’s plan in the new kingdom was to break down the walls that separated people and give importance and influence to everyone, whether male or female.  Today on Mother’s Day we honor the influential women in the early days of God’s movement.

  • THE GRATEFUL WOMEN    Luke 8:2-3; Luke 24:9-11; Acts 1:14       Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others
  • THE FAITHFUL MOTHER OF JESUS   Matthew 1:18-25; John 19:25-27; Luke 24:1-12; Acts 1:14
  • THE SERVING MOTHERS    Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-35; Acts 10:1-2; Acts 16:31-34
  • THE SUPPORTIVE (?)  WIVES OF TWO MEN   
  1. Sapphira, the wife of Ananias – Acts 5:1-10
  2. Priscilla, the wife of Aquila – Acts 18:18-26
  • THE GOOD WOMAN    Acts 9:36-42
  • THE SAVED WOMAN   Acts 16:13-15

You can access the full version of this sermon on our podcast at http://www.ranchlandchurch.com/media.php?pageID=14

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Give Me Jesus’ Resurrection

Easter Series: “Give Me Jesus”
This Week’s Topic: “Give Me Jesus’ Resurrection”
Sermon in a Nutshell #2

Everything in Jesus’ life has a corresponding application to our lives. As we consider the Resurrection on this Easter, what is my personal response? How does it change me? How do I experience resurrection? As we considered in our last lesson, to follow the life of Jesus is to choose the best, the lasting, the eternal life that gives joy, love, peace, etc. now and the promise of eternal life in Heaven In 1 Peter 1:3-4, we read, “In his great mercy God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.”

I can’t imagine any right-thinking person who wouldn’t want to live a better life now and to have assurance of life after death. In other words, we desire the “resurrection” life, BUT are we accepting the processes that lead to it? Here are five things about Jesus you need to know and the corresponding response each of us need to make.

First, Jesus LIVED; therefore we LEARN. His life was like no other, superior in every way – “we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus once said to the weary and down trodden, “learn from me.” (Matthew 11:29) A disciple is one who follows, but also is a student and learner. As the Bible unfolds the life of Jesus, learn from it by absorbing every facet of his time on earth. He came “leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

Second, Jesus TAUGHT; therefore we BELIEVE. Peter once said in awe, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69) He taught in parables – earthly stories with heavenly meanings. He taught so the common people could easily understand. Following the Sermon on the Mount, the people were amazed at his teaching! Paul says, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Do you believe his teachings? Do you believe he is the Son of God? Do you believe in the virgin birth, his atoning death on the cross, his overcoming Satan and death through the resurrection, and that he now reigns in Heaven?

Third, Jesus DIED, therefore we die a spiritual death through REPENTANCE. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (cross), so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Movies like “The Passion of Christ” and the recent “Son of God” depict very graphically the horror of his sufferings: beaten, mocked, thorns on his head, nailed to an “old rugged cross”, painful death, in the middle of two criminals depicting him as the worst! But why? What was different about this death than what other martyrs have gone through? It’s because he was bearing “our” sins in his body (the “sinless” one), taking the punishment he didn’t deserve but doing it on your behalf. Imagine, being separated from God – the Son of God – literally going to Hell for you! So what should I do? You must die as the verse says, “to sin”. You have a choice: you can either die TO sin while alive on this earth, or you can die IN sin when you depart. For those who die “to” sin, they receive the benefits of his death. “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with…because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7). The Bible calls this repenting – indicating a change, a turn in direction, leaving something behind, like an old life with old values, attitudes and sins. You then are “crucified with Christ” (spiritually speaking) so that “Christ can now live in you.(Galatians 2:20)

Fourth, Jesus was BURIED, therefore we are BAPTIZED. That’s what you do with a dead person – you bury them. That’s what baptism is – a burial of the old self. God chose water, symbolic of cleansing, and immersion, symbolic of a burial as the elements in baptism. But it becomes much, much more than some ritual or Christian sacrament. It is the surrender of your body and spirit to be baptized by another as a connecting point to Jesus. “We died to sin…were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead…we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4) Baptism has symbolic elements, but note that it is much more than that – it is a participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! We go “into Christ”, “buried with Christ”, “raised with Christ” and are “united with Christ”!

Fifth, Jesus was RAISED, therefore we are raised to enter the NEW LIFE! “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:8-11) That’s where the best life is! That where Heaven is! “Give me Jesus’ resurrection!!!” The tomb is empty; he has risen; the resurrection changes everything!

Now one closing thought. Remember that before you can have a resurrection, there must first be a death, and then a burial. Many want the end results without counting the cost of what it means to follow Jesus. Change is perhaps the hardest thing for us to do, but there MUST be a death to sin before one can experience the glory of the resurrected life!

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Week 3 – Paul’s 2nd Letter to Corinth

Among the things that few churches can survive are:  division; moral failure; and a sustained period of either plateau or decline.  Church growth studies show that, just like most things God created including people, churches also have a life cycle.  These studies further show that very few churches which exist longer than 50 years will experience continued growth.  Most will plateau, decline and eventually die.

The church in Corinth was not that old but certainly its life span was in jeopardy because of the other issues.  The question facing them in Paul’s first letter was – will they repent, accept correction and turn things around?  The monumental problems they faced made that possibility very tenuous.  Churches are notoriously difficult to change once set on a downward path.

But occasionally there is hope and good news.  There are some incredible stories in modern church growth that highlight “breakout” or “turnaround” churches.  These are churches that were locked into mediocrity, traditions and sinful practices, but found God’s grace and power sufficient to see changes occur and a growth pattern reestablished.  Usually that comes with a combination of:  a “godly sorrow” that leads the members to repent; a gifted and passionate leader surfaces; the sinful element being purged; and a period of revival that allows joy and evangelism to resurface.

Corinth was the poster child for amazing comebacks.  Paul writes his second letter to tell how happy, proud and thankful he was for them and their heart to still follow God.  Amidst that joy, he and others were going through some painful sufferings and challenges.  And so this letter comes to them, and remains for our benefit, to be encouraged that in spite of sufferings, issues, and sin, God still loves, cares and empowers his people and his churches!

Here’s the five-day reading plan for 2 Corinthians:

Day 1 – Chapters 1-6 – Discover who you are in Christ

Day 2 – Chapter 7 – The crux of the matter

Day 3 – Chapter 8-9 – A life of trust and generosity

Day 4 – Chapters 10-11 – Paul’s defense

Day 5 – Chapters 12-13 – Paul’s “thorn” and his heart for them

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First Century Facebook – the letters of Paul

Welcome to my new blog.

For the first several weeks, it will be devoted exclusively to the teaching series for this summer at the Ranchland Church where I serve as Pastor.  After that we will broaden out the topics on the general theme of churches and disciples staying spiritually healthy and well-balanced.

The thirteen week summer series is titled “First Century Facebook” centering around the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul and imagining that were Paul writing today, he would utilize most of our communication tools, including social media.  Of course, the Word of God does stay alive and relevant to every age and culture!

But how do you cover in one Sunday message or even one week’s time the incredible teachings found in each of Paul’s letters?  It will obviously be fast-paced and concise as we seek to do an overview of each book.  To do that I am using as a resource the world-renown “Be” series of commentaries authored by the prolific writer, commentator and pastor, Warren Wiersbe.  His “Be” series now cover not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well.  One of the unique features of this monumental work is that Wierbe sums up each book of the Bible with just two words:  “Be _______________.”

Using his titles and themes, here are the topics we will be following during the summer both in this blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter and the Sunday messages at Ranchland Church (www.ranchlandchurch.com):

  1. Romans – “Be Right” – June 5
  2. 1 Corinthians – “Be Wise” – June 12
  3. 2 Corinthians – “Be Encouraged” – June 19
  4. Galatians – “Be Free” – June 26
  5. Ephesians – “Be Rich” – July 3
  6. Philippians – “Be Joyful” – July 10
  7. Colossians – “Be Complete” – July 17
  8. 1 Thessalonians – “Be Ready:  For Christ’s Return” – July 24
  9. 2 Thessalonians – “Be Ready:  In Spite of Hardships” – July 31
  10. 1 Timothy – “Be Faithful:  To Your Calling” – August 7
  11. 2 Timothy – “Be Faithful:  In Your Beliefs” – August 14
  12. Titus – “Be Faithful:  In Your Station” – August 21
  13. Philemon – “Be Faithful:  In Your Relationships” – August 28

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