Dear RCF Sisters and Brothers,
Believe it or not, it was everyday people (Thanks, Sly Stone) just like you that won the western world to Christ. With the arguable exception of the Apostle Paul who was marvelously gifted and educated, the expansion of the New Community of Jesus followers was done by everyday people who did the next thing. They did not know God’s master plan for the world or even surmise what He might be doing in more than their local community. They merely responded faithfully to the circumstances and people around them. But together, everyday people like you won the western world to Jesus.
The people who we are discussing in the Book of Acts were not Marvel comic book superheroes. They had their flaws, as we have seen in previous weeks.
They had less than admirable pasts, like the Apostle Paul. Their lives were sometimes inconsistent due to peer pressure, like Peter in the city of Antioch. They could run when the going got tough, like John Mark. They could misinterpret God’s will, like the Christians who thought Gentiles converts to Christ needed to keep the Old Testament Law.
They could disagree and even sever a relationship over what they believed God wanted them to do, like and Paul and Barnabas disagreed about taking John Mark with them.
I have thought that I could never do what the people in the early decades of the Christian movement did. They were better people and better Christians than I am. But that probably is not so. They were in all probability “Everyday People” just like us – filled with the Holy Spirit, zealous to see Jesus honored as God’s Son and Messiah, and desirous to have others believe in Him and thereby be saved.
It doesn’t seem that there was a secret sauce that enabled these women and men to slowly change the world around them for Christ. Instead, they did what we could do if we wanted to. They prayed earnestly for God’s leading, made themselves available for His purposes, were willing to be inconvenienced to do something for Him, and acted without being sure of the outcome. They were everyday people who did the next thing God presented to them to do and trusted Him for the outcome.
In today’s text, we see God expand Christ’s Kingdom in spite of a heated disagreement, because of a common-sense decision to follow-up on other believers, through a random meeting, and due to a response to frustration caused by annoyance. This is not superhero stuff, but what everyday people, like us, can do when they are available to be used for God’s purposes.
Join us this Sunday morning as we continue in the theme To the Remotest Part of the Earth, and our Discussion Bible Study in the History of the Early Church. Please prepare by reading Acts 15:36 – 16:40. This week we will examine and discuss that text with the title “The Western Expansion Continues”.
Attached is an outline (in two sizes) of the text we will be focusing upon this Sunday morning. Please print it ahead of time, as it will help you take part in the discussion. We will also have copies when we gather on Sunday morning.
Here is the Table Discussion Question for Sunday:
Do you think it was easier or more difficult to speak to others about the Good News of Jesus back in Antioch in 49 A.D. than it is to do so today in northeast Ohio? Why or why not?
In this series we have already discussed the following texts and topics:
The New Era Begins: Acts 1:12-2:21
Who is to Blame for Good Friday?: Acts 2:22-23
The New Community Begins: Acts 2:24-47
The First Official Pushback Is Pushed Back: Acts 3
The First Official Pushback Is Pushed Back – Part 2: Acts 4
God Elevates His Purity and His Principals: Acts 5:1-11
God Elevates His Purity and His Principals – Part 2: Acts 5:12 – 6:7
The Spark That Ignited The Flames of Persecution – Part 1: Acts 6:8 – 7:43
The Spark That Ignited The Flames of Persecution – Part 2: Acts 7:44 – 8:3
The New Community’s Pearl Harbor: Acts 8:1-25
Going Global: Taking The New Community International: Acts 8:26-40
Going Global: Taking The New Community International: Acts 9:1-25
Not “E Pluribus Unum”, But “Nos, Et Nos Nos”: Acts 9:26-31
The Border Crisis: God’s Path For Foreigners To Become Citizens: Acts 9:32-10:33
The Border Crisis: God’s Path For Foreigners To Become Citizens – Part 2: Acts 10:34-11:30
Uncivil Rest – Part 1: Acts 12:1-17
Uncivil Rest – Part 2: Acts 12:18-25
How The West Was Won…To Christ: Acts 13
How The West Was Won…To Christ – Part 2: Acts 13
How The Gospel Was Almost Lost…From Grace – Part 1: Galatians
How The Gospel Was Almost Lost…From Grace – Part 2: Galatians
The Gentile Question” Must Be Answered: Acts 15 & Galatians
A Church “Council” Answers “The Gentile Question”: Acts 15:1-35
We hope that you will join us in person or online this Sunday morning at Bay Lodge at 9:00 am!
We love you all!
Jim and Jenny
The Acts of the Apostles, Part 24 – Outline (PDF)