"How's the Church?" (Acts 9:19b-31)

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One of the most popular questions I'm asked is "How's the church?", and sometimes I'm not sure how to answer. To hear why this is the case and to see how we should think about this, we looked at Acts 9:19b-31 this week. In the sermon, I put quotes from a few historical figures on the screen. Since I didn't read those quotes directly, here they are:

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Following Jesus into Suffering (Acts 9:1-22)

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I want my life to be filled with ease and luxury and peace and fulfillment. But what Jesus offers doesn’t always feel great. In fact, the New Testament teaches that to be Christian is to sign up for extra helpings of suffering. Suffering is not the gospel. But the gospel does demand our suffering, just like Saul realizes in this passage from Acts 9:1-22.

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A Divine Appointment (Acts 8:26-40)

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If God is living and active in the world (He is) and if He really is in control (He is), then it is no accident that we live where we live and work where we work. God has determined specifically when and where all of us live. In fact, God has determined when and where everyone lives - so that they would seek Him and find Him. This is what God does. This is what He is doing. He is drawing people around us to Himself, like He did with a man from Ethiopia in Acts 8.

Philip “randomly” meets a man on a desert road – a man from far-away Ethiopia of all places. This man who shouldn't be seeking after God is hungry and thirsty to find Him. Philip listens to and obeys the Holy Spirit. As a result, he meets this man who is already seeking God. Because Philip was deeply spiritual, he experienced a "divine appointment" - an encounter with someone God was already drawing to Himself.

Why can’t situations like this happen among us? Why shouldn’t we expect God’s Spirit to move in us and lead like this? Let’s pray and search for “divine appointments” – encounters with people God is already drawing to Himself. Maybe God will actually bring us into contact with people who are already itching to hear about real hope – people who are ready to hear the life-giving story about Jesus.

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