April 2, 2017 – Acts: Conflict Happens and so can Resolution

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Preached by Rod Benner (00:59)

When people gather together, conflict happens.  Even a happy group of people with similar ideas will encounter conflict.  If we don’t respond to it with Godly wisdom, the conflict can quickly explode into a bigger mess.

The Apostle Paul and his missionary partner Barnabas agreed to go back to the churches they both started and check on the Christians.  This was a good plan and both we eager to go.  Barnabas also wanted to bring along with them another partner, John Mark.  Enter the conflict.

John Mark started with them on the first missionary journey but soon dropped out for unknown reasons.  Whatever the reasons were, Paul did not want to John Mark to come along with him and Barnabas.  Barnabas did.  So great was the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, they parted ways.  The good idea of visiting churches was torn apart by a little disagreement between two godly, Spirit-filled men.

Know that conflict will happen and know how to respond to it.

Scripture Reference: Acts 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11

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March 19, 2017 – The Only Two Rules You Need

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Preached by Evan Stewart (00:30)

When we become a Christian one of the first questions we ask is, “what am I supposed to do now?”  You ask an older, more experienced Christian help you figure out what to do; to tell you the rules of the game.  So, an older Christian comes along and says, “Well, that’s easy.  Here’s what I’ve learned during my life.  Do this, don’t do that, do a lot of this, and be sure to stay away from that.”

Within a short period of time, well-intended advice can become a wrong standard of salvation.  More mature believers might sometimes unknowingly take good advice and turn it into a roadblock pointing people away from Jesus.  We all want the rules of the game, but it’s a fine balance to keep advice from turning to performance based rules.

This is what the older Jewish Christians did for the new Gentile Christians in Acts 15.  The new Christian men asked, “What now?”  The older, more experienced men of God said, “That’s easy.  For starters, get circumcised. This has been the practice of God-honoring men since the days of Abraham.  It worked for my father and my sons. It is the law God gave us. So, come on, let’s make an appointment down at the clinic.”  Then they took it further and added, “And if you don’t, then God won’t accept you.”

Just like the well-intended Pharisee Christians in the first church, we too will mistake rules for relationship with God.  We must be watchful to avoid creating rules that Jesus never provided.   If you want a rule to live by, then live by the two rules Jesus lived by.

Let these two rules be your standard: Will your action or thought show love to God?  Will it help your neighbor feel love or experience God’s love?  If yes, then do it freely.  If not, don’t do it.  These are the rules of the game, you don’t need any others.

Scripture Reference: Acts 15:1-5; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 7:1-5, 22:37-40

Related Sermon: Conform to Jesus Not a List of Rules

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March 12, 2017 – Acts: Conform to Jesus Not a List of Rules

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Preached by Rod Benner (00:47)

Jesus intended his Church to live by the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He gave a simple gospel message and didn’t leave us with a long list of rules to modify our behavior.  He left us the Holy Spirit to transform our minds and hearts.

Over the centuries of Church history, Christians have made all kinds of rules to modify other people’s behavior.  Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey, we seem to prefer to make rules to follow to make Christian living less mysterious.  Yet, a rule very often becomes an obstacle to a relationship with Jesus.

This is not a problem of modern American Christianity.  This same problem sprang up within the first few years after Jesus rose from the dead; good intentions gone wrong.  Continuing a study in Acts, Rod explains how the first disciples of Jesus handled these same issues and how we can do the same today.

Scripture Reference: Acts 15:1-21

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