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A Faithful Farewell (Acts 20:13-38)

July 15, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon illustrates the emotional experience of saying farewell. Pastor Duncanson explains the significance of setting a godly example in speech and conduct. The focus of this sermon is on three key lessons from Paul’s farewell address to the elders at Ephesus: self-deprivation, self-control, and self-sacrifice.

Self-Deprivation: Counting Your Life as Nothing

20140311-184658.jpgNow from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:

You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:17-24;ESV).

Paul was not a distant missionary to the Ephesian believers, he walked with those he lead; wept with them; and set an example for them with his speech and conduct. Thus, when he told them to count their lives as nothing, they knew this charge came from a man who lived out what he preached to others (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27). Once he had an encounter with the living God on the road to Damascus, He never turned back, as he considered the message and mission he had received from His Lord.

Self-Control: Declaring the Whole Counsel of God

And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:25-27; ESV).”

A messenger or envoy often has the temptation of changing the message to make it more agreeable to the recipient, in order to avoid persecution or death. However, Paul reminded the Ephesian believers of his determination to teach them the whole counsel of God, regardless of any resulting consequences. He could do so because he realize that the Gospel message belonged to God, therefore, he had no right to alter it in any way.

Self-Sacrifice: Shepherding the Flock of God

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:28-32; ESV).”

Paul charged the elders in Ephesus to pay close attention to their lives. He also charged them to care for the flock lovingly, for this was the ministry to which they had been called. Above all, they needed to pay attention to their lives and care for the flock in order to protect them from them ravenous wolves by entrusting themselves to the grace of God.

Why should we count our life as lost?

When you count your life as nothing, you are able to persevere in the trials. Although Paul faced real persecution and tribulation, he counted his life as nothing, because he realized it was better to suffer with Christ than having a life without Christ or trials. Do you see your life as better in the midst of trials because of Jesus Christ?

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Biblical Encouragements (Acts 20:1-12)

July 8, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon highlights the means God uses to strengthen the local church. Pastor Carter explains how biblical encouragement brings strength and comfort to the soul. The focus of this sermon is on two important and practical means of God’s encouragement, namely, Presence and Preaching.

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After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days (Acts 20:1-5;ESV).

The heart of the Apostle Paul was displayed in his love for the local church. In fact, he devoted himself to seeing his fellow-laborers and disciples comforted and encouraged in the mutual fellowship of believers. Pastor Carter describes the local church as the heartbeat of God’s kingdom in the world.

Encouragement Comes through Preaching

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him. And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted (Acts 20:6-12; ESV).”

Paul and the saints gathered together for worship. They came to hear the word of God preached, because preaching is indeed an encouragement to the body of Christ when the word of God is being faithfully proclaimed. More importantly, the encouragement of God’s Word gave way to the encouragement of God’s power on display in the resurrection of Eutychus and the building up of the local church.

Do you see Gods grace in the means He has provided for your encouragement?

God desires that His people be encouraged through presence and preaching of His eternal Word. A faithful church is where the family of God is encouraging one another through the means God has prescribed. Our dearest friends should be encouragers to us in the Lord.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Necessity of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-10)

June 3, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon examines the ministry of the Holy Sprit in the Church. Pastor Carter gives a clear exhortation and admonition to rightly understanding the Person of God the Holy Spirit. The focus of this sermon is on the work of the Spirit, namely, the Revelation of the Christ and the Regeneration of the Christian.

The Work of the Holy Spirit: Revealing Jesus Christ

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And he said, Into what then were you baptized? They said, Into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus (Acts 19:1-5;ESV).

Pastor Carter warns against unregenerate disciples, who follow a false or incomplete gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the Person and Work of Jesus Christ — to open blinded eyes and ears, and prepare a people to receive Christ in all His fullness (cf. Luke 4:16-19). Likewise, Jesus Christ tells His disciples to earnestly desire the Holy Spirit in order to live according to His Word (cf. Luke 11:9-13).

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The Work of Holy Spirit: Regenerating Sinners

And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks (Acts 19:6-10; ESV).”

In the context of salvation, regeneration is the process of God the Holy Spirit preparing the heart of a sinner to receive eternal life in Christ and enabling this sinner to obey His Word (cf. Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-38). Mankind cannot please God apart from the work of Holy Spirit (Romans 8). In fact, if God the Holy Spirit does not reveal Jesus and revitalize dead sinners, we will remain dead in our sins (Colossians 2).

Have you received the Holy Spirit?

The Spirit is not a thing or a feeling; He is God (cf. Luke 12:10; John 14:25-30, 15:26-27, 16:4-15; Acts 5:1-11). God the Father ordains the salvation of His people; God the Son accomplishes the salvation of His people; and God the Holy Spirit secures this saved people until the Son returns. Without the Holy Spirit, Christianity is an empty religion, for without the Spirit there is no life (cf. Genesis 1:2, 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7; John 3).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free and check out the sermon note below.

One Thing is Necessary (Luke 10:38-42)

May 27, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week’s sermon considers the seriousness of Jesus’s ministry to save, sanctify, and secure sinners. Pastor Carter magnifies the Lord in showing the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. The focus of this sermon is on the remarkable account of Jesus stopping by Martha and Mary’s house to show them, God cares and He is enough, as He heads to Jerusalem.

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God Cares

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me (Luke 10:38-40;ESV).

Martha was busy, a most accompanying host, who probably had the gift of hospitality. Therefore, when she learned that Jesus would be visiting her and her sister, she wanted Him to feel more than welcomed with her serving (cf. Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). However, Pastor Carter explains that because of our hearts, even the good we do can become the source of sin, as shown in Martha’s resentment toward Mary for her lack of serving and Jesus for not reproving Mary (cf. Jeremiah 17:9-10).

Jesus is Enough

But the Lord answered her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10: 41-42; ESV).”

Despite Martha’s resentment, Jesus reminds her not only does He care about her labors, but also He is enough (cf. Mark 4:35-41). While Martha began to question the compassion and care of God, Mary chose the one needful thing, which was to cast her cares upon the Lord and learn humbly at His feet (cf. Psalm 16:5, 73:25-26; 1 Peter 5:6-7). Jesus Christ demonstrated both the compassion and care of God by commending Mary and encouraging Martha to see that He is sufficient, for He had them both in mind as He made His way to the place where He would take on the sins of the world.

Have you really considered what Jesus is saying here?

We become easily distracted and consumed by the cares of this world. Jesus says only one thing is necessary. The one and only necessary thing is to know Jesus Christ and His eternal care for us, because everything in this life can and will be lost (cf. Philippians 3; 1 John 2:17).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Laborers Added to the Mission (Acts 18:18-28)

May 20, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon considers the collective work of advancing the Kingdom of God in the world and building up His Church. Pastor Duncanson illustrates why the Gospel changes everything. The focus of this sermon is on the Gospel creates Christ-motivated laborers with a Christ-centered mentality.

Christ-Motivated Laborers

After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, I will return to you if God wills, and he set sail from Ephesus. When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples (Acts 18:18-23;ESV).

Pastor Duncanson gives us two reasons why Priscilla and Aquilla chose to accompany the Apostle Paul. First, they believed the Gospel was true, so much so they we were willing to uproot their lives to go across land and sea, for the mission of Christ. Secondly, they recognized that their giftedness was to serve the Kingdom of God, not their own interests (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-9).

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Christ-Centered Mentality

Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus (Acts 18:24-28; ESV).”

Since Aquilla and Priscilla were Christ-motivated laborers, when they saw a fellow believer teaching in error, they corrected him with a Christ-centered mentality. This is instructive on Aquilla and Priscilla’s part and on Apollos’ part, because while they were courageous and gracious in their approach to teaching Apollos the whole counsel of God, he was willing to receive their teaching without offense. In fact, Apollos left this encounter with this couple with greater insight and eagerness to powerfully proclaim Christ among the Jews.

Do you know your role in the Kingdom of God?

Scripture trumps our experiences and about God. The gifts God gives are to be used to advance His Kingdom and build up His Church (Acts 20:32; Romans 15:1-7; Philippians 1:12-18). The Gospel must inform the way we live.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:25-31)

May 13, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week’s sermon reveals the necessity and sufficiency of Christ in the midst of hardship. Elder Woodard expounds on the richness and relevance of the Gospel to address the difficulties of life in a sinful world. The focus of this sermon is on the proper response to lifes fatiguing, times fleeting, and Christs forthcoming.

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Life is Fatiguing

Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that (1 Corinthians 7:25-28;ESV).

Paul is not so much concerned with marriage in the passage as he is with comforting believers who were suffering in Corinth during the time of his writing. Perhaps these believers were facing a famine, persecution, or both. Thus, Paul encourages them to consider their present distress or hardship before taking on more responsibility.

Time is Fleeting

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:29-31a; ESV).”

Elder Woodard reminds us that time is fleeting in two aspects of life, human life and the return of Jesus Christ. First, everything in the human life is subject to time, from the time in the womb to the time of death (cf. Ecclesiastes 3). More importantly, since Christ was raised from the dead as promised, He will certainly return to make all things new by allowing this world to pass away (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10; 1 John 2:15-17; Revelation 21:1, 4).

Christ is Coming

For the present form of this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31b; ESV).”

Meanwhile, what should we do with the time we have until Christ returns? We should put ourselves in the best position to devote ourselves to the Lord Jesus by repenting and believing the Gospel. Jesus Christ endured the hardships of life, giving himself to doing the will of His Father (even unto death). Consequently, God the Father has exalted Him to a position of authority (Luke 2:29; Philippians 2:1-12; Hebrews 12:2).

Are you being unwise in the time God is giving to you?

Life is short and death is all around us and in us (Romans 6:23, 7:24-25). Time is a limited resource, we can reallocate it, but we cannot recreate it. Do not cling to this world. Cling to the Risen Christ who is coming again to judge the world and gather to Himself those whom He has acquitted (Romans 5; 1 John 2:1-6).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Commands of Love (1 John 3:16-18)

May 6, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we had the pleasure of welcoming our brother Trip Lee (Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone Church) to bring the Word of God this week. This week’s sermon shows the power of the Gospel to cultivate genuine love among an unlovable people. Pastor Lee exhorts with a hearty reminder of the sacrificial love Christ displayed at the cross, for those He loved. The focus of this sermon is on the commands of love based on the example Christ left for His Church, namely, love is active and attentive.

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Genuine Love is Active: Self-Sacrificing

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16;ESV).

Pastor Lee opens with an exhortation to look at the cross of Christ as a vivid expression of genuine love. Jesus Christ laid down His life for His sheep. Thus, those who follow Christ ought to have this same mind and love for others, especially with those who too bear His Name (Galatians 6:10; Philippians 2:1-21). Some are willing to die for a cause, but how many are willing to live to meet the needs of others (cf. Romans 5; Philippians 1:20-26)?

Genuine Love is Attentive: In Word and Deed

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:17-18; ESV).”

The world views their possessions differently than the way God says we should (cf. Luke 12:13-21). Genuine love requires that we are attentive to the needs of others; this not mean they should be eased and we burdened, but we certainly should tend to what is needful for the body (cf. 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Thessalonians 3). Genuine love also requires a willingness to be transparent to those who are willing to assist, which provides both parties with an opportunity to serve one another as the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). If we want to grow in our love for one another, then we must continue to mediate on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do we really love one another?

Love shows up in our actions. If you do not know Jesus, you may do some loving things, yet without Him your love is shallow at best. Genuine love requires us to live not for ourselves, but for the glory of God by being attentive to the needs of others and being willing to share what God has given us. Jesus Christ sought us out and met our needs with love, when we were unlovable, so that we, who are in Christ, would live according to His example (Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free and check out the sermon note below.

For more information concerning Pastor Lee and Cornerstone, please visit their website at http://www.cornerstoneatl.org/about/our-leaders/.

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