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Sermons from Middle River Baptist Church

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Acts 21:37-22:30 - Common Ground / Uncommon Confidence

Paul now finds himself before the Tribune and asks to speak to the Jews that are gathered against him (for they have accused him of defaming the temple). Paul clears his name being associated with a Jewish assassin group that tried to overthrow the roman rule a couple of years earlier. Paul then speaks to his people in their language detailing his conviction of sin (1-5), conversion to Christ (22:6-16), and calling to bring the gospel to the entire world (22:17-21). The Jews get so angry that they don't let Paul finish his speech and want his life. The entire process is expedited by the roman Tribune who desire to flog him, but don't because they eventually realize that paul is a Roman citizen by birth. This whole narrative shows that Christians will know God's will with uncommon character because of God's faithfulness. You can see evidence of God's faithfulness all around your life, just as Paul was proclaiming in this passage. Man tends to become unfaithful when things don't go his way, but God remains faithful. Knowing and trusting the character of God's faithfulness will give you strength and allow you to know and do God's will.

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Acts 21:17-36 - No compromise

Paul has finally arrived in Jerusalem after his 3rd missionary journey. He relates the works of God among the Gentiles to James and the elders, but then James informs him of a group of Jews that believe roomers that Paul is castigating the Moses and the Law in such a way that it is offensive to Jewish sensibilities. Paul agrees with the elders to submit with 4 other men in the process of a Nazarite cleansing ceremony and offerings, but before he is able to finish this ceremonial cleansing, the people pull Paul out to accuse him of teaching against the people and the law. Paul is beaten for doing what is right, and Eventually the authorities (the tribune – v. 31) have to step in to stop the beating of Paul by arresting him and imprisoning him. Paul did not compromise his convictions concerning the gospel as some people believe, but was able to accommodate to Jewish sensibilities (He became a Jew to win the Jews (1 Cor. 9:20) He did not allow his freedom to tear down weaker brothers. The Jews in this chapter are the weaker Christians and the Gentiles the Stronger. In Acts 15 the Jerusalem counsel including James decided that the Gentiles did not need to keep the Jewish laws in order to be saved. Here in Acts 21, Paul is showing us that in a Jewish culture that one should be accommodating to weaker brothers when it doesn't involve denying the Gospel. You don't need to compromise your beliefs, but you can accommodate weaker brothers in Christ. One should always remember that even if accommodation is the right thing to do, it doesn't guarantee that everything will turn out right. Christians will suffer for doing what is Right, just don't compromise for the sake of unity – stick to your convictions.

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Building a Garrison of Peace

Conflict is a common issue in any church or ministry. In the Philippian church, 2 strong ladies were engaged in some sort of dispute that was public enough to reach the ears of the Apostle Paul in jail. Paul interrupted his letter here to encourage them to find a solution and encourage others to see them as true believers whose names were written in the "book of life." In the bible, there are 2 books of life - 1) the book of the living - a book that you can be blotted out of and 2) the book of eternal life - a book that you cannot be blotted out of. In light of this, Paul says to us that there are to needs you have to garrison your life. The first need is to know that this garrison in your life is a garrison of peace. Here, Paul encouraged the women - Euodia and Syntyche - to reconcile and called alone a true companion to assist in the reconciliation process. Secondly, Paul tells us how to build this "garrison of peace" in our lives by giving several imperatives for peaceful living. These imperatives include: 1) Rejoice always, 2) Be Gentle, 3) Don't Worry, 4) Pray 5) Trust in Peace. There is a marvelous progression that Paul's imperatives bring, and what grace they would mean for the Philippians and us as they are implemented.

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Philippians 3:17 - 4:1 - Stand Firm

Paul was in hard pursuit of a life glorified Jesus, and he wanted his readers to stand firm as he has expressed in Philippians 1:27 in that same pursuit. Standing firm is not always easy when one has to deal with the new atheism, a truncated Gospel, pluralistic religions and worldviews, etc. Even when Paul wrote to Timothy he called the church the "pillar and buttress of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). When the truth of the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed someone is going to get hurt at times. In standing firm, you cannot stand still. Christianity is a fight for your life. The Christian is like flying an airplane - you are either moving forward or you are crashing and burning. In order to stand firm without standing still, Paul calls us to the disciplemaking of imitation, to flee apostasy, to the assurance of heaven. We must stand firm in our pursuit of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Standing firm is not standing still.

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Philippians 3:4-9 - No Jealousy

People are always promising something better and new. Paul was concerned about the Philippian church's ability to recongnize and refute these religous wolfs. He had already told this church to LOOK OUT for dogs, evil doers, and for those who mutilate the flesh. He nows give us an unparalleled description of his human achievements before he met Christ. He give this to show that noone has any reason for spiritual jealousy, because if he cannot bost in his achievements no one can. He tell them there is no reason for jealousy because we cannot depend on self-righteousness that come from privilege, race, nationality or any other inherited privilige. Secondly there is no reason for jealousy because we cannot depnd on our personal achievemtns to make us spiritual before God. Thirdly, there is no reason for jealousy because all that is gained in this life is not worth the value he place on a relationship with Christ. Finally, there is no jealousy becasue we depend on another's (Christ's) righteousness and not our own. As Christians we should loke for those who constant confidence is Jesus Christ, who constant boast is Jesus Chrsit, and whose constant delight is Jesus Christ and emulate then and nothing else.

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