Posts from May 2016

“The Privilege of Choosing” Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5

I love standing on the sands of New Smyrna Beach and watching the waves come in.  I enjoy watching and hearing the crashing big waves of high tide and delight in body-surfing until my lungs run out of air.  My favorite time at the beach is when low tide is in the late afternoon, and I can sit on my beach chair with the smaller waves lapping over my feet.  At low tide, from my chair, I gaze eastward and wonder what is between me and the next spot of dry land.  And I think about how the earth is two-thirds water, and yet God moved the water around to create dry land, and I happen to be living on one of those continents.

I love seeing the stars at night.  On our Haiti mission trip, I was disappointed that it was a full moon, because the brightness kept me from seeing the canopy of stars, about which I had heard so much.  The lights of town keep us from seeing all that is up there; when we lived in Hampton, VA, we could hardly ever see the stars.  But when I gaze into the heavens and see the stars, I am reminded of just how big our God really is, that our God created everything.

“The Miracle of Understanding” Acts 2:1-21

Most of you know that Jennifer and I were fortunate last summer to attend the Baptist World Congress, which is a meeting that occurs every five years of the Baptist World Alliance, a global entity composed of 232 Baptist conventions or groups found in 121 countries. During the first session of the gathering, there was a “Roll Call of Nations.” The speaker announced a country, and four or five photos flashed onto the screen while the representatives from that country stood. Baptists from 82 countries were present; differences in dress were not as pronounced as the varied shades of skin color. People from Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia, and Europe were “all together in one place” to use the same phrase as Acts 2:1. In the hallways, multiple languages could be heard. We heard scripture read in more than 20 languages during the worship services, while the verses in English were projected on the big screens.

Having people from all over the world for the Baptist World Congress was much like the setting in Acts 2. In our New Testament Lesson, Jews from all over the known world came to Jerusalem for the Pentecost celebration, a Jewish festival that occurred fifty days after Passover.

“What Can Happen Because People Watch Us” Acts 16:25-34

The Book of Acts chronicles the history of the early Church.  From the time of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, through Pentecost and the conversion of a zealous Pharisee named Saul, Dr. Luke continued to record how the gospel was being spread, largely because of persecution. Saul/Paul was selected to become the missionary to the Gentiles, those who were not Jewish, which expanded the gospel to the known world.  Paul took three missionary journeys sharing God’s love and establishing churches.  Our New Testament Lesson this morning takes place while Paul and Silas were on the second missionary journey.  Paul wanted to visit those new converts to Christianity and see how they were doing.  Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy encountered some Jewish women who were worshiping God near a river in Philippi.  Paul told them about Jesus; a specific woman named Lydia was singled out as a seller of purple, meaning that she was a person of means.  Lydia and her husband were baptized.  They created such a strong, quick relationship that the four missionaries were invited to stay with them in Philippi.