“The World Turned Upside Down,” Acts 17: 1-7

On October 17, 1781 a single drummer appeared on the walls of the city of Yorktown in Virginia. Inside the city were over 7000 British soldiers and German mercenaries, comprising almost all of the forces Britain had left in America. The city had been under siege by American and French soldiers under the command of George Washington and Rochambeau since September 28, almost a month. After the drummer got the attention of the American forces long enough for their bombardment of the walls to stop he was replaced by a British officer who unfurled a white flag, surrendering the city and the army inside of it to Washington. If you know your history you know that this was the last major land battle of the American Revolution (if you’re from around here or upstate South Carolina you know that the Yankee history books ignore the fact that if not for victories at Cowpens and King’s Mountain then the British army wouldn’t have been in Virginia and none of it would have happened, but I suppose that’s beside the point). Continue reading ““The World Turned Upside Down,” Acts 17: 1-7″

“When God Chooses,” Acts 13: 1-3

We’ve skipped ahead a little bit in Paul’s story. From here on the rest of the book of Acts is going to remain focused on Paul, but between his conversion in Damascus and this moment of commissioning in Antioch the text jumps back and forth between Paul and Peter. Now there’s some really good and important stuff in the three chapters that we’ve skipped so I hope you’ll take the opportunity to look at it on your own but for our purposes we’re going to focus on Paul for these last few weeks of looking at Acts. Continue reading ““When God Chooses,” Acts 13: 1-3″

“Who’d a Thunk it?” Acts 9: 1-19a

I wish you all would give me three hours one Sunday, we could really do Acts right if we could talk about it in one big sitting. It would make it a lot easier because the story of Acts is a story that really works best without too many breaks in the action. Some stories are like that, right? Some stories are better told as one two-hour movie than twelve thirty minute episodes. Acts is like that, because while different events stand-alone they also still build and connect to what comes before and after, and our text this morning is like that. Continue reading ““Who’d a Thunk it?” Acts 9: 1-19a”

“Scattered,” Acts 8: 1-14, 26-40

“And Saul approved of their killing him.” Chances are, if your Bible is like mine, that line, that first part of Acts chapter eight verse one, is placed with chapter seven. It wraps up the story of Stephen that we focused on last week, where the crowd stones Stephen with Saul there supervising, holding everyone’s coat, and then I’d guess that there’s a new paragraph probably a section header, those things that are there to show us a new thought is beginning. Continue reading ““Scattered,” Acts 8: 1-14, 26-40″

“Hallelujah Anyhow,” Acts 6 and 7

I’m going to be a little immature for a second here, I hope you won’t hold it against me. This is obvious a very serious passage with very serious things going on, but did you catch what the Sanhedrin does when Stephen has his vision? They are so angry and riled up that when they’ve had enough they literally stick their fingers in their ears and shout over him like children. Like “I can’t hear you blah blah blah blah.” Also right before that in verse 54 we’re told in the NIV that they’re so angry when he finishes that they “gnashed” their teeth, in other translations it says “ground,” which is a great way to describe anger. We’ve all had that moment right? That moment where we’re so mad but we also don’t have a good comeback so we just…(grinds teeth). Maybe it is just me but I feel like those moments give a little bit of levity to what is otherwise a very heavy passage. Stephen’s story gets two chapters and there isn’t really a light moment in there at all. Continue reading ““Hallelujah Anyhow,” Acts 6 and 7″

“Extravagant Generosity,” Acts 4: 32-37

Up until this point the Book of Acts has followed a pretty basic pattern, there’s a solid, structure I guess is the word, to the story. We opened with Jesus telling the disciples that he was going to leave but that they would be empowered to do similar things to what they had seen him do and that they were going to be tasked with expanding the kingdom that he started. Jesus leaves, the disciples wait, the Spirit comes and empowers them and they begin to do those things. Peter and the other disciples preach and people are moved and convicted and join with them, Peter and John heal a man outside the temple, that attracts attention, they’re arrested and questioned, released, and then they return to the other disciples to pray and to figure out their next move. End of Act 1, right? Continue reading ““Extravagant Generosity,” Acts 4: 32-37″