Our text is Acts 16:6-15.
God, the great Creator of all things, upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
Having created the universe, God did not simply leave it behind, nor let it run down. On the contrary, he continues to care for, sustain, and superintend the things that he has made. This is the doctrine of the providence of God. What does that mean for us?
The Lord opens and closes doors in our lives, many of which we are simply unaware, but by way of those opened and closed doors – the Lord guides and directs our lives to the praise of his glory and for our good. That means that in Acts 16 – we see that God is guiding and directing the steps of Paul, Silas, Timothy, and according to verse 10, with the “we” statement – now Luke . This gospel missionary team, will move ever closer to Europe with the gospel that is intended for all people regardless of their age, race, gender, nationality, social standing or economic means. We will see in our text that doors are closed and a door is opened, as well as a heart!
Children’s Message: Pastor Chad Sadorf has been including a series of Children’s Messages. These messages will parallel the sermons from Acts to help guide the children through the concepts that are taught in the sermon. Today’s message is provided as a video; this link appears just after the Gloria Patri in the service (where it would normally occur in our church service). Click on these links for a children’s bulletin and printable coloring page to accompany this message: Children’s Bulletin and Lydia and Paul coloring page.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship: Psalm 145:1-3, 10
1 Now I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! (ESV)
Almighty God, we bow before you in awe of your majesty, your beauty, and your holiness.
We humble ourselves before you in reverence and submission, but also with great joy because you have invited us into your courts, and to your table through the blood of your only Son.
When we consider the incomprehensible cost to you, that we might be in a relationship with you, we are amazed at your great love. At the same time, we tremble at your devastating holiness, and the fact that you are a consuming fire, and you must punish sin.
So we never come before you in a casual way, but in reverence and submission, and with great joy.Father, will you enable us by Holy Spirit to worship you this day in spirit and in truth. Amen.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) captured the infinite timelessness of God in contrast to the temporary nature of humanity in his metrical paraphrase of Psalm 90. Metrical psalms, a product of the Reformed tradition, generally could neither add to nor delete anything from the psalm as found in the Bible. Watts’s paraphrase shows the antithesis between God and humanity. This is one of Watts’s greatest hymns on the human condition, setting the shortness of life and the smallness of human beings against the timelessness and greatness of God…. “who has been our help in the past, our hope for years to come”.
Corporate Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:7
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (ESV)
Merciful, Almighty God, we confess that with us there is an abundance of sin, but in you there is the fullness of righteousness and abundance of mercy. In our flesh, we are spiritually poor and weak, but you are infinitely rich and all powerful. And our Lord Jesus Christ came to be merciful to the poor and weak.
Strengthen our faith and trust in you. We are empty vessels that need to be filled; fill us. We are weak in faith; strengthen us. We are cold in love; warm us, and make our hearts passionate for you that our love may go out to one another and to our neighbors. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: : Romans 8:1
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Through faith in Jesus Christ all our sins are forgiven. As we come to the Lord’s Table today, let us rest in his forgiveness.
Affirmation of Faith:
The Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 113 What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious, or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarreling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God’s decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the word, or any part of it, to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians chapter 8, the gift of the Macedonian believers went beyond the tithe. Paul said they gave themselves first to the Lord (verse 5). No doubt in their act of giving they reaffirmed the stewardship of their entire lives given to God. As we bring our tithes and offerings this morning, may we have the same heart as our Macedonian brothers and sisters.
(Online giving is now available for your convenience. This link, https://www.faithpresarp.org/give/, will take you to the page that explains this process and includes a button which will redirect you to the secured giving platform.
In the month of August, our focus will be Psalm 1. In introducing this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “This Psalm may be regarded as THE PREFACE PSALM, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists’ desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous!” from The Treasury of David, by Charles Spurgeon, www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.htm.
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: The Gospel for All People, Part 2
I. Gospel Guidance
II. Gospel Decision-making
III. Gospel Hospitality
Philip Paul Bliss was an American conductor, composer, Gospel singer and hymn writer. He was known for his bass-baritone singing voice. In 1869, he formed an association with evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In 1874, Bliss began full time evangelism. Bliss wrote “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”; “Wonderful Words of Life” among other songs. He also wrote the tune for Horatio Spafford’s “It Is Well with My Soul”. This hymn became one of the first songs recorded by Thomas Alva Edison on the phonograph. It is Bliss’ best known and loved hymn. It was Bliss’ last hymn. On a planned return to Chicago, on December 29, 1876, the Blisses left their four year old and one year old sons with family in Rome, Pennsylvania. While traveling back to Chicago through Ashtabula, Ohio on the Pacific Express train, a train trestle bridge collapsed sending the seven train cars plummeting into an icy ravine below. Bliss survived the fall and escaped from the wreck, but the train cars caught fire and Bliss returned to try to extricate his wife. Although he was advised against it, Bliss headed back into the fire, saying: “If I cannot save her, I will perish with her.” They both perished and no trace of either body was discovered. Ninety-two of the 159 passengers died. Found in his trunk, which survived the crash and fire, was a manuscript bearing the lyrics of this hymn, the only well-known Bliss Gospel song for which he did not write a tune.
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
- Think of the implications of the gospel’s going to Europe and what that meant for Christianity and church history.
- Why do people seek after signs? Does it show weakness in their faith?
- What tools or means does God provide in guiding our decisions and choices?
- Was it strategic for Paul to seek out a place where people might be praying?
- What evidence is there for Lydia’s conversion?
CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES – HOW DO I CHOOSE WHAT TO DO? WILL GOD HELP ME MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE?
So how does God guide us and lead us to make choices?
• Not be seeking signs: Scripture tells us to seek God’s truth, his light, his wisdom in the Bible, not for signs or big pointing fingers…
• First, by Holy Spirit: God has put his Spirit within every person who loves and follows Jesus, and Holy Spirit leads and guides us in making decisions.
As we track along with our sermon series in Acts: In Acts 16 Paul was directed by Holy Spirit to go to one place and not another to preach the gospel:
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (ESV)
God’s gives Holy Spirit as a means, #1 spiritual tool, to help us make decisions, BUT God does not make decisions for us.
• Through the Word of God: We really shouldn’t be looking for signs – we should seek wisdom from the Bible, God’s Word .
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all…
The Bible pictures God’s guidance as opened and closed doors? Sometimes God opens a door and sometimes God closes a door.
Acts 14:27 – And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
Colossians 4:3 – At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—
Revelation 3:7-8 – “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut…”
• Through the advice and counsel of Others: In making choices it is okay to ask for help from: parents, pastors, other Christians. If people love Jesus and God’s Word, they can help you!
• With our own Abilities: God often leads you to serve him through something you like doing, through what makes you happy, God gives you abilities – building, cooking, cleaning, teaching, helping, or maybe just listening and being a good friend. You shouldn’t ignore your gifts and abilities in making choices and decisions; God doesn’t. Also, your ability to make a choice involves: place, time, money, health – if you aren’t in the right place, have no time, no money, and bad health – that door is likely closed!
Finally, through Prayer: Pray, and ask if this choice will bring God glory? Will it honor God? Please him? Will this bless and help others?