Our text is Acts 24:1-27.
In chapter 24, we read of a typical court procedure; it includes the filing of charges, the prosecution of the plaintiff’s spokesman, and the answer from the defendant. After hearing the arguments, the judge normally rendered a verdict. But this case has some unique twists because of the nature of the alleged crime, the defendant, and the judge. This story reminds us of some basic truths about being faithful witnesses.
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 activity pages to accompany this message: Children’s Bulletin and Third Sunday of Advent Coloring Page.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship:
Psalm 97:1, 9-12
1 Besides The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice!
9 For you, O Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. (ESV)
Almighty God, we do rejoice in you this morning.
Your greatness and your glory profoundly exceed our limited minds.
You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
You are the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and ultimate end.
You are the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician, the Prince of Peace.
Today we worship and celebrate you, our triune God, the one who saves us from our sins, and the one who is Emmanuel—God with us.
As we begin our worship, will you hear our confession and repentance of our sins, and prepare our hearts even as we anticipate the reading of your word, for we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.
Over the course of December, our congregation will be singing Psalm 90. In introducing this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “This is the oldest of the Psalms, and stands between two books of Psalms as a composition unique in its grandeur, and alone in its sublime antiquity. Moses, in effect, says—wanderers though we be in the howling wilderness, yet we find a home in thee. To the saints the Lord Jehovah, the self-existent God, stands instead of mansion and rooftree; he shelters, comforts, protects, preserves, and cherishes all his own. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the saints dwell in their God, and have always done so in all ages. Not in the tabernacle or the temple do we dwell, but in God himself; and this we have always done since there was a church in the world.” from The Treasury of David, by Charles Spurgeon, www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.htm
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (ESV)
Father, even though you have regenerated us, given us the gift of faith, and enabled us to place our trust in Christ our savior, we confess that we often do not live up to our calling. We struggle with doubts and fears. We forget your covenant promises to us. We find it difficult to forgive others, even though you have forgiven us. Sometimes we even struggle to follow the simplest of your commands, even though our heart’s desire is to obey you in thought, word, and deed. Even so Lord, your grace is overwhelming. So we humbly acknowledge our own spiritual bankruptcy and look to our perfect Savior who is our mediator, advocate, all-sufficient sacrifice, and true righteousness. Forgive us for the totality of our sin, and remove our self-sufficient tendencies. Help us to rest in Christ, and trust you for our spiritual formation—for your glory, for our good, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Joel 2:12-13
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
Affirmation of Faith:
The Heidelberg Catechism
Why is he [Jesus] called “Christ” meaning “anointed”?
Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed by the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance; our only high priest who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.
Third Sunday of Advent: Joy (Click here to link to the video of the Children’s Message)
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
Offertory: Psalm 116:12-14
12 What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (ESV)
Even as we come to the Lord’s Table today, we remember the immense cost of our salvation, and God’s immeasurable love for us.
Dear Lord, help us be good stewards of all your gifts to us—our very lives—our time, our talents, and our resources. Amen.
(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.
“Angels from the Realms of Glory” was first published on Christmas Eve, 1816. The hymn has a sense of urgency and excitement, magnified by the use of imperative verbs throughout, especially in the refrain: “Come and worship”. The angels’ song (stanza one) leads to the shepherds’ adoration (stanza two), and to sages’ gifts (stanza three), and to saints’ praise in heaven (stanza four), and finally, to the sinners’ repentance on earth (stanza five).
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: Paul before Felix at Caesarea
Acts 24:1-27 (NAS)
1 And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders, with a certain attorney named Tertullus; and they brought charges to the governor against Paul. 2 And after Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying to the governor, “Since we have through you attained much peace, and since by your providence reforms are being carried out for this nation, 3 we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 “But, that I may not weary you any further, I beg you to grant us, by your kindness, a brief hearing. 5 “For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 6 “And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. [And we wanted to judge him according to our own Law. 7 “But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, 8 ordering his accusers to come before you.] And by examining him yourself concerning all these matters, you will be able to ascertain the things of which we accuse him.” 9 And the Jews also joined in the attack, asserting that these things were so. 10 And when the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, 11 since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 “And neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. 13 “Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. 14 “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men. 17 “Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings; 18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were certain Jews from Asia– 19 who ought to have been present before you, and to make accusation, if they should have anything against me. 20 “Or else let these men themselves tell what misdeed they found when I stood before the Council, 21 other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.'” 22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 And he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him. 24 But some days later, Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you.” 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned. (NAS)
I. The Jewish Conspiracy
II. The Deliverance
III. The Night Flight
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834. Spurgeon is chiefly known as a preacher but he did write many hymns, few are sung today, but our hymn, written in 1866, is the exception. The words paint a beautiful portrait of Christ our Savior.
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
1. What about Paul’s defense before Felix most resonates with you?
2. Do you find it difficult to transition general conversations into gospel conversations? If so, why? What does this passage teach you about how to do that more effectively?
3. Why does Paul constantly bring up the resurrection? What does this teach us about our gospel conversations?
4. What do you find most striking about Paul’s message to Felix when he speaks to him privately (24:24-26)?
5. What can we learn about what not to do with the Word by considering Felix’s example?
6. Take a few moments to pray for God to grant you confidence in his sovereignty and courage in your witness.
Third Sunday of Advent: Joy
Advent is a word that means “coming” or “arrival”
• Advent is the season for waiting and preparing our hearts and homes for the coming of Jesus.
• For 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and we thank God for the hope, peace, joy, and love that ONLY Jesus brings to our lives.
To celebrate Advent, we light a candle each Sunday.
Today we will look at the third candle of joy!
We can think of earthly joy as: gladness, good-spirits, good will, merriment, delight, rejoicing, and laughter.
Biblical joy is the good feeling inside of us, produced by Holy Spirit that helps us see the wonder and beauty of God, his Word, and his world.
There are many things that cause people to be joyful – but one of the greatest times of joy is: the birth of a baby.
At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a baby. But this baby was different from any other child. Jesus is the Son of God, and he came to Earth to be our Savior.
The very announcement of the birth of Jesus was a time of great joy: Luke 2:10-11 —10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (ESV)
In John 15:11—Jesus tells us that he came to bring his people joy: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (ESV)
Knowing and loving Jesus means that we can have joy, even be full of joy! When we light the third candle of Advent we remember that Jesus came to us by being born in a manger, and he brought JOY to the World!