Our text is Acts 25:1-12.
Here we come to the final defense speeches of Paul. In them, we see God’s faithfulness to his purposes (cf.23:11) and Paul’s faithfulness to testify to the gospel. The apostle has addressed the crowd in Jerusalem (22:1-21), the Jewish Council in Jerusalem (23:1-6), and the Roman governor, Felix, in Caesarea (24:1-21). He will now briefly address the “new Felix,” named Festus (25:6-12). This sets the stage for Paul’s final address to Agrippa II.
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 Fourth Sunday of Advent Coloring Page.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship:
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (ESV)
Almighty God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Holy, holy, holy, is your name. You are exalted above the heavens, and your glory is displayed in all of your creation. You sustain, control and rule over all that exists—seen and unseen. And yet you dwell with your children in the most intimate way because of Jesus.
So we come to you in humility, but with boldness and with great joy. Not because we have earned your favor, but because we are trusting that the blood of your Son has justified us. And that you invite us into your presence because of his righteousness credited to us through the instrument of faith.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, would you lift up our hearts this morning in love and adoration to you. Make us to be still and know that you are God. And may we glimpse your glory and your holiness as your word is read, as we confess our sins, as prayers are offered, and as your word is preached. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray. 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
1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (ESV)
Almighty God, Creator and Redeemer, holy beyond all comprehension, perfect in all your attributes and character, forgive our sins. Forgive the sins that we remember, and the sins we have forgotten. Forgive our many failures in the face of temptation, and those times when we have been stubborn in the face of correction. Forgive the times we have been proud of our own achievements and those when we have failed to boast in your works. Forgive the harsh judgments we have made of others, and the leniency we have shown ourselves. Forgive the lies we have told to others, and the truths we have avoided. Forgive us the pain we have caused others and the indulgence we have shown ourselves. Gracious Father, have mercy on us, restore the joy of our salvation, and transform us increasingly into the image of your Son. For it is in his name we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 53:4-5
4 For Surely he [Jesus] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (ESV)
Our Lord Jesus is the perfect atonement for all our sins—past, present, and future. Through the instrument of saving faith we are permanently and utterly justified before a Holy God.
Affirmation of Faith:
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets; and we believe in one holy catholic† and apostolic church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
†catholic is defined as God’s universal church.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love (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: Deuteronomy 16:17
17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. (ESV)
Lord, you have blessed us so richly. We thank you for the privilege of giving. 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.
Our hymn was written by Charles Wesley, who wrote over 6,000 hymns, more than any other male writer. His goal in writing hymns was to teach sound doctrine. Wesley, inspired by the sounds of London church bells while walking to church on Christmas Day, wrote the “Hark” poem about a year after his conversion, and it was to be read on Christmas Day. The poem first appeared in 1739. But it wasn’t until 1753, that George Whitefield adapted the poem into the song we know today. The first stanza describes the good news of the savior’s birth. God has sent the One who will reconcile the sinner back to Himself. Therefore, all the nations should rise and sing and proclaim the good news, which is Christ the King!
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: Paul Appeals to Caesar
I. Paul’s view of the civil magistrate
II. Paul’s decision making
III. Paul and providence
This hymn is a sweet expression of love for the Savior that flows directly from the author’s experience of the Savior’s love for him. It was originally written as a devotional poem by William Ralph Featherston, a teenager who had recently come to faith. He was young when he wrote the poem (12 or 16 years old), and he died at just 27 years of age. As we sing the words we are all able to declare our intimacy with Christ, to sing of our assurance of salvation, to celebrate the gospel, to delight in Christ’s loveliness, and to resolve to praise Christ through all circumstances.
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
1. Identify the similarities between Jesus’ trials in Luke 23:1-25 and Paul’s trials in Acts 24-25.
2. What do you think was going through the Apostle Paul’s mind while he was in prison for two years in Caesarea (see Philippians 1)?
3. What can we learn from Paul about making tough decisions when either choice seems equally bad?
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love
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 fourth candle, the candle of love…and focus on God the Father’s amazing love in
sending his Son… and in the Son’s love in coming, and in Holy Spirit’s love in applying our salvation to us…
Jesus, is the reason we celebrate Christmas every year.
Did you ever notice that the first part of the word Christmas is Christ?
Jesus, the Christ, means Jesus The Messiah – Jesus is The Anointed King, God’s Son. God loved us so much he sent His Son to save us from our sins.
In the Bible, it also says that Jesus is a gift from God. In Romans 6:23 it says: …the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
Christmas is also a time when we can show love for others. Showing love of Jesus to others is about giving not getting. We can show love by being kind to each other, helping each other, and helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Christmas is a great time to show love to our family, friends, people in church, teachers and others, because God showed His love for us when His Son, Jesus, was born.
1 John 4:9-11: This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his only Son into the world to give us life through him. True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. God sent his Son to be the way to take away our sins. That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. (ICB)
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. (ESV)
One of the most well-known verses in the whole Bible is about Advent and Christmas – John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
The story doesn’t end in the manger. Jesus gave His life for us.
Romans 5:8: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
When we light the fourth candle of Advent we remember that Jesus came to us by being born in a manger, but he is also the Christ of the cross who brought love to our world!