Our text is Acts 23:12-35.
The day after Jesus reassured Paul in the barracks, more than forty angry Jews hatched a plot to kill him (verses 12-13; cf 9:24; 20:19). Their oath not to eat nor drink until they had murdered the apostle meant they intended to act quickly. They approached the chief priests and elders (avoiding the minority Pharisees, who had defended Paul) and told them of their plan. The Sanhedrin, apparently cooperating, agreed to act as if they were reconvening to discuss Paul’s crimes. The plan meant that as Paul approached the meeting, the assassins would intercept and execute him. These terrorists, like many modern-day terrorists, would stop at nothing to achieve their selfish, religious goals. Such an evil plan would appeal to Ananias the high priest, who was known for such violence. God, however, would thwart the scheme.
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 Second Sunday of Advent Coloring Page.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship:
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (ESV)
Almighty God, you are the creator and sustainer of all that exists.
You are the standard of perfection—infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in your being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
And we are here this morning at your calling, and what a gracious and glorious calling it is.
During this Advent season, we are especially humbled by the reality that you have opened our eyes and allowed us to recognize the baby in the manger as the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and our Redeemer. And then you have also shown us our great need, and given us the gift of faith. And for none of these spiritual realities can we can take any credit. So this morning we simply fall on our knees in your presence and ask you to enable us to offer you worship that is acceptable and pleasing in your sight through Christ our Lord, informed by your word and enabled by Holy Spirit. And in just a few moments we ask you to hear our confession as we come before your throne. 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
Corporate Scripture Reading:
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)
2 Peter 1:21
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
Almighty God, even as you sent a star to guide men to the holy Child, the Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that too often we have not followed the light of your word.
We have not searched for signs of your love in the world, or trusted the good news to be good.
We have allowed the cares of this world to rob us of our joy, refusing the peace our Savior brings.
We have expected little, and hoped for less.
So Father, we repent of the totality of our sin, which only you know, and ask for forgiveness.
Would you help us turn from our sin and follow you. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: 2 Corinthians 5:21
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)
In the name of Christ and by the authority of his word your sins are forgiven and you are not under the condemnation of God.
Affirmation of Faith:
Westminster Confession of Faith
Chapter 1, The Holy Scripture
Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, to such an extent that men are without excuse, yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of his will which is necessary for salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at various times and in diverse ways, to reveal himself and to declare his will to his church; and afterward—for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and of the world—to commit this revelation wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scripture is most necessary, God’s former ways of revealing his will to his people having ceased.
Second Sunday of Advent: Peace (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 24:1-2
1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (ESV)
As we worship the Lord through giving with transformed lives and renewed minds, let us give up our perceived right of ownership and take up the freedom of stewardship.
(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 stanza one of our hymn, the focus is the song of the angels “Peace on the earth, good will to men,” taken from Luke 2:14. Stanza two offers hope that the song of the angels who “bend on hovering wing” would soothe the “Babel sounds” of a suffering world. Stanza three pictures life’s struggles using words like: “crushing load, toil, painful steps and slow.” Stanza four longs for the spread of the gospel of peace “over all the earth”.
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: A Conspiracy to Kill Paul
I. The Jewish Conspiracy
II. The Deliverance
III. The Night Flight
As a blind person, Fanny Crosby faced daily insecurity, which is why she found so much comfort in the book of Psalms… and why so many of her hymns point to the security we have in God. This gospel song was one of her favorites. Like David in the wilderness, she sometimes felt alone and vulnerable. The verse that inspired this song is from the book of Exodus: “I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand” (Exodus 33:22).
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
- Do you find it easier to affirm the sovereignty of God theoretically rather than resting in the sovereignty of God experientially? Explain your answer.
- What does Acts 23:12-35 teach us about the way God works to accomplish his purposes?
- How do these assassins compare with modern-day terrorists?
- What does Paul’s life teach us about living as law-abiding citizens?
Second Sunday of Advent: Peace
• 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 four 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.
Last week we looked at the first candle of Advent – the prophecy candle, the candle of hope, and we talked about how that first Advent candle helps us think about how people waited in darkness a long time ago – they were waiting for Jesus, who was the promised light of the world and the Savior that people hoped for.
Our second candle of Advent represents PEACE. It reminds us of God’s FORGIVENESS…and that true peace is real because Jesus came to make us right with God. We cannot make peace with God on our own.
Because of Jesus you and I do not pay the price for our sin. Jesus did on the Cross.
Because of Jesus we don’t need to be worried and scared because God makes peace with us through Jesus!
Romans 5:1 “We have been made right with God because of our faith. Now we have peace with him because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” NIRV
God’s peace: never ends, it is real, it is always available to us.
In John 14:27 Jesus says, “I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled. And do not be afraid.” NIRV
Jesus is our Prince of Peace and when we light the second Advent candle of peace we remember that PEACE CAME TO EARTH WHEN JESUS WAS BORN IN A MANGER!