Paul Arrives in Antioch (Acts 11:19-30)


Paul had been out of sight of the church in Jerusalem for almost a decade after he was sent back to Tarsus by them. Those unknown years were years of preparation for him. Luke takes his readers back to the persecution initiated perhaps by Paul himself because he was heavily involved in the death of Stephen. That persecution had many effects on the...

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Jesus the Priest (Psalm 110:4)


We have all met individuals who were exceptionally competent in what they did. Yet if we knew them long enough we would see that they made occasional mistakes or came across situations for which they did not have an answer. There is only Person of whom it can be said that he has been, is and will be fully competent for his roles and that Person is...

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Life Comes to Nain (Luke 7:11-17)


No one knows very much about Nain. It was a small town and the only reason why we know about it is because Jesus went there on one occasion. The name of the town means ‘beauty’, which suggests it was located in an attractive place. No-one can identify its exact location, although it is assumed that it was close to Nazareth. It has been connected to...

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Jesus the King (Psalm 110:2-3)

Sometimes we can find ourselves in a place where something is happening and not be aware of its significance. Maybe someone is travelling somewhere and people are waiting for his arrival and we don’t get the connection because no one has told us about it. Did anyone see Jesus and his disciples walk to Bethany before he ascended? Did he gaze on the...

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Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)


We are familiar with the practice of Jesus of staying with this family in Bethany when he was visiting Jerusalem. This particular family had this unique privilege. They were his friends, but here we have an example of Jesus having to choose between his friends as to who was right and who was wrong.

We don’t know if this incident, described only by...

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God is on the move (Zechariah 1)


Why read the Book of Zechariah and why preach on it and study it? Like all other Bible books, it is a revelation of Jesus and he appears more frequently in this book than we may think at first. That is a good reason for looking at it – to discover more about Jesus. It is part of the living Scriptures, the food of our souls.

Yet that reason would...

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Facing What’s Coming (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)


Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians was written to a church that had been formed recently in a hostile environment. Indeed, Paul and his colleagues had been forced to leave the city because of intense opposition instigated by Jews who did not like his message. Now he sends a second letter to the church, providing pastoral insight and counsel...

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Fatherly Promotion (Psalm 110:1)


Psalm 110 is cited several times in the New Testament. Jesus mentioned it on different occasions and some scholars argue that the letter to the Hebrews is a sermon or exhortation based on the psalm. Peter referred to it in his address to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. We cannot tell how much David grasped about the...

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A Sinful Woman Forgiven (Luke 9:36-50)


It has often been observed how much instruction Jesus gave at mealtimes or at feasts. We can think of the meal that Matthew laid on for Jesus or the Passover meal that the disciples arranged for Jesus in the Upper Room.

The request
There are many reasons for asking a person for a meal. In New Testament times it was a sign of friendship and...

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Saul’s Preparation


Luke in Acts 9:19-30 gives a brief summary of what happened to Paul after his conversion. The details he mentions here are not the only ones found in the New Testament about this period. In Galatians 1:15-24, Paul mentions some other details, including the length of time between his conversion and his return to Jerusalem, which was three years.

Paul...

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Rejected Again in Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58)


This particular visit by Jesus to his home synagogue is also told by Mark (6:1-6). Another visit, which occurred earlier after his period of temptation in the desert, is recorded by Luke (4:16-30). On that previous occasion, the people of Nazareth were so incensed by Jesus’ address that they tried to throw him over the cliff near the edge of the t...

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The Word Became Flesh (John 1:14)


John here writes a statement that is one of the profoundest ever written because it summarises the incredible experience of the Son of God. The apostle says that the Son became something that he was not before without ceasing to be what he always had been. We can consider some points he makes about what happened.

The title of Jesus
John here calls...

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The Parable of the Net (Matthew 13:47-52)

The seventh parable in this seven-fold description of his kingdom by Jesus is different from the other six in that it focusses on what will happen at the close of this age when he returns. The previous six had described different aspects of the kingdom between his first and his second comings. Parable one about the sower and his seed illustrates...

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What Happens at Conversion?

We are aware of events that bring huge changes into a person’s life. When a couple get married, a new relationship begins for each of them. Or a person may get promotion in his work, and he finds himself in an important office. Sometimes the events can bring happiness, at other times they bring disappointments. Or the new circumstances may change w...

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Little Children and the Kingdom (Matthew 19:13-15)

This statement here that Jesus made about children has become very well-known, and is often cited in a sentimental way without much understanding of what Jesus was saying. Jesus made this statement to his disciples, which means that the group of people who should understand what it means are the followers of Jesus. The description of the incident...

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Kingdom Growth (Matthew 13:31-33)

We have already looked at two of the parables of the visible kingdom that Jesus taught. In the parable of the sower, he taught that there would be genuine disciples and temporary disciples. In the parable of the weeds, he taught that evil would exist alongside the kingdom of God and would penetrate it. We know that both of those features are...

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Called to Serve (John 12:26)

'If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.’

In this verse, we have guidance for all who will serve Jesus. Basically, we see that a servant is a follower of Jesus. It also tells us where his servants can be found – ‘where I am, there will my servant be...

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The Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

Jesus explains two of the seven parables that he tells on this occasion about the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God. We may wonder why Jesus calls it the kingdom of heaven or why Matthew translated the words of Jesus in this way into Greek. The best answer, I think, is that he was conscious that he was writing initially for Jews and they would...

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Are We Greater Than Them? (Gal 3:25–4:6)

In the previous sermon in the series we looked at the question, ‘Was Adam a son of God?’ and concluded that he had been created with this privileged status. We also concluded that salvation includes a recovery of sonship, although that new status will be different from what Adam had been given. Another question that arises often is whether there is...

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The Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13:1-30)

Jesus gave to his listeners an exposition of his kingdom, which we might assume was a way of making it easier for them to understand what he was teaching. Yet we can see from verse 12 that his disciples were puzzled by this method because it must have been a different one from what Jesus had used previously. They asked Jesus why he was using this...

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Was Adam a son of God? (Gen. 1)

The question, ‘Was Adam a son of God?’, usually is not asking whether Adam became a believer in God through his grace after falling into a state of sin. Instead, the question usually concerns the status of Adam before he fell into sin when he was tempted by the devil to disobey God’s revealed will concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil....

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Responding to God’s Servant (Matthew 12:15-50)

In this passage of his Gospel, Matthew describes several responses to Jesus as he preaches about his kingdom. We need to remember that this period in the ministry of Jesus occurred before the cross and he had to instruct people about their expectations regarding his mission. There was the danger that they would attempt to bring in the kingdom of...

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Preaching to Pagans (Acts 17:16-33)

Luke, in this chapter, continues his reports of what took place in different places when Paul and his colleagues took the gospel of Jesus to them. We can see that there was a variety of responses ranging from hostility (Thessalonica) to eager interest (Berea) to curiosity and scepticism (Athens). Yet whatever the response of those who rejected the...

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Conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-19)

Luke records the story of Paul’s Damascus Road experience three times in the Book of Acts. Two of them are taken from accounts Paul gave in trial situations and are recorded towards the end of the book. The other account is the one described by Luke in Acts 9. Given that Luke was an intimate companion of Paul he would have heard the story from P...

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Paul’s Days of Ignorance (Phil. 3:1-7)


On several occasions, Paul refers to his way of life before he was a Christian. He says that he grew up in Tarsus before moving to Jerusalem to study under a famous rabbi called Gamaliel. Paul was aware of the significance of Tarsus because he describes it in Acts 21:39 as not an obscure city. Tarsus was the capital city of the Roman province of...

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God at Work (Titus 3:4-7)

We have been thinking in recent weeks about Bible passages that tell us what a Christian is. The word ‘Christian’ now has many different meanings and usually when it is used further clarification is needed. Sometimes it is used as an adjective, as when we speak of a Christian country as opposed to an Islamic country or a communist country. When use...

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Jesus and the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14)

The previous chapter had closed with Jesus making a contrast between his yoke and the yokes that other teachers placed on their followers. In the two incidents about the Sabbath we see examples of how his method was very different from what the Pharisees did or expected from others. The first example concerns what Jesus prioritised and the second...

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Closing Thoughts (Rev. 22:6-21)

As we come to the closing section of this amazing book, we hear the voice of Jesus speaking through an angel to his servant John. He reminds John that the fulfilment of what was described was near. How do we interpret the meaning of near? I suppose the answer to that question is that it is near in a relative sense in comparison to the length of...

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Responding to Rejection (Matthew 11:25-30)

In this set of verses, we see the response of Jesus to the circumstances he was facing. The verses highlight three things – a prayer, an explanation of his role, and a most gracious promise to those who were burdened. We can see how observing this and listening to what he said would help and encourage the disciples as they listened to what he had t...

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The Saviour for Great Sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)

Several of these trustworthy sayings are found in the Pastoral Epistles. They were probably short statements of faith that early Christians used as summaries. Perhaps Paul composed them or else he made use of them, and with this one he added a comment at the end.

Obviously, this saying is short and we might be tempted to say that it is also simple....

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