“The Road to Joy”, Acts 8.26-40

Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

A multi-cultural evangelistic encounter

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: 

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26–40 NIV11)

  • Philip
  • Question: “Why might the voice in Phillip’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of Philip?”
  • Ethiopian
  • Question: “Why might the voice in the Ethiopian’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of the Ethiopian?”
  • Spirit
  • Question: “What do we learn about the Spirit’s priorities?”

Suggestions

  1. Pray over how you can be more in tune with the Spirit’s priorities. We desire as a church to be “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). What could that look like for you this coming week?
  2. If you are an ‘Ethiopian’ seeking the joy of the good news about Jesus, what can you do this week to find out more about this message?
  3. If you are a ‘Philip’, which of his attitudes and/or actions inspire you the most? Pray over how to express those this week.

Additional notes and scriptures for further study

  • Look up parallels between this passage and the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4.
  • Philip had a powerful prophetic family, Acts 21:9.
  • We are seeing here Luke describing the expansion of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and, soon, the rest of the world (i.e. Gentiles). Act 1:8; Acts 8:4, 5; 10/11.
  • Eunuch: Deut. 23:1, Isaiah 56:3–8.
  • See parallels between this passage and Jesus explaining the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35. See also the parallel sudden disappearance (and also, 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezek. 3:14)!

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to Ask”, John 4.43-54

Jesus wants us to ask him for things. But, what should we ask for, and how should we ask? In this lesson we do not cover everything to do with the topic, but we learn a valuable lesson from a royal official who asked Jesus for something.


Our key point today: “Requests are heard when we take Jesus at his word”

  1. Go
  2. Asking
  3. Trusting

When we go to the right source, ask and do not give up, and trust in the answers we receive, leading to faithful actions, we can expect to see God move powerfully.

What do you sense God bringing to your attention?  Are you going to him for your help, support and answers? Are you continuing to ask him for his help, comfort, wisdom? And are you acting on what you are discovering?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The Eagle’s Eye”, Class 2. John’s Gospel series

1. Two ‘Books’

Prologue

01. Book of ___________

02. Book of ____________

Epilogue

2. Seven Signs (semeia)

Miraculous signs (semeia)ScriptureNotable featureArea of power
Changing water into wine 2:1-11
Healing official’s son4:46-54
Healing the lame man5:1-15
Feeding the multitude6:1-15
Walking on water6:16-21
Healing the blind man9:1-41
Raising Lazarus11:1-44

3. Jesus’ Humanity

  1. Grief: 11:33-35
  2. Tiredness: 4:6
  3. Anguish: 12:27; 13:21
  4. Irritation: 2:4; 6:26; 7:6-8; 8:25
  5. Suspicion: 2:24-25

4. New Life: 3.1-21

  1. “The new birth and new life require new family, and only the church can provide that.” DaSilva, Introduction to the New Testament, 447
  2. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV11)

5. Jesus is the Hero: 3.22-36

  1. Celebrate _________________________ .
  2. Refuse to entertain __________________.
  3. ____________________ the best of others.
  4. Pray to discern the___________________.
  5. Soberly___________________ and concern yourself fully with that.

Summary

  • “What has stood out to you from tonight?”
  1. Read John 4 between now and Sunday
  2. Discuss what you’re learning and your questions with your spouse/friends.
  3. Ask God to reveal what aspect of Jesus he would like you to focus on through this series.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30 NIV11)

 Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: tvcochrist@gmail.com. 

Thanks again for listening. Have a super day. 

God bless, Malcolm

“The Eagle’s Eye”: Class 1

Background to John’s Gospel

Introduction

“John, oh John,
Thou honourable bird,
Sun-peering eagle.
Taking a bird’s-eye view,
Even of Calvary and Resurrection.”

D H Laurance – “St John”

“In the other gospels, Jesus’ story takes place in the horizontal dimensions of the geography and history of Israel; John brings in the vertical – Jesus is above and beyond all that……John’s Jesus is nothing less than God himself, coming down like an eagle from the heights of the world above to save the reader from darkness and evil, if only we allow ourselves in faith to be found by him.”

“Four Gospels, One Jesus? A symbolic reading”, Richard Burridge

1. John’s gospel is biographic

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets…” 

 C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

2. John’s gospel is “Spiritual”

“…John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the Gospels, was urged on by his disciples, and, divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.”

Clement of Alexandria (ca. 155-220 CE)

3. John’s gospel has different areas of focus

The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke)John’s Gospel
Story parables (prodigal son, man building bigger barns etc.)
Stories using symbolism (such as the vine and branches in chapter 15 etc.) 
Teaching on the Kingdom of God
Teaching on eternal life
Short, catchy sayings (e.g. ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost’ – Lk 13).
Long teaching sections (e.g Jn 5, 6, 13-18)
Teaching on the last days still to come (eschatology).
Teaching on the last days that are already here.
Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer.
Farewell address (chapters 13-17)
Jesus’ own baptism by John.
Jesus’ interactions with John the Baptist.
Jesus’ temptation by Satan and demon exorcisms.
Satan as Jesus’ main enemy working through Judas.

4. Jesus (John 1.1-14)

  1.  His Identity
    1. “What can you see in the first 14 verses that tells us about the identity of Jesus the Christ?”
  2. His Capacity
    1. “What can you see in the first 14 verses that tells us about the capacities of Jesus the Christ? What he can do?”

Summary

  • “What has stood out to you from tonight?”
  1. Read/skim the whole gospel between now and next Friday.
  2. Discuss what you’re learning and your questions with your spouse/friends.
  3. Ask God to reveal what aspect of Jesus he would like you to focus on through this series.

“New Year, Newer You!” Ephesians 2.19-22, Thames Valley churches of Christ

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV11)

Audio

1. New Identity, v19 – this is what has been done for us by Christ: vv4-22
2. New Foundation, v20 – Revelation 2:1–7
3. New Purpose, v21-22 – We have a new purpose – Ephesians 2.10

Therefore we…

a. Pay attention to our personal relationship with God: Matthew 4:4; Luke 6:46–49; John 15:42.

b. Pay attention to our relationships with one-another in church: 1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 4:15–16.

Questions for reflection

1. How “joined together” do you feel with God, and with the rest of the church?

2. What is it about Jesus (see the rest of Ephesians 2) which will provide the inspiration for you to grow, serve and sacrifice for others in the year ahead?

3. How do you anticipate us experiencing the presence of God by His Spirit dwelling in us as a congregation in 2019?

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

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Malcolm 

“New Year, Newer You!”, Ephesians 2.19-22, Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

Eph2v22 Slides

Eph2v22 Handout

Introduction
We are all building something
Have a choice as to what build
And how well we build
What kind of building we turn out to be
How closely we are building to God’s design – or not

1. New Identity, v19
Nothing more fundamental
Identity theft serious
Something exciting to explore
Still understanding implications of new identity in Christ
vv4-22 – what has been done for us by Christ

Application:
If you want meaningful life, need to be born again
If you want to grow in 2019 make developing your sense of identity in Christ a priority
Use a passage like Eph 2 to explore your new identity – make it a source of study and meditative prayer

The work of God is to give us a new identity
Our work is to grow into this identity and enjoy it more fully

2. New Foundation, v20
““To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1–7 NIV11)

Application:
Make time and space for the teachings of Jesus in your life.
Basing your life, your new identity life, your kingdom life on him
Following King Jesus as a disciple

3. New Purpose, v21-22
We have a new purpose – Eph 2.10
To become a new dwelling for God – collectively!
“In him”
What does that mean?

A. Pay attention to personal relationship with God
Walking with God
Walking the kingdom way
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” (Matthew 4:4 NIV11)

We connect with God through the scriptures
We gain strength from God’s word

““Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”” (Luke 6:46–49 NIV11)

We can be that well built house as a church
A church that glorifies God needs members who devote themselves to God
Cannot cut corners here

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV11)

Good fruit, that lasts depends on us being connected to Jesus
We cannot bear fruit by ourselves, we need Jesus
We are only as strong as our relationship with God
Two-way connection enjoyed by ourselves and Jesus

B. Pay attention to relationships with others in church

“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 NIV11)

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15–16 NIV11)

Not superficial, but real
Using gifts as a sacrifice to help others

Conclusion
Process continues as we enter our next year as a congregation
“being built”
Because of new identity
On a new foundation
With a new purpose
To God’s glory

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“The Bravest Person”, Luke 4.19-30, Watford church of Christ

We take a stroll into Nazareth and the synagogue there. Inside we find Jesus reading the scroll of Isaiah. What will happen next?

Thank you for listening and watching. Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org
Have a super day.
God bless,
Malcolm

“The Bravest Person”, Luke 4.19-30, Thames Valley churches of Christ

We take a stroll into Nazareth and the synagogue there. Inside we find Jesus reading the scroll of Isaiah. What will happen next?

The video shown part-way during the sermon can be found by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and watching. Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org

Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

The Kingdom, Class 3

A lesson for the Thames Valley churches of Christ

“The Kingdom” Class 3

Becoming a kingdom person

Handout: Kingdom Class 3 Handout

“The community or people ruled by God and with whom he dwells, to some extent reality now but to be fully consummated in the future”

  1. What is reality?
  2. Who is well-off or blessed?
  3. Who is a truly good person?
  4. How do you become a truly good person?

Matt 5.1-12

1. How kingdom people live

  1. Brighter, Matt 5.13-16; Matt 7.1-5
  1. Deeper, Matt 5.17-20ff
  1. Sweeter, Matt 5.16; Matt 6:25ff
  1. Higher, Matt 5.17; Psalm 1

2. How kingdom people grow

Conclusion

  • What is the area of greatest temptation towards un-kingdom like behaviour in your life at the moment?
  • Which spiritual discipline could help your training to form Christlike habits in that area?
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.
God bless, Malcolm
PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Amazed!”, Acts 8.9-25

A sermon for the Watford Church of Christ

“What amazes you?”

  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us looking forward
  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us optimistic
  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us faithful
  • People who lose the possibility of the amazing lose the life for which they were designed

What helps and what gets in the way?
Some ideas from this passage…..Acts 8:9–25

Here’s the Acts8.9-25 Handout

Question: What is amazing in this passage?

1. Philip’s courage
2. John’s change, Luke 9:51–56
3.Stephen’s changes
4. Apostles’ calmness and imperturbability

Question: What stops us being amazed & amazing others about God?

  • When all said and done, it is not a what, but a who is amazing.
  • And one is more amazing that all others.
  • And he has inspired more amazing things than anyone who has ever lived.
  • Jesus is the most amazing person who ever lived

“The people were amazed at his teaching, … and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” (Mark 1:22; 6:2; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18 NIV11)

How do we get the strength/courage? Matt 28.20
From presence and spirit of Jesus.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm