A New Chapter at BellRoad

      This was the first message in the 3 Year Series: Line-by-Line, Verse-by-Verse  (Acts-Luke-Romans)



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Would you open your Bible to Acts chapter 1:1-3

   Luke Chapter 1:1-4

   Romans chapter 1:1-7

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading of his word
New chapters
Acts, written by Luke, to somebody we don't know, Theophilus.
Acts 1 talking about a former work, Luke, the Gospel of Luke
also written to somebody we don't know, a man named Theophilus.
That word broken down in Greek means: friend of God.
Is there anybody here who could say I am the friend of God?
Is there anybody here who could sing with conviction I am the friend of God?
Oh, somebody oughtta write a song
beloved of God

Luke has written a gospel, the story of Jesus.
his birth
by a virgin
his announcement from John the Baptist
his temptation in the wilderness
In the book of Acts, Luke goes on to talk about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
40 days of Revelation
and waiting for the promised Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of before
and then finally

we look at the very beginning
the new chapter of a letter that Paul wrote to an existing church in Rome
Paul addresses
you who are beloved of God
holy saints of God
grace and peace to you
from our God and Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

Title of our Message today and for the next 3 years (give or take a year)
Line by line verse by verse

3 Books
Acts: from my vantage point what's happening nowing
Luke: from this time and place looking back to what Jesus did and taught during 3 years of ministry  among us
Romans:looking ahead into the future
you might say ...I'm a 21st century christian...
"All of it is past tense for me ..."
for the next 3 years (give or take a year)

[Note to Sound Man]
not that I need to yell because I'm angry about anything
I'm called to make a joyful noise
to play my instrument skillfully before the Lord
to speak truth through the personality God has given me
I'm nearly 50
this year July 14th I get to enter the YEAR of JUBILEE
I'm glad to be alive at the age of 49 looking on to 50
Hoping I have another 25 years of ministry ahead of me
looking back to 25 that is nearing completion
wanting to see my effort quadrupled
see the results of the next 25 years be 4X the offering that has been given to God
through my personality up to this point
so I can't see anything better
as a man called to preach God's word
than to go Line-by-line; verse-by-verse
in 3 book of the NEw Testament
at the same time considering
looking back to that first record that Luke had put together called THEN
looking forward to what Paul wanted to do
looking toward the future of the mission.

When my dad married Sandy, I gained a step-mom.
And with Sandy came a whole new form of experential learning
She had been a teacher
she exposed her new step-kids to experiences they had not yet known before
I had watched Circus acts on Ed Sullivan
variety show
plate spinners, lion tamers, all sorts of dog and pony acts, elephants
but Sandy was new to the family and she was exposing us to something new
and we had a choice
we could either accept her and what she brought to the table
we could reject her and miss out completely
this was one of those days that I chose to ATTEND
to Receive from her the dish that she had prepared
at the table called Family

we went to the Ringling Brothers Barnham and Bailey Circus
drove from Coldwater to Detroit
and there was a big circus tent
bleachers all around
big room
lights, P.A. system, 3 rings
in front of us
I had never seen anything like that
never experienced anything like that
there was activity going on in all 3 of the rings simultaneous
little boy with wide eyes
AWESOME sight to behold
possibly too much to comprehend
and so we were introduced to a character called the Ringmaster
the Ringmaster would draw our attention to the activity going on in one of those rings of activity
ocasionally would draw our attention to somebody climbing up a rope ladder
something about that person's life and death-defying ACT that was just about to performed

Use whatever 3-fold analogy you would choose to use
if you're a techie
with a video editing console in front of you
3 simultaneous digital records of visual and audio images before you
and you will pick and choose what to attend to
sometimes you see all 3 at once

this old preacher
thinking about that day under the Bigtop
I would like to draw your attention to this ring over here ...
this ring
there's a man seated on a big stone
by the side of a river
with people dressed in 1st century clothing gathered around him
and he is reading a letter written by Luke to Theophilus
that letter is called Acts
in your Bible you can just turn and look at it
what's he saying?
ACTS 1:3

ringmaster draws your attention WAY over here
man seated at a table
writing utensil in his hand
man standing over him pacing somewhat
gesturing with his hands and his arms
looking upward
saying these words:
read that back to me Tertius
imagine with me Tertius
looking at the papyrus upon which he has just written
reading for Paul what he has just transcribed
Romans 1:1-7
without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
it's just words on a page
it's just sitting on some bleachers
you can neither receive grace and peace
nor can you extend grace and peace
but Paul was writing to the church gathered in Rome
that the church at Rome might help him get there
Romans 1:7

how many of you
gold star today
describe grace
give a definition of grace
unmerited be in your definition?
favor be there?
stock answer
unmerited favor
I didnt do anything to deserve it
free gift of God
that's the message that Bell Road will continue to share
this is a seasoned church
the Gospel has been preached forth from this pulpit
from this piece of land
prior to the building of this sanctuary
people prayed that 
God's word would go forth
from this church
grace might be extended
law without grace brings only death

as the new pastor
as the step-dad if you will ...
coming to the family
I bring you who I am
I bring you my experiences
my personality
to the table
maybe some of what you see
I teach
I tried to give
it might be overwhelming
too much for eyes to fully grasp
ears to fully hear
certainly is from this point looking out upon you
no way that I can fully comprehend what is happening in the Center Ring here
what happened in the past
what is beholding for you in the future
your calling
wonderfully misterious chapter
in the history of our local church
we will be saying turn with me to Acts
to the story when Saul of Tarsus is holding the coats of those who are stoning Stephen
approving of their actions
listening to God speak through the preaching
Sunday School
we have foreknowledge
Saul of Tarsus is gonna be transformed
there's gonna be a day
3rd missionary journey
dictating to Tertius
mission trip ahead
too much for us to be in both places at one time
and yet ... that's what we're gonna do
trust the Holy Spirit
to draw our attention
certain personalities
background information
he might use me to be his mouthpiece
might use you
I have a question ...
who is Theophilus??

is Theophilus the guy sitti
ng on the stone
reading the letter
might be the next generation of the early church
reading the letter
that letter was preserved
throughout all the centuries
since Luke wrote it down
we accept it as God's word for us
what was Acts written to do?
to remind Theophilus about all that Jesus began to do and to teach
until the day he was taken up to heaven
Jesus had left instruction
present day
God moved through Peter and those in Jerusalem
then through Paul
to take the Gospel to the Gentiles
to the very ends of the earth
we've been to the past
to the future
what happens right here
right now
right in center ring
it's very important for us to keep the story of Jesus
3 years of public ministry
3 years of his teaching
keep it center stage
center ring
the teaching of Jesus needs to be central
in all we teach
all we do
can be FF, Rewind, Paused
thought about
songs written
must REmember the words of Jesus
envision a scene
dramatized a number of ways
a day when Jesus is central in a crowd
his disciples are gathered
people from all over Jerusalem and Judea
tyre and Sidon
many had come because they just wanted to hear what Jesus was teaching
others had come to touch him
for healing
all ... had been healed
delivered from demons
Jesus had set them free
all that activity had settled down
now Jesus was teaching
Luke 6:37-38

important for us to know what Paul did with his life
really is a masterpiece of Pauls doctrinal teaching
stories about what happened, then and then
Paul was called to be an ambassador to us
most of us here in this room --Gentiles
Paul interprets for us throught the book of Romans the whole of the Old Testament
Paul gives us his life as example of testimony in speaking to us of the importance of the Law
recent weeks we've heard the continual testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus
All of the Law and the Prophets ... pointing to Him
MARK 12:29-31
first and greatest commandment
Love the Lord your God ...
second one like it ...
all of that is the summary of every law and every word out of the prophet's mind
what do we have to offer that hasn't already been shared
hopefully nothing new
If it's new, it aint true
hopefully just the good solid bible teaching
then why do it?
if it's the same ol' stuff..
cause it's a whole new generation
uncertain times
these children are growing up in
Paul gonna talk about
2000 ago
men who have given up trying to follow God's natural law
revealed in nature
woman who have also given up on trying to seek God's best for the human race
Romans 1:27 about something that might sound strange
men having sex with other men
women having sex with other women
that might sound unnatural to your ears
and to others it's "what do you mean unnatural?
I've been watching TV and movies for my whole life and that's the norm"
Isn't it interesting ... 2000 years old ... could speak to us a point of division
at a precipice
the way things once were in America
the NEW america

reading a letter that Luke had written
you, Sunday School teacher
you, VBS leader
you, Youth Group director
you, Choir director
YOU, simply must read that letter
let the people around ask you
can you read it again?
21st century clothing ask one another
what does this mean for us
again it's all history
what might happen 10 years from now
if we dont
fix our eyes on the central character
real relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ
it's just opinion
picket signs
we are the people of God
we've gathered in the name of Jesus
he has told me this
correct me if I'm wrong
Jesus said Matthew 7:12
Luke tells us Luke 6:37-38 Do not judge...
I wanna treat people the way I'd like to be treated
when I was a 7 year old
if I were a 7 year old again
somehow found myself brought to this place
who could minister to me
in a way that I understand
world is condemned
Jesus loves me
made a way for me to be saved
if I was
80, 90 years old
somebody to my hospital bed
nursing home where I lived
shut in
I wonder if somebody from Bell Road Baptist Church
has a word for me
christian many years
still need to hear Jesus loves me
life was still valuable
I still need to be connected with a church
as we go through ACts, Romans and Luke together
over the next 3 years (give or take a year)
we will be the church God wants ...

somebody reminded me
a little video about me
stuck it up on the internet
his church
one guy speaks
everybody else is supposed to stay quiet and listen
I dont think those guys have ever been in a Baptist church
a whole lot of listening that needs to go on
when you do come together
everyone should bring something
something worthwhile
the very best they have
you gotta learn how to get along with each other
you might not care for the new preacher
can you still get something from him?
you might not care
picketing last week
very likely your brothers and your sisters
maybe a chip on their shoulders
just as easily inside the church
I wanna prepare you for the preaching of the gospel
ruffle the feathers of the status quo
sitting together
reading the letter
talking about it
adapt our lives
liable to get someone upset with us
camera and a microphone up in your face
Romans 1 and its application to 21st century America
what are you gonna say?
God is preparing me to temper my big mouth but not to keep it shut

once he started complaining to God
Jeremiah 20:8-9
there was a song
just about the time
I'm not gonna speak up
I feel some fire in my belly
it's like a fire down in my bones
keep your mouth shut ... you can't shut up
calling isnt to carry picket signs
stand and lead a choir
maybe its with women in a shelter
men in a reentry program
on the internet of Paul's day
standing there with the coats
given his testimony 3 times
remember, like Paul, where I came from
where I want to go
preface every sentence with "Lord willing, "
I would like to go to spain
when you come to the table...
spiritual song
receive one another
test to see if these things are true
faithful sayings
whatever Philippians 4:9
central character
center ring
center stage
the Christ, Jesus