Boldly Speaking of Jesus

The Book Of Acts Teaches Us How To Speak About Your Faith In Jesus

Mike Douris
Jul 30, 2023    41m
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Have you been afraid to speak about your faith in Jesus? If so, you are not alone. The Book of Acts gives us many examples of what it looks like to boldly share the Gospel no matter the circumstance. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Mike Douris: [00:00:00] Well, hello. As I said before, it's kind of weird looking out this way rather than this way. But I want to start out by just thanking all of you in 121 for the support of orphan outreach. I'm President Emeritus of Orphan Outreach, I've semi-retired but am still involved, and 121 has really been a pillar of the foundation of Orphan Outreach. The financial support, the volunteerism, going on trips, participating in our banquet, I mean, there are so many ways that this church has encouraged us. So thank you for being part of our ministry.

Mike Douris: [00:00:49] And I speak also for the kids that have been impacted by your faithfulness, working through orphan outreach when I was preparing this message, I was asking my wife, Anita, I said, how long have we been going to 121? And we kind of figured out that we're celebrating our 20th year being part of this family, and it's just been a joy all 20 years. In fact, we found 121, we first looked for a church and then we decided we wanted to move wherever the church we found was. And so we moved here in 2004 in this area, and it's been a joy to be part of this church body. We also celebrated this year, 50 years, the 50th year anniversary of our wedding. Thank you. It's all because Anita is so patient and put up with me that long. But, you know, I found out as I was Googling, you know, how many people make it to 50 years? And it turns out it's like 5% of marriages end up being able to celebrate their 50th anniversary. So that's a real blessing, and God's been so good in our marriage.

Mike Douris: [00:02:12] And I want to thank Ross, too, for the opportunity to preach. He's been trying to get me to come up here and do this for a while and I've had scheduling conflicts. And then one time I agreed to do it, and then two days before I canceled because I got really sick, and he's been very patient and kind and graceful, our leader has got all those characteristics When Ross last Sunday gave us an assignment, I was going, wow. I mean, you asked me to preach, and then he asked me to write my testimony too and send it to all these people. I mean, there's a lot of work in one week, but it was such a great exercise to articulate, you know, what your gospel message is.

Mike Douris: [00:02:57] As we looked at Acts, Paul had his presentation down pat. I mean, as you look at the different speeches, he put the same elements in almost every speech. He would rearrange it according to his audience, but he knew his testimony thoroughly. And so having the exercise of actually deciding, what would you say to somebody, and what is important in your testimony, what will make an impact is really a good exercise. And so Anita was reading mine, she was the one that reviewed it, and she's a great editor. And so she's sitting on the couch, and I was in the kitchen and all I heard was confirmation slap, what is that? And so probably most of you don't know, I was raised Catholic and Irish Catholic at that. In fact, when I was baptized, the priest laughed when he read my name, and said, Michael Patrick Douris, you can't get more Irish than that. But part of the process of being Catholic is that you get confirmed when you're between 8 and 10, and one of the parts of the ceremony is the priest comes up to you as you're kneeling and slaps you in the face. And so, you know, it seems odd, in fact, they stopped the practice in 1971, but it started in the Middle Ages. They finally said, okay, we don't need to be doing that anymore. But, you know, the curious thing was, why do they do it? And the symbolism of it was tied to knighthood back in the Middle Ages, and what they would do to knights was slap in the face, and they were making a commitment to suffer for the king, that they were going to represent the king, and they were going to put their life on the line. Well, the church adopted it as a procedure to do that as you commit to being a Christian going forward.

Mike Douris: [00:04:48] And of course, as a Catholic, I didn't really understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ, and I didn't actually become saved until I was in college and understood that there was more to it than just the ceremony that I went through as a Catholic. But as I grew in my faith, I realized that you know, when you look at that symbolism, it really is a true biblical doctrine that we are called to suffer. And when Paul was saved, and when he was blinded on the Damascus road and Ananias was told by God to witness to him to give them the true gospel, he told Ananias this, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”. And Paul did, as we'll see, suffer for his name.

Mike Douris: [00:05:56] Now I'm thinking, you know I went to Dallas Theological Seminary, and I don't think they put that on their brochures to recruit students. How much are you going to have to suffer for my name's sake? But that is what we're all called to do. In fact, Jesus said to the disciples toward the end of his ministry, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." And so Paul, when he was wrestling with the Corinthian church, and a lot of their troubles and dysfunction, in Second Corinthians, he had to give a defense of himself. So he had to, because they were following people that were saying, I'm greater than Paul. And, you know, I've got a bigger testimony than him, he had to justify his ministry and who he was, and he hated doing it. And so it's really interesting as you read this passage how he's struggling with it. But he says, "Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman." Yeah, he actually said, I'm a madman for saying this, so he was really conflicted about bragging on himself, but he felt like he had to do it. And so he described what his life was like as a minister of Christ, he says, "With far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. That was Paul's ministry, encapsulated in what his life was like as he proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mike Douris: [00:08:26] Now, after reading that, I got to feeling guilty about flying in coach to all the ministry sites we go to. I mean, we have it easy in our ministry life, in the Bible Belt, we don't suffer that much persecution. Living in the United States for the longest, since our founding, Christianity has been seen in a good light. You know, presidents who ran for president always talked about their Christian faith, it was part of the standard of the fabric of where we live, and so persecution was not really in the picture for the most part. That is changing rapidly, we are now, traditional Christianity, is being seen in a negative light right now in most of the country. We feel it here in the Bible Belt, not as much as we feel it in the Northeast and in the Northwest. But it is encroaching everywhere, the secular ideology that's creating a climate where Christians now, who for the longest time have enjoyed the freedom to be able to worship and say what they want, now are in a place where they will be persecuted.

Mike Douris: [00:09:55] If you look at our current state, Franklin Graham just gave a speech a few weeks ago where he said he believes that the hand of grace and protection and blessing of God has been removed from the United States and that Satan is now free to roam and that's why we're seeing these drastic changes occur. When you look at weekly church attendance in 2000, 35% of Christians, or 35% of people went to church on a weekly basis. Now, in 2023, it's 20%. And for the first time in Gallup polling, over 50%. 57% of people said they don't go to church. Our country is significantly drifting away from Christ.

Mike Douris: [00:10:49] In England, the average daily Sunday attendance is about 600,000, that is less than 1% of the population in England. In fact, it's one-tenth of 1% of people who attend church on a regular basis in England. Churches are empty and being repurposed and sold because there are not enough people attending church. I fear that that's the direction we may be going as a country.

Mike Douris: [00:11:22] When we look at technology, the vulnerability of people to be marginalized is greater now than it ever has been. With electronic currency around the world, things can be turned off and turned on at will, and we've seen that done in situations in Canada and England, and in certain situations here in the United States. Credit card companies can cut you off or prohibit you from buying certain things. De-banking is becoming a significant issue, where people are basically at their bank saying we won't do business with you anymore, and they can't operate with banks. Canceling people on social media and isolating them is something that we're all seeing, and it's being used against not only Christians but other groups as well. That all is possible, when it wasn't possible even ten years ago, as much as it is right now.

Mike Douris: [00:12:14] This is all leading toward what we can see, as a time when Christ will come back. We don't know when that is, or how long this will take, but we know Christ is coming back and that the prediction in Scripture is that we're going to suffer persecution and we're beginning to see that in the United States. When you look at the key infrastructure in our country, the media, Christians are portrayed in a very negative light, when you look at media. Colleges and universities, secular ones in particular, have really become not only apathetic toward Christianity but hostile against it. Government bureaucracy is creating laws and ways that will make it difficult for Christians to be able to function in society.

Mike Douris: [00:13:04] In fact, in my work overseas, I work with a lot of government officials and I've had them privately tell me that funding from the EU, Canada, and the United States is being tied to secular philosophy and that they have to obey certain things or pass certain legislation or they won't get money, so this is being proliferated across the globe. It seems that the basic principles of Christianity are being flipped upside down in this secular ideology, and symbols that were Christian based are now being used as defining something completely different and not glorifying to the Lord.

Mike Douris: [00:13:50] Now, I have to confess something, that I have become a gamer. So during the pandemic, when we were being isolated, and we were old, I'm 71, and so the grandkids couldn't come visit us for fear that they were going to kill their grandparents. I won't forget the first time they walked in the door when they were loosening the regulations, and they had masks on, and they were scared to death that they were going to do something to harm their grandparents. But one of the ways they communicated was the kids encouraged me to get a Nintendo Switch, and then we played games, and we could talk to each other. And so 2 or 3 times a week, we would play games together and talk and catch up, and it was a great way to stay connected and everything. And so they encouraged me to buy this game, Zelda. And so my wife was really, she was really giving me a hard time, and she googled and looked up, you know, how many 71-year-olds play games? And so, it's 5%. Well, we've been married 50 years, we're a five percenter, you know, it works out. But in this new game of Zelda, it was kind of interesting that they have three levels where you play, one is the islands in the sky, one is the land, and then there's one thing called the depths. And the depths is basically an inverted map of the of the land, so a mountain is a valley and the valley is a mountain, it's just the opposite. But in the in the depths is gloom, which is evil, and if you run into it, you end up, you know, getting killed, and the person who runs this is the evil person. And I said, that's a really interesting analogy of what we're facing in our society today, how things have been flipped and it's been designed and orchestrated by Satan. He's the source of this redefinition of what the secular society is putting forth for us to live by.

Mike Douris: [00:16:13] Jonathan Turley, who's a legal scholar, wrote an editorial just recently, and he had a paragraph in there that I think really is descriptive. He said, "Washington is a hard town, I have lived and worked there for decades, and I am still amazed by the cold calculations of many in this city. Long-standing values and associations are routinely jettisoned for personal advantage. Here, the moral strictures of the rest of the nation are flipped, a vice of virtue and integrity is a weakness."

Mike Douris: [00:16:54] As I look at things that are developing, and you all see it too, there are four verses, I think in Scripture, that were written a millennia ago that could have been written today. Isaiah 1:20-21, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!" And that's what we're seeing now with secular ideology, is that it's hostile. If you don't believe it, it's like, I can't believe you're thinking that way, you need to be isolated, you're dangerous.

Mike Douris: [00:17:45] In Judges, another key verse here, Judges 21:25 says, "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Now, when you look at that, we see it every day, the whole concept of my truth. So somebody has my truth here, and somebody else has my truth that contradicts completely with this person's my truth, but from secular ideology, they're both true when they can't be, so they're redefining what is truth. And we can see it doesn't make any sense, it's like the emperor with no clothes, but that is what is accepted in this ideology.

Mike Douris: [00:18:30] And then in John 18:37, I think is another verse that's very descriptive today. Jesus is before Pilate, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” And that has been a mantra of secular ideology in the universities, and I will tell you in a lot of seminaries that will say there is no absolute truth, everything is relative and objective.

Mike Douris: [00:19:16] And then the next verse, I think that is really important and describes what's going on. Jesus said to his disciples in preparation for his ascension in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." The message of Jesus Christ, the biblical worldview that we believe, the world hates, they detest it, and the reason is, is that it's totally counter to the philosophy and ideology of secular thinking, and that is the reason traditional Christians are at risk of being marginalized in the future.

Mike Douris: [00:20:15] George Orwell, I think, said it best. He said, "The further a society drifts away from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." And I think in our current climate, things are so volatile that it's really easier not to speak up. When we have family discussions and relatives come over and you've got various opinions and everything, it's easier to be quiet on certain issues, to not discuss a biblical worldview. Undoubtedly, we have to use wisdom and how we talk about these subjects, but we are the voice of Christ, we are the light to the world, and we need to know that Christ is depending on us to be a witness for him to bear the cross and to be a disciple of his.

Mike Douris: [00:21:15] As concerning and depressing as all that is, as we look at what we're facing today, this increasing potential for persecution in the future. We hope that there's a revival and that things can move in a different direction than they are now, that there's enough pushback that it provides balance and freedom to be able to worship and to be able to give the Gospel without persecution, but there's a good chance that that may not happen. God may have lifted his hand from the United States, we don't know, we'll see. God doesn't give us a timeline, he told the disciples when they asked him, when is the kingdom going to happen? He says, only God knows that, so we have to live in the present as Acts serves as a guide. You know, when we look at Acts, we kind of look at, well, that's past history. The Roman Empire was horrible, and they suffered persecution, but that was a millennia ago, that's not where we are now. I think that what we see in Acts is going to be more and more our reality in the future and that Acts can serve as a guide and motivation and encouragement that in the midst of persecution, God can do amazing things and that we have the chance to be light in the darkness for those who are seeking him.

Mike Douris: [00:22:44] So I think before we get to the last chapter, the last act, of the apostles, what I'd like to do is do a brief overview of the whole book. I didn't say this to the other group, but there is a great video that I saw on the synopsis, it's the Bible project. If you all ever want to tap into that or you haven't heard about it, look it up online. It's got some excellent videos, just to give you a broad picture of the different books of the Bible, and they do it in a very creative way.

Mike Douris: [00:23:18] But let's look at Acts. Acts chapter 1, we've got a slide here, and the staff were really thrilled, this is the only slide I gave them to put up today, and they were like, man, this is vacation. But basically, Acts is outlined in Acts 1:7-8, when Jesus is about to ascend, "He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” and that is the outline of the whole book of Acts. It starts with Jesus teaching the disciples for 40 days, then the ministry in Jerusalem, then off to Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the Earth.

Mike Douris: [00:24:07] So Acts chapter 2 starts with the Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit comes down with fire and wind. It's important to look at that because that is a symbolism in the Old Testament, when God filled the temple, they saw fire and wind as an expression of God actually putting his presence in the Holy of Holies. Now with Pentecost, we are the new temple, Pentecost is about us becoming the temple of God. We are now the representatives of Christ on Earth as His temple, the Holy Spirit lives within us and we are the representation of the love of Christ in the Gospel. Israel is unified now under a messianic king that they all looked for.

Mike Douris: [00:24:54] So then there's this section where they talk about, the believers started sharing their wealth and giving, and together putting it in a joint fund to help the poor. And I always wondered, that's kind of a weird thing to throw in here, it just seems out of place. But when you look at the purpose of the temple, the purpose of the temple is not only for sacrifices and worship, but it was for the temple to minister to the people, to the least of these, and be a connector, to be that connector to God, so the people of Israel could know God. And so now, since believers in the church are the temple, they're fulfilling that real purpose of reaching out to the least of these.

Mike Douris: [00:25:44] You know, in the Old Testament, and the ministry that I have been a part of is to orphans, and you look at the Old Testament, there are over 40 references to orphans and widows in the Old Testament, and most of that is either an admonition to care for them or a judgment that they didn't. And it was a barometer of how well the church was doing, and unfortunately, the temple became corrupted, and they were looking out more for their self-interest than the people they were serving. Then persecution quickly happened in the last of this section, and Peter's got arrested and Stephen got stoned to death. In fact, Paul was part of that, they put the garments of Stephen at his feet. And so the persecution, what it caused was a diaspora, and the people left Jerusalem and went where? To Judea and Samaria. So that persecution really fulfilled what God planned, and that is to extend the Gospel to the outside areas outside of Jerusalem.

Mike Douris: [00:26:54] So chapters 8 through 12, talk about that ministry where Philip is in Samaria, the Ethiopian Eunuch becoming converted, the conversion of Paul in chapter 9, Peter and Cornelius, which opened the door to the Gentiles, and then the formation of a church called Antioch, which was a key church in the New Testament. Antioch was the first multicultural church in the New Testament period. They were the first to be called Christians, where we were first called Christians, and they were the first church to send out missionaries to the rest of the world. It was a vibrant, essential church in the formation of the church of the early centuries.

Mike Douris: [00:27:44] So then you get into Acts 13 through 28 to the end of the chapter, and you get the three missionary journeys of Paul. And it was the characteristics of this whole section, you had the continued ministering to Israel, Paul's method was always to go to the Jews first. God wanted the Gospel, Christ wanted them to accept Israel as his chosen people, as Him being the Messiah, unfortunately, it usually went in the other direction. And then there was the Great Jerusalem Council in Acts 13, where they all came together to talk about, how does this church work with Gentiles and Jews? Because Jews couldn't even eat or associate with Gentiles, and now God's telling them to be together as part of one church. Two diverse cultures with different views of the world, coming together to be united in Christ, that was a painful process. In Chapter 13, this meeting set up the guidelines and the guide rails to begin the process of that happening and becoming one in Christ.

Mike Douris: [00:28:57] And then you had the next phase of this, the clash with the culture of the Gentiles. Not only was it difficult within the Jewish community, between the Jewish Old Testament beliefs and now the new church, that conflict, but now they were going into a world that totally didn't know anything about that issue, they went into a place that had the beliefs in multiple Gods. And we minister in India, and I remember being in a brothel one time where one of the prostitutes had become a believer. And what she did was, there were pictures of all these gods up at the top of the room, and she put a picture of Jesus right alongside the other gods that they worshiped, not understanding that He was the only God, and trying to explain that all these other gods are not gods. Paul had that argument with the Athenians, with the Corinthians, I mean, that was a real viable issue.

Mike Douris: [00:29:56] About 20% of the Roman Empire were slaves, which brought all sorts of complications to spreading the Gospel. Rampant sexualization of the culture, couples, men, and women had sex outside of marriage, they were temple prostitutes, which was a regular part of life back then. Homosexuality was a given, and it was engraved in the culture. And one of the reasons you see so many prohibitions and trying to keep sexually pure in the New Testament is because not only that's what God wants for our best, but also because of the association that brought to the temple where they worshiped other gods, and it was a kind of a compromise to the culture. Caesar was worshiped as God. Violence and human rights abuses were endemic in the culture. The only people who had rights were the Romans, it was an autocratic government, significantly hostile to Christians, and there were waves of persecution where the church was significantly persecuted. So when you look at that all, that's the environment that the Gospel and the Acts laid the foundation in the midst of all that turmoil and cultural differences. What are we dealing with today? There are a lot more similarities today than there ever has been in what we're facing, especially in the area of resistance to the Gospel and marginalization of traditional Christianity.

Mike Douris: [00:31:41] Paul, when he went to Rome, you know, he had a shipwreck and he ended up in Rome. He spent several years in prison before he got there, and then when he got there, he spent two years in prison in Rome. When he got there, his typical thing, he went to the Jewish leaders, and three days after being there, immediately contacted them. They came and they said, oh, yeah, well, we haven't heard anything negative about you, so we'll hear you out. They brought a lot more Jewish people to hear the Gospel, and he argued with them all day up through the night, but only a few accepted Christ, most did not. The way to heaven is narrow. The way to heaven is narrow, we shouldn't expect that we're going to have our whole culture become Christian. The way to heaven is narrow, it's like a camel going through the eye of a needle. But God's called us to those who have a receptive heart to the Gospel. How can they know unless they are told? We have that responsibility.

Mike Douris: [00:32:48] So then, the Book of Acts ends very abruptly, basically the last scene is Paul in chains, in house arrest. But he's able to preach to the Gentiles, and people can visit him, and for two years ministers to the people of Rome through his imprisonment, and then it ends. So the big question is, why did it end so abruptly? I mean, what happened to Paul? I mean, if you've got a story you're telling, it seems like you're going to tell the ending, and there are different theories. One is that Luke finished the book, and he sent it off to Theopolis, and that was the stage he was at, which would support his early writings of Paul. The other theory is that he wanted to leave it open, that the Gospel is going to continue to spread, and he didn't want to put that as an ending. I tend to think the former.

Mike Douris: [00:33:46] But the ministry of Paul was amazing, it was 35 years, 14 years of preparation, and 3 years in the desert during that time with him alone with God. He, as I said, traveled 10,000 miles by foot, he visited 50 cities, and he spent many years in prison while he ministered during that time, and he wrote a significant portion of the New Testament that we benefit from today as God's Word. So what's the application? How do we how do we face this time? There were four ways that believers responded to persecution in the early years of the church. One, those who held firm, and many who were martyred. Secondly, many fled the persecution and went to other places, but they planted the seed of the Gospel in those other places. Some denied their faith, and rather than face death, they acquiesced to Caesar, and they lived, and it was a big controversy in the early church, whether to allow those people back into the church once the persecution stopped. And then fourth, some put themselves in harm's way on purpose so they would be martyred. And the early church fathers, actually wrote several pieces about this, saying that that was not appropriate, that that did not glorify Christ to purposely put yourself in harm's way. So how do we prepare? I think there are three ways.

Mike Douris: [00:35:25] One is that we grow in our relationship with Christ in preparation for the potential persecution we may face. We do that through prayer, through Bible study, through fellowship together, strengthening iron, strengthening iron. Living a life in which we grow closer to God so that we're ready for the potential persecution.

Mike Douris: [00:35:47] Secondly, we need to know the Word of God to be able to give it a defense. I think one of the greatest weaknesses of our church today is Bible illiteracy. People just don't know the word of God in the depth they need to be able to make a good defense to those who would attack it, and it creates doubts in minds because of not knowing the truth and what the Bible says about certain topics, then it can create doubt in believers because they don't have that knowledge.

Mike Douris: [00:36:21] And then third, we need to not be ashamed of the Gospel, or the truth of the Christian worldview. We should not shrink back, but say the truth in love and in grace, but in firmness that we believe the truth of the Word of God.

Mike Douris: [00:36:42] I'll conclude with a story of one of the partners we work with in India, her name's Auntie, and Auntie was one of the first missionaries from a state in India that was sent to another state in India. Where you didn't have foreign missionaries coming in, but you actually have Indian missionaries meeting the needs and spreading the Gospel among their own culture? And she went to Kashmir, which is a Muslim state, primarily, right next to Pakistan in the northern part of India. And she was persecuted severely, they broke her legs at one point and told her that she would be killed if she went out again to share the Gospel. And she prayed, Lord, if you want me to die, I will die. But the Lord led her to start an orphanage, which is an amazing ministry, hundreds and hundreds of children have come to faith and are now in professional positions all throughout India. Just an incredible witness of how God used her to do that.

Mike Douris: [00:37:48] But when we were getting involved with her, we wanted to take her back to Kashmir in this community called Ladakh, where a lot of her kids came from to be reunited with her kids. And so we did that, not knowing that the Buddhist monks actually had found out she was coming, and because it was a death notice, they actually surrounded the venue that we were at looking for an opportunity to kill her. And as it turned out, the government really did protect her, and no harm came to her. When I, afterward, had a time with her and was talking to her about the situation, I said, well, do you fear martyrdom? Do you fear that you're going to be killed? And, you know, Auntie, she's like about that tall, I mean, she's not a big physical presence. And she looked at me and she kind of laughed and she says, I'm not afraid of them killing me because God gave me the assurance that I was going to die in my own bed, so I'm confident that nothing's going to happen to me. But she said, you know, even if I didn't have that confidence and I could possibly be martyred, she said, I don't really fear dying. She said, what I fear most is disappointing my Savior. And I feel that should drive us to be clear witnesses in the midst of a culture that's going a different direction to provide light and hope to those around us, those that we love, to be able to be a witness for Christ, to give the Gospel and the hope, the hope that it brings.

Mike Douris: [00:39:37] So let's close in a word of prayer. Lord, we just thank you for this time to be able to really reflect on the amazing lives, and faithful lives of those that formed the church in the New Testament, as we see in Acts. We pray, Lord, that we will live in the light of that, and have the courage and faith to move forward, to be a witness, to be a light with love and with grace; and we just pray for wisdom as we navigate these very difficult waters. Lord, thank you for the opportunity to serve you, and if suffering comes, for the opportunity to suffer for you since you suffered so much for us on the cross. We just pray that you will use us effectively to make an impact in the world that we are in and to bring Glory to your name. We pray all these things in Christ's name.

Mike Douris: [00:40:31] Please stay with your heads bowed, and just contemplate the words today, and in the lives of those in Acts that were such a motivation to us, and think about, are you ready to be able to face the coming potential persecution.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
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