Good morning folks. Have you ever wondered what happens when you grow so fast that you begin to get too big for your britches? Every new adventure eventually gets to this point, and the early church community found themselves dealing with such an issue. The community had gotten very large, and they weren’t all from the same background. As usual, when you have more than one person in a room, you have the potential for problems.
This week, we see how wonderfully and clearly the leaders dealt with an issue that potentially could have destroyed the church. Instead, it served to launch them forward into success.

This week we begin our adventures in the book of Acts. We are going to rest here for a few weeks as we look to understand the joys and trials of establishing a brand-new community. We will see what we would call revival as 3,000 people are added to the community in one day, and how they began to build the foundation of good practices within this infant church. 

This message begins a month of Sundays where we’ll be looking at the local church. What is our calling in this world and how do we live out the commands of God in an increasingly hostile time? I think we can take some practical tips from Daniel, Paul and an encounter Jesus had with a lawyer.

King Solomon said, and The Byrds sang, ‘There is a time and a season for everything under heaven’. I think that is a very good thing to frame out what we are looking at this week. This interpretation given to Daniel tells us again of kings and kingdoms, yet also hints at the victory of God’s people at the end of all things.

Have you ever read, watched or seen something and thought, “Why does that sound so familiar?” Daniel gives us his view of an event he sees in his dream that looks very much like an event that happened 500 years later. 
Cryptic, confusing and causing curiosity, let’s get together this Sunday to figure out just what he saw and why it matters to us today.

This week we turn the corner away from the history in Daniel’s prophecy and look to his visions and apocalyptic pictures. In what could be seen from our perspective as a graphic novel, Daniel gets a vision of these four beasts and is very unsettled by it. Yet, right in the middle of that, we discover that he has an Isaiah moment which for me, defines how we ought to view any “kingdom” here on Earth.  The line from one of our worship songs has been coming to mind: “You reign above it all, you reign above it all. Over the universe and over every heart…” Our joy and comfort is found in that truth, regardless of what is happening all around us.

We are back in Daniel this week looking at his overnight stay in the lion’s den. As we look at what is often considered a Sunday school children’s lesson, there is much to learn there. Long-term faithfulness to God and his calling put Daniel in the pit, as those who sought to harm him used his righteous character against him. It is a wonderful story of God’s grace, vindication, and provision in the midst of trial. 

This Sunday, we have one more message in our “Clash of Kings” series. We are going to look at two old people who have been faithfully waiting and praying for the redemption and salvation of Israel. Simeon and Anna were two people who dedicated their lives to prayer and looking forward to the coming of Messiah, their savior King. In God’s goodness, they were rewarded as the cry of a baby in the temple stirred their hearts in a way that had never happened before.

This Sunday before Christmas weekend we are going to look at the incident in Bethlehem where King Herod abuses his power and orders the murder of innocent children. Why such a story at Christmas time? Well, Matthew felt it important enough to include it, so we should look at it and understand, as best we can the question, why does God let bad things happen to good people?
I want us to find hope in the midst of darkness, to see mourning turned to joy and the deliverance of God in hard times. To fully understand the words of the hymn writer when he says:
“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…” Christ is born.