“Rejection + Regard” [ Acts 14:1-18]

 

Today is Tuesday, October 17th, 2017.  In today’s passage, we see Paul and Barnabas share the gospel with two different people groups and receive two radically different responses. Often times, when we seek to share truth, that truth can be hotly rejected of deeply misunderstood. Let’s see how Paul and Barnabas deal with these reactions.


CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Have you shared the gospel with someone and been rejected or misunderstood?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.


DISCOVER  [Acts 14:1-18]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue.There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the gospel.

_ What motivated the Jews, in verse two, to poison the minds of their brothers?
_ How did God empower Paul and Barnabas in the midst of such opposition?
_ Did receiving such hostile responses affect the way that Paul and Barnabas shared the truth? If so, how?
_ What do these verses teach us about sharing truth?

8 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

_ Why do the Lycaonians idolize Paul and Barnabas?
_ How do Paul and Barnabas respond to being called gods?
_ How was this response different from the one they received in Iconium? Was this reaction preferable? Why or why not?
_ What do these verses teach us about sharing truth?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the truth in the midst of strong opposition and only left when it was absolutely necessary. How would you have acted in this situation?
_ In the midst of flattery and acceptance, Paul and Barnabas continued to condemn the Lycaonian’s sin and preach the gospel. Do you value personal acceptance over boldness in the gospel?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

 

“The Radically Repentant” [ Acts 9:20-31 ]

Today is Monday, October 16th, 2017. We continue in Acts with the transformation of Saul to Paul. The New American Commentary says “One could say that his zeal as a Christian was even stronger than his former zeal as a persecutor.” We see the transformative effect that Christ has on a life, even someone as far gone as Saul. When Christ meets us, saves us, and regenerates us it brings about a radical about-face turning from the old life we knew to the new life in Jesus Christ. This is not an easy road as those around us may not understand this change of heart just as those who knew Saul were perplexed by his conversion. When we walk in obedience of the Lord the church is multiplied.

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ What is the single biggest effect that the Gospel has had on your life?
_ Has anyone ever questioned the honesty of your faith due to a flaw in your life?

PRAY
Take a moment to quiet yourself and thank God for His redemption in your life. In turning to Christ we have turned away from sin in some way. Christ has redeemed you. As Christ said “Go and sin no more.” Take time to train your eyes, heart, and mind to the Lord today.

DISCOVER  [Acts 9:20-31]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

_ In vs. 20-21 What did Saul do? Why were those who heard amazed?
_ In vs. 22 Saul increased in Strength? Strength in what? What did he do with this strength?
_ In vs. 22 Why were the Jews confounded?
_ In vs. 23-25 what do the Jews want to do to Saul?  
_ What happens in vs. 25?
_ In vs. 26 where does Saul go after leaving Damascus?
_ Why don’t the disciples believe Saul in vs. 26?
_ Who convinced the disciples?
_ What did Saul do in vs. 28?
_ Where did Saul go next and what was the result?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

_ Is there an area of your life that you need to make a radical about-face?
_ Saul was never without community. Do you have people in your life who can help you like those who helped Saul escape Damascus and Jerusalem?
_ Are you as bold as Saul in sharing the gospel? Why or why not?
_ Are you walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

 

“Called + Calling Out” [ Acts 13:1-12 ]

 

Today is Friday, October 13th, 2017.  The passage today follows Saul and Barnabas as they are called and sent on a missionary journey and interact with those who would seek to keep people from knowing Jesus and the truth. Perhaps our callings don’t seem as extreme as Saul and Barnabas who travel to another land, but we are called by God to call out Truth everywhere everyday, and that is a challenge in and of itself. --Monica

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Have you ever felt a call to a certain thing in life?
_Have you ever heard someone misrepresenting Christianity, but didn’t know how to respond?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God. Thank God that he has purposes for us and is more powerful than any other.


DISCOVER  [Acts 13:1-12]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

_ In vs. 1-3 what are the people of the church doing when the Lord speaks?
_ In vs 2-5 What do you think the work is that the Holy Spirit has set apart Saul and Barnabas for?
_ In vs. 6-11 What is wrong with the behavior of Bar-Jesus/Elymas? What does Saul rebuke him for?
_In vs 9 Luke makes clear to tell us that Saul is “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Does that change the way you view this interaction?
_ In vs. 12 how does the proconsul respond?
_ What does this passage teach us about Jesus?, Power?, His Spirit?, or our calling as believers?  

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited to be a witness?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Are there any calls on your life or nudgings from the Holy Spirit that you need to respond to?
_ Is there someone that you need to confront with the Spirit’s help to guide another person to Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

The Death of Herod [ Acts 12:20-25 ]

Today is Thursday, October 12, 2017.   In Chapter 12.20-25 we get insight into Herod's death.  We know from Scripture that all sin ultimately leads to death and while we don't know the complete background of the passage or Herod's life, it is likely this has been a pattern in Herod's life.  When we continue to sin without turning to the living God or live without acknowledging God, at some point we will be exposed and that exposure will result in incredible pain, a death of something or in extreme cases, actual death- think about the person who progressively drinks alcohol with no limit or the man who through his entire career violates women.  This is a challenging passage to get our minds wrapped around but the principles for us remain.   - Joey

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever taken credit in your heart for something that God did?

PRAY
Take some time to pray that the Lord would open our hearts and minds to see our sin and how you want to continue to transform us.

DISCOVER  [Acts 12:20-25]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. 24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.  25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
_ What are the people shouting about Herod in vs. 22?
_ What happens next and why in vs. 23?  
_ In contrast to Herod what is happening in vs. 24 and 25? 

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited answer God’s call to trust him and leave your chains and your cell?  If so, how are you going to walk differently this week?
_ Are there any area's in your life where you are not acknowledging God or His power and taking credit for something yourself? 

+ WHO in your life are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus, how can we help?

 

“Angel of the Lord to the RESCUE” [ Acts 12:1-19 ]

Today is Wednesday, October 11, 2017.   In Chapter 12 we see Peter imprisoned and, in spite of a serious and very real threat, asleep!  The Lord’s plan for Peter was unfolding for him and the newly founded church.  In this Scripture we experience a RESCUE and see the power of prayer!  Let’s look at the passage together and see how this passage applies to you and I today.  - Kim

 

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Tell of a time when you felt imprisoned by a thought, idea, or circumstance.  Share your thoughts during the time.  If you are on the other side of the imprisonment, FREE!, where did you find the key of hope that led to your release?
_ How is the Lord using you to “give a defense for the hope that is within you?”

PRAY
Lord, you hold me in your hand.  In You, and in Your will, I am safe and secure. Please remind me that I do not need to be a slave to fear.  

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.   

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

DISCOVER  [Acts 12:1-19]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

_ In vs. 1-3 who was persecuting the church?  Who had he already killed?  Who was now his prisoner?
_ In vs. 4-5 what were God’s people celebrating?  As they celebrated, what did they earnestly do?

6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

_ How do we meet Peter in verse 6?  Who came to Peter in verse 7?  What else entered Peter’s cell in verse 7?
_ Imagine you are Peter and awakened and struck from your circumstance.  The angel gives three commands requiring Peter to respond.  What were they?  How did Peter respond?  Vs 7-9  
_ Is Peter convinced this is real?  Why does he respond anyway?  
_ How does the gate of his imprisonment open in verse 10?
_ What do you think “When Peter came to himself” means?  

12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.

18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.

_ Where does Peter go after his release?  Who was gathered there?  What were they doing?  Vs 12
_ Why were God’s people so amazed when they heard Rhoda’s report of the evening visitor? Vs 14-16  
_ Why did Peter go to the house of Mary, and then leave?  What mission did he give the people of God? Vs 17
_ How did Peter’s disappearance affect Herod and the soldiers?  Vs 19

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited answer God’s call to trust him and leave your chains and your cell?  If so, how are you going to walk differently this week?
_ How are you specifically praying for those you are walking with in their trials?  
_ Is there a place that you are lacking power or strength?  How can you lean into the One who sends angels of freedom?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

“They Were Called Christians” [ Acts 11:19-30 ]

Today is Tuesday, October 10. How does the church proceed after one of her leaders is murdered? What does the Gospel of God’s saving love mean when your life is at risk? Today we might see how to move beyond fear to embrace the purpose of God.

 

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Based on what you read yesterday, did you find yourself more welcoming of believers who were much different than you?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for  the honor of your Name. Amen.

DISCOVER  [Acts 11:19-30]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

_ What was the persecution which arose over Stephen? What happened to him and why?
_ In v20 what is different about the mission of the early church?
_ What happened to this community who previously were not reached?
_ What did the leaders of the church do?
_ Who does Barnabas bring to Tarsus?
_ What does it mean that this community of Jesus-followers were given a new name and identity?

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

_ How does this new church in Antioch begin to contribute to the wider church?
_ Who coordinates the aid given to the Judean church?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

_ Like the Jewish missionaries who did not yet know that their saving message was for ALL people, are there people in your life you do not think will be receptive to the Gospel?
_ Do you like Barnabas include others in your life and ministry? Who could you reach out to?
_ When Christians in other parts of the world are in need, do you contribute to their needs?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

“Truly a Gift for All” [ Acts 11:1-18 ]

Today is Monday, October 9th, and I am so glad that you are on this journey through Acts with us. We will be reading about Peter reporting to the church what the Lord is continuing to teach him. I hope that you and I can both learn something new today in our study of Scripture. - Mallory

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

- Have you ever felt like an outsider? Whether that be at work or school, because of beliefs or for no reason in particular?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Lord, we ask that you would be present with us today as we study Your Word. We want to hear from You, we want to better know You, and we want to know how to love You better. Lord, guide us and give us understanding as we read. Help us to be open to what You have to say.

 

 

DISCOVER  [Acts 11:1-18]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.

- What is on the great sheet Peter sees in his vision? What do all of these things have in common?
- Why is it important that Peter has never eaten anything common or unclean?
- What does the Lord mean when he says “What God has made clean, do not call common” (v.9)?

11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?”18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

- What does it mean that Peter went then the men “making no distinction” (v. 12)?
- Who has the church realized God grants repentance to? How did they come to this conclusion?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
- How does this passage influence the way I think about who needs the Gospel?
- How have I been limiting who I share the Gospel with, whether it has been intentional or not?
- How do I want to make a change moving forward?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

“Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles” [ Acts 10:44-48 ]

 

Today is Friday, October 7th, 2017.  Today we see the apostle Peter delivering a sermon to a group of people that are different than him in every way possible, yet something miraculous happens that changes everything for everyone. Dive into this amazing portion of Scripture with me as we see the day that the Holy Spirit moves within the unexpected. - Mike

 

CONNECT(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever been in a social setting and everyone around you is completely different from you (e.g. cultural, background, ethnicity, language)? How did that feel? What were the positive experiences from that setting? Were you able to understand and “click” with the people surrounding you? How did you communicate?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

 

 

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Acts 10:44-48]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.‭‭

_ In vs. 48, to whom is Peter speaking to? What happens while Peter is in the middle of his sermon?
_ In vs. 45 what amazes Peter and the other Jewish believers? Why is it important that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles, or non-Jewish people?
_ In vs. 46 what does it say that the Gentiles were then able to do? How do you think Peter and the other believers reacted to this?
_ In vs. 46-47, What does Peter ask? What does baptism represent?
_ What does this mean for everyone else in the world from that moment on?
_ What happens in vs. 48?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

 

_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited to be a witness?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Are there any people in your life that are different (cultural, background, ethnicity, language) than you that Jesus is calling you to minister to? Are you compelled to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them? If not, how can you ask God to give you the boldness to do so?
_ Is there a place that you are lacking power or strength?  Is Jesus calling you to ask for power from the Holy Spirit through intentional prayer?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Gentiles hear the Good News” [ Acts 10:34-43]

It's Thursday, October 5th, 2017.  In this section of Scripture, we see Peter truly understanding  the message given to the Apostles at Pentecost and he obediently brings the Word of God to the Gentiles. - Chris Adomanis

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever not shared the Gospel with someone because you thought they were "beyond reach" due to their upbringing or lifestyle choices?
_ What is your biggest fear in sharing the Gospel story with someone?

PRAY
Heavenly Father, thank you that your offer of salvation is open to all, irrespective of race, creed, sex, age, social status, and intellect level.  All of humanity is lost and in need of Your saving grace and mercy.  Please help us to see all people with Your loving eyes.  Amen.

DISCOVER  [Acts 10:34-43]

 

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
 

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
_ How is this speech the same and how is it different from Peter's earlier exhortations found in Acts 2 and Acts 4.
_ In verse 35, what do you think it means that "anyone who fears him (God) and does what is right is acceptable to Him"?  Is this contrary to the Gospel of grace?  Why or why not?
_ In verses 42, what do you think of the words "commanded", "preach", "testify" and "judge" in the context of this story?  
_ In verse 43, can you find some verses from the Old Testament prophets that "bear witness that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through his name"?   

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Do you show "partiality" toward/against a certain people group?  Repent and ask them for forgiveness, if applicable.

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
_ Who in your life TODAY is the Lord prompting you to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
_ Do you have someone in your life TODAY that challenges you (and you challenge back)  to be an effective witness for Christ?

 

“By No Means, Lord” [ Acts 10:1-33 ]

Today is Wednesday, October 4th, 2017; Good morning to you!  Today we continue our series in the book of Acts. In the following passage we see both Cornelius and Peter obtain visions from the Lord. Pay attention to how each man responds to their visions. Please join us at our Gatherings, Sundays at 9:00 and 10:45am - Max

 

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Has the Lord ever spoken to you in the Word or Spirit, yet you find yourself giving a rebuttal?  
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?
 

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.


DISCOVER  [Acts 10:1-33]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

 

 

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,[d] and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

_ V.4 tells us that Cornelius stared at the Angel in Terror. Why is he in terror? What might this say of God’s Holiness and our being?
_ What is commanded of Peter in the vision pertaining to food? How then does Peter respond? How can his reply be related to his response to Jesus in ‘The Washing of the Feet’? V10-16 (Ref. John 13)
_ The Lord tells Peter there are three men to see him, and that they have been sent by Him. v19-20. What does this tell us about God?
_Cornelius bows down to Peter, but Peter gives a response of correction. What does this verse show us of Idolatry, even in a christian atmosphere. How are we to view those we admire, who might even be doing amazing work of God. How might Peter’s response encourage us?
_ Peter then takes his vision about clean and unclean food, and makes a shocking statement in v.28 to those around him. How might this statement, help give understanding or weight to the vision Peter was given from the Lord?


+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Are you spending time in the Word and in prayer, to hear the Lord speak to you? These two actions lead us to repentance and hearing God's call in our life.
_ How might Peter’s response to the Lord (v14) convict us today?


+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

“Aeneas + Dorcas” [ Acts 9:32-43 ]

Today is Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017.  Today, we continue our Autumn series through the book of Acts.  In today’s passage, we get to witness some powerful works of the Holy Spirit. Consider Where the Holy Spirit has been prompting you in your life.  I hope that this passage will be an encouragement to you today. - Peter

 

CONNECT(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever seen God work in a powerful way? Perhaps in a way you were not expecting?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

 

DISCOVER  [Acts 9:32-43]+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

 

32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

_ What does Peter tell Aeneas? Whose name does Peter heal in?
_ How did Aeneas “get up”?
_ What was the effect of Peter healing Aeneas in the town?

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

_ What do we know about Tabitha’s character? What did she mean to those in Joppa?
_ Why does Peter send everyone from the room?
_ What was the effect of the resurrection in Joppa?
_ What does this passage teach us about the power of the Holy Spirit? What is our role in that?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Where is one area of your life that you believe the Holy Spirit is prompting you to take action? How can you be obedient to this prompting today?
_ We repeatedly see instances of a mighty work of the Holy Spirit followed by belief in Jesus.  Who could your obedience have an effect on?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

“With Immediacy” [ Acts 9: 20-31]

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

On Friday Monica shared how God uses other people to help and equip us to carry out His purposes.  Today we pick up Saul's narrative and how he immediately begins speaking of Jesus to others receiving skepticism from his fellow believers and persecution from the religious regime.  As we spoke about this morning at our Gatherings, may the Lord embolden us to speak His name and walk with others to discover his gospel regardless of the cost! 

- Joey

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever advocated for someone who didn't seem to deserve a chance?
_ Has anyone ever advocated for you? 

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God. Thank God that He has purposed our lives to be witnesses to His Gospel.

DISCOVER  [Acts 9: 20-31]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.  23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.  26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.  31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
_ In vs. 20-21 What does Saul do immediately and what is the people's response? 
_ In vs. 22 what does Saul increase in? 
_ In vs. 23-25 what is the effect of Saul's proclamation of Jesus and what happens? 
_ When Saul arrives to Jerusalem what happens in vs. 26?
_ Who advocates for Saul in vs. 27?
_ What then happens in vs. 28 and 29?  (Do you see a pattern emerging in Saul's life?)
_ What do we discover in vs. 31?  This verse closes out the second section in the progressive narrative of Acts.  Luke is giving us insight that the Lord Jesus himself is accomplishing the very words He gave to his apostles in Acts 1.8- that the gospel is spreading from Judea and now Samaria.  

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there a person who has a spotty track record that God is calling you to advocate for (like Barnabas did with Saul)?
_ Is Jesus calling you to be bold and speak of Jesus to others even if it means you might be socially isolated? 
_ Do you know and believe that you are also God’s chosen instrument to carry His name? Is there a step of faith you need to take in light of this truth?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Purposes Accomplished Through People” [ Acts 9: 10-19 ]

Friday, September 29th, 2017.

Saul is a religious Jewish leader who has been persecuting Christians, but yesterday we saw him encounter Jesus and blinded on his way to the city of Damascus. We pick up the Daily today with what happens to the blinded Saul in Damascus, highlighting God’s purposes for his children and the way that He uses other people to help and equip us to carry out His purposes.  --Monica

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Have you ever sensed God asking you to do something uncomfortable?
_ Have you ever felt completely helpless in a situation without a sense of direction?  

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God. Thank God that He has purposed our lives to be witnesses to His Gospel.

DISCOVER  [Acts 9:10-19]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.
_ In vs. 10-12 what does God call Ananias to do?
_ In vs. 13-14 how does Ananias respond? What concerns does he raise?
_ In vs 15-16 how does the Lord answer him? What is God’s purpose for Saul?
_ In vs 17 How would you describe the way that Ananias treats Saul?
_ What  does Saul do after being healed?
_ What does this passage teach us about Jesus, His Spirit, and our calling as believers?  

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you are being called to be obedient to God? Are you being called to speak of the  Lord Jesus with someone?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Is there someone God is sending you to minister to?
_ Is there someone God has sent to minister to you? Do you need to respond?
_ Do you know and believe that you are also God’s chosen instrument to carry His name? Is there a step of faith you need to take in light of this truth?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Saul's Conversion - Part 1” [ Acts 9:1-9 ]

Today is Thursday, September 28th, 2017. Today we’re looking at the book of Leviticus. Just kidding, we’re continuing our study in Acts. Today we see the beginning of the drastic conversion of Saul who came to be known as the Apostle Paul. A man who ended up being responsible for writing almost a third of the new testament was at this time one of the most vicious persecutors of the church. Yet in the midst of all of this, instead of smiting Saul, Christ appears, and brings Saul to a standstill. There is irony in the fact that Saul is blinded in the midst of Christ opening his eyes spiritually. Sometimes like Saul we must be at the end of our rope before we hear God. When things are striped away we can see truth clearly. The wage of our sin is death and instead of dealing that blow Christ intervenes in our lives. The point isn’t how dramatic our conversion was, but that Christ has saved us at all. Christ meets us blind, thirsty, and hungry, and beckons us to true life.

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ What was your conversion like? Was it drastic like Saul, or was it like a gradual awakening to the light?
_ Does Saul's conversion seem fair? Do any of our conversions seem fair?
_ Do you recognize that Christ died not only for your brothers and sisters, but your enemies as well?
_ Does God want you to stop and listen to what he asks of you?

PRAY
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the grace and mercy you have given to us through the salvation of Jesus Christ. Just as you hindered Saul in his own sinful motivations, may you cease the sin that so easily ensnares our lives. Blind us with your holiness so that everything else may fade from our vision and take even the worst parts of us and make us new in Christ. Just as you did with your servant Paul. In Christ our Lord's name. Amen

DISCOVER  [Acts 9:1-9]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

 

1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

_ We see right away in verse 1 Saul is a vicious man breathing “threats and murder”. Why is Saul so angered?
_ Where is Saul heading and why?
_ In verses 3 and 4 what happens to Saul?
_ What does the voice ask Saul in verse 4? Who does the voice belong to?
_ What does the voice command Saul to do?
_ In verses 7 and 8 what happens to Saul and the two men he was traveling with?
_ What happens after this encounter?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

 

_ Are you on a road traveling for your own intentions? Hate? Selfishness? Pettiness? Greed?
_ Is there something in your life right now that is a motivated movement away from the Lord?
_ Do you believe that God can redeem who He will? Do you believe that God can redeem you?
_ Is there any area in your life that The Spirit of The Lord is trying to call your attention to?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

 

“Spirit-filled Obedience” [ Acts 8:26-40 ]

Today is Wednesday, September 27th, 2017.  We are continuing our Autumn series through the book of Acts.  In today’s passage we go on another adventure with Philip.  Philip, an obedient follower of Jesus, acting under the direction of an angel of the Lord, starts out on a journey.  Tuned in to the Holy Spirit’s direction, Philip is led directly to a seeker of the truth in the Word. This is a journey each of us can go on! Who is waiting for us to obey our direction from the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel with another wherever they are?  

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Tell of a time that you were moved to do something that you didn’t understand, but you did it anyway.
_ Tell of a time when you have been met, as an answer to prayer, by another right where you were.
_How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Lord, help us pray for belief. As we believe, help us share You, in all of your fullness, with others. Help us hear the Holy Spirit who will direct us.  Help us proclaim your name with boldness, grace, and truth.  

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” Romans 10:14-16

DISCOVER  [Acts 8:26-40]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter

   and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

   so he opens not his mouth.

33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.

   Who can describe his generation?

For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

_ Imagine the conversation Philip had with an angel of the Lord in verse 26.  What was happening in his day?  Could he see the angel or did he just hear the direction? Have you ever had a re-direction in your day that was unexplained?
_ Look closely at Philip’s response.  The angel was sending him to a DESERT road.  How did he respond to this “choice” assignment?  vs. 27  What do we respond when we are re-directed to a desert road in the middle of a hectic day.
_ Where did the Spirit direct Philip once he got to the desert road? Vs 29.  Who was in the chariot?  What where had he come from?  What was he doing?
_ How did Philip respond to the Spirit’s direction?  Look at the VERB!  Because of his joy-filled, quick obedience to the Spirit’s call, what did he hear and then have the opportunity to DO? Vs 30-31
_What Scripture was the eunuch reading? (if you have time read this amazing Scripture in its entirety...do it!)  In this Scripture, who does the pronoun “he” refer to?  See Philip’s response to the eunuch’s question in 34-36.  
_ Once the eunuch heard Philip proclaim the good news of Jesus, what happens? Vs 36-38
_ What happened to Philip when he came out of the water?  What happened to the eunuch?
_ Where do we see Philip preaching the gospel again?  Vs 40

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you are being asked to be a witness?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Are you being faithful to the call?  Are you available to the call?  Are you teachable and humble as the Spirit moves in you?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Your Silver Perish With You” [ Acts 8:4-25 ]

Today is Tuesday, September 26. God desires to reclaim all of creation to himself, starting with Jerusalem and then Judea. Now in Acts we are crossing a border to encounter the Samaritans, a people with only the faintest memory of Israel’s faith. What does Jesus mean for them?

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ When you first came to faith or understood your faith for yourself, what was the most important thing about it? Was the different from your parents or friends?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid; but you have promised to pour out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and supplication. Deliver me from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your truth; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.

DISCOVER  [Acts 8:4-25]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.

_ Why has the Church scattered out from Jerusalem?
_ Who is Phillip? What is his role?
_ What made the city so joyful?

9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

_ What could Luke mean by ‘practicing magic’?
_ What is different about the way Phillip performs signs, and Simon performing magic?
_ Why did Simon become a disciple and get baptized?

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

_ What appears to be Jerusalem’s role in this first generation of the Church?
_ Who are Peter and John?
_ We see several times in Acts this distinction between baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being communicated by the Apostolic laying on of hands. What might this mean?
_ What does Simon attempt to buy? How to the Apostles respond?
_ How does Simon respond to this admonition?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

_ Have I sought positions of authority in the church with my wealth, social status, experience, or education?
_ Have I seen others doing this and said nothing?
_ Have I seen the power of God at work? If so, have I been baptized as these Samaritans were?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Persecution” [ Acts 7:54-8:3 ]

Today is Monday, September 25th, 2017. Thank you for joining us as we continue reading and studying through Acts together. In today’s passage we read about Stephen’s stoning and the persecution of the church. Join me as we learn more about the early church and about the Lord. - Mallory

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

- Have you ever found yourself in the midst of chaos but still able to lock eyes with the Lord and remain calm?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Take some to pray today, thanking the Lord for what he has done in your life and in the lives of those you walk with. Thank him for his faithfulness and consistent presence, regardless of where you find yourself. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to what he is teaching in this text today, that you would hear from him.

DISCOVER  [Acts 7:54-8:3]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

8 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

 - What was is that enraged the people in verse 54? (Take a quick look at Acts 7:1-53 to read Stephen’s speech)
- Why does the author tell us that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit (v.55)?
- What do you think Stephen was feeling/thinking?
- What were Stephen’s final words (v.60)? How are they significant?
- Who is Saul and why does it matter that he approved of the execution of Stephen?
- What did these events spark for the church as a whole?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
- How can I be forgive in my own life like Stephen was willing to forgive?
- How can I be praying for the persecuted church today?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

"Stephen is Seized" [ Acts 6:8-15 ]

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“Stephen is Seized” [ Acts 6:8-15 ]
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Today is Friday, September 22nd, 2017.  In today’s passage we see that Stephen, a man full of faith and the Spirit of God, is wrongfully taken before the highest religious court in Jerusalem.  Join me today to go deeper into the life of a man ministering in the early church.  - Mike


 

CONNECT

(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Have you ever had something said about you that wasn’t true? Was it behind your back or was it said to you in front of everyone? How did that feel? What was your response?

_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

 

PRAY

Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.


 

DISCOVER  [Acts 6:8-15]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

 

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

 

_ In v. 8 how is Stephen described?

_ In vs.9-10 it lists  all of the groups within the Freedmen synagogue. What does it say about them? How did Stephen respond to them?

_ What happens in vs. 11-14?.

_ Why did the Freedmen get the Jewish council involved?

_ In v. 13 who did they use to accuse Stephen? Why? What did they say?

_ Why do you think that the accusations made against Stephen were so scathing?

_ Does Stephen reply to any of these accusations as they are being thrown all around him?

_ In v. 15 what does it say about Stephen?


 

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)

_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited to be a witness?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?

_ Are you dealing with untruths being spoken about you? How are you responding?

_ Is there a place that you are lacking power or strength?  Is Jesus calling you to ask for power from the Holy Spirit through intentional prayer?

 

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Stephen Chosen to Serve” [ Acts 6:1-7]

It's Thursday, September 21st, 2017. Is this section of Scripture, we see "growing pains" challenging the Church of Jesus for the very first time. See how the Apostles handled the situation; a true model for Christian Churches today!!! - Chris Adomanis

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Have you ever been dissatisfied with something at church? How did you resolve your issue?
_ What is the role of an elder at a church? What is the role of a deacon? How are they different? How are they the same?

PRAY
Heavenly Father, we are called and we gladly serve you in response to the love and mercy you have shown us through the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. Please use me how you see fit in carrying out your plan of redemption while I am here on Earth. Amen.

DISCOVER [Acts 6:1-7]
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2  And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3  Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to
this duty. 4  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5  And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6  These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 7  And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.


+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
_ In verse 1, what is the issue and what caused it?
_ In verses 2-4, how did the Apostles handle the issue? Do you think they were they belittling "serving"? Why or why not?
_ In verses 5-6, how did the congregation respond? What do you notice about the people chosen to serve and why would this be important?
_ In verse 7, do you think there was a correlation between the actions of the Apostles on this issue and the increase in people "coming to Christ"?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience? (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Read Philippians 2:3-4. Are there areas of your life where you are selfish (with time? money?) What can you do this week to "repent and obey"?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
_ Who in your life TODAY is the Lord prompting you to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
_ Do you have someone in your life TODAY that challenges you (and you challenge back) to be an effective witness for Christ?

“We Must Obey” [ Acts 5:17-42 ]

Today is Wednesday, September 19th, 2017. What a blessing it is to live for the Lord today! Today’s passage deals with the motivation of the Gospel, and where a follower of Christ draws their strength from to be courageous and bold in a world that is in complete rebellion against truth. Join us in worship at our gatherings, 9am and 10:45am, Sundays. - Max

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)

_ Have you ever felt persecuted or ashamed of the Gospel, causing you to give up on a situation or calling?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Acts 1:1-11]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

Due to the long passage, there will not be as many questions, but please read and look into this passage, discerning what or who is allowing these apostles to be so bold and courageous, in a time of great persecution. Surely this cannot be their own strength - they ran and hid from the world when Christ was crucified, after walking with him for three years…  

17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.”29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

_ What motivated the High Priest and the Sadducees to place the apostles in prison? Who freed the apostles once they were in Prison? What was said to them? v17-20
_ Did the apostles follow the command that God gave them, or did the fear of persecution cause them to yield? v25-26
_ What reason did Peter give for the continuation of the apostles preaching the Gospel, against the commands of the High Priest? V28-29. Peter, in simplicity, preached the Gospel to the Council. What about v30-32, gives ambition or courage to disobey the High Priest?
_ What advice did Gamaliel give the council, in how to handle the apostles? V33-39. Gamaliel says the apostles are on one of two roads. Either they are of man and will be forgotten; or they are of God, and will be unstoppable. When we are finished with acts, come back to this question, answer it, and then be encouraged by that answer.
_ What did the apostles rejoice over? V41  (Matt 10:22)
_ What does v42 teach us in terms of God's provision in such persecution, and what does it tell you of the desire and courage of the apostles?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you are being invited to be a witness?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Is there any area of life that you have been hiding the truth of the gospel from due to fear of persecution?  
_ Is there a place that you are lacking power or strength?  Is Jesus calling you to ask for power from the Holy Spirit through intentional prayer?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?