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?