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?