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

(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? 

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?