Saturday, November 14, 2015

Acts 4:1-31

Our study of the book of Acts is well underway!  We’ve covered the very early days of the church, from Jesus’ ascension to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and have touched upon the miraculous explosive growth in the resulting days.  By Acts 4, however, the shadow of persecution was beginning to loom over the believers, as the religious leaders were disturbed by the truth that refused to die.  The disciples, on the other hand, were increasingly committed to prayer, trusting that God had a much bigger plan.

OPENING QUESTION:

In what situations do you find yourself praying most easily?  Explain.

STUDY QUESTIONS:

  • Read Acts 4:1-22.  What do the religious leaders want to know about the healing described in Acts 3:1-10?
  • What does Peter make most prominent in his defense?
  • What strikes you as the boldest part of Peter’s defense?
  • How do the authorities know that Peter and John were people who “had been with Jesus” (v.13)?
  • How are Christians to show respect both for human authorities and God’s authority?
  • Read Acts 4:23-31.  How does this Scripture passage set a context that helps those early Christians understand and deal with their own situation?
  • Who or what is opposing your witness or your church’s witness for Christ?

These questions, among others, will be the focal point of our conversation this coming Thursday morning.  Hope to see you!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from N.T. Wright’s study guide on the book of Acts, and are posted here to provide a general sample of the in-depth study each chapter entails.  Though the study guide is not required for participation in our weekly study, it is an excellent resource for advanced study of God’s word.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Multiply III:3 - Studying Logically

This is the final week before we begin our journey through the overarching narrative of the Bible.  This week's chapter exhorts us to consider how we read and study the Bible.  Of note, Francis Chan points out that this includes taking the Bible at face value instead of searching for deeper, hidden truths, and paying close attention to the context in which a particular Scripture is written.

Next week, the real adventure begins, but this week's discussion should be no less engaging!

Hope to see you there!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Part III - How to Study the Bible: Studying Logically
  1. Think about the way you tend to study the Bible. Would you say that you make an effort to seek out what the Bible is actually saying? Do you pay attention to the context? If so, how has this helped you? If not, how do you think this might change the way you read the Bible?
  2. In your own words, why is it important to distinguish between interpretation and application?
  3. In your own words, why is it important to look for the plain meaning of each passage rather than seeking out a deeper meaning?
  4. Would you say that your study of the Bible is focused on finding the plain meaning of each passage? Why or why not?
  5. Do you have a tendency to interpret the Bible allegorically or figuratively? If so, why do you think you tend to do this?
  6. In your own words, explain why paying attention to the grammatical and historical context is important. How should these concepts shape your study of the Bible?
  7. What would it mean for you to read the Bible with an awareness of your own baggage and a willingness to get rid of those assumptions for the sake of understanding God’s truth more clearly?
  8. In light of what you have thought through in this session, how do you need to change your approach to reading and studying the Bible?


Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from Francis Chan’s book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples,” and are posted here for further reflection and study in conjunction with the full text of the book found at MultiplyMovement.com.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Multiply III:2 - Studying the Bible Prayerfully and Obediently

This week's reading invites us to take some time to consider not only how we approach the Bible, but our attitudes in doing so.  Is it a joy, or is it a burden?  Do we approach it from a perspective of history, or from a perspective of expectancy?  Are we putting what we read into practice, and even more importantly, are we letting it transform our hearts and minds as we encounter the living God through its pages?

Fall in love with the Word all over again!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Part III - How to Study the Bible: Studying the Bible Prayerfully and Obediently
  1. Describe your experience with studying the Bible. What approaches have you tried? What has been effective? What has been ineffective? What have you learned in the process?
  2. What does it look like to take joy in reading the Bible? Have you ever experienced this? If so, what is it like? If not, why do you think you’ve never enjoyed the Bible?
  3. Read through Psalm 119. What do you find striking, challenging, or encouraging?
  4. In practical terms, what does it mean to study the Bible prayerfully? What can you do to build prayer and dependence on God into your study of the Bible?
  5. Take a minute to think through the commands that you know God wants us all to be doing (for example, loving the people around you, forgiving others, praying, etc.). Write down a handful of these things below.
  6. Take a minute to examine your life in light of what you already know about the Bible. If you find that you haven’t been applying biblical truth to your life, then what changes do you need to make to the way you study the Bible?
  7. In your own words, explain what it means to study the Bible with faith. Do you see this playing out in your life? How so?
  8. Take a minute to consider everything you’ve thought through in this session. What changes do you need to make in the way you study the Bible?
  9. Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to give you a heart for His Word. Ask Him to help you approach His Word devotionally and obediently.

Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from Francis Chan’s book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples,” and are posted here for further reflection and study in conjunction with the full text of the book found at MultiplyMovement.com.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Multiply III:1 - Why Study the Bible?

Before we ask the "HOW," we must ask the "WHY."  Have you ever given thought to exactly WHY we should study the Bible?  The answer seems obvious upon first reflection, for we believe it to be the inspired Word of God.  Yet, all too often, we tend to neglect this precious book, occasionally coming back to it as the situation warrants, but perhaps not as often as we should.

Even if we DO attend to it regularly, the question remains: "Why?"  What is our motivation for reading it?  Is it, as Francis Chan writes in this week's chapter, out of guilt?  Religious obligation?  Tradition?  Are we utilizing it primarily for teaching material, and failing to drink deeply from its rich wells for our own personal growth?

As we enter into this three-week series on studying the Bible, let us first ask ourselves "Why study the Bible?"  The answer may be yet more important than we think!

I'm looking forward to your thoughts!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Part III - How to Study the Bible: Why Study the Bible?

  1. Take a few minutes to examine your motivations and write down a few thoughts below.
  2. Take a minute to think about your past experience with studying the Bible. Which of the wrong motivations listed above (guilt, status, teaching material) are you guilty of? Can you think of any others?
  3. Take a minute to think through why God gave us the Bible. How should these things affect the way you think about studying the Bible?
  4. How do you tend to respond to the Bible’s teaching? Would you say that you approach it humbly with a desire to change? How do you need to adjust your approach to studying the Bible?
  5. Rather than thinking about all of the arrogant people you know, take a minute to consider whether or not your efforts in studying the Bible have simply puffed you up. How has studying the Bible changed you? Are you more arrogant, argumentative, or judgmental? Write down a few thoughts below:
  6. Take a minute to meditate on 1 Peter 2:1–2. What would your life look like if you desired the Word as Peter described?
  7. Close this session by praying. Ask God to purify your heart with regard to Scripture. Ask Him to produce in you a longing for the pure milk of the Word.

Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from Francis Chan’s book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples,” and are posted here for further reflection and study in conjunction with the full text of the book found at MultiplyMovement.com.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Multiply II:3 - The Global Church

We regularly pray for a spiritual awakening, for a revival, for the sleeping church to rise, for a lost and sinful world to discover the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ... but even with that kind of outward attitude, do we truly have the ultimate big picture in mind?

As Francis Chan writes in this week's reading"If your church bands together and reaches out to every individual in your community, you are still not done with God’s mission. No matter how big of a revival you experience, your area is still only a small part of the world that God has sent us to transform through His gospel. Until our vision of the church encompasses the entire globe, we do not have an accurate view of God’s church or His plan of redemption."

To bring this point very close to home, while it's easy to imagine someone for whom you've been praying for a long time come to Christ, it's harder to imagine that one person who is the constant thorn in our side to also come to salvation.  Yet, this is exactly what God's plan of redemption entails!  The invitation to the Kingdom has been extended to ALL, and it is our role to make sure that the invitations are delivered.  We are not to show favoritism nor to judge another's potential receptivity to the Gospel.  Instead, just as Christ died for all, so we must clothe ourselves with this same attitude.

This week's chapter takes this concern to a global level, challenging us to think about our attitudes toward unreached people around the world, and to ask ourselves (and God) if we are being called to literally go to the ends of the earth to reach others.  It is an uncomfortable subject, but one that deserves discussion, nonetheless.

Hope to see you at Christ & Coffee!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Part II - Living as the Church: The Global Church

  1. In your own words, why is it important to think about God’s plan of redemption in global terms?
  2. When you think about the mission of your church, does the rest of the globe factor in at all? How so?
  3. Take some time to think about the passages above (Romans 15:20–21, Isaiah 52:7–10, Romans 10:12–15). How should these truths affect the way we think about our calling?
  4. Have you given much thought to the unreached people groups around the world? If so, how does this affect your thinking and lifestyle? If not, why do you think you have never thought about it?
  5. Take a minute to pause and ask God what He wants for your life. Ask Him to break through any excuses you may be hiding behind and idols you might be clinging to. Ask Him to make you willing to follow Him in whichever direction He might lead. If you have any thoughts based on this time of prayer, make a few notes below.
  6. How would you describe your role in furthering the gospel around the world? If nothing comes to mind, write down a few things that you can begin to pursue in order to make missions a part of your life.
  7. In order to faithfully follow Jesus and play your part in God’s plan of redemption, what should your life look like right now? (This is a huge question, but try to write down a few things to guide you as you seek to put the things you’ve learned into practice.
  8. Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to help you submit to Him entirely. Ask Him to guide you and empower you in anything He calls you to do. Pray that God would use you in your neighborhood and around the world in any capacity that He sees fit.




Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from Francis Chan’s book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples,” and are posted here for further reflection and study in conjunction with the full text of the book found at MultiplyMovement.com.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Multiply II:2 - The Local Church

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."  -- JESUS (John 17:20–23)


To read this week's chapter, click here.

Hope to see you at Christ & Coffee!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Part II - Living as the Church: The Local Church
  1. Would you say that your church is more inwardly focused or outwardly focused? Why do you say that?
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Would you say that the life of your church is characterized by love? Why or why not?
  3. What steps can you take to be an example of love in your church? Whether you are an official leader in your church or not, how can you lead others in being more loving?
  4. Read John 17. Pay careful attention to Jesus’s desire for His followers. Would you say that your church could be characterized by this kind of unity? Why or why not?
  5. Take some time to think about your church and your unique cultural setting. What would it take for your church to be united, and for that unity to be displayed to the unbelieving world?
  6. Do you ever feel like a salesperson when sharing your faith? What steps can you take to change this?
  7. What would it mean for your church to live as a compelling community—a group of people who demonstrate love, unity, and hope in such a way that the unbelieving world is compelled to find out what is going on?
  8. Read 1 Peter 2:4–12. How should Peter’s description of our calling as the church affect the way we think about and interact with our surrounding community?
  9. Spend some time in prayer. God’s calling for your church is too important to neglect, and it’s too important to take on without the power of the Spirit. Ask God to so fill the life of your church with His Spirit that your community notices a difference. Ask Him to equip you for the role He has called you to play in His plan of redemption.

Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from Francis Chan’s book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples,” and are posted here for further reflection and study in conjunction with the full text of the book found at MultiplyMovement.com.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Multiply II:1 - Life in the Church

This week, we begin the second section of Multiply, in which we will spend the next three weeks focusing on the purpose, role, and function of the church, and our place in it.

As Francis Chan candidly points out, we were not meant to live as 'Lone Ranger Christians.'  The church is really not an optional expression of faith; it is the central means of Christ's plan to reconcile the world to Himself.  It is even more than that - the church is the Bride of Christ.

On this note, I want to encourage you to join us on Thursday mornings as we journey through this study together.  "Church" happens whenever and wherever two or more of us gather in His name, including over coffee at Dunkin Donuts.

Come and be a part of the living church!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Part II - Living as the Church: Life in the Church

  1. Why do you think the New Testament places such a priority on Christians being committed members (or parts) of local churches? How can this priority best be reflected in your life?
  2. Read Ephesians 4:1–16. How should this passage affect the way you view your responsibility to other Christians in the church?
  3. Think about your unique setting and identify a few opportunities that God has given you to minister to the people around you. Have you taken advantage of these opportunities?
  4. Take a few minutes to meditate on Galatians 6:1–2. What would it look like to help bear someone else’s burden? Is there anyone in your life right now whom you should be helping in this way?
  5. Why do you think we tend to focus on the external circumstances and behavior when we try to help people change?
  6. Using your own words, try to explain why it is essential to get to the heart of the problem rather than merely addressing the circumstances and behavior.
  7. How should the truth of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit affect the way we approach helping people change?
  8. Would you say that your church body is characterized more by defeat and isolation or the power and transformation of the Holy Spirit? Why do you say that?
  9. What steps can you take right away to help your church function more like God intended?
  10. Would you say that you have been playing your part in the body of Christ? If so, how might you still need to grow in this? If not, are you ready to get involved? What steps might you need to take?
  11. Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to give you confidence in the Spirit’s power to use you in ministering to other people. Ask Him for the wisdom to know what to do and the discernment to recognize people who need help. Pray that God would use you and your church to continue His plan of redemption in your unique setting.
Disclaimer: These questions have been drawn from Francis Chan’s book “Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples,” and are posted here for further reflection and study in conjunction with the full text of the book found at MultiplyMovement.com.