Sunday, August 26, 2007

Unbelievable Prayer?

Acts 12:1-19

It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" "You’re out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the brothers about this," he said, and then he left for another place. In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.

  • As you read this what are the first things that come to your mind? What in this text strikes you as remarkable?
  • What is the main point of this story?
  • Can you imagine the tension/fear that these Christians felt?
  • What does this story reveal about persecution?
  • What was Herod’s intent? Why?
  • What does this story say, both positively and negatively, about the church and prayer?
  • What does the story say about the work of angels?
  • How do you think angels work today?

What else is on your mind this week?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Lord’s Hand & The Church’s Ears

This week’s text is interesting to me, because it provides descriptions of several things.

Acts 11:19-26

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.


  • As you read this what are the first things that come to your mind?
  • What in this text strikes you as remarkable?
  • Is there a main point to this story?
  • What does the text say about persecution?
  • What about Jew/Gentile relations?
  • What does the story say about Barnabas?
  • Why does he go find Saul?
  • How is the church presented in this text?
  • What is the significance of the disciples being called Christians?
  • How does passage fit with this statement? We are baptized believers participating in the life of God for the sake of others.

What else is on your mind this week?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ordination Week

This coming Sunday is going to be very exciting! We add 3 elders and 4 deacons to our Leadership Team. Sunday’s assembly will be different as we celebrate these additions. To help us think about the role and function of elders and deacons, please consider these passages.

Acts 20:28-31

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

1 Timothy 3:8-10

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

I know we have talked about all this quite a bit, so you may not have much more to say, which is fine.

Is there anything else you would like to talk about this week?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

God Has No Favorites

We have another long story this week; you really need to read all of Acts chapter 10 to understand our text. It’s an interesting read, so go ahead and enjoy it. Here is the part of the chapter that we will focus on:

Acts 10:34-48

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

  • As you read this what are the first things that come to your mind?
  • What in this text strikes you as remarkable?
  • What is the main point of this story?
  • How does this story relate to Acts 1:8?
  • Can you imagine Cornelius? How is his life described?
  • How might this text address the idea that a person can relate to God on the basis of goodness?
  • How is it that these people receive the Spirit before baptism (cf. Acts 2:38)? What does this mean?
  • How does passage fit with this statement? We are baptized believers participating in the life of God for the sake of others.

What else is on your mind this week?