Long Live the Revolution - Part 7 - Holy & Happy

Jesus has called us to be holy and happy, and sometimes it feels like we have to choose between being holy and being happy. As he says goodbye to some friends in Ephesus, Paul models what a holy and happy person looks like.

Small Group Discussion Questions
• What was most interesting or encouraging to you?
• What was most challenging to you?
• When you hear Paul say something to the effect of, “I don’t care about anything but Jesus”, does it bother you at all? Is it wrong that we care about things besides Jesus—that we care about family, and friends, and jobs, and sports, etc?
• How do you negotiate the tension between holiness and happiness?
• Can you give any examples from your life in which you thought you had to choose between holiness and happiness, but God gradually transformed your desires so that holiness made you happy?
• Action Step: ask God to make you holy and happy, so share with the group a particular area in which you feel you’re being forced to choose between the two.

Long Live the Revolution - Part 6

Paul's presence in Thessalonica incites a riot and he is accused of turning the whole world upside down. This is one instance of a pattern in The Acts of the Apostles: faithfulness to the gospel constantly gets the early Christians into a good kind of trouble.

• What was most inspiring to you?
• What was most challenging to you?
• The church shouldn’t be partisan, but the church must be political. Discuss.
• Read Romans 13:1-7.
o How do we reconcile the fact that the Paul who wrote Romans 13 and told us to submit to and honor the authorities is the same person who is constantly getting into trouble with the authorities in the Book of Acts?
• Action step: get into some good trouble…which is clever but vague, so what are some ways that we, as Christians, might find ourselves getting into some good trouble if we are faithful to what Jesus has asked us to do?

Long Live the Revolution - Part 5

As the gospel goes to the Gentiles a question is raised by the Jewish believers regarding what is necessary for salvation. Is faith in Jesus enough, or is it necessary to obey the Jewish laws and customs also? In Acts 15 they hold the first church council meeting to decide this issue. Essentially, it's a question many still ask today. What is necessary for Salvation? Is it just Jesus, or Jesus plus something else? How do we maintain unity in the church when the church is made up of different groups of people with differing views?

Series: Long Live the Revolution (Part 5)

Text:

Acts 15:1-12

Eph. 2:8-9

Acts 15:28-29

Big Ideas:

* Grace in Christ alone is what saves you. It’s not Jesus plus anything…. It’s just Jesus.

* The grace killers (the pharisees) need grace too.

* Unity is really important in a church family. We should be willing to sacrifice in order to attain it.

* Unity doesn’t mean uniformity. We don’t ignore or avoid our differences, we love each other in spite of them.

* As recipients of the grace of Jesus, we should seek to be grace givers rather than grace killers.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. As recipients of the grace of Jesus, we should look to show grace to others. What are some specific ways that we can do that?

4. Unity is really important in the church. How can we maintain unity in the midst of diversity?

5. In order for the church to have unity, often a certain degree of compromise is required. Of course we can’t/shouldn’t compromise in all things. So with that in mind, what is one position that maybe you used to strongly hold to, but not so much anymore? In other words… Is there something that used to be a closed handed issue for you, but now is more open handed in your mind? How do you decide what issues belong in what hand?

6. The grace of Jesus alone is what saves us. Why do we seem so prone to always try and add something to the gospel? Why do we have such a hard time believing that Jesus is enough?

Long Live the Revolution - Part 4 - Stephen

As the early church continues to grow, seven men are chosen to help minister and serve the growing congregation. Acts 6 tells us that Stephen is one of the seven chosen and he turns out to be a very important part of the revolution that is the church. His life and death stand as a transitional part of the book of Acts. After his death, the church falls under a lot of persecution. However, rather than bringing the revolution to a halt, it has the opposite effect. The church rapidly expands from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria and ultimately, the whole world.

Sunday Recap 

Series:  Long Live the Revolution (Part 4)

Text:  

Acts 6:1-15

Acts 7:51-8:3

Big Ideas:

* The church is growing rapidly and needs to organize it’s leadership.  So 7 men are chosen to help the Apostles serve and minister to the church.

* Stephen is the first one chosen… a man who is full of faith and the Holy Spirit.

* Persecution is also ramping up against the church as it grows. 

* Stephen has good character in a world full of shady characters

* Stephen is committed to truth in a world full of lies

* Stephen makes a lasting impact in a world where everything fades away.  

Questions:

1.  What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2.  What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3.  Read the texts above about Stephen.  What stands out to you most about him from these passages?  What aspects of his character do you find most admirable or noteworthy?

4.  Stephen was a man of good character.  How do we grow in our character… or how do we allow God to grow our character?  

5.  Stephen was absolutely committed to truth and it cost him his life.  Has there ever been a time in your life when being committed to the truth cost you something?  How might being committed to truth cost us?  

6.  Stephen’s life and death made a lasting impact for the sake of the gospel.  How might our lives also make a lasting impact for the sake of the gospel in our world?  

Long Live the Revolution Series 2019

Long Live the Revolution - Part 1

The book of Acts is all about the launch of the church... the people of God, empowered by God, for the mission of God. In Acts 1 we see Jesus lay out the power, the purpose, and the plan that his followers will need to accomplish the mission. What follows is a revolution that changed the world. Today, we (the church) are continuing that revolution. The mission of God is not finished. He continues to use His church to accomplish his purpose in the world. Long live the revolution!

Consider a specific way that you can be a witness for Christ in your neighborhood this week.

Sunday Recap 

Series: Long Live the Revolution (Part I)

Text:

Acts 1:1-14

Big Ideas:

* The Church is God’s vehicle to reach the whole world… The church is the people of God, empowered by God, for the mission of God.

* Our own willpower is not sufficient to be, and accomplish, all that God asks us to be/accomplish. We need a greater power… the Holy Spirit.

* God’s purpose/mission for the church hasn’t changed… That others may know of Jesus and what He’s done for them. We are His witnesses.

* The plan is that it start locally, and then expand like ripples in a pond outward to the whole world.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer? What does it mean to live a Spirit filled life?

4. According to Acts 1:8 we are to be His (Jesus’) witnesses. What does it mean to be His witness? How do we do that in our day to day lives?

5. Jesus seems to lay out a plan, or a strategy for the church when he tells the apostles that they should start in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. What does this strategy look like for us today? What’s our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and ends of the earth? How have you been able to be a witness for Christ in one or more of these areas?

6. The action step this week was to consider a specific way you can be a witness for Christ in your neighborhood this week. Have you been able to do this? If not, what are some possible ways you can do this?

She Speaks - Part 6 - Leah - Guest Speaker Sarah Hammond

Leah is unloved and rejected most of her life. We'll see Leah set aside her affliction and agony to offer God a sacrifice of praise. We'll also see God use this seemingly secondary character in the Bible to begin ushering in the ultimate Salvation of the world. He always has the final say.

Action Step:

Take an honest look at some of those really difficult parts of your story. How did you respond? Read Psalm 116. Ask God to help you offer a sacrifice of praise.

Sunday Recap 

Series:  She Speaks… Leah

1. Through who's perspective have you typically read this story?

2. What was God's response to Leah's situation of being "hated"? Why do you think He responded this way?

3. How do you think God feels when are struggling deeply?

4. "How we respond to the agony and chaos in our life will always reveal to us what we truly believe about God." Has any part of your story caused you to question/doubt something you once believed about God? How did you handle that? How can we know the truth about who God is?

5. What does it mean to offer God a "sacrifice of praise"?

She Speaks - Part 5 - Lydia

Lydia is a wealthy business woman who becomes the first convert to Christianity in Europe. She responds to the gospel preached by Paul in Philippi and immediately responds with obedience, hospitality, and generosity. She opens her home to Paul and his team and provides a space for the new church to meet.

Sunday Recap 

Series:  She Speaks… Lydia

Text:  

  • Acts 16:11-15 & 40

  • Romans 12:13

  • Titus 1:7-8

  • Hebrews 13:2

  • I Peter 4:9

Big Ideas:

* Lydia was a wealthy business owner who responded to the gospel preached by Paul in Philippi.

* Lydia was the first person to respond to the gospel on Paul’s second missionary journey and she was the first convert in Europe.

* After receiving the gospel, she responds with obedience, hospitality, and generosity.

* Her home becomes the starting place for the church in Philippi.

Questions:

1.  What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2.  What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3.  Read Acts 16:11-15.  Verse 14 says that Lydia was a “worshiper of God” and that “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”  What do you think it means that God opened her heart?  What does it look like for us to have an open heart to the things of God?  

4.  If we’re honest, most of us probably know someone like Lydia… someone who seems to be a good person, but they just haven’t heard or believed the gospel yet.  How can you begin spiritual conversations with them?  How can you begin to share the gospel with them?   

5.  The action step this week is to practice hospitality - think of a specific or tangible way to show hospitality to someone.  As a group discuss some specific or tangible ways to practice hospitality toward others, particularly outsiders.  

She Speaks - Part 4 - Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene is one of the more popular women in the New Testament, but her life has also been the subject of much speculation and false teaching. She was a woman with a rather dark past, but Jesus frees her from her demons and she is completely transformed by his grace. In Christ Mary finds a new freedom and identity, and in the end she becomes one of the most faithful followers of Jesus.

Series: She Speaks… Mary Magdalene

Text:

Luke 8:1-3

John 19:25

John 20:1-18

Big Ideas:

* Mary Magdalene had a dark past, but she found everything she longed for “in Christ.”

* She found freedom in Christ

* She found hope in Christ

* She found joy in Christ

* She found peace in Christ

* She found purpose/calling in Christ

* She found friendship/community in Christ

* She found Salvation/redemption in Christ

* The Christian faith is based on an event (the resurrection of Jesus). Mary Magdalene was the first person to witness the resurrected Jesus and the first one to speak of it to others.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. Read Luke 8:1-3. Obviously Jesus had women like Mary Magdalene among his band of followers. Although Jesus’ opponents were constantly looking for reasons to lie about him and accuse him of sinful things (ex: he hung out with tax collectors and sinners, he was a glutton and drunkard, etc…), no accusation was ever made about his treatment of women. What can we learn from Jesus about how to respect and treat women in our society today?

4. Read John 20:11-18. Why do you think Jesus chose to reveal himself to Mary Magdalene first after his resurrection? Doesn’t it seem odd that Jesus would do this since women’s credibility in that day didn’t hold much weight? What can we learn from this about the gospel?

5. The action step this week was to reflect on what you have been saved from so that you can more fully appreciate what you’ve been saved to. Name one thing that you have been saved from (a particular sin, struggle, or stronghold in your life that Christ has set you free from), or one thing that you’re working on giving over to Him.

She Speaks - Part 2

Mary is probably the most famous woman in all of scripture. Her life stands as a great example to us of grace and humility. As a young unwed teenage woman, she had a lot of reasons to fear and worry after the angel came to her and announced that she would be the mother of the Lord Jesus. But Mary chose to surrender to the will of God and to remember his past faithfulness rather than worry.

Series: She Speaks… Mary (the mother of Jesus)

Text:

Luke 1:26-38

Luke 1:46-55

Prov. 3:34

Isaiah 66:2

James 4:10

Big Ideas:

* Mary was not a perpetual virgin… she did not remain a virgin her whole life.

* Mary was not sinless… Jesus was her savior as well.

* Mary was not/Is not a dispenser of grace… she does not save anyone.

* Mary is not a mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5)

* Mary is not Devine… she’s not omnipresent or omniscient in any way.

* Mary was a remarkable young woman who surrendered her life to the will of God.

* Rather than being filled with anxiety and worry, Mary remembered the faithfulness of God in the past.

* Rather than becoming prideful and arrogant because she was chosen, she remained humble.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. Read Luke 1:38. Mary is a remarkable example of someone who surrendered her life to the will of God. What does it mean to surrender your life to the Lord, or to surrender to his will? Can you think of an example in your life where you’ve done that?

4. What do you tend to worry about most in your life? How can we combat worry and anxiety in our lives?

5. Rather than becoming prideful because God chose her, Mary remained humble. Read Prov. 3:34, Isaiah 66:2, and James 4:10. It’s seams clear that God loves humility in his people. With that in mind, what are some keys to remaining humble as a follower of Jesus?

6. Mary’s Magnificat is a song of remembering God’s past faithfulness. The action step this week was to take some time and write down some specific ways that God has shown His faithfulness to you in the past. End your time together with your group by allowing everyone who’s willing to mention one way God has proven himself faithful in their life. (It can be something simple like… He has always protected me, or provided for me, or blessed me in some way… or it could be a more specific story of how God has done something for you).

She Speaks - Part 1

Text:  

Luke 2:36-38

Big Ideas:

* Although we don’t have much info from scripture on Anna, we can learn a lot form the info we do have.  In just 3 short verses we can learn a great deal from this faithful elderly widow.  

* Anna was prophetess.  She was a woman who knew the word of God and faithfully proclaimed the word of God to others.

* Anna was a widow.  Her life wan’t easy.  She lost her husband after only 7 years of marriage and never remarried. As a widow, she most likely lived a difficult life in extreme poverty.  

* Anna did not depart from the Temple.  Despite her difficult circumstances she trusted God and served His people.

* Anna had a hunger for the Lord.  For more than 60 years she worshipped, fasted, and prayed regularly.  

* Anna was full of praise and thanksgiving after seeing Jesus.

* Anna spoke of Christ to others and became one of the first witnesses (evangelist) to who he was.  

Questions:

1.  What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2.  What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3.  Who is the most spiritually influential woman in your life?  How has she influenced you to be a more faithful follower of Jesus?

4.  Read Luke 2:36-38.  What stands out to you most about Anna’s life?  In what ways does she challenge you in your spiritual journey?

5.  Verse 38 says that Anna “spoke of Him (Christ) to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”  How can we “speak of Christ” more in our conversations with others?  

She Speaks Series 2019

This is Us - Part 4

As believers, we are recipients of God's generosity to us through His son Jesus. As such, we should be the most generous people in the world. In order to be generous we must understand that we are not owners of anything, but stewards. So the questions becomes, how do we steward well and invest in God's kingdom?

ACTION STEP: Read Matt. 6:21. Take a close look at your budget this week and make a commitment to regularly invest in God's kingdom.

Text:

Luke 12:13–21, Matthew 25:14–29

Big Ideas:

* Roughly 25% of Jesus’ teaching was about money, possessions, finances, etc...

* Giving is not really a money issue, it’s a heart issue (Matt. 6:21).

* When it comes to giving, it’s not what God wants from you, it’s what God wants for

you.

* Everything Jesus says about money is built upon the foundation that we’re not owners

of anything, but stewards.

* We steward well through generosity rather than hoarding.

* We steward well through investment rather than protecting.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. If we can agree that we’re called to be generous, what are some obstacles to

generosity that we need to be aware of and avoid?

4. Read Luke 12:13–21. What does it mean to be rich toward God? What are some ways

we can do that?

5. Read Matthew 25:14–29. As the parable begins (v. 15) says that the master gave

talents “to each according to his ability.” What does this mean? What can we learn

from this? How can we increase our “ability” when it comes to stewarding money?

6. The action step this week was to take a look at your budget and make a commitment

to regularly invest in God’s kingdom. Have you had a chance to do this? How do you

regularly invest in God’s kingdom?

This is Us - Part 3

As believers, we are recipients of God's generosity to us through His son Jesus. As such, we should be the most generous people in the world. In order to be generous we must understand that we are not owners of anything, but stewards. So the questions becomes, how do we steward well and invest in God's kingdom?

ACTION STEP: Read Matt. 6:21. Take a close look at your budget this week and make a commitment to regularly invest in God's kingdom.

Text:

Luke 12:13–21, Matthew 25:14–29

Big Ideas:

* Roughly 25% of Jesus’ teaching was about money, possessions, finances, etc...

* Giving is not really a money issue, it’s a heart issue (Matt. 6:21).

* When it comes to giving, it’s not what God wants from you, it’s what God wants for

you.

* Everything Jesus says about money is built upon the foundation that we’re not owners

of anything, but stewards.

* We steward well through generosity rather than hoarding.

* We steward well through investment rather than protecting.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. If we can agree that we’re called to be generous, what are some obstacles to

generosity that we need to be aware of and avoid?

4. Read Luke 12:13–21. What does it mean to be rich toward God? What are some ways

we can do that?

5. Read Matthew 25:14–29. As the parable begins (v. 15) says that the master gave

talents “to each according to his ability.” What does this mean? What can we learn

from this? How can we increase our “ability” when it comes to stewarding money?

6. The action step this week was to take a look at your budget and make a commitment

to regularly invest in God’s kingdom. Have you had a chance to do this? How do you

regularly invest in God’s kingdom?

This is Us - Part 1 - Community

Salvation isn't just about believing some things in your heart so that you can go to heaven. Salvation is also about joining a family (community) of faith where you're on mission together building the Kingdom of God. Community is essential to being a Christ follower for several reasons and there is an inseparable link between your faith in Jesus and your love for his family (the Church).

Text:

Ephesians 4:11–16, Hebrews 10:24–25, I Corinthians 12:4–7, 14–20, and 27,

Colossians 3:12–17 and Ephesians 5:25–27

Big Ideas:

•Salvation is not just about you believing some things so that you can go to

heaven when you die. It is also about belonging to a family (community) of faith

where you’re on mission together building the Kingdom of God.

•The family (community) of faith is essential for...

1. Spiritual growth and maturity (discipleship/sanctification)

2. Accountability

3. Utilizing spiritual gifts (ministry/service)

4. Putting into practice the things God calls us to live out... your daily

Christian life/walk.

•Jesus’ love and commitment to the church should compel us to love and be

committed to the church as well.

Questions:

1. What was most interesting or encouraging to you about the sermon this week?

2. What was most challenging to you about the sermon this week?

3. What brought you to the small group you’re a part of?

4. What difference has small group made in your life or spiritual journey?

5. What hopes do you have for your small group moving forward?

6. The action step this week was to try out a small group or invite someone new

to yours. Obviously, if you’re reading this, you’re in one, but take some time and

discuss how your group can be really proactive in inviting people to join your

group.