Daily Bible Study Notes

Monday July 24, 2017

Coming Up this Sonday July 30. Acts 12 Don’t Fear Persecution. God Delivers!

 

This week’s memory verse 

Acts 12:11 (NIV84) 

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.”


 

Fighting Against God

 

Read Acts 12:1-4

 

Chapter 12 begins on an ominous note. The original Greek text reads, ‘It was about this time that King Herod [aka Herod Agrippa I] laid evil/violent hands upon some from the church.’ To understand why Herod Agrippa I would do this, we need to understand both him and his relationship to the Jews.

 

Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the Great. His father, Aristobulus, had been executed in 7BC. by his grandfather for fear that he might usurp his throne. After his father’s death, Agrippa (who was still a child) was sent to Rome with his mother. He was educated along with the children of the Roman aristocracy. In 37AD, the emperor Caligula gave him the title of king and made him ruler over the territories formerly ruled by his uncle Philip, lands in the Transjordan and the Ten Cities (Decapolis) north of Galilee. In 39AD, Caligula extended Agrippa’s rule by giving him Galilee and Perea, the territory of his uncle Antipas, who had been sent into exile. Finally, when his former schoolmate Claudius became emperor in 41AD, he was given rule of Judea and Samaria, which had been under Roman procurators for thirty-five years. This made Herod Agrippa I “king of the Jews”.

 

His reign, however, was not secure because it was largely based upon his friendship with Caligula. But Caligula was not popular with the Romans. It became important for him to win the loyalty of his Jewish subjects in order to give him at least a firm footing at home. He thus made every attempt to please the Jews, particularly the influential Pharisees. See John B. Polhill, Acts (vol. 26; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992).

 

As such, we can see clearly why Herod raged against the believers. He had James, the brother of John, beheaded. He arrested Peter, no doubt planning a similar fate. Only the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread stopped the execution from happening immediately.

 

But as we have seen many times, the whole book of the Acts of the Apostles ends with the key theme - namely, the gospel spreading through out the world without hindrance. King Herod, in attacking the church, would find himself fighting against God as Gamaliel had predicted (Acts 5:39). God is so powerful and sovereign that not even the rage of a great and powerful king could stop the spread of the Word of God. In verse 24 we read, ‘But the word of God continued to increase and spread.’

 

Congregations today can and should be encouraged and emboldened. The Word of God will spread around the world. Nothing will hinder the spread of the Gospel. Nothing will stop its advance. As individual congregations, we can preach the Word with absolute confidence that God will continue His work. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will stop the spread of the Word. Let’s get out their and preach it fearlessly.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God for being so sovereign and so powerful that nothing, not even a great and powerful king, can stop the spread of the Gospel.

Adore God for being so loving and so gracious that He gives us all that is needed to get the gospel into the entire world.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that He has a role for your congregation in the spread of the gospel around the world.

Thank God that he has role for you personally in the spread of the gospel around the world.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the CMTC students would grow in their ability to spread the gospel and in their passionate desire to do so.

Pray that everyone in your congregation would be ready and willing to spread the gospel.

Pray that there would be great growth in the Kingdom as you and your congregation preach the Word.

 

Discuss

 

1.Why does Luke, the author of Acts, brush quickly over the death of James?

2.What was Herod’s goal in attacking the church?

3.How is the church persecuted in today’s world?

 


Saturday July 22, 2017

What Does It Mean to Be Mission Minded?

 

Read Acts 11:19-30

 

From Monday through Friday this week we have seen one particular aspect of being mission minded each day. The last sentence of each of days notes has a summary sentence, written in italics. Take the time now to write down the summary sentence from each day’s notes.

Monday

 

 

 

Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

 

 

 

 

What we learn from considering all these aspects of being mission minded is that being mission minded is far more than just sharing the gospel with others. Being mission minded is a mindset that puts the gospel at the heart and centre of everything we do. Being mission minded is a state of being. It’s about who we are in Christ Jesus. Being mission minded is about our identity in Christ overflowing into our daily lives so that each and every single person sees Christ in us. As Paul says in Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Being mission minded is akin to carrying one’s cross and following Jesus.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God for being mission minded in that He longs for all people to come to a saving knowledge of he truth.

Adore God for providing us with the means to take salvation to the ends of the earth.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that Christ has come into the world and that He has offered himself as the perfect and once for all sacrifice for the world.

Thank God that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

Supplication:

Pray that your congregation would be truly mission minded in the sense we see in Acts 11

Pray that this mission mindedness will lead to kingdom growth as many put their faith in Jesus and call Him Lord.

Pray that your congregation would be kingdom focused and reaching out to support other congregations in need.

Pray that your congregation would be growing in depth of knowledge, in love and in compassion.

Pray that your congregation would be growing in number as well.

Discuss

 

1.What did you think mission minded meant before you started this week’s reading?

2.Why should each congregation be mission minded?

3.What can individuals do to help their congregation become more mission minded?

4. How would you rate your own congregation in terms of being truly mission minded?

 

 

Friday July 21, 2017

Looking Outwards

 

Read Acts 11:27-30

 

As the narrative regarding the church at Antioch draws to a close, Dr Luke feels fit to report about the prophets who came to Antioch. Agabus predicted, through the Spirit, that a severe famine would blanket the Roman world. The disciples’ reaction picks up another aspect of what it means to be mission minded.

Verses 29-30 show their reaction.

The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

As the disciples heard of the impending drought, they banded together and each believer gave according to his ability. The funds were sent to provide help for the believers in Judea. It would have been very easy and very understandable for these believers to think along the following lines. God has told us a drought is coming. We had better prepare and we need to be ready to look after our own widows, orphans and others. Let’s save everything we can so that we are ready for the drought. But no such thinking occurred. These mission minded believers sought to provide for others.

Mission minded believers care for each other and provide for each other. ‘Self’ is non-existent in mission minded believers. Self protection, self comfort, self promotion and self interest are all noticeably absent in mission minded believers. They put the needs of others above and beyond their own needs. They joyfully sacrifice ‘self’ for the blessing of others.

Another way to consider the matter is to realise that mission minded people are kingdom minded. They do not concern themselves solely with their own territory. They look to the needs of others and given generously. Such a kingdom view allows us to see the benefits of sharing resources, be they financial or other resources.

If one church supports another church in a different location, then the Kingdom benefits. As the kingdom benefits, more and more people are able to hear the gospel. More and more people are able to be confronted with the good news. As the kingdom benefits, everyone in the kingdom benefits.

The reality is that kingdom focused congregations are healthier and more stable than inward looking congregations. Congregations that look outwards and have a healthy concern for other congregations and, by and large, continue to grow, thrive and develop.

Congregations can show their love and support for others in a variety of ways. Prayer support is vital and a great place to start. People support is another area that is under utilised. Congregations with more people can support smaller congregations by sending people along for short or mid term support. Financial support is also another option. But we must never assume that we have to be financially well off before we support others. The church at Antioch gave according to its ability. It never waited until it was financially secure before it sent aid to the brothers in Judea.

A mission minded person looks to the needs of others.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is outward looking, even though as a Trinity, He is fully sufficient and need not be outward looking.

Adore God that the love within the Trinity is also outward focussed and shared with the world, especially with believers.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that we can be outward looking and sharing with others, even if we are not financially well off.

Thank God that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

 

Supplication:

Pray that your congregation would be more outward looking.

Pray that your congregation would be growing in generosity.

Pray that the youth of your church would be growing in their outlook and their generosity.

Pray that the youth leadership team would be modelling this outward focus in their lives.

Discuss

 

1.How outward looking are you?

2.How outward looking is your congregation?

3.How can we make a congregation even more outward looking?

4.What are the benefits of being outward looking to

a. The congregation looking outwards?

b. The ones being supported?

 

 

Thursday July 20, 2017

Taught Great Numbers

 

Read Acts 11:25-26

 

Being mission minded has an outward and an inward component that we cannot ignore. It’s only at the expense of the gospel that we ignore either the outward or the inward component.

 

The outward component of being mission minded is obvious. Each and every single believer needs to be outward looking and ready to share the gospel at a moment’s notice. Each and every single believer needs to be making the most of every opportunity. Even more so, there is good warrant to argue that believers need to be creating opportunities to share the good news.

 

The inward component of being mission minded may not be as obvious. As people come to Christ in repentance and faith, we need to be teaching and equipping those new disciples, among other things, to be disciple makers. If we fail to train up new believers, the church will quickly become stale and inward looking. Without equipping and training, the church will begin the slow dance of death.

 

God’s hand was with the believers in Antioch. In fact, there were so many new converts that Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. He brought Saul back to Antioch and together they taught large numbers of believers. While we are not told what was taught, we can assume that Barnabas and Saul taught the Scriptures and about the Lord Jesus Christ. We would expect that the new disciples were filled with a passionate desire to be disciple makers as well.

 

We are told by Dr Luke at the end of verse 26 that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Obviously, the teaching reached out into the community so powerfully that the word “Christian” was attached to the group of believers. But we need to understand that the word ‘Christian’ was not used in Antioch as it is used today. It was a derogatory title used to show how hated and despised the believers really were. “Christian” was parallel to a swear word.

 

Churches today need to make sure that new converts are intentionally and faithfully discipled and taught. We must never leave the learning and discipleship of new disciples (and of old ones too, for that matter) to some random process of osmosis. Our discipleship must be intentional and deliberate. It must cover the breadth of Scripture and it must teach disciples to be disciple makers.

 

Discipling can happen in a variety of situations and contexts. It can take a variety of forms. At its most simplest level, discipleship involves 2 or more believers meeting together to sharpen each other, to open the Word together and to pray together.

 

Such discipleship relationships can be based on reading a book of the Bible together or working through a book about the Bible or even learning something new together. It can involve asking each other the hard questions of being a disciple or it can involve sharing struggles together.

 

The encouraging thing is that each and every single believer can make a difference by being in a discipling relationship. Why don’t you invite someone you know into a discipling relationship and start by meeting weekly or fortnightly at a convenient time? Set the initial time frame to extend for a period of 3 months and then review your progress. Work out together if you want to continue on or to take up separate discipleship relationships.

 

Biblically speaking, we see that discipling happened as Christians walked together. Paul, for example, discipled young Timothy as they ministered and travelled together. Elders, ministry leaders and the more mature in Christ should seriously consider this kind of discipleship relationship to equip and train up more people for ministry.

 

A mission minded person focuses both outwards and inwards.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that he wants us to mature and deepen in the faith.

Adore God that through the Holy Spirit and the Word He grows us and matures us.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God for those in your congregation who teach and expound the Scriptures.

Thank God for those who are in discipling relationships.

 

Supplication:

Ask the Lord to put it on the heart of everyone in your congregation to be in a discipling relationship.

Discuss

 

1.Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul to help him teach in Antioch. Why do you think he sought Saul out?

2.What do you understand about the term ‘Christian’?

3.Why does being mission minded have an inward looking component?

4.Who should be in a discipleship relationship?

5.Should children and teens be in discipling relationships?

 

 

Wednesday July 19, 2017

Full of the Holy Spirit & Faith

 

Read Acts 11:22-24

 

Barnabas was introduced to us in Acts 4:36-37. He’s the guy that sold a piece of land and gave the money to the Apostles to use in poor relief. He came to centre stage just before Ananias and Sapphira deceived and lied to the congregation, and to God, about their giving to the poor relief fund.

He appeared again in Acts 9:27 as the one who brought the newly converted Saul (soon to be know as Paul the Apostle) to the Apostles in Jerusalem and convinced them to accept Saul as a bona fide disciple.

Now in Acts11, Barnabas appears again. He’s sent to the disciples in Antioch and encourages the new believers to be true to the Lord with all of their heart. Barnabas is described as a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith”.

The word “good” denotes the attributes of God. Barnabas is like God in character. He shuns evil and seeks to please God in everything. If you and I want to be described as good in the biblical sense, then we need to choose to do what is right. We need to choose to flee from evil and to pursue righteousness. As we consistently choose these things, our character will more and more resemble that beautiful description, good.

Barnabas is also described as being full of the Spirit. Given that Ephesian 5:18 commands us to be filled with the Spirit, we can assume that Barnabas had regular habits that allowed him to be filled with the Spirt. While we are not specifically told what Barnabas did to be filled with the Spirit, we can suggest the following to help each one of us to be Spirit filled. First and foremost, reading the Word and relating to God in prayer are fundamental to being Spirit filled. One must maintain a wide and open relationship to God if one is going to Spirit filled. One must also fellowship with godly people who motivate and push us to strive for holiness and for righteousness.

Being filled with faith is also said of Barnabas. Even though extraordinary faith is listed as a gift in 1 Corinthians 12, and even though it’s possible that Barnabas was gifted with this kind of faith, we can still grow in our faith. Faith, like our muscles, grows as we exercise it. As we step out in faith more and more, we will more and more be filled with faith. Faith is also like courage, it doesn’t just turn up. It grows as we use it and put it into practice. The more we practice faith, the more it grows.

To help us understand what it means to grow in faith and hence to put it into practice, here are a few suggestions - some, or all, of which, you might like to try for yourself.

Make a determined covenant with God to share your faith at least once this week. Increase it by 2 each week.

Covenant with God to relate with God, to pray and read His word for 30 minutes 1 day this week. Then increase it by one extra day each week until you are relating to God deeply and intimately.

Make a pact with God to serve in a ministry that you have never served in and that scares you. Your prayer life will go through the roof and you’ll see God work powerfully.

Make a promise to God to literally tithe this week and then to increase that tithe by 5% each week until you are satisfied. Again, you’ll see God do great things.

So as we think through Barnabas, we see that we can grow in being mission minded by practicing the following:

pursuing righteousness and shunning evil.

spending time relating to God and reading His Word

putting our faith into practice.

A mission minded person is “good..., full of the Holy Spirit and faith”.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is good.

Adore God that He is loving and faithful to His Word.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that He promises to fill us with the Spirit as we seek Him.

Thank God that we can live by faith.

 

Supplication:

Pray that you would grow in being good, faithful and filled with the Spirit.

Pray this for everyone in your congregation.

Pray that God would bless the ministry of the Wednesday night kitchen. Pray that God would bring many to repentance and faith in Jesus as they hear the gospel each week and see the love of Christ in action.

Discuss

 

1.If you were asked to give a reference to Barnabas, what would you say?

2.Why do you think the Apostles chose to send Barnabas to Antioch when they heard the good news?

3.What have you learnt about being mission minded so far?

 

 

Tuesday July 18, 2017

The Lord’s Hand Was With Them

Read Acts 11:19-21 

Picture the scenario with me. At church on Sonday morning, you hear a rousing sermon on being mission minded. You give the verbal “Amen” to everything that is proclaimed from the pulpit. You come home determined to be mission minded.

 

But Monday morning comes along and you’re already pressed for time for the week. Your head’s groggy as you crawl out of bed. You eat breakfast and race off to work. You realise that there are deadlines. Dozens of dead lines. You try desperately hard to meet these deadlines. You fail! But there’s always tomorrow. You get home in a flurry. Dinner needs cooking. Kids need help with homework. Music practice. Sports practice! House needs cleaning. Sleep. Desperate for sleep.

 

Tuesday through Friday play out much the same. Then on Saturday you rise early to get the kids to sport and to music practice. You get home just in time to mow the lawn and trim the edges. You have a wee bit of energy so you light the barbecue and char grill a few steaks. With a bottle of Tempranillio, a rare scotch fillet and a salad as light and lovely as your wife who prepared it, you fall into a heap, ready for a restful night.

 

On Sonday morning you catch but a whiff of that distant promise to be more mission minded. The believers who faced persecution in Jerusalem ran for their lives. They spread out and went to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. They had every reason to lay down the gospel and disappear. They had every reason to skulk through the alleys and lanes. But they would let nothing deter them. Luke tells us that they told the message of Christ as they travelled. Some spoke only to Jews but others spoke to Greeks as well. Mission was the very fabric of their existence.

 

Luke then tells us, ‘the Lord’s hand was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.’ Being mission minded means that we let God set the agenda for our lives. We refuse to let work or commitments or wine or persecution set the agenda for us. Being mission minded means that we make the most of every opportunity and we share the gospel at every turn. We refuse to let life get the better of us and we refuse to be overwhelmed by the pace of life, the demands of life or the threats of those around us.

 

Being mission minded, in this sense is not something we do. It’s a mind set. Being mission minded isn’t something that we strive for. It’s something we are. It’s like the perfume or after shave we wear. The fragrance affects everyone we contact. The fragrance of Christ is with us no matter who we are dealing with. The fragrance of Christ affects everyone we engage with.

Becoming mission minded starts with giving Christ control over our entire lives. We need to stop seeing ourselves as independent agents who happen to be Christian and who happen to be in a particular church.

 

Being mission minded means that we give Christ the controls over every department of our lives. We make up our mind to live for Him at work, at home with the family, with friends, with finances and even with the stress and busyness of every day life.

 

Being mission minded means we make time to sit with God, to soak up His Word and to be in His presence. Only by being still in God’s presence will the fragrance of Christ wash over us and smother us and prepare us for the day ahead. Only by sitting with God will His desires become our desires. Only by meditating upon His word will His heart become our heart.

 

Being mission minded is a mind set whereby we allow God to set the agenda for our entire lives.

 

Prayer:

 

Adoration:

Adore God that He is Lord. He is the Almighty God who created the entire universe. He is the sustainer or all things and He alone deserves our adoration, praise and worship.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness

 

Thanks:

Thank God that because you have His Spirit you can sit silently in His presence and meditate upon His Word.

Thank God that you can understand the Word because the Spirit reveals it to you.

 

Supplication:

Pray that each and every single person in your congregation would grow to be more and more mission minded.

Pray that we would see more and more people sharing Christ with the world and that we would see people coming to know Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Discuss

 

1.As you read Acts 11:19-21, what suggests to you that the believers were mission minded?

2.What in your own life needs to change for you to be more mission minded?

3.Why does Luke tell us the Lord’s hand was with them?

Small Groups

 

 

Reads Acts 11:19-30

 

 

 

Spend time in adoration and praise as you worship God in song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having read Acts 11:19-30, consider the following: What did the disciples do as they scattered out from Jerusalem?

 

Why did they do this? What does it show about them?

 

What does God tell us happened in v21? Describe Barnabas.

 

What does he teach us about being mission minded?

 

 

 

What does the impending drought tell us about being mission minded? How would you summarise the main point of this passage?

Having read Acts 11:19-30, consider the following:

What have we discovered about Barnabas to date in Acts?

 

 

What factors or considerations might the disciples fleeing Jerusalem had to work through in their rush to leave the city?

 

 

 

What was the main focus of the disciples as they fled Jerusalem?

 

 

 

 

Why do you think this was their focus?

 

 

 

 

What was the outcome of the church’s mission mindedness?

What does it mean to be mission minded?

 

 

 

How can a congregation grow in its mission mindedness?

 

 

 

What factors stop us from being mission minded?Who’s responsibility in the congregation is it to be mission minded?

Xin Ju Poh approaches the mission committee in your church and makes it known that he wants to return to his home land as a missionary sent from your congregation. His plan is to take money and aid to the small fledgling church there and

to use that money to build up the church and to reach out to the villages around them. He estimates that about $150,000 would be adequate. He also reveals to you that there is much persecution in the area and that he will most likely be arrested and sent to the labour camps for his efforts. He expects a replacement missionary to be sent from your church if and when this happens.

 

List the issues that need to be addressed before you decide whether or not to allow Xin to go on the mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In what ways would a mission minded congregation analyse the proposal differently to a congregation that was not mission minded?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would be the determining factor for you in making the decision about whether or not Xin should go?

Some people might be tempted to think of being mission minded as pushing a heavy wheelbarrow around with them. As you come across people or situations, you have to empty the wheelbarrow, search for the gospel, share it with whoever is before you and then repack the gospel into the barrow. It’s arduous, costly and hard work. It’s easier to leave the wheel barrow at home and only to get it out whenabsolutely necessary.

But being mission minded is more like wearing perfume or aftershave. When we apply perfume or aftershave the aroma or stink (depending often on the price) follows useverywhere.

 

When we come to Christ, we are infused with the aroma of Christ. To some we are the aroma of life. To others, we are the stench of death. But either way, the gospel aroma oozes from us in every situation. There is nothing heavy to carry. There is no wheelbarrow. There is no drama in taking the gospel with us everywhere we go. Leaving it at home and only getting it out when absolutely necessary, is just not an option because the aroma of Christ is a part of who we are inChrist.

 

Being gospel minded is a state of mind or a state of being. The gospel becomes a part of us. The living water that Christ gives us wells up and flows outwards from us. Others see this living water and want to be refreshed. Gospel opportunities open up everywhere as we let the living water of Christ flow from us.

 

 

 

 

Monday July 17, 2017

Coming Up this Sonday July 23, 2017 Acts 11:19-30 Being Mission Minded

 

This week’s memory verse 

Acts 11:21 (NIV84) 

The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.


What Is Mission Minded?

Read Acts 11:19-30 

Being mission minded has many and varied connotations. It may mean many things to different people. Before you read any further, take the time to answer this simple question. If you are in a group, take the time to share your answers. Remember, there’s no right or wrong at this stage. It’s just a question to get you thinking.

Question: What does “mission minded” mean?

Acts 11:19-30 oozes with mission mindedness like honey oozing out of a honey comb. Every section shows a different angle of what being mission minded is all about.

Initially, we have to realise that the disciples in question have been driven out of Jerusalem by the persecution in connection with Stephen. But these men and women did not go into hiding. They did not choose to lie low. They travelled outwards and as they travelled, some shared the message of grace with Jews, while others chose to share the message with Greeks.

In the next section we will see that mission minded people are Spirit filled and overflowing with faith. In the proceeding section, we’ll see that they are willing to look outwards and to practically support other believers in need.

To understand what being mission minded really entails, we can best start by considering what it is not. Mission mindedness is not an attitude that puts oneself and one’s occupation or life at the top of one’s own agenda. The Christians who were persecuted and left Jerusalem all needed to make a living. Yet none of them allowed their vocation, nor even their family, to set the agenda over their lives. They let God set the agenda.

Added to this, being mission minded is not a seeking for comfort. Again, as we peruse each scenario in the passage, we see Christians willing to be put out and to walk outside of their comfort zones for the sake of the gospel.

Finally, being mission minded is not being greedy or hoarding money and assets for one’s self or for one’s own church. The believers willingly sent aid to the churches in Judea as they prepared to suffer from the forth coming drought.

To start our week, we notice that being mission minded means being ready and willing to share the gospel at every opportunity.

At the end of this week, you’ll be asked again what it means to be mission minded. I trust that as we study the passage before us this week, we will grow in our understanding of what it means to be mission minded.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is mission minded - He wants people from every nation, tribe and tongue to come to a saving knowledge of the truth.

Adore God that He has a plan to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that He has invested the church into His mission plan to reach the world with the love of Christ.

Thank God that we have the awesome privilege of sharing the gospel with people locally, nationally and internationally.

 

Supplication:

As Committee meets tonight, ask the Lord to give them a mission mindedness.

Ask the Lord to allow the Committee to be wise in the way they spend every dollar so the Kingdom of our Lord is advanced and spread throughout the world.

Ask the Lord to increase our giving so that we can meet our budget and have enough to do even more kingdom work in the world.

 

Discuss

 

1.How mission minded are you?

2.What factors did you consider in coming to your answer?

3.What factors stop us from being mission minded?

4.Why does God want each believer to be mission minded?

 


Saturday July 15, 2017

Proof of Repentance

 

Read Acts 11:15-19

 

It must have been confusing for Peter to hear the Gentiles speak in tongues as they were converted to Christ Jesus. For his whole life, Peter had been taught that Gentiles were unclean and ungodly. By all appearances they were. They ate unclean food. They worshipped idols and offered their food to these idols. They engaged in sexually immoral practices and often refused to bow down in adoration and worship to the one true living God.

Now, having seen a vision from the Lord, Peter stood before the Gentiles. To his utter amazement, they had come to believe in Jesus. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit and, as a sign of that filling, they were speaking in tongues. The old barrier of division had gone. There was no fundamental difference between Peter, a Jew come to Christ in faith and these Gentiles, also come to faith in Jesus.

Peter’s whole way of thinking had to change. His whole world view had to be reformed around Christ Jesus. The old views regarding Jews and Gentiles had to be abandoned and a new vision had to be built around Christ.

Peter recalled his own journey and spoke to the critics.

“Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

The Jewish believers heard Peter and understood. In verse 18, we read their reaction.

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

Peter’s confusion was abated, partly by the Lord’s vision and partly by the proof of repentance he saw in the Gentiles. He personally witnessed the believers being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Together with the Jewish believers, they were able to conclude that God had granted Gentiles repentance unto life.

As the confusion clears, we are more able to understand the role of God and the role of each person in repentance. Ultimately, as we see in verse 18, it’s God who grants repentance. This means that we should be praying for such repentance to be granted to unbelievers and even to believers who are engaged in wilful sin.

But as we study the passage we find that Cornelius and his household were also responsible for their actual repentance. When God puts the desire for repentance into the heart of a person, that person is responsible to actually repent. God is not seeking puppets to worship Him.

Even more so, repentance would not have happened had Peter not been obedient to the call from God to share the good news with household of Cornelius. Each and every single believer is responsible to preach the good news at every possible opportunity because God may use that preaching to grant another person repentance.

We must also realise that God may well call us to share the good news with people that we might not normally associate with. God may well have a plan to bring to repentance people in lower socio-economic classes, bikie gang members, gothics, atheists and others through our sharing of the gospel. We must be ready and willing to share the good news at a moment’s notice.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He does not care about people’s socio-economic class, their wealth status or education levels etc. Adore God that He accepts people from all walks of life.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that we do not have to come from a certain demographic stereo type to repent and believe in Jesus.

Thank God that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall not perish but will be saved.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the good news will be clearly and powerfully proclaimed tomorrow at your church service. Pray that this will be the case across the entire nation as churches gather.

Pray that God would work powerfully through the Word as it is proclaimed tomorrow.

Discuss

 

1.How should the fact that God grants repentance affect our prayers?

2.How does God’s granting of repentance correlate with a person’s responsibility to repent?

3.What is repentance?

4.What types of repentance are there in Scripture?

 

 

Friday July 14, 2017

Unjust Criticism

 

Read Acts 11:1-7

 

It’s hard, isn’t it, when you take the initiative and do a job only to be criticised by others? It’s hard, isn’t it, when you pour your heart and soul into a particular job, only to have someone criticise you. Armchair critics, whether they are in a church or just watching sports on TV, are like water that seeps into the rocks and freezes over night. They cause cracks, fissures and ruptures. Nothing positive comes from armchair critics.

Peter had the unbridled joy of seeing Cornelius and his entire household come the Lord. They were even filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. He felt compelled to baptise these new believers even though it compromised everything he had believed to date. But God had prepared him for such an event through the vision on the roof top while he stayed with Simon the Tanner.

But as Peter returned Jerusalem, he was criticised by the circumcised believers. The armchair critics let him have it. ‘You went into house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” Without even bothering to find out the particular details, they scoffed and criticised.

How it breaks my heart to see this same attitude thriving in many churches today. Almost with regular monotony, I hear agonising cries from ministers and church workers who did something, or God forbid, changed something in their church, only to be met by a barrage of armchair critics - almost always, critics who have never bothered to find out the particulars of the situation.

Such criticism is ungodly and destructive. It wounds the person on the receiving end because it assumes that they have acted without thought or without due process. It assumes that they have done something contrary to sound reason and logic, which is tantamount to calling them imbecilic! Such criticism is ungodly and destructive.

I understand that mixing with Gentiles was abhorred by the Jews. I understand the motives and the reasons why they didn’t want to mix with idol worshipping, sexually immoral pagans who ate unclean meat and food. But imagine how different the situation in Acts 11 could have been if they thought to talk with Peter before launching into criticism. Imagine how loved Peter would have felt if they gave him a chance to explain his actions before they attacked him.

Just imagine how loved church workers and ministers across the land would feel if we took the time to talk with them and to ask them about their actions before we launch into armchair criticism of their actions. Imagine how encouraged they would be if we gave them an opportunity to explain before we level accusations and criticisms against them. Imagine how far the church would reach with its love and compassion if we worked together and let the smaller background issues remain small, background issues.

Without even having to think hard, I can recall at least 5 ministers who left parish ministry because of the armchair critics in their particular congregations. Imagine if those congregations spoke words of love and sought to build up the minister. We would have 5 capable men still in the ministry today!

Armchair criticism is not for believers. We are a people of love. Even when we don’t agree with another’s actions, criticism is not the way to go. Love is! We are called to love and to bless. We are called to speak words of encouragement, words that build others up and words that bless. We are called to be Jesus like in all of our actions, even in our words.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God for being a God of grace and mercy and for lavishing all believers with that love and grace through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Adore God that He loves us so much that He reproves us and rebukes us for our good and for our growth.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Thank God that when he calls us to a task or position, He gives us the Spirit filling and the gifts to complete that task or to fulfil that position.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the Lord will continue to grow the youth attached to the ChristLife. Pray that they would grow strong in the Word, closer to the Lord and closer to each other.

Pray that the love of Christ would so fill our youth that they reach out to their peers with that love.

Pray that the youth leaders would be Jesus-like in their modelling of Christ and wise/ biblical in their teaching of the youth

Discuss

 

1.Why did Peter go into the house of a Gentile, eat with them and even baptise them?

2.Why were the Jews antagonistic to these kinds of actions with Gentiles?

3.How had God prepared Peter for this?

4.How do you think it’s possible that Israel missed seeing all the bits in the Old Testament that speak of the Gentiles coming into the faith?

 

 

Thursday July 13, 2017

The Servant Songs

 

Isaiah 42:1-7

 

Sometimes we look for things and can’t see them, even though they are right in front of us. I recall looking for a particular cheque one day. Having turned the office up-side down, I toyed with the idea of paying the cheque cancellation fee. But being late, I had to wait until tomorrow. As I entered the office to make that phone call to the bank, the invisible cheque was sitting literally in the middle of my office table. Sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us.

Throughout the prophecy of Isaiah we see four Servant passages (42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9 and 52:13-53:12) in which the prophet describes the work and ministry of a particular individual called the Servant of the Lord.

In Isaiah 42, this Servant of Yahweh is one in whom the Lord delights. He will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Yahweh introduces His Servant to Israel through the prophet Isaiah. The stress in this introductory poem is on the character, method and mission of the Servant of Yahweh. The Servant is divinely chosen, called, anointed, equipped and commissioned. The LORD sustains Him who is to be a prophet, priest and teacher.

This Servant will bring justice to the nations. As he brings justice, he will not cry out or shout. His ministry is so gentle that a bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. His ministry is silent but strong - the perfect picture of meekness. He will not be disheartened or discouraged until he fulfils his calling. In his law, we are told, the islands will put their hope.

Matthew12:18-21 quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 attributing it to Jesus' ministry in Israel. Jesus did the Father's will and obeyed Him fully. He could do something Israel could never do because He was completely under the control of the Holy Spirit all the days of His life. God has placed His Spirit on Him, which is clearly a Messianic characteristic.

 

The work of this Servant is detailed in the latter half of the Isaiah passage. He will be led by the Lord to be a covenant for the people, presumably the people of Israel and he will be a light for the Gentiles. The Servant of the Lord will shine the light of God to the Gentiles. What Israel had failed to accomplish - namely, shining God’s love and compassion to the nations - will be accomplished by this Servant.

 

Living this side of Calvary, we know in hindsight that Jesus is the Servant of the Lord. We know that he has come and has inaugurated the New Covenant with his death and resurrection. We know that he has freed captives from prison and released from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. We know that the covenant has been opened to all people’s from all nations.

 

God gave His people Israel a mission to shine the light of God’s love to the entire world. His Servant (and His Son) Christ Jesus, came into the world to fulfil that mission. Now having died and been raised to life, that mission of reaching the world with the love of God has been entrusted to the church which God formed through the blood of Jesus.

 

Sometimes, we can’t see things that are right in front of our face. The Great Commission given to us by Jesus is right in front of our face. Let’s make sure that it doesn’t get lost in our day to day scurrying through life. Let’s make sure that it remains the number one item on our daily agenda. Let us be a prayerful people, seeking God’s anointing and Spirit-filling to make disciples of all nations.

 

Prayer:

 

Adoration:

Adore God that He loves us so much that He sent His Servant, and Son, into the world to bring justice to the nations and to shine the light of God’s love to the Gentiles.

 

Confession:

Take time to confess your sins to the Lord and to ask for His forgiveness.

 

Thanks:

Thank God that people from every nation, tribe and tongue can believe in Jesus and receive eternal life.

 

Supplication:

Ask the Lord to give the staff at ChristLife great wisdom, insight and skill in dong the work appointed for them to do. Pray that God would lead and guide them so that the church grows and thrives.

Pray that ChristLife would see much growth as we sow gospel seeds individually, through small groups and through organised events. Pray that many would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour through us.

Discuss

 

1.How do we know that Jesus is the Servant of the Lord?

2.What do you find fascinating about the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 42:1-6?

3.What names are used of God in this passage?

4.What does each name tell you about God?

5.What roles are attributed to God the Father and what roles are attributed to the Servant.

 

 

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