Daily Bible Study Notes

Thursday November 23, 2017

The Recipe For a Meaningful Life. Pt2

 

Thursday November 23, 2017

Read Acts 20:22-24.

 

Living a life that matters is a possibility for each and every single believer. Yesterday we began to see what that entails. Today, we continue to paint the picture.

As Paul continues summarising his life to the Ephesians elders, he says that he is compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. Listening to the Spirit and being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading is a key ingredient in living a life that matters. But what does it mean to listen to the Spirit. The typical reformed church might tell you that it means reading the Bible because the Spirit never contradicts the Bible. While the latter part of the statement is certainly true, the former is not true. It’s more a fear, knee-jerk reaction to all the abuses that have been committed with the excuse of listening to the Spirit.

Unfortunately, listening to the Spirit cannot be taught like algebra or French. Listening to the Spirit is almost intuitive. Let me share an example. I had a client at work that had finished his training. I hadn’t seen him for about 6 months and I had no need or no intention of seeing him again. As I was driving home one day from work, the Spirit clearly told me to go and visit this young fellow. I rang my wife and told her I’d be late home because of the visit. When I turned up at this fellow’s house, we talked for hours about the hardships he’d faced, the suicide he’d contemplated and hopelessness he was bogged in. I shared the gospel with him and he gave his life to the Lord. The typical reformed believer would argue that the Bible tells us to evangelise, so all I needed to do was to read my Bible. But, even if God tattooed Matthew 28:18-28 on my nose, I would never have applied it to this particular fellow. The Bible tells me to evangelise but it never tells me who to evangelise. I needed the Spirit to lead me to this fellow at this particular time.

So how can I listen to the Spirit? We have to cultivate an inner life that allows the Spirit to speak to us. First and foremost, we need time to sit and listen. If we are busy 24/7 and if our life is go go go from the moment we awake to the moment we are in bed, the promptings and leadings of the Spirit will probably always whizz by us.

Secondly, we need to know our Bibles well because not every urge, whim or desire or leading is from the Holy Spirit. I have heard people say that God led them to divorce their spouses and to hook up with someone else. If I don’t know my Bible well, such leadings will be very dangerous. The Holy Spirit will never lead us to do or to say anything that is contrary to Scripture. He will never cause us or lead us into sin.

Another facet of being led by the Spirit is to have regular, high quality fellowship with mature Christians. Share your thoughts, your experiences and what you feel the Spirit is leading you into. Constant input and constant learning are a must for hearing the Spirit.

As Paul hints at in verses 22-23, being led by the Spirit requires a willing spirit within us. Paul would go to Jerusalem even though hardships and suffering confronted him. He would make no excuses to turn around. Paul would walk steadfastly in obedience. If you want the Spirit to lead you and guide you, make up your mind to walk in obedience, no matter what the cost.

Finally, we need to know ourselves. We need to learn to distinguish which voices or urges are simply from ourselves and which ones are not from ourselves. This takes time and great courage. It’s far easier to say, ‘The Spirit led me to do this or to say this’ than it is to accept responsibility and to admit that it was our choice and our decision.

Leading a life that matters is possible for each believer if we are willing to invest time in our relationship with the Lord and if we are willing to slow down the crazy pace of our lives.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He wants to share with you, lead you and guide you.

Adore God that you have the Scriptures by which you can test the Spirits and by which you can know the truth.

Confession:

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

Thanks:

Thank God that you have other believers with whom you can share your leadings and promptings. Praise God for their maturity and their input into your life.

Thank God that He gives us Christian community to grow us, to sharpen us and to teach us.

Supplication:

Pray that the staff at ChristLife would grow in grace and wisdom.

Pray for Phil M as he prepares to move to Sydney to begin four gruelling and tiresome years of Bible study at college.

Ask the Lord to prepare each one of us to gather in His presence this coming Lord’s Day.

Discuss

 

1.How would you describe Paul’s relationship with the Holy Spirit?

2.Why would Paul go to Jerusalem knowing that hardship and imprisonment awaited him?

3.In what way is reading the Bible different to being led by the Spirit?

4.Why do we need both?

 

 

Wednesday November 22, 2017

 

The Recipe For a Meaningful Life. Pt 1

Read Acts 20:13-21. 

As Paul continues on with his missionary journey, he calls the elders of the Ephesian church and speaks privately to them. What Paul tells them about his life and service gives us a recipe for a meaningful life. The principles that Paul outlines can be transported to any life in any location in any time.

As Paul connects with the Ephesian elders he says, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with…’ A life that matters boils down to the way we live our lives. Paul then expands on that statement, showing them, and us, how he lived his life in a way that matters. Paul’s life was not broken up into his church life and his private life. What he was at church and with the believers, he was with others as well. There was no hint of hypocrisy in Paul. He did not have a church mask to put on, on Sonday mornings.

Paul was able to live such a life because his utmost priority was to serve God in humility. Paul even served with tears, as he was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. Paul’s priority was not to make enough money to buy a bigger house. His goal was not to a have the best mode of transport. His goal was not to have the largest following on the social media of the day, perhaps they called it Faith-book (ROFL). Paul’s goal was to serve the Lord with humility.

Whether you are on the mission field or a stay-at-home mum, you can serve God with humility. From the boardroom to the back yard, you can choose to honour God by serving him with humility. You can make it your goal to serve God. Paul in fact, had this as a stated life goal. Verse 24 outlines that goal for us. Paul’s life goal is stated very clearly. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. You can make such a life goal for yourself. Prayerfully ask God to show you what the main point of your life is and which Scripture you can use as a motto for your life. By setting down your life goal in writing, you are focussing your life and preparing a tool that can be used to cut out the non-essentials of your life.

Secondly, Paul went to great lengths to teach and to preach. He wanted to edify those he knew and engaged with. He taught them both publicly and in their own homes. Again, we can adopt that same goal. We can make it our aim to teach and edify others. If teaching is not a particular gift or skill that you have, you can still make it your goal to edify others. Teaching is but one way to edify others.

Thirdly, Paul endured and persevered through tough times. Even though he was severely tested by the Jews, he did not deviate from his mission and his life plan. If you have a life goal statement, as Paul did, perseverance and endurance will come more naturally and more easily. The evil one will use tough times and persecution to drive us away from Christ and away from doing His work. If we are determined to live a life that matters, persecution will almost certainly come, but it will not deter us or side track us from our life goal. When we know where our life is going and when we know the purpose of our life, persecution and testing are much easier to handle and endure.

Living a life that matters does not equate to shoving more in. That’s a sure fire recipe for burnout or bitterness. Living a life that matters begins by returning to the basics and figuring out why you are doing what you are doing. Living a life that matters begins by asking ourselves the hard questions.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He wants all His children, including you, to have a life of fullness, of meaning and of purpose.

Adore God that he gives meaning and purpose through our identity in Christ and through the spiritual gifts that He gives all His children.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that to each believer there is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Thank God that your life has meaning and value because of Jesus’ work at the cross on your behalf.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the Kitchen Ministry will continue to touch lives and bring healing and wholeness to those we engage with.

Pray that God would use this ministry to bring many into the kingdom.

Pray that God would continue to provide for all the kitchen needs.

Ask the Lord to bring great blessing to the work of Shiloh ministries in India and to the reformed Bible college in Myanmar as both seek to the take the gospel into their country.

Discuss

 

1.What do you learn about the heart of Paul from today’s verses?

2.How would you describe Paul’s life?

3.What benefits are their to having your life goal stated and written down?

4.If you were to write down a life goal, what would it be?

 

 

 

 

Tuesday November 21, 2017

Bored to Death

 

Read Acts 20:7-12.

 

In Troas, the believers met together on the first day of the week to break bread, that is, to celebrate the Lord’s supper. Paul spoke to the people and because he was leaving the next day, decided to speak until midnight. Many lamps had to be lit to enable the sermon to continue.

The believers met without flinching, for hours. They thought nothing of spending the entire evening and night listening to Paul proclaim the Word of God. There were no people in the audience glancing continually at their wrist watches… or sundials. There were no mumblings and murmurs about the time wasting away. Fellowship and hearing the Word were uppermost on their priority list.

As Paul spoke on through the night, a young man name Eutychus perched himself on the window ledge. As Paul continued on, he fell into a deep sleep. Once asleep, he fell out the window and hit the ground, three storeys below. He wasn’t bored to death with the sermon. He was so tired that he literally fell asleep and fell out of the window. But the story is not a tragedy. It’s a triumph. Paul raced downstairs and threw himself on the young man. He wrapped his arms around Eutychus and announced triumphantly, ‘Don’t be alarmed! He’s alive!”

Paul returned up stairs and continued to talk until day light. He spent the whole night proclaiming the Word of God and sharing what God had done through him in his ministry. The audience, for their part, were not bored to death, either. They listened intently and joyfully sacrificed their time to listen to Paul, to fellowship and to hear the Word. Their priorities were God-honouring.

More than ever before, we need to recapture God-honouring priorities. Our lives are like our sock and undie drawer. We know that they have a limited amount of space but we continue to shove more and more socks and undies in, desperately trying to close the drawer. Likewise, our days only have a limited amount of space. But, we continue to shove more and more things into our life, desperately trying to keep them all in. We’ve bought the lie that we have to have our children enrolled in 4 or more extra curricular activities. We’ve been duped into thinking that we absolutely must have the latest gadgets, technology and stuff to keep us happy. We bust ourselves trying to work longer hours to pay for all the stuff we accumulate and we continue to shove more and more into our lives.

For many believers today, with overflowing lives, spending time at church, fellow shipping and hearing the Word of God, is simply not optional. Church is allocated its one hour each fortnight or so. Anything else, is just unquestionably impossible.

But Paul and his gospel partners put God, fellowship and hearing the Word at the top of their priority list. Eutychus was so committed that he chose to go to the meeting rather than going to sleep. The believers were so committed to the Lord and to each other that they willingly and joyfully spent the entire night together.

As you think about your priority list and the many things you do each week, ask yourself which of the items on your list have eternal value. Seek to rearrange your list so that those things and events that have eternal value have the greatest weight and the highest priority. You really don’t have to live the way the world does. You don’t have to imitate the world. If you want to live a life that matters, setting priorities that mirror the priorities in the Bible is a must.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He alone deserves to be our highest priority.

Adore God that He is worthy to receive all honour, glory, praise and exaltation.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that because you have the Holy Spirit you can break free from the demands of the world.

Thank God that you can live a life that is pleasing to God and honouring to Him.

 

Supplication:

Pray that our Small Groups would be havens of love and acceptance and that they would help each person set God-honouring priorities.

Pray that each person in your church would be willing and able to assess their priorities and able to adjust them to fit into the pattern give in the Word of God.

Discuss

 

1.Why does Luke tell us that they met on the first day of the week?

2.Was it insensitive of Paul to keep on speaking until midnight?

3.What was the outcome of Eutychus being raised from the dead?

4.What did the breaking of the bread, that Luke mentions, represent?

Small Groups

Read Acts 20.

 

 

Spend time singing adoration and praise to the Lord.

 

 

Having read Acts 20, consider the following: Why did Paul leave Ephesus?

 

 

 

Why did Paul speak for so long at Troas?

 

 

 

Outline Paul’s words of advice to the Ephesian elders?

 

 

 

 

From what you’ve studied this week, make up a list of what it means to live a life that matters.

 

 

 

Having read Acts 20, consider the following:

 

When Paul was a Troas, he spoke all night. What was the attitude of the church to this?

 

Why did Paul call the elders of Ephesus together to farewell them?

 

 

In what ways was Paul’s life a model of Jesus’ words, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In what way do you see this in Jesus’ own life?

Given that Paul talks to the elders in Ephesians 20, how legitimate is it for non-elders to take out the applications from the text and to apply them?

 

We are saved by faith and faith alone. In what way then, is it godly and scriptural to speak about living a life that matters?

 

 

In what way are you living a life that matters? In what areas do you need to change and grow?

Going Deeper

 

 

 

 

List all the general principles you can find in Acts 20 that show what constitutes a life thatmatters.

 

 

 

 

Why should a Christian be concerned about living a life that matters?

 

 

 

 

What applications are given to elders in this passage?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having studied Acts 20, spend time in prayer. Make sure you incorporate Adoration Confession Thanks Supplication

 

The world will judge Christianity and Christians and our God, rightly or wrongly, by the way they see us live. Some non-believers will actually scrutinise the Christians they know, seeking to catch them out and to point out every inconsistency they can possibly find. Others may not be as concerned.

 

Either way, we need to be reminded that our lives

are always on show. We should always seek to live a life that matters. But, it’s not for show. Ultimately, our desire should be to praise God and to serve Him. Our goal should primarily be to exalt God in all we do, say and think. We should want to honour God in all things. In effect, our heartfelt desire should be to live out the greatest commandment in every department of our lives - love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

 

As we make this our overarching goal in all of life, we will live a life that matters. The non-believers we engage with will witness a reverence and beauty to our lives that they cannot argue against. Though they may slander us and accuse us, our lives are to be so pure and holy that ‘they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.’ (1 Peter2:12).

 

The way we live our live matters. God has called us to live a life worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus. See Col 1:10 and Eph 4:1. God has called us to be Christ’s ambassadors in His absence. Our words, which urge people to be reconciled to God, must match our lifestyles, which show that God is worth being reconciledto.

 

If our words do no match our lifestyle, people will see “hypocrisy” and they will be driven away from Christ. They will not be attracted to Him. But, if the people we engage with see Christ in our lives, they’ll be more willing and more ready to listen to the message of Christ from our lips. The two work hand inhand.


 

 

 

 

Monday November 20, 2017

Coming Up this Sonday November 26 2017 Acts 20 A Life That Counts

This week’s memory verse Acts 20:24 (NIV84) However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

 

Many Words of Encouragement

 

Read Acts 20:1-6.

 

As you lie on your death bed, you‘ll come to the realisation that you’re about to stand before God Almighty. You’re whole life will be naked before God. The question that you will probably ask yourself is this; Have I lived a life that counts? Acts 20 is a great passage to study in this regard because it gives us many clues as to what constitutes a life that counts.

Even in the travel logs that Luke presents us with, we find clues to a meaningful life. As Paul left Ephesus, probably because he didn’t want another riot and because he knew his life was at stake, he headed for Macedonia. As he travelled there, Luke tells us that “he travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people.”

Herein lies the first clue to a meaningful life. Paul spoke words of encouragement, wherever he travels. In the original Greek, Luke, the author of Acts, uses a word that is a form of the name of the Holy Spirit - paraclete. Paul, filled with the Spirit, encouraged and blessed many believers with his words.

In our engagements with people, they will inevitably remember what you said to them. Your words can have a powerfully positive or a powerfully negative affect on others. Words are powerful. You only need to read the refences to speech in Proverbs to see how powerful words really are. Your words can be powerfully negative or powerfully positive.

If you want to have a meaningful life, make a decision to use your words to encourage, to bless and to build up others. Ephesians 4:29 actually commands as much. - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

If you want a life of meaning, start by making a pact with God to speak only words of encouragement, words of blessing and words that lift others up.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that HIs Word contains eternal encouragement and blessing.

Adore God that His Word is true, reliable and infallible.

Adore God that His Word can be trusted.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that the Scriptures have come down to us through the ages without being corrupted or perverted.

Thank God that we have abundant and easy access to the Word of God, unlike many nations.

 

Supplication:

Pray for the CMTC students. Ask the Lord to maximise their learning and their opportunities to put that learning into practice.

Pray that the CMTC students would be a great blessing to the partner church they visit each month.

Pray that the Lord would raise up a Spirit of generosity among us in our giving

Pray that we would be able to support the poor and needy in our region.

 

Discuss

 

1.Why are our words so powerful?

2.What has to change for a person to use his/her words for encouragement rather than for put down or for discouragement?

3.What should be done if a believer refuses to use his/her words for encouragement and edification?

 


Saturday November 18, 2017

The Riot. Part 2

 

Saturday November 18, 2017

Read Acts 19:32-41.

 

Total confusion reigned among the mob. Gaius and Aristarchus could have been torn to shreds by the maddening crowd. Some people were shouting one thing. Others were shouting something totally different. Many in the mob had no idea why they were there. But they were angry. The mood of the mob over took them and they chanted and yelled, even though they had no idea what was happening.

Alexander sought to quieten the mob. But he is Jewish. He’s not one of us! The mob was infuriated. The chanting began again, slowly at first but then echoing through the entire city. Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! For two hours the crowd chanted. The frenzy and euphoria took over. Reason, logic and sensibility had died.

Alexander, the city clerk, was eventually able to quieten the crowd. He spoke very matter-of-factly. He didn’t want to anger or excite the crowd again. “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” (Acts 19:35-40).

Alexander won the day. He made them see sense and was able to dismiss them. The gospel, the powerful gospel that Paul proclaimed, turned the city upside down. The gospel caused such an impact that those who made their livelihood from idolatry and worship of false gods began to stir and to riot. As more and more people turned to Jesus in repentance and faith, they gave up their idolatry. Sales of idols plummeted. So many people came to Christ that their income and livelihood was threatened.

Today, we are excited when one person becomes a Christian, and rightly so. Imagine the excitement and thrill of seeing so many people coming to Christ that the economy generated by illegal markets and sales is effected and endangered. Imagine the joy in heaven and the joy in our churches if thousands upon thousands came to the Lord in repentance and faith.

But unfortunately, we have swallowed the lie and convinced ourselves that God won’t save thousands upon thousands. We don’t expect God to save people and deep down, many of us don’t really care if God saves others or not. We’ve contented ourselves with attending church once a week and with living our own lives until our next appointment with God next Sonday - if nothing else comes up before then.

We’ve filled our lives with non-essential busyness so that we don’t have time for gospel work, for evangelism and for disciple making. If something has to be cut from the agenda, church is often the first thing to go.

But imagine how different life would be and how much the kingdom of God would grow if each and every single believer in your church were serious about the gospel. Imagine how much celebrating and rejoicing there would be each Sonday in your own church if you saw conversions weekly, or even daily. Imagine how much change you would see in your city or local area if each person in your congregation took the gospel to work, to their leisure times, to their family and to their other spheres of influence and actually strove to share the good news with at least one unbeliever each week.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He longs for all people to come to a saving knowledge of the truth and to be saved.

Adore God that He has provided the means of salvation for all peoples.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that you have opportunities to share the good news with people.

Thank God that everyone who believes in Jesus will be saved and will not be condemned.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the gospel heart we’ve been dreaming about this week will infect each and every single believer in your congregation.

Pray that you would have opportunities to share your faith with non-believers.

Pray this for each believer in your congregation.

Discuss

 

1.Why was Paul spared from attack in Ephesus?

2.What was Paul’s response to the uproar in the city?

3.List 3 people you could share the gospel with this next week. Write down their names and pray daily for opportunities to share with them.

 

 

Friday November 17, 2017

The Riot. Part 1

 

Friday November 17, 2017

Read Acts 19:23-31.

 

Demetrius was a silversmith in Ephesus. Being a city that housed the temple of the great Artemis, Ephesus was a great place to make idols. Demetrius had a huge business, making and selling idols for the general public. Even more so, he was able to generate much work for the craftsmen. The economy was booming because people continually sought to worship Artemis and the other gods. Life for Demetrius was good.

But, as Paul preached the gospel in Ephesus, things began to change. People were leaving their former religions and false gods and were turning to Jesus. Idols, for these new converts, were a thing of the past. Business began to slow down. Turnover slumped. Work was increasingly hard to get. Incomes were going down.

Demetrius called together the craftsmen and other tradies to address the issue. He spoke to them in a definitive and serious tone. “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

The crowd that had gathered to listen to Demetrius was furious. “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” they chanted. Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The mob seized Paul’s travelling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and dragged them to the theatre. The uproar was so great that Paul was advised by friends and by city officials not to go near the theatre. The mob could turn unruly and his life could be at stake.

The gospel was so powerful that it caused an economic downturn in idol manufacture and sales. The craftsmen and silversmiths started a riot and intended to run Paul out of town, or even worse, to kill him. The gospel was so powerful that the city was swallowed up in tumult.

Imagine if the gospel were equally powerful in your own city. Just imagine if the meth dealers, makers and kingpins started a riot in your city because the church was stealing their disciples and their clients. Imagine if the dealers and pushers demanded a showdown with the churches because people were no longer turning to ice to fix their problems but to the Lord Jesus Christ.

You and I have to realise that there is no difference between the gospel that Paul peached and the gospel we preach. The gospel has not changed over the 2,000 years since it effected and swamped Ephesus.

The gospel can have the same effect in your city. The gospel can change lives. It can still bring healing and wholeness. It can still turn lives around. It can still draw people out of idolatry and sin.

The gospel is still powerful today. Now is the time to be in the world sharing the gospel. Now is the time for your church to make a stand and to deliberately and unashamedly take the gospel into the community. Now is the time to bring Jesus to each and every single individual. Now is the time for mission - not overseas, but right here in our local city. If the gospel is going to impact your city and change it, then the people in your city need to hear it. Let’s get out there and tell as many people as possible the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Praise and adore God that He has given us the gospel.

Praise and adore God that the gospel is powerful.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that everyone who believes in the good news will be saved.

Thank God that you live in a free land where you can share the gospel without hinderance or harassment.

 

Supplication:

Pray that both you and everyone in your church would make the most of the freedom we have to share the gospel in our society.

Pray that God would raise up and provide all that is needed for your church to be sharing the gospel in the community.

Pray that the youth of your church would be equally gospel minded and willing to share the good news with everyone they know.

Discuss

 

1.Why is the gospel so powerful?

2.In what way is your church sharing the gospel with the community in which it is located?

3.In what way are you sharing the gospel with those in your spheres of influence?

 

 

 

Thursday November 16, 2017

The Most Powerful Gospel

 

Thursday November 16, 2017

Read Acts 19:17-22.

 

The gospel is powerful. The gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe. The gospel is the power to transform hearts and minds. The gospel is the power to transform societies and, indeed, entire nations.

 

In Ephesus, the gospel was powerfully at work. Many people heard about the seven sons of Sceva, who were using the name of Jesus to cast out demons. They were beaten senseless by a particular demon and fled naked and bleeding. Many became Christian and many pseudo-Christians began to take their faith even more seriously.

 

The gospel in Ephesus was so powerful that many believers repented of their involvement in magic and witchcraft. They brought their magic scrolls and burned them publicly. Luke tells us that the value of the scrolls was about 50,000 drachmas. A drachma was roughly equivalent to a day’s wage. By a simple calculation, we can see that this is equivalent to about 137 years of wages. The gospel is so powerful that believers willingly gave up their valuable magic scrolls and burned them in a public declaration of their faith in, and commitment to, Jesus.

 

The same gospel that impacted Ephesus can impact your city or local region as well. Nothing has changed with regard to the gospel since it changed the face of Ephesus. That same gospel can change the face of your city and your local region.

 

This is the very reason why your church is so keen for you to be sharing the gospel with the people in your spheres of influence. The pastor and the ministry team cannot do all the work. We are a team. We are gospel partners. As you rub shoulders with people in the world, as you engage with unbelievers, God will open doors of opportunity to share the gospel. As you make the most of these opportunities, people will come to Christ in repentance and faith. The local community or the city in which you live will begin to change.

 

I dream of the gospel impacting our city so much so that believers get serious about Jesus and publicly burn their pornography, even their smart phones and their computers so that pornography is not an option. I dream of the gospel impacting our city so much so that the churches band together to bless and support the genuinely poor and needy. I dream of the gospel impacting the city so much so that families start to love one another and to minister and serve together. I dream of the gospel impacting our city so much so that ice-addiction and drug addiction rates plummet to record, all time lows. I dream of the gospel so impacting our city that a positive peer pressure is created among the teens and young adults to spur them to be all that they were created to be, rather than being dragged and chained to pornography, to drugs, to violence and to prostitution. I dream of the gospel impacting our city so much so that the whore houses and strip clubs choose to move out of town because of a lack of business.

 

The gospel is powerful. But for it to be powerful, it has to be spoken out. The walls of our churches can no longer imprison the gospel. We have to take the gospel with us into the world in which we live. We have to make the most of every opportunity that the Lord gives us. We have to step out in faith and make the gospel known to a lost and dying world. We have to jettison our excuses and our justifications for not sharing the gospel. The gospel is powerful. Will you petition the Lord to give you opportunities to share the gospel today?

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He is powerful and that His gospel is powerful.

Adore God that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that everyone who believes in Christ Jesus will be saved.

Thank God that once we are saved, God does not leave or abandon us. Praise God that He works with us and in us to make us to be more like Christ.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the Lord would give you opportunities to share the gospel today and each day this week.

Pray that you would have the right words to say and that you would be able to lead people into the kingdom of God.

Pray that each and every person in your church would have the same fervent desire to reach people with the gospel.

Pray that your church would be gospel minded in all things and that it would see many thousands come into the kingdom as people repent and believe in Jesus for salvation.

Discuss

 

1.Why was the gospel so powerful in Ephesus?

2.What is stopping the gospel from being powerful in your city or local region?

3.If you were given an open door to share the gospel with an unbeliever, could you lead them to Christ? If no, what can you do to change this?

 

 

 

Wednesday November 15, 2017

The Most Powerful Name

 

Wednesday November 15, 2017

Read Acts 19:13-16

 

Luke inserts a rather amusing tale for us in the midst of Paul’s Ephesian ministry. Some Jews, note that we are not told that these guys are Christian, use the name of Jesus to drive out demons. By all appearances, these men have a successful “ministry” until they are confronted by a particular demon who overpowers them, beats them and sends them scurrying away naked and bleeding.

The episode does more than provide comic relief and fill space. The episode highlights the power of Jesus’ name. Upon His death and resurrection, Jesus was given the name above all names that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11).

As Christians, we sing about the power of Jesus’ name. We give verbal and mental assent to the power of Jesus’ name but do we ever put that name of Jesus into action? Do we ever rely on the name of Jesus? We often rely on our finances, our ability to give, our training and our academic standards and our knowledge, but do we ever rely on the supposedly powerful name of Jesus?

The Jews relied on the power of Jesus’ name. They took that power literally and went around casting out demons! These non-Christians had more faith than most Christians in a church put together! When’s the last time you or I cast out a demon in Jesus’ name? We can theologically argue for the non-existence of demons. We can call on our scientific knowledge and give demon possession, modern day disease names and labels. But when is the last time we relied on the name of Jesus to drive out a demon?

In that same vein, when’s the last time we broke a sinful habit in the power of Jesus name? When’s the last time we cried out to God in dire need by the powerful name of Jesus? When’s the last time we rebuked an atheist in Jesus’ name or called a non-believer to repent and believe in Jesus’ name?

The sad and heartbreaking reality is that our acknowledgement of Jesus’ name being all powerful is often nothing but mere lip service. We are like a wet and soggy cigarette to a smoker. We are like a dead fish to an angler. We sing and proclaim the name of Jesus but do we ever really rely on the name of Jesus? Does the powerful name of Jesus actually change our daily life? Would our lives change one iota if we didn’t believe in the name of Jesus for a single day?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I don’t want to be a hypocrite any longer. I want the world around me to see the power of Jesus’ name in my life. I want the people in my world to see Jesus’ powerful name changing my life, changing me and working powerfully. For that to happen, I have to step out in faith. I have to live out that powerful name of Jesus on a day to day basis.

Let me share with you what this looks like for some every day believers. These illustrations are taken from TO CHANGE THE WORLD The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter. A Christian automotive company redesigned its modus operandi. Rather than being profit driven, it asked what it owed its customers and employees. Car prices were fixed according to regional needs and local income. Employees were given a scholarship fund to allow their children to pay for college tuition. A Christian arts studio sponsored people from the worst area in its region to paint and to put on an art show for the wider region. A Christian doctor at a particular hospital began to treat palliative care patients with dignity and respect, because they are created in God’s image. She set up a training clinic for doctors and nurses in this field of medicine. A group of Christian business leaders set up a faith based school in the most poverty-and-crime-ridden part of their city.

Do you truly believe that Jesus’ name is the name above all names? Will you commit to living out that reality each and every single day? Will you commit to letting the name of Jesus be the power in and behind your every day life?

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He has given Jesus the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that Jesus is raised from the dead and lives to intercede for us.

 

Supplication:

Pray that both you and your church would come to know and experience the power of Jesus’ name, above and beyond our lip service to this reality.

Discuss

 

1.What does the Bible mean when it talks about Jesus having the name above all names?

2.What are the implications of this for the church and for the individual believer?

3.What are the implications of this for non-believers?

 

 

Tuesday November 14, 2017

Years of Hard Work

 

Read Acts 19:8-12

 

It’s often easy to overlook the small little bits of the Bible. Often, we speed read our way through the Bible and miss the bits that add depth, value and deep insight.

Today’s passage is one such example. On a cursory reading of today’s verses, it’s easy to be enamoured by the miracles that God did through Paul and to secretly bemoan the fact that God never does such great things through me or my church. But in this bemoaning, what have we missed from the passage?

Reading the text carefully, we see that Paul had discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus on a daily basis for two years. Paul laboured and strove for the gospel for two full years. Paul slogged it out, day by day, for two full years.

Sometimes, gospel work is just a plain, hard slog. Sometimes it’s more perspiration than inspiration. Sometimes, we just have to put our nose to the grindstone and simply labour on.

These times of consistent hard work can be painful and gruelling. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay motivated. Sometimes, the desire to give up and to throw in the towel is very near and very real.

So how can we endure years of hard work? Here are some suggestions that may help you persevere over the long haul. Firstly, you need to grow into the habit of spending quality and quantity times with Lord. As Psalm 62:8 says, you need to pour out your heart to the Lord and trust Him. Your “quiet” times with the Lord need to be times with God that refresh and renew you. Note, though, that these “quiet” times don’t actually need to be quiet as such. You can sing, shout and even yell out God’s praises. As you commune with God, living water needs to well up within you. You need to be soaking up the Word of your Lord and casting yourself upon Him, for He cares about you.

Secondly, you need high quality Christians around you to support you. You need friends that you can share deeply with. You need friends that you can cry with, laugh with and even share your doubts with. You need friends that won’t panic and throw Christian clichés or trite, prefabricated responses at you when you share your doubts, your struggles and your fears with them.

Added to this, you need to look after your physical well being. This does not mean that you have to train to be a super triathlete. It means you have to get exercise regularly and you have to find or make time to stretch, to move and to put “pressure” on your body so that it grows and strengthens.

Your intellect also needs to be worked out regularly. Ministering consistently and labouring ceaselessly is tiring. Watching TV or denuding your soul with Facebook are not always the best form of relaxation. You can actually find great relaxation and stress relief in giving your intellect a workout in areas that are not ministry related.

We also need to focus on our emotional well being and stability. Our heart needs to be refreshed and renewed regularly. We need times to laugh, to gaze in wonder and awe, to dream and to release pent up negative emotions.

Hard and consistent work is not sinful. Nor is it a curse. But unless we manage these long hauls carefully, they can wear us out and deprive us of Christian joy and blessing. Let’s make sure that we are ready to go the long haul.

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God that He has created work for us as a blessing and not a bane.

Adore God that He loves us and provides for our needs.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that in Christ Jesus you have all you need to live a life of love and blessing.

Thank God that you can serve and bless others, putting their needs above your own because you are a Spirit-filled Christian.

 

Supplication:

Pray that the Lord would raise up more Small Group leaders and people to be in those groups.

Pray the current Small Groups would be havens of love, of acceptance and of growth in the Lord.

Pray that God would allow each person in your congregation to be ministering and serving throughout the week so that more and more people hear the gospel and repent and believe in Jesus for salvation.

Discuss

 

1.Describe what it might have been like for Paul in the 2 years that he held discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

2.Work is often regarded to be a “four letter word”. What is the biblical view of work?

3.We spoke about looking after our physical, emotional and intellectual selves during this study. How do these help us to persevere over the long haul?

Small Groups

Read Acts 19

 

 

Having read Acts 19, spend time in song, singing adoration and praise to God.

 

Having read Acts 19, consider the following:

 

What had the believers in Ephesus missed, when Paul first arrived there?

 

Is it possible to be a Christian and not to believe in the Holy Spirit? Explain your answer.

 

Describe the episode with the seven sons of Sceva?

 

 

 

Why does Luke include this in the text?

 

 

 

Describe the way in which the gospel impacted the city of Ephesus.

 

 

 

 

 

Should you expect to see such an impact in your own city? Explain your answer.

 

 

 

Having read Acts 19, consider the following:

 

Discuss what you know about Ephesus.

 

How do you account for the fact that the original believers in Ephesus hadn’t heard of the Holy Spirit?

 

 

How did the Gospel impact the city of Ephesus and cause a riot?

 

 

 

 

What was Paul’s response to the riot?

 

 

If you were to summarise the work of God in Ephesus, what would you say?

 

The gospel in Ephesus caused a riot as many people turned away from magic and witchcraft. Today, we might not see people worshipping idols and practicing magic arts. But we still see people under the power of the evil one. Ice-addiction, alcoholism, pornography and the like are all chains of the evil one.

 

Should we expect to see God working as powerfully today as He did in Ephesus?

 

What would be the result of such a work of God?

Going Deeper 

What is your role and the church’s role in this work of God?

 

 

 

 

The churches of Toowoomba are situated in a region that has a lovely family appearance but with a dark and somewhat sinister under-belly. Ice and drug addition are causing huge problems. Pornography and prostitution are growing.  Alcoholism also seems to be a real issue.

 

How can a local church in Toowoomba address these issues?

 

 

Can the gospel change the situation in a place like Toowoomba?

 

 

 

In what way is the name given to Jesus (aka the name above all names) greater than the power of ice and drugs?

 

 

 

 

What results might you see in a town such as this if thousands of people come to Christ in repentance and faith? Think about Ephesus before youanswer.

 

 

Having studied Acts 19, spend time in prayer. Make sure you incorporate Adoration Confession Thanks Supplication

 

We believe that Jesus has been given the name that is above all names. We believe that He has all authority in

heaven and on earth. We sing about it. We declare it in our creeds and plaster our church walls with posters about it.

But, does the name above all names, really have all power and authority in our lives? Do we really believe that Jesus has the name above all names? A few examples will be sufficient to show why I ask these questions.

Max worships Christ Jesus as his Lord and God but regularly struggles and falls into pornography. No matter what he tries, he can’t seem to break the habit. Mary loves to smoke weed. She’s tried stopping but can’t. She now tells herself that if God wants her to stop, He’ll do it in His way and in His time. She happily rolls a joint several times a week, with a clear conscience. Miranda avoids the atheist at work because she doesn’t think the gospel has an answer for his quips, jokes and off-beat comments. Marcus has given up seeking to share Christ with his cousin because he feels that he’s just so beyond salvation that it’s not worthit.

If Jesus has been given the name above all names and if He really does have all power and authority in heaven and on earth, then why do His followers so often live lives of defeat, despair and misery? Please don’t hear health, wealth and prosperity here. Why do so many Christians live defeated lives. I can’t give that up! I can’t share! I can’t make it! I can’t…. The world will never ever come to know the powerful name of Jesus, the name above all names, if they don’t see it in our lives. If we are living in defeat and despair, the world will always mock and ridicule Christianity.

Even through the toughest of times, the world needs to see the victory of Christ. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the world needs to experience us as ‘genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.’ The world needs to see the power of Christ in us, if its going to take Christ seriously.

 

 

Monday November 13, 2017

Coming Up this Sonday November 19, 2017 Acts 19 A Powerful Gospel

This week’s memory verse Acts 19:18 (NIV84) Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

What Holy Spirit?

 

Read Acts 19:1-7.

 

Ephesus, in its heyday, would have been a delightful city to see. Polhill draws out the beauty of the city. Located on the main highway connecting the Aegean Sea with the rich trade routes in the east, Ephesus was the main commercial centre of Asia. It had a natural harbour with access to the Aegean Sea by way of the Cayster River. According to Pliny, the original city was built on the sea, but because of silting from the Cayster, the city lay several miles inland up the river in the first century. The ruins of the city are some five miles inland today. To the north of Ephesus lay the city of Smyrna at the mouth of the Hermus River. To the south was Miletus at the mouth of the Maeander River. The coastal plain connected Ephesus with both these cities and the commerce that travelled through them. In fact, no better site could have been picked for the evangelization of all of Asia Minor than Ephesus. The seven churches of Rev 2–3 may well have owed their origin to Paul’s Ephesian ministry.

 

When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he came across a small group of believers. His first question to them concerns the Holy Spirit. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Even if there occurred a non-recorded discussion around this question, one has to ponder why Paul would ask such a question. It’s somewhat foreign to our way of thinking and to our academic mindset. Did Paul ask because could see no evidence of the Holy Spirit? Did he ask because there was no talk of the Holy Spirit? Did Paul ask because he was concerned about the genuineness of their faith? What is it that prompted Paul to ask about the Holy Spirit?

 

We have to wonder if Paul would ask us the same question, if he were to visit our churches. Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit in our churches? Is there talk of the holy Spirit? Is our faith genuine and, therefore, united to the Spirit?

 

The believers in Ephesus had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. They had simply received the baptism of John, which suggests that they were believers very early on. They had not heard of Pentecost and knew nothing of the Holy Spirit.

 

Paul explained to them that John the Baptist baptised in anticipation of the coming Messiah. Jesus, who was the predicted Messiah, fulfilled the prophesy of John and allowed the Spirit to be poured out on all who believe. The disciples heard the good news and were immediately baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was poured out on them and as a sign of being Spirit filled, they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

 

Prayer:

Adoration:

Adore God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who lives in perfect unity and harmony without confusion or error.

 

Confession:

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

 

Thanks:

Thank God that He pours out his Holy Spirit on those who believe.

 

Supplication:

Pray that God would fill each Committee of Management member with His Holy Spirit so that they can administer the temporal affairs of your church in a way that brings glory and honour to God and in a way that brings growth to the kingdom.

Pray that God would raise up a spirit of generosity among your church so that the work of the Committee of Management is a joy and not a burden.

Ask the Lord to grow your church through conversions as individuals take the gospel into their spheres of influence and make disciples.

 

 

Discuss

 

1.Would you argue that the disciples in Ephesus were Christian or not, before they met Paul?

2.How can a believer know if he or she is filled with the Holy Spirit?

3.What are the marks of the Spirit dwelling in someone's life?

 


 

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