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Category: College

A Fall Re-Group

A Fall Re-Group

First College Fam,

Move in, class confusion, friend reunions, some familiarity, some new normals. Fall 2020, here we go.

There is so much going on in everyone’s life right now, do you agree? With that being said, one thing that is and can always be our constant is our personal ministry as well as our commitment to the Kingdom of God. Yes, the ways we go about being there for others, for serving them, for sharing the Gospel ebbs and flows with the times. But the mission of the Lord remains– reach HIS PEOPLE!

SO, what will you do with your Fall? In the midst of the crazy, in the midst of the unknown, how will you seek to make your faith known, how will you seek to make your Father’s Kingdom advance?


Before this semester starts, we want you to take a moment to see how your personal story with the Lord affects how you speak about Jesus becoming a part of someone else’s story. The way we view the Lord, the way we process who He is and who we are in Him greatly colors how we view His people and those around us.

We have two different forms and some additional material on Gospel Appointments that we are hoping you will take some time to work through. I personally sat down with the Lord yesterday and worked through them and found it extremely helpful to just be reminded of my Father and His provision in my life as he helped me realize all the people He has put in my path to be a witness to.


The following are what we are offering/ encouraging you to work through:

  1. My Story with Christ as Hero
  2. Personal Ministries Worksheet
  3. Gospel Appointment Videos

Each of these exercises can be completed as a stand alone or can be worked through together at one time like I did (took about 1 hr to work through it all!).

(1)

This activity is so unique and something as Christians we need to take more time to think through often. We cannot become “used to” who Jesus is to us or let our story with Christ become a normalcy in our lives. This exercise walks you through your relationship with the Lord from: Creation, Separation, Redemption, to Restoration. SUCH wonderful questions that get your head and heart back to a place of wonder at how much the Lord continues to do in our lives.

It is SO important to know how Christ is the hero in your own story so that when you are thinking about your personal ministry to others you know that you are not the main character, God is!


(2)

Have you thought about your personal ministry lately? Have you asked the Lord to reveal how you can be an active member in His Kingdom, a chosen instrument in order to bring the gospel to someone in word and deed?

We’ve all had some time “off” or time in which we have been unsure what our next steps in ministry look like. Now is the time to reset, hit that start button and be present in the conversation of the living Church, being a part of God’s one plan to reach the lost.

Take some time to pray over the following areas you discussed in the above form after filling it out:

God’s Vision

Your Personal Ministry Pool

Your Family Group as Your Team

We must, Pray Like Crazy

How to Pursue Relationships

Preach the Gospel Boldly and Broadly

You must Prove your Love for them

& Finally, Counting the Cost of Following God

Once completed, also take the time to reach out to a ministry co-laborer and pray over the names of people you have written down. Pray through areas you can improve when it comes to your willingness to be used by the Lord!


(3)

Here is a link to a PDF for the same information if this is easier for you to follow than having to scroll on the above webpage linked: Gospel Conversations PDF

All of the information is SO helpful and you could spend such good time with the Lord as you process through it all and challenge your thinking on how to approach sharing the gospel, but in order to simplify it for you, we have gone on and recommended a couple things to start with.

**We highly recommend watching the following videos from the PDF/website on How to Do Gospel Appointments and what exactly they are to begin with:

Take notes, write out questions you may have, text a fellow Family Group member some of your thoughts on what the Worcester brothers have to say in regards to Gospel Appointments!


We are praying for you and know that you have great work to do for God’s Kingdom if you so choose to!

Acts 14: the strengthening of souls

Acts 14: the strengthening of souls

How often do you think about the necessity of strengthening your soul?

How often do you think about the fact that others need encouragement, redirection, prayers?

How often do you think of trials and disappointments as training that is necessary to grow in your endurance in the faith?

This week we jump into Acts 14 to address some of these questions as well as wrapping up this first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas (seems like they have been on this mission forever doesn’t it?)

Take a second to Read Acts 14 in full before moving on to looking at some key points and questions to walk through the scripture.


Let’s start with breaking down v. 1-3

“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

As we read these verses we are met with this idea of push back, rejection, of someone objecting the truth the disciples are presenting.

Ask yourself these questions:

(1) How do you handle push back? Truly.

(2) How do we typically see the church deal with opposition? Individually? Corporately?


We have to be aware of our own attitude towards opposition before we can know what to do to train ourselves in the strength and power of the Spirit.


So, how do you respond?

Do you tense up? Do you get fired up and say things harshly? Do you back down and leave silent? Do you seek peace above stating the truth you know to be?

What is your attitude?

Do you get mad? Do you feel defeated? Do you get annoyed? Do you exude patience? Do you have a loving spirit towards others?

Spend some time here and let your tendencies come to the surface. Place them at the feet of Jesus and ask for a spirit of confidence, a spirit of love, a spirit of power in His Name!


Now that you’ve thought through how YOU react, let’s look back and see how the disciples responded in vv. 3

“So they remained”

In another version the verse reading “Therefore they stayed”

In the face of opposition…they chose to stay.

In the face of hardship…they remained.

In the face of defeat…they fought on.

and

“[they spoke] boldly for the Lord”

Not only did Paul and Barnabas remain, they continued to fight for the name of the Lord to be proclaimed.


We need to remember that as Christians, our convictions matter. We must not back down from the things we believe, the things we know to be true. We must not let others sway us or let the opposition of culture leave us running to hide.


Ask yourself the following:

(1) What are the things you would choose to fight for?

(2) What’s the attitude you have to have to speak up and fight for something?

In our discussion on Sunday, KJ brought up a good point about how there needs to be both determination and conviction when it comes to things worth fighting for. Robbie similarly reminded us that often the things we choose to fight for comes from an extreme feelings about said thing; either we love it so much we choose to fight, or conversely our hate leads to strong action.


As Paul and Barnabas were obedient, faithful to continue in the work they had previously been commission for…the Lord meets them. As God is proclaimed, His Spirit provides. We have seen this in Acts several other times. Here, as the men are sharing of the name of the Lord, He is faithful to provide tangible “signs and wonders” for the crowds to see. God knew the people needed to hear AND see His Power in order to believe.

–> Have you ever seen the Lord’s power show up in your life as you were obedient to speak, to fight, to step out in faith?


Continuing on in the chapter with vv. 4-7

“But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.”

Here we see Paul and Barnabas gaining discernment from the Spirit on knowing when to leave and take their efforts to another city.

Yes, the men fled.

BUT…they didn’t stop the mission. Upon arriving to Derbe and Lystra, they continued to preach the gospel. See, the men knew they needed to leave the city of Iconium (spoiler…just for the time being) but they did not need to leave behind the mission.

Where God moves His people, His power goes with them.


Rob challenged us to think through what could have come in verse 7. The story could have read something like Paul and Barnabas fled from the persecution at hand to go and rest, to recover, to take a breather (admit it, you probably would like that if you were them, right?).

(1) How often do we escape/ flee situations in order to just take a break?

(2) When have you actually moved on from one hard situation to another, but felt stronger instead of weaker?


Continue on in vv.8-13

**vv. 8-11 is a similar story to how the people treated Peter earlier in Acts, just with a different culture response.

“Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. “

Here we see a city thinking Paul and Barnabas were gods among them. So we see them wanting to worship them, wanting to make sacrifices before them..

Yet, Paul and Barnabas tried to set the people straight in the next few verses.

vv. 14-17

“But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

We are also men- of like nature with you

Sometimes it is SO important to be aware of our place in the Kingdom of God. Yes, we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us, but we are still man. Still able to see eye-level with those around us- whether fellow child of God or not.


Consider vv. 15

“that you should turn from these vain things”

V a i n : producing no result; useless. having no real value, empty,

Our culture is full of “how can I please myself” “how can I gain man’s approval” “how can I be happy right now” “how can I make my life look beautiful online”

Some Questions to think through on this:

(1) Is our culture wrapped up in vain things? Things that don’t hold any true value?

(2) How have you in your life over the past few weeks been chasing after things that won’t provide any lasting value, things that won’t leave you complete and satisfied?

(3) How can you be aware and distinguish between things that are neutral and the things that are taking control over your life?

Be aware of the things that you feel as though you cannot live without.

Be aware of the things that dictate your emotions at any given moment.

Be aware of the things that monopolize your thoughts.


“… to a living God”

Here we see Paul and Barnabas telling the crowd that they actually do have something else to turn to….something that is not vain! They are able to turn from the vanity that the world wraps itself up in and they can turn instead to a living God.

There and only there can we find true peace, true rest, true meaning, true comfort in life.

A point we made on Sunday–> the Bible is not simply better than Netflix. The Bible itself acts as a counter-agent to the lies, to the culture, to the identity we seek from the world.

The Bible is supposed to be active against the bitter-spirit that lies in one’s life before they become a follower of Jesus.

(1) How does the truth of the Bible act as a counter-agent to what is out there in the world today? How does the Spirit fight against the lies of the Enemy as we sit with God and His words?


continuing on vv. 19-20

“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.”

Even as Paul was stoned, tormented by those still in opposition to the gospel…the disciples gathered around him. There was a true sense of community, or oneness here.

v. 21

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, “

You’re saying Paul and Barnabas decided to GO BACK to the place where they had to previously flee from due to violence and fear of persecution?

HOW? tell me how!

v. 22

“strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. “

Sometimes we need to be strengthened in order to go back and face something the Lord intends for us to face. Sometimes we need to walk through a season of endurance, a time of building up, a series of trusting the Lord in order to be obedient where God has called us. Paul and Barnabas returned to Iconium stronger, more confident in their power from the Lord.

(1) How important is it that we take the steps to strengthen ourselves, specifically our souls?

(2) How much did Paul value being strengthened?

(3) What can the church do to help strengthen others, to provide encouragement more than just once a week?

(4) What were the disciples strengthening? (hint: it wasn’t their physical bodies)

Raise your hand if you need encouragement?

We all need people coming along side us, being consistent in their pursuit of knowing where our heart is. We need constant encouragement, constant words pointing us back to Christ. If Paul and Barnabas need it, so do we!


So..what is the goal of this strengthening, of this facing trials and tribulations?

To enter the Kingdom of God!

There is an internal struggle we all face to remain in the Kingdom of God daily. Letting Him rule and reign over all aspects of our lives. This is where Paul is correct that life is like running a race, always having to be active. We cannot always just wait on God to move us forward, we have to take the steps and then He will meet us along the way providing living water able to sustain us.

Go back and read vv. 22.

Kind of summarizes a lot of the Christian life does it not?


Sit with these thoughts. Let the questions flood your mind and lead to honest conversations with the Lord this week. Below are some questions that the group on Sunday said came to their mind:

(1) What is it that I love?

(2) What are things I should love?

(3) How can I aim to have all my relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ be those that encourage each other, strengthening in nature?

(4) Am I letting my fears and imperfections hold me back?

(5) Am I truly placing others at a higher significance in my life than myself?


Go on and finish reading vv. 24-28

“Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.”

Through it all, through the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the fleeing and the remaining– a door of faith was opened!

The disciples faithfulness coupled with the strength and power of the Lord allowed the men to fulfill the work set before them.


What work is set before you that you need to be faithful in?

What can we take from the missionary journey and apply right now in our lives?


Father, thank you for being present in our lives. Thank you for the presence of others along side us in ministry. Those to encourage us, those to push us forward, those to walk beside. We are incredibly thankful for your guidance and your ability to see when we need to take time to strengthen our souls and when we need to remain and push through. Lord, we pray that this week we are open to your guidance and that we are in your Word often. Let us not strive after things such as the wind, but let us strive to remain fruitful to your Kingdom. Amen

A c t s 1 3: Must be Proclamation + Holy Spirit

A c t s 1 3: Must be Proclamation + Holy Spirit

This week we are seeking to dive into Acts 13 as we follow Barnabas and Saul further on their journey proclaiming the Gospel.

Sunday morning we took some time to look at some key phrases in the scripture as this is another way to go about studying scripture. Rob took us through a few specific phrases which we will talk about in a bit, but it’s helpful to continue the study yourself looking into other key words and things that stood out to you in the passage.

Go on right now and read Acts 13 in its entirety, and jot down to yourself some key phrases, words and ideas that the scripture is talking about.


Some phrases you may have written down during your time in the word:

  • while they were worshipping
  • after fasting and praying
  • sent out by the Holy Spirit
  • proclaimed the Word of God
  • hear the Word of God
  • filled with the Holy Spirit
  • enemy of righteousness
  • hands of the Lord upon you
  • astonished at the teaching of the Lord
  • sent a message of salvation
  • served the purpose of God
  • by him everyone who believes is freed
  • you scoffers
  • gathered to hear the word
  • spoke out boldly
  • shook off the dust from their feet
  • filled with joy and the Holy Spirit

This is not an exhaustive list as there is so much even in this one chapter to dive deeper into. While looking at the key phrases in Acts 13, there are two main things that a lot of the ideas bring together:

(1) proclamation of the word and (2) power of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the disciples’ ministry journey we get a glimpse into the lives of Barnabas and Saul. Here, we see how the two (proclamation and the Spirit) can and have to work together in order for the kingdom of the Lord to advance. You cannot have one without the other and the text in Acts 13 does a great job at pointing us to that fact as we dive in.


Read v. 1-3

“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

Even in these few verses we can learn SO much about the character of these men and their reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit in their own lives as well as in their ministry.

  1. How do we know that the men here are dependent on God?
  2. What can we learn from the leaders of the church movement being unified in their fasting and worshiping? Is it helpful to see leadership together leaning into the Spirit to take steps forward?
  3. What do you think this time looked like for these men?
  4. How does vv.3 remind us that we are not alone in ministry? How does it show the body of the church?

A key phrase came up in our discussion on Sunday about these verses: See, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul all were worshipping and fasting together– voluntarily!

Take some time here to meditate on worship and fasting. The posture. The meaning. The connection it brings between a Father and His children. The perspective change.


W o r s h i p : to prostrate oneself, (“to worship“) which means to bow down to God.

F a s t i n g : voluntary abstinence from food, a true dependence, showing a willing spirit to be filled by something greater than food.


Take a moment to go to the following references. Seek to understand how we must become like children, ones fully converted, offering ourselves as living sacrifice.

  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Matthew 18:3
  1. What does it look like to worship in both physical state and with ones life?
  2. Have you explored all that God has for you in your current lifestyle? Are there more things you could offer? More things to follow Him in? More things to fully change in your life?


Read vv. 4-12

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Another key phrase we looked at here: “They proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (v.5)


P r o c l a i m i n g: announce officially or publicly, declare, make known

Here we see that Barnabas and Saul proclaiming the gospel, doing so in a place where they were welcome to share the word of the Lord, in jewish synagogues. They were proclaiming, making known, the new completion of the law, the bringing forth of a new covenant, a new way of life following the Lord.

  1. What are you proclaiming with your life? What are you declaring with your life? What are you making known about your Savior by the way you live your life?
  2. So, where can you share the word now? In what areas, what spaces, in what friend groups do you have permission to proclaim the word?

While we must be active in our obedience to proclaim the gospel….

we must not forget the power of God and His Spirit!


It’s always Proclamation + Holy Spirit

When we rely too heavily on one over the other, we can find ourselves dealing with one of the following sin issues:

(1) When we are active to proclaim the word of God but forget to rely on the Spirit? Pride enters

(2) Reliance on the Spirit without active proclamation? Laziness enters


Take a moment to pray for your continued dependance on the power of the Lord and for a confidence in stepping out to proclaim the truth of the gospel .


We must be people who notice God’s power. We must be people who are not hard to amaze. We must be people who are continually in awe of the presence of the Lord. We must be people not described as scoffers.

Read vv. 13-25

Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Here we see Paul walking through the story of the Old Testament in vv. 16-25. Take some time to walk through God’s faithfulness to his people and what the people of the Lord walked through up until the coming of the Israel’s Savior, Jesus. Go back and dig into the stories spoken on, taking time to sit with the character of the Lord we serve.


Go on and read vv. 26-41 now.

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 

32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
    be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
    a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

What are some key phrases here in vv. 32-41 that stand out?


We took some time on Sunday to look into two phrases in this section

(1) “freed from everything” in v.39 and (2) “you scoffers” in v. 41.


Freed from everything

In vv. 39 we are reminded that by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. This freedom is new, something that when Jesus came it changed things. Before Jesus, the only freedom offered was that in which they found through living according to the law of Moses. Now, there’s a deeper freedom, a newness of life to be lived.

(1) What are some things that you have been freed from?

(2) How is the freedom that Jesus brings his people different than the freedom by the law of Moses?

(3) Ask the Lord to reveal what in your life would look different if you lived in the truth that you have been freed by a new type of freedom, letting the chains of sin and of this world actually fall off.


Scoffer: kataphronētēs; one who mocks, makes fun of, proclaims something as stupid, despiser

(1) What have you found yourself scoffing at over the last few weeks?

(2) What have you allowed yourself to mock, proclaim as stupid, to despise?

Maybe you have been stuck in a hard to please attitude during this time in quarantine. You look around at all the inconveniences, all the sickness, at the lack of “fun activities”. You have been unamused with this time and have found yourself grumbling more than you have been praising.

OR

Maybe you have been able to seek the Lord in the small things, allowing even the smallest thing to produce a sense of awe. You look at the text from a friend, the sunshine, the time in constant prayer with your Father. You have been grounded once again in your relationship with God and have been reminded of the realness of the power of the Lord.

Either way…let us press on this week to stop the scoffing and seek the Lord instead.


Read vv. 42-52 to finish out the chapter

As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.45 But when the Jews[d] saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Some Questions to look at in these verses:

  1. What can we learn from Barnabas and Paul’s boldness in vv. 46?
  2. What actually makes us worthy of eternal life?
  3. How were the disciples able to be full of joy in the midst of persecution being stirred around them?

A prayer to pray over this scripture in your life:

Lord, oh how thankful we are of your power, of your spirit, of your fullness. You have sought your people, you have freed your people and you constantly love your people. Thank you for showing us that in you we have everything we need. Reveal areas in my life that I have allowed my pride to win, reveal times where I have allowed laziness to take hold. Remind me that I need you, each and every day. Continue to make me aware of the things in my life you are doing and those things you are doing in the life of those around me. Lord, your power is something I want to recognize more and more.  Let me not be so hard to amaze, let me, as a child would, see each day as beautiful and new. Amen.

Below are some videos of us diving into Acts 13 with one another. Hopefully these help to continue the conversations about what the Lord is teaching us each week in Acts!

Acts 11: Be Where God is Moving

Acts 11: Be Where God is Moving

This week we find ourselves in Acts 11.

 

Take a second to be in prayer with the Lord.

Asking Him to guide your time in His word.

Asking Him to make His spirit known to you.

Asking Him to remove distractions, to remove anxieties, to remove temptations to misuse this time.

 

Now, go on and flip open your Bible and read Acts 11.


 

As we looked at the scripture on Sunday morning, Rob offered us a helpful way to help work through the truths and takeaways from any passage of scripture we are trying to study.

We focused on the following within this chapter of Acts:

(1) S e t t i n g

How can knowing where and when the scripture takes place help in understanding the context for us today?

(2) C h a r a c t e r s

Who is involved in the story and how do we fit into the story now? What is said about each person?

(3) P o i n t  o f   V i e w

From whom is this story written? Who is speaking? What can this help us understand? What can we infer they were thinking/feeling at the time of the scripture?

(4) T u r n i n g  P o i n t 

What seems to be a change in tone? Where is there a shift in action?

(5) T h e o l o g i c a l   T h e m e s

Ex: How does this fit into the theme of salvation? How does this fit into previous prophecies? What questions does this passage raise in your head?

(6) T e r m s   o f   i n t e r e s t

What are some phrases that stand out? What words repeat? Why do the actual words used matter?

 

Now, go on and try to work your way through these 5 questions. Using this as a kind of mapping exercise for the section of scripture we are in this week (yes, even if you joined us for our Sunday Morning bible study, go back and answer these for yourself)

***You might need to use what we have studied thus far in Acts as well as the passage in Acts 11. It’s so helpful to try to sort through some of these thoughts for yourself before simply scrolling to see the answers. 


 

Did you come up with some interesting things? Awesome!

 

Now here is an example of what this process looks like. We have been blessed with Rob’s work-through of the above exercise. Read through the following and see what you were able to get from the scripture and what Rob found from it. Take notes on parts that interest you and things you want to go back and look at later.

 

Setting: Jerusalem – from Joppa to Caesarea to Jerusalem

Characters: Peter, brethren at Jerusalem, church at Antioch, men of Cyrene and Cyprus, Barnabas and Saul

Point of View: Luke, omniscient 3rd person

Plot: 

(1) Peter’s report at Jerusalem

  • Peter tells the story of gentile conversion to Jerusalem brethren
  • Brethren are initially mad about Peter associating with gentiles
  • Peter recounts story about vision, preaching event to the household and their receiving of the HS
  • Peter says how he is convinced by their receiving the HS that God has included the gentiles in his plan
  • The brethren are convinced and glorify God

(2) The Church at Antioch

  • The church that was scattered in the persecution of Stephen resettled in Phoenician, Cyprus and Antioch
  • After they settled in those places that shared the gospel to Jews alone
  • The men in Antioch who were from Cyprus and Cyrene, began preaching Jesus
  • Jesus blessed their preaching and a large number who believed turned to the Lord
  • The Church heard about God’s activity and sent Barnabas to Antioch
  • Barnabas rejoiced and encouraged the men of Antioch to remain true to the Lord as he witnessed God’s grace
  • Barnabas is described as: a good man, full of the HS and of faith
  • Barnabas traveled to Tarsus to find Saul
  • Barnabas and Saul came to Antioch and spent a year teaching many in the Church
  • The disciples were first called Christians here in Antioch
  • Some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem and one named Agabus prophesied about a famine 
  • In response to the famine the disciples who could sent money through Saul and Barnabas

Peripeteia “Turning-point moment”

  • Report in Jerusalem
    • Verses: 15-17 – the story of the Gentile Household Receiving the HS
  • The Church in Antioch
    • Verses: 20-21 – the story of those in Antioch receiving the Lord in large numbers

Theological Themes

  • Informing the church about ministry verses keeping it to ourselves
  • The church voicing its issues with one another only and not resolving conflict vs working through the issue looking for God/Jesus’ activity and word
  • Being lead by Jesus vs being beholden by traditions

Terms of Interest

  • Gospel sharing
    • “speak to words to you by which you will be saved…” (11:14)
    • “Speak the word” (11:19)
    • “Preaching the Lord Jesus” (11:20)
  • Gospel Response
    • “received the word of God” (11:1
    • “Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ” (11:17)
    • “a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (11:21)

Using both what you have come up with during your study of Acts 11 and with what Rob informed us with in the scripture, seek to answer the following questions:

vv. 1-3 "Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
  • Why was Peter back in Jerusalem? On what account do we find Peter coming back to the church?
  • What is the brethren’s attitudes initially to what Peter recounts? (you did what? with who?)

 

vv. 4-13 "But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea.12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter"
  • Why was Peter able to speak with confidence about his actions in Caesarea? Was he following his own direction or that of the Spirit?
  • Have you ever felt the Spirit leading you in a certain way and been too afraid to actually follow? (much like Peter needed to be told 3 times to do something)

 

vv. 14-18 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?”18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
  • What do vv. 14-18 reveal about Peter’s encounter with the Spirit that we didn’t see in Acts 10? (hint: look for the red letters)
  • How have you been able to hear the calling of the Lord thus far in your life? Have you been able to discern His voice? 
  • How have you taken the gift of the Holy Spirit for granted in the past?
  • Have you ever tried to stand in God’s way in your life?
  • What would it look like to ask yourself “Where is God moving and how can I be a part of that?”
  • How does your confidence in choices/ direction of your life increase when you allow your life to be directed by the Spirit and not your own thoughts/opinions?
  • How can we better have a curiosity when it comes to the Spirit moving in others’ lives instead of an attitude of judgement?

 

verses 19-30 "19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers[d] living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul."

 

  • What did Barnabas’s do that encouraged the church at Antioch? 
  • How can you encourage those doing the work of the Lord? (Ex: when on mission trips we are easing their load, we are there to be extensions of their current work for the kingdom)
  • How did Barnabas’s actions show that the church needs training and teaching, not just additional numbers of those saved?
  • What is different in being called a follower of God verses being called a “christian”? (hint: Christian literally means little Christ)
  • Why is it important to not just follow tradition, but to follow a Savior?

 


 

v. 23 “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose”

 

Remain faithful to the Lord friends. We are praying for you!

A c t s 1 0 : Seeing God’s Impartiality

A c t s 1 0 : Seeing God’s Impartiality

This past Sunday morning we found ourselves in Acts 10 as we continue to follow the life of the early church as God leads, convicts and corrects.

In Acts 10 we are met with two main characters, Peter and Cornelius, and one beautiful plan of our Savior. Peter and Cornelius may just seem like 2 individual characters with their own stories, but in our discussion Sunday morning we spoke about how they truly do represent something much grander. They represented two people groups becoming one in the eyes of the Lord. Those who had been identified as God’s chosen people and those who had not, those who were jews and those who were not, those who thoughts of themselves as the beloved and those who were seen as common.

What’s even crazier is that Acts 10 is actually the moment you and I enter the story, the moment in which we become considered God’s children, and no longer to be dependant on a basis of being born jewish or not.

Okay, so let’s go on and get into the discussion points then:

Go on and read Acts 10 in it’s wholeness and then we will break down some key points in the verses as well as providing some additional scriptures to further explain concepts touched on:


In verse 1-2 we are introduced to character #1: Cornelius (he’s going to represent you and me, so let’s root for him in this story!)

vv. 1-2 "At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God." 
vv. 3-4 "About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God"

It’s important to note who exactly Cornelius was. He was described as one who “feared God“. He was not a born Jew, yet he followed Jewish culture, participating with those who were following God. Here we see him representing the nations of those who lived in accordance to that which pleased God, seeing him giving alms and adhering to prayer customs. 

  • We looked at Hebrews 11:6 to see a description of someone after God’s heart, someone who pleased the Lord
  • Other examples of people who found favor with the Lord we mentioned were: Job, Moses, Abel, Abraham, David

We see the Lord met Cornelius in his time of prayer. We must remember that God loves to meet us as we seek Him, more on this at the end of this post.

**Do you believe that when you seek the Lord you will find Him, like truly believe that? Spend some time praying to the Lord right now. We know that prayer pleases Him and yet we forget to actually stop in the hustle of life at times and pray. The Lord loves to hear you, your desires, your hurts, your heart. So pause and pray and expect the Lord to meet you there!


Look to verse 5-8 to answer the following questions:

What did the Lord ask of Cornelius?

What was Cornelius’s response?

vv. 5-8 "And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa."

We find that Cornelius was faithful to follow the Lord’s direction to send men to Joppa, even though he may have been slightly confused as to the why behind the action. Take a second to think about what the Lord has been calling you to do that you have laid to the side and said, “I need some more reasoning in order to do that”. Be challenged to let the Lord lead, even when it feels uncertain as to why. We can trust His character which means we can trust His steps forward.


In verses 9-16 we pick back up with character #2, Peter. We have been following his life in Acts thus far and have knowledge that he is seen as a leader, a disciple near to the vision and direction of the Lord. (refer to Acts 2:14 where Peter had the courage to preach at Pentecost).

vv.9-16: "The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven."

Some questions we looked at that are worth answering:

(1) What symbolism can we find in the voice having to speak to Peter 3 times? (refer to John 21 and Mark 14:66)

(2) What is odd about the request to kill all kinds of animals? How did this go against previous Jewish law?

(3) What did vv.15 mean to Peter, what does vv. 15 mean to us today?

We stopped and talked about the idea of clean, acceptable, worthy things. Sometimes, we like to be the judge of the  labels we put on people saying things like: “He looks unfit to be used in the Kingdom of God” “She doesn’t look acceptable for this church” “I cannot be worthy of being a daughter of the King because of my past”…

When thinking of the Lord as the final judge on all things, we must lay down our own opinions, our own judgements, our “normals” when we enter His kingdom. We must be reminded that our inheritance is not product of  anything we ourselves  have done, it is not because of some special quality that we possess, it is not from our ability to stay clean in a dirty world, and it is not by the color of our skin.


In Peter’s vision we get a glimpse of what the Lord is up to. God is breaking down barriers to the gospel, he is unifying a people, he is building up an impartial church. Let’s continue in the scripture:

In verse 17-23 we see Peter inwardly questioning the vision he had and yet the Lord being faithful to speak to Him and comfort Him in the way He was calling Peter to act.

vv. 17-23 " Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests."

From here we see the story of Cornelius coming into the presence of Peter, immediately feeling as thought he should fall on his face before Peter, a Jew. (Go on and read verse 24-29 here) and yet there is something so powerful in what Peter’s response is, what the Lord is trying to tell his people.

vv. 28 "And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean."

We are met with the impartiality of God, and in turn the impartiality we are to live with.

Here are some verses to explore more on this idea, to see this beautiful characteristic of the Lord:

  • Gen. 12:3, Gal. 3:8, Romans 2:6-16

Some more questions to look at with these verses:

In what ways have you been impartial in your love over the past 2 weeks?

How have you decided for yourself who deserves patience, who deserves kindness, who deserves your time?

How do you normally judge others? What do you notice about people you are interacting with?

 

Continue on and read verse 34-35.

vv. 34-35 "So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."

A humbling thought we discussed in the context of God’s impartiality was that there wasn’t anything in you that made Him choose you. There was no special characteristic, no excellent skill, no extreme beauty in you or in me that granted us a place in His kingdom. You see, it’s all HIM, His beauty, His grandness, His perfect character in us that makes us worthy.

You see, we love to have things specific to us that others notice and love us for. The teacher made an exception for me on a deadline because she knows I normally get my work done. That friend spent extra money on me for Christmas because she loves me a little bit more than her other friends. The coach put me in the game more than my teammates because I am simply better than they are and they all know it.

The Lord here is literally saying to flip that notion on it’s head and start a new way of living. A life that doesn’t cling to favorites, special treatment, or pedestals to try to be put on.

If that is the case, then our actions should image Christ better in our ability to see all people as deserving of the gospel in word and deed. We no longer get to stand for division or “fairness based on merit” or to rest in our given family name or wealth.

Convicting right?

God went through great lengths to bring you and me into this story. God spoke not to just Jew, not to just Gentile here. We see Him reaching both Cornelius and Peter, and it’s kind of a big deal. He did it to make sure His love was a redemption story for ALL and not just some. How beautiful is that?

(**Read Ephesians 2:11-22 to enrich your understanding of what God is making a way for as he lifts the title of “chosen” off of only Jewish born individuals and places the  title friend on ALL who have chosen to follow Him and have been covered by His blood)

 

Take some time to go on and finish reading Acts 10.

Below are some more thoughts and references to help as you explore some of the themes and application of this chapter.

 


(1) Acceptability, cleanliness, goodness.

What does the Lord say is acceptable in His children?

Who is God now saying is clean in the eyes of the Lord if it is not just those born Jewish?

What is the Lord making clear in this passage about what our idea of good in someone should actually look like?


(2) Further exploration on how we must seek the Lord, much like Cornelius and Peter. Both were seeking guidance from God, praying daily, in tune with the Spirit, willing to follow where He was leading. Here are some verses that lean into the idea that as children of God, we must seek Him and as we seek Him he promises us we will find Him!

  • Deut. 10:12, Jer. 29:12-13, Gen. 4:26

(3) Read Isaiah 49:6

Sit with the wording “Oh it is too small a thing, too light a thing…”

How is it too small a thing to only love those whom it is easy to love? To love the ones who look like us, do like we do, speak like we do?

Why would it be too light a kingdom is God simply wanted His people to be kind to those who were worthy by the world’s standards (i.e. to count the beautiful as worthy, to reach the wealthy, etc)

See, He’s pushing us to much, much more and it’s up to you and me to follow where he nudges us further or not.


(4) The Lord is a Lord of peace, and peace is a promise He keeps!

Read Eph. 2:17 which quotes Isaiah 57:19

Peace is gospel we need to preach to one another. Peace with God and peace with one another.

How have your actions over the past 2 weeks preached peace? How have the preached conflict?


God’s aim to unite Jew and Gentile is a plan to unite you and me. Let us rejoice in our Father’s effort to bring ALL to himself!

We are praying for a spirit of impartiality in our ministry and in you this week!

 

 

 

-Your First College Crew

The Life of P a u l : A c t 9

The Life of P a u l : A c t 9

Oh to be Obedient…

Acts 9 | The Life and Obedience of Paul and Ananias

 

While this week brought so many uncertainties, one thing that we knew wouldn’t change was having a space for our ministry to gather and talk about the Word of God. In the midst of social distancing, we have learned to be creative when it comes to studying God’s word tougher and so this past Sunday we tuned in via Skype to hear Rob bring us a good word as we continue in Acts this semester.

If you didn’t get the chance to join us, don’t worry! We will be writing recap posts like this one each Sunday so whether you were on the Skype call or not you can come back and have a resource to help study the scripture.

Take a minute to read through Acts 9 now.

Make your own notes, write your questions down, sit with the passage.

Now here’s some thoughts we had as we gathered this past Sunday Morning:


We started by looking to answer two simple questions: (1) So who is this Saul guy anyways? and (2) How is Saul persecuting Christ through his actions?

By looking at verses 1 and 2 we are met with the identity of someone who spent their life seeking ways to persecute followers of the Lord.

v. 1-2 "But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem." 

See, Saul wanted to present physical evidence of people’s disobedience to the high priest and sought to bring them back to be found guilty and worthy of murder. In verse 5 we see that Saul’s efforts to persecution the people of God was not just an account against believers, it was actually an offense against God.

v.4-5 "And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."

Saul was very much against the mission of the Lord. Instead, he was for the mission of stopping the work of the Lord.

–> Think about times in which you have been actively against the mission of the Lord. Times you have felt an urge to reach out to a new believer to invite them in and decided not to. Times you had hours to spend doing anything you please and sat your bible to the side in order to fill your mind with trash TV. Times you have been a part of a conversation that led to gossip and hateful words and decided to add to the convo more jokes and hurt instead of diffusing the conversation back to something edifying.

 

It’s important to note who Saul was before Christ in an effort to see the full beauty in his part in God’s handiwork moving forward, much like it’s important for us to remain in awe that the Lord chooses to use each one of us for His work.

–> Take some time to think about who you were before Christ. What were you living for? What was the aim of your life? What was your mission? BUT GOD, being merciful chose to call you out of that identity into a new life, a new creation.

 

We continued to dive into the scripture reading v. 6

v. 6 "But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."

Here we sat with the following idea:

God not only called Saul to stop doing certain things, but he called him into new action.

The following questions were asked during our conversation:

–> Why is it easier at times to simply stop doing bad things and forget that the Lord has called you to be an active member in carrying out His work here on Earth? Why do we get lazy and think we aren’t to be his workman, looking for ways to advance His Kingdom? Why do we stop short with just removing sin and forgetting that we have been called into a life on mission as instruments in our Redeemer’s Hands?

 

Saul was given an action to follow and a way to move forward with the Lord instead of against Him.

 

Sit with the idea that Saul was blinded for 3 days (v. 9). What do you think was going through his mind? What do you think the conversation between him and the Lord looked like?

 

While we studied Saul’s obedience in this passage, something we leaned heavy into was Ananias’ role in the story.

 

v. 10-12 " Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”

 

We see God meeting Ananias with a command, and a confusing one at that. See Ananias then responds with admitting he doesn’t quite get it. Lord, you want me to go lay my hands on someone who has done so much evil? Really?

Let us find comfort in the fact that Ananias was able to voice his confusion, his doubts to His father and then choose to be obedient. The Lord was faithful to ease Ananias’s mind and remind him that He’s got in under control and is the one who decides who is to be used for the Kingdom of God, not man.

 

In our conversation on Skype we talked about why we like to be the judge of who get’s to bee “chosen instruments” for the Lord.

Why do we like to choose who is worthy to be used for the Lord? Worthy of our time? Worthy to be shown compassion?

 

Ananias could have not been obedient. He could have said, “Nah, God. I think I’m going to pass on that one. It sounds a bit far fetched”

And you know who would have missed out on something beautiful? Yes, Saul wouldn’t have been shown the light of the Lord and regained his eye sight right away. BUT, Ananias would have also missed out on being a first hand witness of the redemption of one of his brothers in Christ (v.17)

 

We must remember that our obedience to the Father is good not only for His Kingdom plan, but it is good for us!

Take a second to think about all of the acts of obedience that were present just in Acts 9 alone. There are so many little steps of faithfulness we must take in our daily lives as we follow God. Steps that add to our lives of obedience. Steps that keep us close to the hands of the Redeemer, the hands of the Creator of all things good.

 

We stopped our discussion in v.18-19 where we see Saul’s vision restored.

v. 18-19 "And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened."

In what ways did Saul have corrected vision? (both spiritually and physically)

There was clarity in Saul’s life, in the true way of life. Let us continue to be a people willing to be corrected, willing to be shown the way forward.

 

 

There is SO much good stuff from this passage that we could share but this is just a start to get your mind turning. Rob encouraged us as we were meeting to not simply be satisfied with reading scripture and answering the easy questions. Rather, let us continue to sit with it. Meditate on it. Let the truths lead us to prayer, to action. We must be willing to let the scripture penetrate our hearts and affect us.

 

Let’s continue the convo on Acts 9 with those we are speaking to this week!

 


Here is a list of the questions we discussed. Use the comments section of this post to write your own thoughts on each of the questions.

(1) Why is it important to know who Saul was before Christ?

(2) Why do we get lazy and simply remove the sin without adding the action of the Lord into our lives?

(3) In what ways do we let our past self negate the work the Lord can do through us?

(4) What can we learn about God’s character from this passage?

(5) What can we learn about our place in His story from this scripture? 

(6) How is Ananias’ obedience something we can learn from?


 

Thanks for reading! Keep getting in the Word this week, it will provide such comfort and clarity in an uncertain time.

Spring R e t r e a t Recap

Spring R e t r e a t Recap

 

This past weekend our College students gathered in houses on the lake to learn what it should look like to live out Acts 2:42 daily with one another. There was laughter, there were tears, and there was a whole lot of feeling near to the presence of the Lord. We had honest conversations on how our relationship with ourselves, the Lord and others are all interconnected and how we must know that the state of our  heart affects all three. It is always such a joy to take specific time to reflect and be the body together. Below is some reflections from students who came away with us on Retreat:

 

 

“As a freshman, my first student trip with First Baptist at spring retreat was an amazing opportunity to grow deeper In my relationship with God, myself, and my brothers in Christ. All the way learning how to be a better Follower of Gods word daily through my relationships and friendships. So many of my great surface level friendships where deepened and strengthened in both purposeful devotional time and awesome competitive board games and pool! Most importantly, the distractions of school and life disappeared as I focused solely on the well being of relationship with myself, friends and God!“

Bryson, Freshman
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Reflections on the Motor City | KJ Mack

Reflections on the Motor City | KJ Mack

Thoughts from KJ Mack on our College Ministry’s trip to Detroit over Spring Break:

 

Detroit.

This was my destination for spring break. If that statement sounds like an oxymoron, that is probably because it is. Warm weather was nonexistent, there were no tropical beaches, and I was not staying in a luxury resort with scenic backdrops. Quite the opposite, actually. I became acquainted (somewhat) with a new type of cold, the closest thing to a beach I saw were the ice sheets flowing over the Great Lakes, and a children’s Sunday school room became my bedroom for a week. Nevertheless, my time in Detroit was without a doubt one of the best weeks I have ever had.
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Ambassador; it’s more than just a title

Ambassador; it’s more than just a title

Have you ever looked up the word ambassador? To be honest I hadn’t ever.

To me that used to be some governmental term that went in one ear and out the other. The term was covered in classes or appeared in sentences and I just assumed I knew enough about it and that it didn’t pertain to me at all. I wasn’t a history buff and didn’t care to know what was going on around the world (don’t worry, I am trying to work on this as I am now an “adult” in society’s eyes).

So what made me interested in something that left little spark in my mind previously?
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