Prayer as the Pathway to Unity

EM07262015 16x9 TitleIt is great to talk about unity but how do we really achieve it?

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our “One Church” series by exploring that question through Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17. In my message this weekend, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity,” I specifically looked at John 17:20-26, where Jesus prays for the future believers, like us, to be one. My main point is that prayer is the pathway to unity and without prayer we will not achieve unity as believers.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Read More »

Our Cross-Shaped Calling

In Hebrews chapter five, we find a striking picture of how Jesus developed in His calling through humility. Read these words:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears…and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8)

If Jesus needed to ‘learn obedience’ from what He suffered, how much more do we need to learn obedience from our sufferings? If we want to become like Him in every way, then we must enter His school of obedience through suffering. Suffering is not something to be avoided, but something to be embraced as God gives us grace to learn through it. Jesus calls us into an active life of developing discipleship, not Read More »

Empowered (discussion questions)

Activate Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Empowered,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third part of our series, “Activate,” where we are looking at what it means to be individual Christians and a local church set into motion by God’s power and presence for God’s work in the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you really felt that God was at work through you in the lives of others? What happened?
  1. This weekend at Eastbrook we continue our “Activate” series by looking at Acts 2:1-13. Take some time to pray, asking God to speak to you as you read His word.
  1. As we look at Acts 2, it is important to remember exactly what God was doing in the life of the early church. Read Luke 24:45-49 and Acts 1:4-9 again. What was it that the disciples were to do in light of Jesus’ words?
  1. As the disciples are waiting and in prayer, a loud sound and startling sights appear as they are filled with the Holy Spirit. What would you say is the significance of these sights and sounds? Why are these connected with the filling of the Holy Spirit?
  1. Because of the festival of Pentecost, many Jews and God-fearing Gentiles from around the Mediterranean have gathered in Jerusalem. Why do you think that the disciples are gifted with language along with the gift of the Holy Spirit? What does this signify and how does it begin to fulfill Jesus’ commission in Acts 1:7-8?
  1. Background: Pentecost is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, which occurs 50 days after the festival of Passover. The Feast of Weeks is described in Leviticus 23 in connection with the grain harvest and bringing the first fruits of the harvest to God as a thanksgiving offering. In later Jewish tradition, Pentecost is linked with the giving of the law to Moses and the people by God at Mount Sinai.
  1. Many biblical scholars also see a link between the Jewish festival of Pentecost as an offering of first fruits and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for ministry. What do you think that connection might be?
  1. As the disciples move out from the upper room to speak to others, those gathered around them have a wide variety of responses. What are the responses? What sort of responses do you think we should expect when we step forward as witnesses of Jesus?
  1. How is God speaking to you about waiting for the Holy Spirit’s power in your life as a witness for Jesus? What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you? How might your life look different because of what you are considering with God? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week: We continue the “Activate” series by looking at Acts 2:14-47. Prepare for next week by reaidng this passage ahead of time.]

Empowered

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series “Activate” by looking at the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in the activated church and Christian from Acts 2:1-13. I began by highlighting four aspects of the significance of Pentecost in Acts 2, and followed that by looking at four ways in which the Holy Spirit activates the church and individual Christian life. The central theme was that the Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God in our lives, giving us power to join with God’s purposes in the world.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Read More »

Called (discussion questions)

Activate Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Called,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the first part of our series, “Activate,” where we are looking at what it means to be individual Christians and a local church set into motion by God’s power and presence for God’s work in the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you felt most energized in your life with God? What was going on and what lead you to that place?
  2. Following our exploration of Jesus as the way, truth, and life, we are beginning a new series this weekend at Eastbrook entitled “Activate” about the church energized for God’s mission. This week, we are looking at Acts 1:1-11. Take some time to pray, asking God to speak to you as you read His word.
  3. Background: The book of Acts is the second of two works that Luke, an early believer and a physician, wrote in the first century. The first of those books, the Gospel of Luke, focuses on the life of Jesus in Galilee and Jerusalem. The book of Acts picks up after the resurrection of Jesus, charting the life of the first followers of Jesus. Both books are addressed to Theophilus, whose name literally means ‘lover of God.’As Luke recounts the events after the resurrection, he tells of Jesus’ activities until the time He returns to the Father. What is Jesus doing and for how long is He doing these things (verses 1-3)?
  4. Looking at verses 4 and 5, what does Jesus ask of the disciples? Why do you think Jesus is making this sort of request of the disciples? What other options might they have considered?
  5. The Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God in the life of every person who reaches out to God through Jesus Christ by faith. What do you think it means for us to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives?
  6. The disciples ask a question in verse 6 that Jesus redirects in verse 7. What was the disciples’ concern and what is Jesus’ teaching on this point?
  7. Acts 1:8 is a pivotal verse in this chapter and the history of God’s people. How would you outline what Jesus is calling these apostles to in this verse?
  8. The book of Acts traces the early believers as they live out what Jesus calls them to do here in Acts 1:8, witnessing to Him from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. This is a universal call for the good news about Jesus to go out to all people, high and low, rich and poor, near and far. If this is our calling, how are you living out this calling right now? What are some ways you think you could live the calling out more fully in your everyday life?
  9. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study about being called by God as His witnesses? How will that shape your life in the coming week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week: We continue the “Activate” series by exploring Acts 1:12-26, with special attention to the prayers of the early believers.]