Here 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.
- When have you really felt that God was at work through you in the lives of others? What happened?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.]
Here 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.
- When have you felt most energized in your life with God? What was going on and what lead you to that place?
- 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.
- 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)?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.]
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” (Acts 1:11). Never has such a unique question spurred such a powerful movement of God as what we see in the beginning of Acts.
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I began a four-part series on the life of God’s people entitled “Activate.” This first week we talked about the calling of God’s people in response to Jesus’ teaching and life. The life with God is neither intended to be boring/apathetic nor busy/frenetic. Instead we must be activated by God through the power of the Holy Spirit to join Him in His work 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.
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Reading through the Gospel of Matthew, I came across a familiar story where Jesus calls His first followers: Peter and Andrew, James and John. I was struck by the responsiveness these men had to Jesus’ call.
Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. (Matthew 4:22)
I have heard some people lessen the impact of this passage by referencing the fact that Jesus likely had some relationship with these four men before He called them. While I think this does explain some of the rationale for Jesus’ call of these four, it does not decrease the dramatic response they give to Jesus’ call. Here are the three movements:
- They listened to Jesus’ call: I cannot help but wonder if there were some who did not listen to the call. Had Jesus asked others who did not ‘have ears to hear’? Jesus offered a new life calling – a new vocation – with Him as Master: “Come, follow Me, and I will send you out to fish for people” (4:19)
- They left: For Peter and Andrew, “at once they left their nets.” For James and John, “immediately the left the boat and their father.” What they had,t hey walked away from with stunning immediacy. They did not hesitate. They did not make excuses. They did not let other ‘masters’ grip their heart, whether that was job, security, or family.
- They followed: From this point onwards, these four men became Jesus closest followers. Both Peter and James followed Jesus into martyrdom. The others followed to the end of their lives.
Are we the sort of people who listen to Jesus’ call, leave all, and follow Him?