Acts

Read Acts 1:6-11 Ascension of Jesus

  • Does it seem like that Jesus’ disciples understand him yet?
    • The disciples were always trying to figure out who Jesus was and what he was going to do. Jesus said and did many things that the disciples would not have expected the Messiah to do. This is why the disciples sometimes failed to grasp what Jesus was saying and doing. Jesus surprised them in many ways and most recently his resurrection.
  • What do you think they expect Jesus to do now?
    • They were expecting him to do what they thought the Messiah should be doing, but he was always surprising them with how he acted. They were expecting him to overtake the Roman Empire and be king of Israel. BUT He then leaves them and promises to send a spirit of power, so that they can bring the kingdom.
  • Does it seem surprising that Jesus trusts his disciples to carry out his message?
    • Jesus is leaving them/us with a big command to do his work.
    • The Spirit is with us to equip and guide us through this, which is so comforting!
    • We are will humans though, that can and do mess stuff up, but even in that we know that the Spirit can work.
  • What do you think it means when Jesus says being his witness to the ends of the earth?
    • What does it look like to witness?

Read Acts 10:44-48

  • How do you react to the Holy Spirit Moving?
    • I know that I’m usually surprised because the spirit moves at unexpected times and places.
  • Who was the Holy Spirit Surprising?
  • Where would you be surprised to see the Holy Spirit moving today? Do you think the Holy Spirit still surprise us today?
  • What do you expect from the church?
    • We all have so many expectations of the church and usually they are set to a VERY high standard. I like to think of the church in the way that I think of Mission trips. There is a three-day rule on mission trips called the fish rule…after three days’ fish starts to smell. Also on mission trips after a lot of time together everyone starts to stink, not just for real, but we start to notice what we don’t like about those around us.  With the church and each other after much together time we need to check our attitudes. There can be so many things we like, but sometimes there’s the one thing that we really don’t like out of a huge list of what we love. This can be the work of the devil trying to divide us, but the Spirit can and does unite us.
  • What should the church look like?
    • What should churches have?
    • Read Acts 2:43-48
      • How does this church look? What looks appealing?

 

John

The writer(s) of John is pushing us to see past what we know, see, and experience to see God’s presence in and around us. This is why John focuses on different stories and Jesus’ miraculous powers. John helps us to see who Jesus really is.

John is purposely different from the other 3 gospels and has different stories.

John (the author(s)) is/are writing to the gentile community to show them that God is at

work in the world.

John was writing to a people who more immersed in scripture than many of us are today. These readers/hearers were ones who were smelling what Jesus was stepping in and knowing the Old Testament references. I’m not that good! I may seem that way, well it’s because I use my resources, like google, Pastor Mike or Dick, and my library of books. As we read through some of these texts I may be asking you to think back to texts that sound familiar. Don’t feel dumb if you don’t know, that’s why we are all learning together. Why does this matter?!  I think/know that this will help us to better understand scripture as whole and it can reveal God’s love even more for us. It also gives us a better understanding. There will be times in your life when you will think about this, and God’s word/ the Holy Spirit will help us through. 

John 14:6-11

  • What is Jesus trying to explain to his disciples?
    • That he is God
  • What does he say if they don’t believe him?
    • Look at what I’ve done!
      • What signs/miracles/acts has Jesus done to prove he is the Son of God?
        • Water to Wine
        • Healing official’s Son
        • Healing at Bethesda
        • Feeding of 5,000 Jn 6:9 sack lunch
        • Walking on Water
        • Healing man born blind
        • Raising Lazarus from the death
  • Do Miracles still happen today?

Doubting Thomas: Jn 20:19-29

  • How would you react to some random person showing up in the locked room you and your friends are sitting in to avoid being taken? This was also during the traditional mourning time, so they wouldn’t be out and about anyway.
    • How did they know it was Jesus?
      • Couldn’t it have been another person who was crucified?
    • What do you think of Thomas’ reaction?
      • Can you relate?
      • What do you think of Jesus remark to Thomas? V.29

I know for me there are definitely times where I don’t feel God’s presence with me, and even when He is there, I still doubt or question. Questioning is part of faith, and it leads to stronger faith. I know God is with us all the time, but man there are times where it doesn’t feel like it. It depends on the time, but I usually try to catch myself and ask God to help me see Him, other times, I just wait a bit.

So if you relate to Thomas, and have doubts that is ok. I think it is beneficial to share your doubts with someone though whether it be a parent, small group leader, or me. If you talk with me about this, I promise that I won’t try to convert you. I will listen and be a resource for you.

Luke

Luke 2:41-52

This is the only story of Jesus childhood in the 4 gospels. Jesus is sitting and learning from the Rabbis. Jesus is asking questions, answering questions, and growing in his faith. It may be easy to read this and think Jesus is having an attitude with his parents, but this is far from it. Jesus was obedient to his parents when they said it was time to go. I’m sure this was quite the conversation Jesus parents lost him for 3 DAYS! 3 Days! That would be horrifying!

How would you feel if you were Jesus Parents?

What does this tell us about Jesus?

A disobedient pre-teen?

Humble Son of God?

Jesus even says “don’t you think I’d be doing my father’s business…”

What does this mean? Wasn’t his father a carpenter?

If you dad was God, the creator of the universe how would you feel? Would you have an ego?

How did Jesus use this power?

Psalm 131

What is humility?

Humility is knowing our relationship with God and where we stand.

What do you need to be humbled in?

What does it feel like to be known or understood by someone? What if they don’t understand seem to understand something that you’ve done or needed?

When I was applying for ministry jobs when I first got married, I applied a church that I did some work with when I was in high school for a youth ministry job. I had changed a lot and really come of out my shell between high school and when I was 24. That was a 6-8-year difference and time to change, grow, and mature. As I was interviewing they asked what part of ministry I was interested in; the logistical desk work or upfront interactions with students and leaders. I said that I love direct interaction with people. The interviewer was shocked…”you mean you really want to work with people, aren’t you quiet and shy.” I was more shy in high school, but when I came out of my shell and was secure in my identity this was opposite from who I was. It felt disheartening and like something I wasn’t called to since who I was, was not heard or understood. Thankfully God lead in a different direction.

Parables

Luke 8:9-10 What is a parable?

Parables are stories to illustrate and explain points, not to obscure them.

As we read parables, we can look for who the God, Jesus, and human characters are in these. This gives us a glimpse of God’s plan and love for us.

Parables can be broken down into some themes:

Kingdom of Haven

Luke 13:18-19 Mustard Seed

Mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet it grows into something that is huge. And it provides shelter. What does this mean for us? God’s kingdom keeps growing to make room for all of us!

Redemption

Luke 15:8-10 Lost Coin

Pharisees would not value a woman’s morals, though would care for the poor. They come from an educated class that would have much more than 10 coins. A coin was about 10 days wages.

The angels in heaven took great interest in God’s work, so they would be rejoicing for someone coming to faith or back to God. Searching for what was missing and then celebrating what was found with a feast by inviting neighbors. It’s so reassuring to know that God will seek us out and rejoice when we turn to Him, not matter what we’ve done.

Love and Forgiveness

Luke 10:30-37 Good Samaritan

Samaria was not a good place to be, people would not look fondly at having to travel through.

Two who were very well to do passed an injured person in an area where they would most need help.

The lowest of the lows (a Samaritan) stops and helps this person and sacrifices for their care.

Prayer

Luke 18:1-8 Unjust Judge

Widow is ultimate example of the oppressed

If the unjust judge who cared not for widows can give justice, how much more can a just judge of all the earth give?

Look what prayer can do and how God provides.

Even if the unjust judge is slow to listen God is quicker

Eschatological: what happens when we die, the final judgment of humanity

Luke 13:6-9 Barren Fig Tree

Jewish leaders believed that God would judge Israel every year to decide when he would be coming back for the final judgement.

Fig trees did not usually need manure, so with the vineyard worker doing all he could to save the tree they wondered if Israel repented in its ways if God would come back sooner

Owner of vineyard is God, the worker is Jesus

One last chance for hearers to express repentance and receive grace

Other

Luke 8:16-18 Lamp Under a Jar/Bushel

We have the light of Christ and we should not hide it. We need to share that light with others.