Keep Going! Acts 18.1-22

What is it that Jesus has asked you to do? You, specifically, I mean. Right, everything we have in Christ is ours when we join God’s people by faith. But God puts us in particular places with specific things He intends to do through us too. And then He helps us.

That’s what we learn in Acts 18.1-22 when we’re with Paul in Corinth. The heart of the passage is Jesus’ midnight visit when He tells Paul: Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you … (:9-10a). And then, Jesus provides for Paul.

And Jesus provides for us, too. So … Keep on going in your place of service, because Jesus is with you!

Here’s a few questions to consider with others:

  1. Paul’s ministry began with a very specific mandate from Jesus (See Acts 9). What specific things have you been asked by Jesus to do?
  2. What tempts you to quit?
  3. Jesus’ promises in verses 9-11 are unique to Paul in his specific situation in Corinth. What promises has Jesus given to you as a member of God’s people?
  4. Recognizing Jesus’ different provisions for Paul found in this chapter, what provisions has Jesus given you to provide for the doing of His work through you?

Have a great week, and we’ll see you at Woodland!

 

 

The Public Square: Acts 17.16-34

It’s been a bad week for our tech giants. As is now apparent, we’re not nearly the free thinkers we thought we were when we click and “like” our way through the digital universe. In fact, it looks like we’ve been sifted through algorithms and pitted against one another, resulting in one (but not the only) cause of some pretty hateful speech in the public square.

And then, there’s the Apostle Paul, in Athens, circa 50AD. Acts 17.16-24 is often touted as the New Testament’s best example of how to speak the gospel into a culture that is totally unlike ones own. But, it’s also a clinic on constructive public square speech. The passage includes a setting with a problem (:16-21) and then a sermon with a beginning (a hook), a middle (four points), and then an end that gets broken off through the Athenians’ lack of responsiveness. Paul wouldn’t have called it his finest hour, but we get an excellent primer on how we might introduce the gospel into our thoroughly post-modern, therapeutic culture.

When speaking in the public square, be generous and take people to JESUS. That summary captures the flavor, the character of Paul’s interaction. And, if studied and learned from, his example will help us in our own public square.

Here’s a few questions for further discussion with others:

  1. Why is it so hard to say anything in the public square, in our own American marketplace of ideas?
  2. How do we see Paul modeling generosity in speaking with his audience which is at once confused and distracted?
  3. What connection points does Paul make with his audience? What connection points might you make with yours?
  4. What particular things does Paul establish about God?
  5. What about Jesus does Paul definitely, absolutely, not leave out?
  6. Describe how you, form your own place in the public square, might likewise be generous and take people to Jesus? What might these encounters look like?
  7. What response should you expect when you do take people to Jesus?

Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you at Woodland!

JESUS, in Times of Trouble: Acts 17.1-15

 [Paul] reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ (Acts 17.2b-3).

This week in Acts our passage turns on that message from Paul, especially the truth that Jesus suffered—before being raised, before being glorified. The unbelievers in Thessalonica won’t like that one bit, because a Messiah who suffered for them means that they’re not all that good. In fact, they’re far from God and will need to change to embrace this Jesus who suffered. That’s the “jealous” response of the Thessalonian unbelievers Luke describes for us (:5).

We struggle in the same way, don’t we? If we embrace Jesus who suffered, then Jesus might expect us to suffer in following Him, then following Him will cost us, in leisure time, personal peace, and affluence. Do we really want that?

That all depends on whether we really want Jesus. The  Thessalonians’ neighbors to the south, the Bereans, will be more “noble” (a word having the idea of generosity). The Beareans will “receive” the word, examine the Scriptures daily, and finally believe in this Jesus who suffered.

In the end, JESUS is worth embracing, because in embracing JESUS who suffered we get to embrace JESUS. That makes all the difference in our own times of trouble. Knowing that JESUS suffered means we’re on the right path when we experience trouble in following Him. Knowing that JESUS suffered means we’re raised with Him in newness of life now and will be raised in every sense at His return.

Knowing that JESUS suffered means we can eagerly embrace Him in our times of trouble.

Here’s a few questions for discussion with others. We’ll see you this Sunday at Woodland!

  1. What about the idea of a suffering Christ would have been offensive to the Jews, then to the Greeks?
  2. What about this same idea is most offensive to Americans, and then (gulp!) to you?
  3. How did the Bereans respond differently than the Thessalonians? And what difference did it make in receiving Paul and Silas?
  4. How does knowing that Jesus suffered before being raised invite me to think about my own trouble?
  5. How does knowing that Jesus suffered before being raised invite me to think and feel about Jesus?