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Devoted to God

Friday, April 01, 2016
TEXT: Acts 2.42-47
 
Over the next two months, we're going to take an in-depth look in Acts and learn how the early church grew. The apostles and their followers were committed to preaching the gospel message wherever they went. When growth came, they were prepared for it. Opposition was met with boldness and prayer. Problems were expected and when they came up, they were quickly and openly addressed. The Jerusalem church embraced the mission given it by Jesus. The results of their work are clearly seen: Acts 2.42-47; 4.4, 32-35; 6.1, 7.
 
What are some clues can we pick up on inside the text that shed light on their approach to growth? How can we emulate their actions today? Sunday's lesson will focus on Acts 2.42 and the four ways they were devoted to God.
  • They were devoted to learning about God.
  • They were devoted to fellowship.
  • They were devoted to grace.
  • They were devoted to the power of God through prayer.

For Your Thought and Reflection

  1. Read Ephesians 4.15-16. What words or sets of words express our individual responsibility to the growth of the body?
  2. How can being strongly and personally committed to learning about God help the local church grow?
  3. How have acts of fellowship helped you grow stronger in Christ?
  4. Why is it so important that we be confronted with what happened on the cross on a weekly basis? How can this energize your spiritual life?
  5. What are some specific things you can begin praying about in regards to church growth at Kettering?

Christianity Is Life

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I absolutely love the directive given to the apostles by the angel in Acts 5.20. They had just been set free from the temple jail, having been arrested by the Sadducees for preaching Jesus. Upon their release, the angel doesn’t instruct them to run away, hide, or cower in fear, but to go right back in to the domain of their enemies and preach! They were told to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (Acts 5:20, ESV).

Christianity is life. 

In 2 Corinthians 5.14-17 Paul speaks of our new life in Christ.

What does the new life look like?

It is a life that is motivated by the love of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5.14. The love of Christ overwhelmed Paul. He stood condemned before God because of sin. But, through His great love, Jesus served as the substitute for Paul’s death, by dying on the cross. It is the same for us. When we consider where we were and where we are now, it should move us to fully surrender to Jesus. Because Jesus has loved us so greatly, we love in return. The thought of His sacrifice should fill our hearts with gratitude. Now we no longer live for ourselves, we live for Him, Galatians 2.19-20. By sending Jesus, God intends to transform us into pure and righteous people, Titus 2.14. His goal is not just to save us from the fires of hell, it is to have us dwell with Him as blameless and holy people.

It is a life that is completely separated from our past, 2 Corinthians 5.16-17. God doesn’t care about our past - He cares about our future. What will we do in the present to take advantage of His blessings? No matter who we are, no matter how much wickedness we once committed, we are being remade. God delights in taking our life and making it a new creation. This describes a life that is new in quality, lived at a new level of excellence. All that we were is gone. If you are still holding on to your old life, values, and passions - you have not completely surrendered to God. He will free you from the chains of your past and provide you with the freedom only found in Christ. Will you surrender and allow God to recreate you in Christ, Galatians 6.15?

It is a life in the midst of a transformation process, 2 Corinthians 5.17. Paul says the new has come. The verb tense in this part of the verse indicates a “continuing condition of fact.” As we grow in Christ all of the world’s standards, motives, and values begin to lose their hold on our life. God’s perfect standard of holiness is before us and to it we look. While we will never be perfect in this life, God’s truths serve as the guide on our path to transformation. By the power of God, each one of us can become more like Jesus.

How about you? Have you elevated your perspective? Are you living the new life? What motivates you most as you journey toward heaven?

Standing Firm Matters

Friday, March 25, 2016

READ: Acts 5.12-42

This spring we’re taking a look at Acts from an evangelistic perspective. What is our viewpoint toward the lost? Are we prepared to stand firm when opposition comes? Bad times are here. Families are being destroyed. Marriages are crumbling. Children are hurting. Satan’s influence seems stronger than ever. Despite what Satan is doing, our mission remains the same. We have been called to guide people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

As we study together, how did those in the early church react to what they faced? What are five keys to growth during tough times?

  1. 5.1-11: Purity
  2. 5.12-16: Power
  3. 5.17-28: Persecution
  4. 5.29-33: Persistence
  5. 5.34-42: Providence

For Your Thought and Reflection

  • Why is personal holiness such an important element in our evangelistic efforts?
  • What are some ways you can more effectively use the power you’ve been given? See Colossians 3.16-17.
  • How is the gospel the message of Life?
  • How does Peter’s statement in 5.29 fill you with inspiration?
  • What are some examples where God’s providence has helped you in your evangelistic efforts? Take the time to thank Him and pray for more opportunities.

Motives Matter

Friday, March 18, 2016

TEXT: Acts 4.32-37

This spring we’re taking a look at Acts from an evangelistic perspective. What is our viewpoint toward the lost? Your daily speech and conduct matters.  How you act plays a large role in one of two things: 1) leading someone to Jesus and their embracing of God’s grace through salvation, or 2) hampering someone’s openness to Jesus and the gospel message. In Sunday’s Bible class, we’ll look at the poor example of Ananias and Sapphira. God dealt swiftly and severely with them. Why? Because of the quick and lasting damage hypocrisy brings.

In Sunday’s sermon, we’ll examine the last few verses of chapter 4, which are set up as a contrast to the events of 5.1-11. If there were one word that would describe Barnabas’ work and influence, what would it be? Would you agree if I said, sincerity? Being sincere seems to be a lacking trait in our modern world. Those who act in this way will definitely stand out!

As we study together, we’ll examine the atmosphere of the early church.

  1. 4.32a - Sharing together
  2. 4.32b - Genuine spiritual unity
  3. 4.33a - Strong preaching
  4. 4.33b - God’s favor

Acts 4.34-37 tells us what this atmosphere produced:

  1. 4.34-35 - Incredible generosity (a generic description)
  2. 4.36-37 - Personal sacrifice (a specific description)

The last two verses of the chapter introduce us to Barnabas the Son of Encouragement. 

How can his sincerity inspire us today as we work to bring others to Jesus? Here are four ways he encouraged others:

  1. Financially (Acts 4)
  2. Loyalty (Acts 9)
  3. Humility (Acts 13)
  4. In times of failure (Acts 15)

For Your Thought and Reflection

  • Do you think the atmosphere of the early church (4.32-35) be replicated? What are some things you can do to help create this?
  • In what ways can you demonstrate generosity inside the local church family? Think more than financially.
  • Why is strong preaching/teaching so essential to a thriving church? 
  • As you read over the four ways Barnabas served as an encouragement, do you think sincerity is an essential as others examine our profession of faith? 
  • How does Barnabas’ example contrast with that of Ananias and Sapphira? (5.1-11)

Light Shining Enthusiasm

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

In our studies on evangelism this quarter, we’ve all seen Brother Alan’s powerpoint slide that says, Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. I like that, don’t you? Did you know in the Greek language this word means God in you, or Full of God? In a handout given in our afternoon Bible class today, we learned that we can take the last four letters in enthusiasm and come up with the acronym “I. A. S. M.,” which means I Am Sold Myself. When it comes to living for Jesus, if you are convinced, convicted, and have sold yourself about God and His word, it will shine brightly and bring instant credibility in your efforts to share the gospel with others.

It was Paul who said, Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain, Philippians 2.14–16 ESV. 

Your godly life, demonstrated by purity, devotion, and enthusiasm for Jesus, is as a bright light in a dark world. In the original language, "lights" comes from the word "luminaries." Like the sun, moon, and stars, you do not shine for your own sake. God has recreated you for the purpose of providing light for others to see Jesus. 

Don’t ever forget the power of your example. Others are watching. Each day you have an opportunity to reveal your faith by the way you live and how you react to life’s situations. When others see your resolute trust in God, fairness in the way you treat others, and faithfulness during life's storms, your influence will naturally shine through.

In these times of growing uncertainty, God can bless each one of us with opportunities every day to bring His brightness to someone who needs him. It may be in a kind word spoken, a good deed done, or our pleasant, optimistic demeanor. Our evangelistic work doesn't have to be thought of in terms of a program, it is just the natural result of a changed life.

Praise God for redeeming us and using us as His vessels of mercy, demonstrating the power of His redeeming grace.

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