One of Satan’s most effective tools is using opposition to threaten the social status, acceptance of, or reputation of a Christian. The area of ego, pride, and acceptance is the soft underbelly of our spiritual lives. What’s happening today? A recent Barna survey asserts that there are “intensifying perceptions that faith is at the root of a vast number of societal ills. Now, the idea is being presented that Christianity is bad for society.” Where do you think things will progress as we move into the future? At some point the opposition we currently face may turn into outright persecution. That’s why we need to see how boldness matters. Instead of turning inward, we need to shift our focus to find the opportunities God will place before us.
In Sunday’s class and sermon, we’ll examine the church’s first taste of real opposition in Acts 4. How did they respond? During the sermon time, we will focus on seven ways they handled the situation. They are:
- Trust that God has a purpose.
- Lean on the Spirit.
- See the opportunity.
- Be obedient no matter what.
- Bind yourself together with other Christians.
- Praise God.
- Pray for boldness.
What was the overall effect of the resistance leveled against them? We can find the answer in 4.32-35.
Before we gather this week, please take a few moments and read Acts 4.1-35. It will serve as a great foundation for what we’ll study together Sunday in the Bible class and during the sermon time.
For Your Thought and Reflection
- When bad times come, how can we move forward in trusting God? When is the time to build trust? (Before or after trouble comes? Why?) Explain.
- When bad times come, on whose power must we lean? Why?
- What stands out to you in Peter’s explanation in 4.8-13?
- Who is our ultimate allegiance to? Why is this important to remember?
- How can opposition and persecution bind us together with other Christians?
- How does the prayer for boldness in 4.24-28 run against natural inclination? Could you have prayed this prayer?
Times like these are actually the best opportunity to reach people. Conventional wisdom says its not. We want to challenge conventional wisdom at Kettering. Our message isn’t growing irrelevant … it’s growing more and more relevant by the day! Will we have the courage to share? May we all develop the heart of Paul in Acts 20.24 (NIV): I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
In Sunday’s class and sermon, we’ll briefly examine Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. In the sermon, we will learn about four facts that serve as a template for our message today. Jesus is the Messiah. How do we know?
- We observe His life.
- We remember His death.
- We celebrate His resurrection.
- We recognize His exaltation.
Before we gather this week, please take a few moments and read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. It will serve as a great foundation for what we’ll study together Sunday in the Bible class and during the sermon time.
For Your Thought and Reflection
- Read Acts 2. What significant thing happened that day? Use a few sentences to describe what the audience saw and heard.
- Now, reread 2.12-21. How does Peter dispel the charge some were making (2.13, 15). How does he explain why they were seeing and hearing the things they did? (2.16-21).
- Study 2.22. What things did Jesus do during His life to manifest He is the Messiah?
- Read 2.23. Was Jesus’ death an accident? Explain.
- Think about 2.24. What did Jesus overcome? By whose power?
- Reread 2.33-36. To what position has Jesus been exalted? Why is this so important to know?
- How do these four things serve as a basic template for the gospel message today? Explain.
Scripture Reading: TITUS 3.1-8
We’ve just spent the three previous months taking a hard look at the present reality of life in America during 2016. Things are bad. People are hurting. Many are struggling with self inflicted wounds of sin and have no idea where to turn. They’ve looked at fulfillment in all the wrong things. Will we have the courage to share the hope that we have in Jesus? That’s our mission - reaching the unsaved with the gospel. We do this, not through establishing a cultural morality or through politics, but by adorning the doctrine of Christ with godly lives.
Apathy becomes a real issue when we lose sight of our mission and focus on things God has not called us to change. We can’t change the culture, but we can each impact one person at a time with the life-changing hope Jesus provides.
On Sunday, we’ll talk about three important components in our mission:
- Remember your responsibility in society.
- Remember who you were.
- Remember your salvation.
Before we gather this week, please take a few moments and read the book of Titus. It will serve as a great foundation for what we’ll study together Sunday.
For Your Thought and Reflection
- Read Titus 1. How are the Cretans described? Does it sound that different from our own time?
- Do you think it would have been challenging to do evangelism on Crete? Why/Why not?
- Now, reread Titus 3.1-8. What seven things can you see that outline our responsibility to society?
- What seven things are listed to describe who you were before coming to Christ?
- Finally, what seven things are listed that describe our salvation?
- How can knowledge of these things propel you in your evangelistic efforts?
Scripture Reading: MALACHI 1
If we fail to recognize God properly, our spiritual lives will falter. We can take God’s blessings for granted. In the Old Testament, 100 years after God’s people returned to their homeland, Israel faced a huge problem with apathy. Their priorities were mixed up. They took God’s providential care and continual blessings for granted. It’s just an amazing thing to consider. What happened to all the nations who had previously been around them? What happened to their forefathers? Most of their ancient national enemies were long gone, having been swept away in relentless waves of Assyrian and Babylonian aggression. What had become of their grandparents and great grandparents generations? They died in exile. Yet, here this new generation was back in the homeland, having been returned by God and preserved by His providence. During Malachi’s time, the nation as a whole failed to appreciate God’s grace and blessings. Their spiritual lives were in serious jeopardy because of their misplaced priorities.
They were not the first generation to experience this problem. And, they aren’t the last. Three hundred years before Malachi’s time, Isaiah said, “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” Isaiah 29.13. When individuals offer half hearted service, God is displeased.
In our Wednesday 1pm class today, I asked what causes apathy among modern Christians. An answer from a 98 year-old brother summed it up well: distractions. Too many are distracted with the modern amenities of this world and lose sight of their spiritual priorities. Yes, we have the best of intentions. Yes, we know we’ll get around to it, eventually. And, before you know it…time marches on...and the spiritual is somehow left out.
We’ve just spent the three previous months taking a hard look at the present reality of life in America during 2016. Things are bad. People are hurting. Many are struggling with self inflicted wounds of sin and have no idea where to turn. They’ve looked at fulfillment in all the wrong things. Will we have the courage to share the hope that we have in Jesus? God has blessed us with so many wonderful blessings, most especially the gift of salvation. Let’s turn our focus outward and seize the opportunities God will provide. Indeed, His word will not return void, Isaiah 55.11.
Join us every Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Kettering Church of Christ as we explore ways to fulfill the mission to which God has called us.
Scripture Reading: PSALM 8
We first heard the term culture of death in the mid-90’s. It is, a way of thinking that goes against the basic Biblical view that says there is intrinsic value in every human life, from conception to natural death. We are living in times where the dominant cultural view asserts that humans are no different from the animals. So it shouldn’t be surprising when many act it out in real life, with no accountability to God whatsoever. You are not someone who just got lucky in the gene-pool lottery. You are a special product of God’s creative genius.
On Sunday, we’ll discuss these important things:
- We are the pinnacle of God’s creation.
- Every person shares God’s image equally.
- We are stewards of God’s creation.
- How to respond to the cultural challenges.
Before we gather this week, please take a few moments and read these passages: Genesis 1.26-28; 2.4-7; Psalm 8; Jeremiah 1.4-5; Colossians 1.16-17; James 3.19; Matthew 5.13-16.
For Your Thought and Reflection
- Read Genesis 1-2. What makes mankind different from the rest of creation?
- Genesis 1 declares that each person has been made in the image of God. How should this effect the way we view every other person? What are some ways you can treat other people with respect and dignity?
- How do you think the Biblical view of our stewardship over God’s creation contrasts with the current world view?
- What are some ways our world is devaluing human life?
- What are some things we can do to influence others to embrace God’s perspective on human life?