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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.

Boldness Matters

Friday, March 11, 2016

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:

  1. Trust that God has a purpose.
  2. Lean on the Spirit.
  3. See the opportunity.
  4. Be obedient no matter what.
  5. Bind yourself together with other Christians.
  6. Praise God.
  7. 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?

Exalting Jesus

Friday, March 04, 2016

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?

  1. We observe His life.
  2. We remember His death.
  3. We celebrate His resurrection.
  4. 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.

Embracing the Mission of Evangelism

Friday, February 26, 2016

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:

  1. Remember your responsibility in society.
  2. Remember who you were.
  3. 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

  1. Read Titus 1. How are the Cretans described? Does it sound that different from our own time?
  2. Do you think it would have been challenging to do evangelism on Crete? Why/Why not?
  3. Now, reread Titus 3.1-8. What seven things can you see that outline our responsibility to society?
  4. What seven things are listed to describe who you were before coming to Christ?
  5. Finally, what seven things are listed that describe our salvation?
  6. How can knowledge of these things propel you in your evangelistic efforts?

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