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Courage to Bear Witness (Acts 22:22-23:11)

How do we bear witness to Jesus when our beliefs are unacceptable to the people around us?

Here in Acts 22 & 23, Paul finds himself in a similar position to us. He lives in a world where you can worship anyone or anything you want, as long as you don’t insist that people only worship what you worship. And he finds that his beliefs are intolerable, even to many of the Jews in Jerusalem.

How can we live for Jesus and speak about Jesus when Christian teaching about sin, and hell, and sexual ethics is totally unacceptable?

There are three things we need to know, and one encouragement we need always to remember:

  1. It’s Not Wrong to Assert Your Rights (22:22-29)
  2. It’s Not Wrong to Admit You Are Wrong (22:30-23:5)
  3. It’s Not Wrong to Be Shrewd (23:6-10)
  4. An Unsurprising Exhortation from God (23:11)

Sunday 20th October 2019

Review questions:

  • The crowd didn’t know what Paul had ____ but wanted him _____ (21:33-35)
  • Jesus forbids ____________ (Matthew 5:39)
  • Can Christians insist on their legal rights (22:25)? Yes/No
  • We live before ________________ (23:1)
  • ‘Whitewashed wall’ means someone is ____________________________ (23:3)
  • When Paul admits his sin, he shows he still upholds the ___________ (23:5)
  • Sadducees didn’t believe in angels or spirits, or the _________________ (23:8)
  • They put their own _________________ above God’s revelation (Matthew 22:29).
  • What did Jesus promise (23:11)?
  • Jesus promises __________________ in the world, but also _________ because He has _________ the world (John 16:33)
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I will change:

“If You Will Go With Me…” (Judges 4:1-24)

The book of Judges has many stories of victory against the odds. In chapter 3, there’s Ehud, who bluffed his way into a king’s palace and stuck a sword into his massive belly. Or Shamgar who killed 600 Philistines with a stick.

How could they risk it all? Are there are still people like that today? Can weak, fearful people like you and me learn anything from these brave men?

In Judges 4, we find the story of Barak, who Hebrews 11 calls a man of faith. But although he wins a great victory, he doesn’t seem very confident at all. He seems very much like you and me. What did God want to teach us by choosing Barak?

God chose Barak to show that He uses weak people to achieve His purposes and glorify Himself. And because He uses fail people like Barak, you and I should follow His commands in faith whatever the odds.

And we see that not only in the life of Barak, but in many ways in Judges 4:

  1. God Glorified in Punishment (v1-5)
  2. God Glorified in Faith (v6-16)
  3. God Glorified Unawares (v11-13, 17-22)
  4. God Glorified in Destruction (v23-24)
  5. So Have Faith Whatever the Odds (v6-7)

Sunday 13th October 2019

Review questions:

  • Judges happens when the Israelites are living in ____________________ (Judges 1-2)
  • Why was Israel punished (v1-2)?
  • God saves by giving His ____________________ (v5)
  • What did God promise (v7)?
  • Was it good for Barak to take Deborah (v8-9, 14)? Yes/No/Maybe
  • What does Judges 5:20-21 add?
  • Jael’s husband was an _________________ of King Jabin (v17)
  • Sisera’s death was ____________________ful (9:54)
  • How strong are God’s enemies (v23-24)?
  • When should we obey God (v6)?
  • Which king do we need (Judges 21:25, Hebrews 12:1-2)?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

An Unshakeable Kingdom (Hebrews 12:18-29)

Has your life ever been shaken up?

Have you experienced what the writer of Psalm 46 describes: the earth is removed, the mountains carried into the midst of the sea?

Has what you relied on been taken away?

When your world turns upside down, you find out what you really value. So we ask, what can I rely on? What will last?

In Hebrews 12, we are told that everything in the world is going to be shaken: every possession, every achievement, every relationship. And everything that is made will not last; everything that cannot be shaken will remain.

So, how can we live if every created thing is going to be shaken? Can we survive the shaking? And what will be left?

Hebrews 12:18-29 gives us three directions:

  1. Approach a Better Mountain (v18-24)
  2. Heed a Greater Warning (v25-27)
  3. Worship the Consuming God (v28-29)

That’s how we can survive when the world is shaken to bits.

Sunday 29th September 2019

Review questions:

  • Hebrews is about what is God gave the 10 Commandments at Mount ___________ (v18, Exodus 19:1)
  • How does it feel to hear God speak directly (v19)?
  • I can come to God without fear if Jesus is my ______________________ (v24)
  • What does a mediator do (v24)?
  • Why didn’t many Israelites enter the Promised Land (3:11, 19)?
  • What won’t be shaken (v28, Lk 6:46-49)?
  • How can I receive God’s kingdom (v28, Mk 10:15)?
  • How should we worship (v28, Jn 4:22-24)?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Run Christian, Run! (Hebrews 12:1-3)

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

  1. Our Duty
  2. Our Encouragement
  3. Our Strategy

Sunday 22nd September 2019

Misunderstanding & Defence (Acts 21:27-22:22)

One of the biggest challenges facing the Christian faith today is this: people misunderstand it. Sure, in some places, people haven’t heard of Jesus; that’s a big issue. But often, even where people know about Christianity, they don’t know what it really is. So people think that Christianity is a list of rules that stop people from having fun. Or it’s a bunch of myths that science has disproved.

So, when people misunderstand your faith, where do you start? That’s the issue at the heart of this passage in Acts 21-22. And they teach us three principles for when people misunderstand your faith:

  1. Expect to be Misunderstood (21:27-36)
  2. Be Prepared to Give a Defence (21:37-22:2)
  3. Use the Opportunity to Proclaim Jesus (22:3-22)

Sunday 15th September 2019

Review Questions:

  • Who caused the riot (21:27)?
  • What did they disagree with Paul about (21:28)?
  • What do people today disagree about with Christian teaching?
  • Why does Paul want to speak (22:1)?
  • How does Paul defend himself (22:1-18)?
  • What changed Paul (22:7-8)?
  • How can I be forgiven (22:16)?
  • Who sent Paul to the Gentiles (22:14-15, 18, 21)?
  • We can say, ‘I am one of you, but I met _______________________________’
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

When the Hard Way is the Best Way (Acts 21:1-26)

The end of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey may seem irrelevant to us. ‘What do these voyages and prophecies and vows have to do with us?’ But the question behind them is one we often have to answer: ‘How do you make difficult decisions, especially when the future is uncertain?’

What is ahead for you? Can you expect good days or hardship? Exciting opportunities, work, study, and success? Or sadness, sickness, death?

What is ahead for us? Growth? Struggle? Change or closure?

‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”’ (James 4:13-15).

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. So, how do you decide what to do? Here in Acts 21, we see Paul wrestling with this question. And he lives out three principles, which should guide us too:

  1. Give Up Your Life (v1-14)
  2. Give Up Your Rights (v15-26)
  3. Prioritise the Gospel (v14, 25)

Sunday 8th September 2019

Review questions:

  • Who hosted Paul in Caesarea (v8; 6:5)?
  • How does this show the Gospel (8:1)?
  • What did Agabus say (v11)?
  • What did the believers urge (v12)?
  • Why did Paul go (v13; 19:21; 20:22-23)?
  • What should I want when I make decisions (v14)?
  • Do Christians always agree? Yes/No
  • Why did the elders want Paul to take a vow (v20-22)?
  • Is the hard way always the more Christian way? Yes/No
  • What is 1st priority (1:8)?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Paul Sets Priorities (Acts 20:13-38)

Final words are important. Whether they are planned or not, the last words someone says to us are special. Here in Acts 20, Paul goes out of his way to give his final words to the church in Ephesus. He tells us how we can finish the race well (v24). Later in 2 Timothy 4:7, he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” How will we be able to say that?

Here Paul gives us 5 sets of priorities to finish the race:

  1. For Paul: Encourage the Church (v13-17, 36-38)
  2. For the Church: Teach Repentance and Faith (v18-21)
  3. For Pastors: Don’t Shrink Back (v22-27)
  4. For Elders: Be Alert (v28-35)
  5. For Everyone: Stick Close (v32)

Sunday 25th August 2019

Review questions:

  • Where was Paul going (v16)? Why (v22)?
  • People must ________________________ before they believe (v20)
  • What should the church prioritise (v21)?
  • We should value the _________________________________ of the _______________________ more than taking up our cross (v23, Mark 8:34)
  • What is “the whole counsel of God” (v27, Revelation 22:18-19)?
  • Elders are both _____________________ and ___________________________ (v28)
  • Jesus warns against _______________________ in ________________________ (v29-30, Matthew 7:15)
  • What do wolves do (v30)?
  • Where do we receive God’s grace (v32)?
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live: