Devotional for Worship Series
"Acts: The Church on a Mission"
NOTE: Please use the devotional studies below to help you prepare for the upcoming weekend worship services.
Click on the Bible verses to read from BibleGateway
“Birth of Jesus Foretold to Mary” Preparing for the weekend of December 15, 2019
Read Luke 1:26-38
- Read verses. 26-29. How did the angel describe Mary in verse 28? What do you think it meant to be “favored by the Lord?” Read Mark 8:34-38. How does Jesus describe life as a follower of His? Based on this do you think that angel was telling Mary that her life would be one of leisure and refinement, or one of challenging, sacrificial service to the Lord? Why would someone say “yes” to being favored by God? Are you willing to be one of God’s “favored ones?”
Why was Mary “startled?”
- Read verses 30-33. Mary was a poor peasant girl. Put yourself in her sandals. What thoughts may have been going through her mind as she listened to this amazing message from the angel?
- Read verses 34-35. The story just continues to get more and more astonishing. What was Mary’s “BIG” question for the angel? Mary no doubt knew the Old Testament Scriptures well. Read Isaiah 7:14. How might this prophecy have helped to give her confidence that this really was from God and really could happen to her? Might that have been affirming or scary to her? Now read Deuteronomy 22:20-21. Mary would have surely known about this requirement of the Law of Moses. What potentially could happen to Mary if she were to have a child and her husband (fiancé) would say that he had never slept with her?
- Read verses 36-38. What reminder from the angel gave Mary the confidence to say “yes” to Gabriel’s message?
- Read Romans 8:28. Is there something that you need to entrust to God’s all-powerful, graceful care?
“Birth of Jesus Foretold to Joseph” Preparing for the weekend of December 15, 2019
Read Matthew 1:18-25
- Read verses 18-19. What do we learn about Mary (see Luke 1:26-28 for the specifics)? What do we learn about the character of Joseph? If you had been Joseph, how do you think you would have felt if Mary had come to you and said, “I’m pregnant. An angel came and told me that this child will be the Messiah”? What was his plan and why did he decide upon this action? Read Deuteronomy 22:20-21. What action could he have taken?
- Read verses 20-23. What happened to change Joseph’s plan? Immanuel is not a personal name, but indicates His role as God coming to be personally with us. This was the start of something very special. First, God came to dwell with us, in our world, in the flesh. Next after Jesus had accomplished our redemption by dying and rising from the grave, He promise to send His Spirit to dwell in the heart of all believers. Read 1 Corinthians 3:16 & Romans 8:9. Why do you think He came to be with us in such personal ways?
- Read verses 24-25. How did Joseph respond to his dream experience? If you had been Joseph, how do you think that you would have responded?
“Paul Before the Authorities” Preparing for the weekend of December 8, 2019
Read Acts 24:1-27
- When the authorities finally arrives in Caesarea, what is their accusation against Paul? What do they say about him? Something unique happens here - they say Paul is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. What do they believe about Christians (verses 1-8)?
- Paul defends himself by saying what? He agrees with the Pharisees that are before him. But what is the difference between them? What does Paul point out he was doing when they arrested him (verses 9-21)?
- Felix places Paul on house arrest. Paul was able to have visitors and guests. But how does Paul use the 2 years that he is there? Even though He is being held, what is he doing? What did Felix and Drusilla, Felix’s wife, who was a Jew, need to hear? Even though Felix is hearing God’s Word, what is he more interested in? Read 22-27.
- Once Felix is replaced by Festus, the rulers again come looking to have Paul handed over, sent down to Jerusalem so they could kill him. Festus takes his seat at the tribunal which is also used to describe God’s judgment seat. What does Festus choose to do? Paul as a Roman citizen had the right to appeal to Caesar. How does this fulfill what God had told Him (Acts 23:11)?
“The Plan to Stop Paul” Preparing for the weekend of December 1, 2019
Read Acts 23:1-24.
In Chapter 21, Paul returns to Jerusalem from his third missionary journey. Now after sharing the truth of what God had done and the success of his travels, Paul finds himself in some serious troubles. (Read Acts 21:18-36)
In Chapter 22 Paul retells his miraculous conversion. He admits to being a Pharisee and being present at the death of Stephen. He talks about His goal of rounding up Christians and having them put in jail. Paul also uses his status as a Roman citizen to his advantage to proclaim defend himself. (Read Acts 22)
- Paul now stands in front of the Jewish Council to hear the accusations that were brought against him. What gives Paul comfort, even from his past sins (Verse 1)? What strategy does Paul use to confound the council (verses 6-9)?
- After being taken into the barracks for his own safety, what happens to Paul? What message does he receive? The Jews make a plot against Him. What are their plans? How would the message Paul received give him comfort in the midst of all the turmoil around him? Read Acts 22:11-15.
- Paul’s nephew overhears the plot and goes to the Roman Tribune. This was a military leader in charge of centurions who were in charge of 100 other soldiers. They assemble a team to get Paul out of Jerusalem. Claudius the Tribune then writes a letter explaining Paul’s predicament. What is His conclusion (read Acts 23:26-30)? What was God’s plan? How did God make sure that Paul would accomplish His work?
“Peter Visits Cornelius” November 18-24
After Paul’s struggles to share the Gospel in Athens, he moves on to the city of Corinth. Corinth was not a city fascinated by religion and philosophy like Athens. Instead, Corinth had a reputation as being a den of sin and vice. How would Paul have success there if he struggled in Athens?
- Paul once again meets and begins to teach who? What was their background? How did Paul begin to share the Gospel with them (verses 2-4)?
- Paul lived and worked a job to provide for himself. What encouragement can we take from the way Paul used his job to share the Gospel? Can you do the same within your career?
- Apollos, a eloquent man, comes to Athens and is teaching about Jesus, however, he didn't know about baptism. Who takes him under their wing and teaches him (verse 26)? Were Priscilla and Aquila trained by Jesus? Did they have all the answers? What can you take away from this as an encouragement to share your faith with someone? God can uses anyone to spread the Good News of Jesus- even you! When you share your faith and don’t see immediate results, don’t be discouraged! Keep on sharing the Good News like Paul and let the Holy Spirit do the work!
“Paul Preached in Europe” November 11-17
Read Acts 17:16-33.
1 . Paul has embarked on another missionary journey and finds himself in the city of Athens. Athens was a city that was known for its culture and interest in both philosophy and religion. What does Paul use to introduce Christianity to this culture? (verse 16, 23)
- What was Paul’s tactic for sharing the Good News of Jesus with others? In other words, in almost every city that Paul visits, what does he look for and where does he go to begin sharing the faith? What would be an advantage to sharing the Gospel with people who already have a knowledge of the Old Testament? (verse 17)
- In verse 18, we read about the reaction of some of the most educated men at that time. Epicureans put a great deal of emphasis on trying to live a pleasurable life, though not merely in a sensual way. Stoics emphasized that there was an order to life and to accept your fate with it. What did they think about Paul’s new teaching? In our world today, higher education tends to take a skeptical view of Christianity. What did Jesus say in Matthew 11:25-27 about their type of response? Who does God reveal himself to (James 4:6)?
- Paul uses their statue to an unknown god to reveal the true God. How does Paul describe the true God (verse 23-31)? Where does he start and where does he end? When you share the Good News of Jesus with others, where do you begin? Paul is trying to get them to understand some basic truths about the world so that he can then show them what God has done through Jesus.
- In a culture that was fascinated by religion, what was their response? Did Paul have great success? When you share the Gospel, do you always see the fruit of your labors? Don’t be discouraged...
“Paul’s Second Journey” November 4-10
Read Acts 16:11-34
- Read Acts 16:6-12. How did Paul & Silas end up in Philippi? What about this city made it a good place at which to proclaim the Gospel?
- Read verses 13-15. What was Paul’s strategy for beginning this mission effort? As Paul and Silas shared the Gospel with the women at the river who was intrigued by the message? What details are we given about her personal life? According to the last part of verse 15, how is God at work here? Read the following passages: John 6:44; Philippians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:23. What do they say about how a person comes to faith in Christ? After hearing the Gospel, what did Lydia have a desire for (vs. 15)? What did her thankful heart then lead her to do?
- Read verses 16-18. What do we learn about this female servant? What did she do to Paul and Silas? Does it surprise you that demons sometimes responded in this way? Read Matthew 8:28-34. How did Jesus deal with a similar situation? Read James 2:19. What insight does James give us? How did Paul respond to the slave girl?
- Read verses 19-34. How did the slave girl’s owners react? What good ultimately came from their actions? Read Romans 8:28. What truth had God taught Paul?
“The Spiritual Bond Between Those In Heaven & On Earth” October 31– November 3
NOTE: The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church Triumphant”), and the living (the “Church Militant”). In the sermon for Thursday & Saturday, we will explore what the Bible says about this relationship.” Sunday morning will be “Teen Challenge” Sunday which will focus on God’s healing for those with addictions.
- Read Matthew 6:10. We know these words as the 2nd & 3rd petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. What did Jesus teach us to pray in these petitions?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11. What is the passionate goal that God has for every- one’s life (vs. 9)? According to vs. 10, when do believers live with God– just in heaven, or in this life too? Read John 6:47. When did Jesus say that believers have Eternal Life (note the present tense)?
- Read Romans 14:7. How did St. Paul describe the Kingdom of God as it relates to Christians living in this world? Read Philippians 3:20. What does he say about our citizenship?
- Read Revelation 11:15-18. When does the believer’s experience of the Kingdom change? Read John 11:17-27. Why does Jesus say that those who believe in Him will never die?
- Read Revelation 7:9-17. How does John describe the heavenly experience of God’s Kingdom?
- After reading these scriptures, what is the one thing that bonds believers in heaven and on earth together?
“The Message: Christ Alone” October 21-27
Read Acts 15:1-35
- Read Acts 15:1-5. As the preaching of the Gospel began to expand out from Israel, many non-Jewish people (Gentiles) were coming to faith in Christ Jesus. This created a doctrinal crisis for the Church. What was the issue? What action did the Gentile church, under the direction of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas, decide to take to resolve the problem.
- Read verses 6-11. As the Apostles and other spiritual leaders debated the issue, what truth (vss. 9, 11) became central to the discussion?
- Read verse 12. What contribution did Paul and Barnabas add to the discussion?
- Read verses 13-21. What was the decision of the Council that was led by James?
- Read verses 28-29. How did the Council understand God’s involvement in leading them to their decision?
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. How does Paul say that we are saved? What is the role of our good works? With this in mind, why did the Council give the Gentiles directions on what they were to do? Read James 1:22-25 for further insight.