Church and Religion
A Tale of Three Angels Acts 12 Summary: Today I want you to imagine being in prison like Peter, and being met in the night and rescued by one of Godís mighty angels. What a night that must have been! Peter was in prison for preaching about Jesus, but God cannot be stopped! Letís listen to this powerful story and see why Godís power is still unstoppable today. Outline 1. The angel of mercy 2. The unexpected angel 3. The angel of death Verse: Psalm 34:7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Discussion questions: 1. Peter was delivered from death at the eleventh hour. How could that powerful rescue from God encourage you today? 2. Why do you think the disciples were so surprised to see Peter? How might we pray for things and then be shocked when God answers? 3. The deliverance of Peter and the judgment upon Herod are both powerful testimonies to Godís unstoppable purpose and care for His church. Where do you see the evidence of that today in the church? In your own life?
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Gladness and Grace in Godís Global Work Acts 11:19-30 Summary: Today we get to hear more in Acts about the Gospel coming to new cities, this time a place called Antioch. Weíll see a faithful God saving people, and sending servants like Barnabas and Saul to teach them. This is the first city where believers in Jesus were called Christians! Letís listen in and hear about Godís great work: Outline: 1. A faithful God 2. A faithful servant 3. A faithful people Verse: Acts 11:26b ...For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. Discussion questions: 1. How is Godís faithful hand at work in different ways in this passage? How did God bring the Gospel to them? How do you see him at work in our city? 2. How does Luke describe Barnabas? How did God use him in Antioch? Why might this be significant for us? 3. How did the Gospel shape these new Christians in Antioch? What are the effects of Jesusí work in them?
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Jesus Is Born
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Do Not Stand in Godís Way! Acts 11:1-18 Summary: Today we learn how Godís free grace in salvation should change us. His grace saves, His grace brings people together, and His grace should make us praise Him. Today, listen to how God gives His grace to people from all different cultures: Outline: 1. Godís free grace among the nations should break down barriers between people 2. Godís free grace among the nations should fuel our worship Verse: Acts 13:47 ...I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Discussion questions: 1. How do you see God moving in the world today? How might you be tempted to be critical or make judgments about other groups who are sharing the Gospel? What dangers should we guard against here? 2. How was God breaking down barriers between people in this passage? What might it have been like for new Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians to develop fellowship in those early days? How might we also encounter similar struggles or joys today? 3. How should this account lead us to understand the free grace of the Gospel better? (see esp vv 17-18) How should it shape our worship?
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Acts 10 God Shows No PartialityÖand Neither Should We (AKA Bacon Sandwiches and Global Fellowship... :) Summary: Have you ever been tempted to avoid someone just because they were so different from you? Sometimes it is hard to be friends with people who come from a different culture or background. But we have to be careful not to look down on someone else just because they are not like us. Today we will see how Jesusí perfect sacrifice breaks down all the barriers between people and creates one Body in Him. Listen today to the story of Cornelius, an unlikely person whom God saved by His grace: Outline: 1. Examine your heart: Do not call common what God has made clean 2. Prepare to GO: God is drawing people to Himself from the nations 3. Believe in Jesus: He is the true cleansing for ALL people 4. Rejoice at Godís work: The Holy Spirit makes us one body Verse: Acts 10:43b
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Acts 9:19-31 Counting the Cost in a New Life Summary: Have you ever started something new? A new school, a new neighborhood, or a new city? Every time we start over or start something new, it comes with new fears and struggles, but also new joys and adventures. Saul (Paul) in Acts 9 begins a whole new life as a Christian. For him all the zeal to punish Christians becomes zeal to tell people about Jesus and His Gospel! But it also comes with new struggles. Letís think about how our life as Christians is like this: Outline: 1. The new life brings a new calling 2. The new life brings new suffering 3. The new life brings a new family Verse: 2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecutedÖ Discussion Questions: 1. How does Saulís life radically change after the Damascus road experience? How would you describe his new calling? What is the calling you have as a Christian and how is it similar or different? 2. How did Saul suffer in these early days as a Christian? How can you be prepared to suffer for Christ in our day? Where have you experienced it? How has the prospect of suffering for Christ affected your actions as a Christian? 3. How does Saul press in to be part of the family of God in his first days as Christian? Are you seeking to ďlive in communityĒ at NCPC? Why or why not?
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Acts 9:1-19 Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners Summary: Do you know and pray for someone who is not a Christian? Do you ever wonder if God will ever break through and save them? Many people might have doubted that the Apostle Paul would ever come to faith in Jesus. But Godís sovereign grace and power can break through to reach anyone! Today we get to see Jesus powerfully meet Saul (Paul) with His grace. And it shows us that no one is beyond Godís power to save! Outline: 1. Radical rebellion 2. Sovereign grace 3. Total transformation Verse: 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Discussion questions: 1. How would you describe Paul before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus? How would you describe your own life before Christ? 2. How does God break through to bring Paul to himself? Though we might not be struck blind and hear Jesus audibly, how does this passage help us understand Godís sovereign grace in salvation? How did he meet you? 3. Who is in your life that God has not yet saved? Have you possibly lost hope that God would reach them? How can this passage give you hope? How can you begin or renew pray for the lost in your life?
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Acts 8:26-40 The Good News About Jesus Summary: Today, take a look around at church and see all there people from different backgrounds and cultures. Everyone has a unique story. It is beautiful to see God drawing people to Himself from many backgrounds! Today letís listen to Acts 8 as Philip brings the Good News about Jesus to a new culture - a man from Ethiopia. God can also use you to tell people about Jesus! Outline: 1. When sharing the Gospel, follow Godís call to the nations 2. When sharing the Gospel, look for Jesus in every part of the Bible 3. When sharing the Gospel, give the good news of Jesusí death and resurrection Verse: Acts 8:32 Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. Discussion Questions: 1. What does this passage show us about Godís heart for the nations? For those who may feel like they are too far from God to receive grace? Do you feel that way, or do you know someone who feels that way? 2. How should Philipís use of the Scriptures show us how to read the Bible in a Christ centered way? What does Isaiah 53 shows us about Christ that is so crucial to sharing the Gospel? 3. Who can you begin to pray for and seek to share the Gospel with this week? How can this passage guide your evangelism? Consider sharing this with your group to pray and hold you accountable.
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Acts 8:5-25 You Canít Buy Godís Power Summary: Have you ever wanted to be popular or liked by others? Has it ever led you to do something you should not? Today we learn about a man in the Bible named Simon who loved the praise of people. He did magic and people were amazed by him. But when real power from God was shown through a man named Philip, it revealed Simonís heart- he wanted the praise of people more than he wanted Jesus! Letís think about it more: Outline: 1. Stand in awe of God and His power 2. Beware of the temptation to use God to pursue our own greatness 3. Attempt great things for God, to bring glory to God Verse: Psalm 62:11-12a 11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. Discussion Questions: 1. How was Simon tempted to buy Godís power? What did that reveal about his spiritual condition? How might we be tempted to control or manipulate God for our own benefit? 2. How was Simon corrupted by a pursuit of power? What might the desire for power, greatness or influence be dangerous for you? 3. How we might be amazed and taken in by supernatural experience more than amazed by Jesus and the glory of His grace?
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Dying to the Glory of God Acts 7:54-8:4 Summary: Today we see the death of a goodly man, Stephen in the book of Acts. Last week there were two funerals in our church. Whenever someone dies, it should remind us that for Christians death not to be feared. It is a doorway we walk through to be with Jesus! Stephen knew this in his life and it gave him courage in his death. How can that future give you courage today? Outline: 1. For the Christian, death is a window to see Jesus 2. For the Christian, death is a doorway to join Jesus 3. For the Christian death can be a mirror to reflect Jesus 4. For God, terrible evil can be turned to a greater purpose Verse: Acts 7:56 And he said, ďBehold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.Ē Discussion questions: 1. Read Acts 7:54-8:4. What do you see about Godís enemies vs. Stephen? How does their rage compare with Stephenís character? 2. Why is it significant that heaven opens and Stephen sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God? Why might God have done this? Why is it signifiant that Jesus is standing? 3. How can this passage help you as you consider death? As you think about facing persecution int this world? How might it encourage you to know that Jesus stands ready to vindicate and receive his saints at their death? How does this knowledge help Stephen in the very end? (See verse 60). What might that look like in your life?
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Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Sermon Title: God of all comfort Summary: Suffering is never fun. Whether we are suffering because we are sick or because something bad has happened to us, we donít like to go through suffering. Many times when we suffer we can question whether or not God cares for us. But what God wants us to know and to experience is the comfort of Christ who was a man of suffering. Listen this week as God tells you He loves you and is with you to give you comfort in your suffering. Outline: 1. God cares for you in your suffering 2. God has a purpose for your suffering 3. God is reliable in your suffering Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 1:7 (ESV) Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. Questions 1. What sort of suffering typically causes you to despair and doubt Godís goodness toward you? Why? 2. How are you tempted to trust in yourself to figure your way out of the suffering instead of turning to Christ? 3. What are some ways Christ has met you with comfort in the middle of your suffering? How can you help point other people to Christ in the middle of their suffering?
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God Rescues His People -- Acts 7:1-53 Summary: Today we look again at a man named Stephen, whom God used as a preacher and a witness for Jesus and His Gospel. We will see Stephen on trial, speaking before the Jewish rulers. He boldly speaks about Godís truth to them, and in the end they kill him for it! But God cares for His servants, even in times like this. Letís listen in: Outline: 1. The warning: Donít resist Godís prophets 2. The encouragement: Return to God and He will always forgive Verse: 1 Kings 8:27 ďBut will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You...
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Acts 6:8-15 Full of Grace and Power Summary: Today in our sermon we get to see Stephen, one of Godís servants who was used to preach the Gospel body, and in the end was put to death for his faith. Stephenís life reminds us that God will always care for his people, even in their darkest moments and trials! 1. Stephen was full of grace, power, wisdom and the Holy Spirit 2. Godís enemies rage and plot to stop Godís plan 3. God shines on His children and defends their cause Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
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Acts 6:1-7 Spirit Empowered Servants Summary: There are times when we see people in need of some of the things we take for granted, like food, clothing and a home. Something much like this happened in the days of the Apostles. Many widows (women whose husbands had died) were going hungry daily. What did the church do? They choose faithful men to serve and meet this need, much like our own deacons do today. As we care for those in need, we get to show the love of Jesus to people! How can you show love and mercy like Jesus? Letís think about it: Outline: 1. The struggle: the Body of Christ finds people not receiving care 2. The solution: the Body of Christ chooses servants of mercy 3. The success: The Body of Christ shows Godís mercy to the World Verse: Psalm 146:9 The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. Discussion questions: Consider this description of Jesus: ďJesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the peopleÖĒ (Luke 24:19). What does this tell us about the fullness of Jesusí ministry? How should that be reflected in the churchís ministry? Where are you seeking to meet needs and dispense mercy today? Where can you begin this week? Make a plan Ė perhaps a plan that involves your whole family.
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Acts 4:17-42 Worthy to Suffer Dishonor For the Name Summary: There are people in the world today who suffer greatly for their faith and love for Jesus. Godís people have always experienced some form of dishonor and rejection from the rest of the world - Jesus told us to expect it if we belong to Him! Today in Acts we will see this happening to the church, and yet they are not discouraged by it! They rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus! How can this be? Letís think about it more, and hopefully get a glimpse into the joy of knowing Jesus more: Outline: When we suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus, we should ask: 1. What shall we say? 2. Whom should we obey? 3. Where is our joy? Verse: Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Discussion Questions: 1. How is the church suffering here in Acts? How is it happening today in the world? In your own life? 2. What is Peterís sermon all about in this moment? Why is he always preaching this similar sermon? How can this help you when you face dishonor for Christ? 3. Are there any places in your life where you ďmust obey God rather than men?Ē How do you know when it is right to disobey the rulers over you? 4. Why are they rejoicing to be counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus? Why would that be a cause for joy for them, or for you?
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Acts 5:12-16 A Community of Power Summary: Todayís Bible passage from Acts is all about POWER. We use and need power all the time. But the power here in Acts is all about the power of GOD at work, Godís spiritual power to heal and save and strengthen His church. During these days God was doing powerful acts of healing and saving as part of growing His church. What does Godís power look like today in the church? Letís listen and find out: Outline: 1. The power of God to heal 2. The power of God to save 3. The power of God in persecution Verse: Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes... Discussion Questions: 1. What is the purpose of al the signs and wonders happening here in Acts? Should we expect God to work in the same way today? Why or why not? 2. What were the various responses to the power of God at work in this passage? How do you see those same responses today? Who is in your life who needs to hear the Gospel? 3. Why is it so tempting for us to backdown in the face of persecution? How does this passage give us confidence in our witness?
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Text: 2 Cor. 3 Title: Unveiled Faces 1. The Veil that Separated 2. The Veil was Lifted 3. Beholding God with Unveiled Faces 4. Living life with Freedom Questions How does the New Covenant surpass the Old Covenant? (Compare and Contrast them using the Apostle Paulís terms.) How do you still live like there is a veil that separates you from God? What things need to change in your life to allow you to live in freedom before God? To live generously with the Church and Others? To build humility into your life? To endure through suffering? Kids Bulletin Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see God? I think it would be one of the coolest things that could ever happen. In the Old Testament Moses got so see God, and his face glowed. It scared the people of Israel because they saw a reflection of the holiness of God. So, they told him to put a veil over his face because they saw the glory of God. When Jesus came he removed that veil from everyone who believes so that they can behold the glory of God. This Sunday, we are going to talk about how this changes everything! Memory Verse: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)
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1 Kings 19:1-18 Title:
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God's children will receive eternal rewards. James 5 tells us what we should do to prepare for Jesus to return.
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Acts 5:1-11 You Donít Need to Pretend Summary: Sometimes it is fun to pretend. Some of our favorite games are the ones where we imagine we are someone else! Today in Acts 5 we will see two people who pretend, but it is not a game. Sadly Ananias and Sapphira lie to God and the apostles and pretend they are being more generous than they really are. The punishment is swift. But today we can know that the Gospel of Jesus frees our hearts from having to pretend! We cannot hide from God, and donít need to. God can set us free from our pride and greed and free us up to be truly generous. Letís think about it: Outline: 1. The danger: It is possible to pretendÖfor a time 2. The awesome truth: You cannot hide from God 3. The Gospel: Jesus can set you free from from hypocrisy and greed Verse: Luke 12:15 And he said to them, ďTake care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for oneís life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.Ē Discussion Questions: Spend a few minutes contrasting Barnabas with Ananias and Sapphira. What differences do you see? What hinders your own generosity the most? What fuels the generosity of the church in this account? (See especially 4:33) How can this help you? Make concrete plans to stir up your own and/or your family's generosity in 2017. ďIs your confidence in Godís grace mingled with a healthy fear of His holiness? Have the twin truths that he searches hearts and forgives the guilty set you free to drop the masks by which you have tried to enhance your image?Ē (Dennis Johnson, Let's Study Acts).
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