i promise

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, May, 27. This guide will enable your follow-up of that morning’s sermon from Acts 2. You’ll find LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title “LIFE group guides.”

Aim

To celebrate our promise-making and promise-keeping God, who calls us to do the same with him.

Word

When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. …

Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! … this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel …

“Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this. In accordance with God’s established plan and foreknowledge, he was betrayed. You, with the help of wicked men, had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. God raised him up! God freed him from death’s dreadful grip, since it was impossible for death to hang on to him. …

“… Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact. He was exalted to God’s right side and received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit, and you are seeing and hearing the results of his having done so. …

“Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” (Acts 2.1-4,14-16, 22-24,32-33,36-39 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of some great day in your life that you had looked forward to for a very long time.

2. Tell us about some almost unbelievable event in your life that took you completely by surprise.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Read an OT account of the source of the annual feast known as Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) (cf. Deut. 16.9-12; Acts 2.1). In time, what did it come commemorate to the Jewish people?

2. Concerning the events of Christ’s passion, what did God do and what did people do (vs. 23-24)?

3. The Spirit is being poured out on people. Who is doing the pouring (vs. 32-33) and what does this say to you about the one doing the pouring (vs. 24,36)?

4. What are the commands in vs. 38? What are the promises in vs. 38? Who are they for (vs. 39)?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What in this passage pierces, and bring conviction to, your heart? What encourages your heart?

2. How does making of promises in community, in others’ presence, affect your promise-keeping?

3. What sort of positive changes have you made in your life because you became a Christian?

4. How often does the fact that you’ve promised yourself to God, as a Christian, affect your actions?

5. Can you discern any pattern to what makes for your keeping or breaking promises? Explain.

6. How do you see the promises of this text affecting the way you’ll live before God this week?

this went thru my mind

 

Aging & spiritual maturity: Moving in to Elderhood by Brian Mashburn

“… should there not be another growing up? Should there not be a move from adulthood to, let’s say, elderhood?”

Archaeology: * Ancient Shard Offers Archaeology’s First Mention of Bethlehem; * A New Seal that Does Not Refer to Bethlehem

* “Archaeologist Eli Shukron said the inscription was significant for being the first archaeological evidence that Bethlehem existed as a city at that time, generally referred to by biblical archaeologists as the First Temple period.”

* “… it seems that we have an Israeli archaeologist jumping to inordinate conclusions that simply do not reflect the actual evidence …”

Backsliding: How to Backslide in 9 Easy Steps by Tim Challies

“… I’ve now drawn from Pilgrim’s Progress instruction on the how. In each case I’ve given my short summary followed by Bunyan’s own words. Here is how to backslide in nine easy steps …”

Bible interpretation: One Verse Heresies

“… the fountainhead of all false biblical interpretation and of all heresy is invariably the isolation and the absolutising of one single passage.” [Oscar Cullmann]

Christianity, nationalism, and war: * Christianity, nationalism and violence (part 1 & 2); * War and the American Difference by Stanley Hauerwas

* “… how captive is the American church to the idolatry of nationalism (where religion serves the nation as a chaplain to the tribe rather than offering prophetic critique)?”

* “… calling on all Christians to view violence as a morally illegitimate option for a disciple of Jesus, the Prince of Peace rather than swallowing the myth that violence can be a redemptive good.”

* “If I am close to being right about the place of war for sustaining the American difference I find that as a Christian I wish America as a nation was more “secular” and the Christianity of America was less American.”

Church: Why I Stay in Church by Sean Palmer

“This is why I stay.”

Ephesians 5 & family: Gordon Fee on Ephesians 5:18-33 [12:25 min. video]

“… excellent study by Gordon Fee about the cultural background and context of the “household” teachings of Ephesians 5:18-33.”

Facebook & marriage: * Does Facebook Wreck Marriages? by Quentin Fottrell; *Can Facebook Cause Marriage Problems by Trey Morgan

* “More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook …”

* “Maybe you need a refresher on a few guidelines for married couples. I’ll call them the ’10 Commandments for Facebook and Marriage.’”

Leadership & stress: Stop Stressing by Tim Spivey

“The position that is most dangerous to a leader’s health is what I call the “togetherness position,” in which the leader feels responsible for keeping a system together. … Church leaders often live in the ‘togetherness’ position.”

Ministry: So You’re a Minister … Leaves from a Journal Spanning 20 Years by Bobby Valentine

“What the minister needs to do is develop not so much as a philosophy of ministry as he needs to develop a theological understanding of who he is and what God has called him to do within the body.”

Mission statements: The 140-Character Mission Statement by Michael Hyatt

“… defining the mission statement for your business (or your business idea) in 140 characters or less.”

Parenting: * How To Raise Justice-Minded Kids by Joshua Becker; * Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence by Walter Wink

* “Our choices steer our childrens’ lives. How then do we guide them towards a concern for others and a desire for justice in our world? How do we raise children to stand up against unfair practices, give to those in need, speak for the voiceless, defend the innocent, and not blame the victim?”

* “Once children have been indoctrinated into the expectations of a dominator society, they may never outgrow the need to locate all evil outside themselves. Even as adults they tend to scapegoat others for all that is wrong in the world. They continue to depend on group identification and the upholding of social norms for a sense of well-being. In a period when attendance at Christian Sunday schools is dwindling, the myth of redemptive violence has won children’s voluntary acquiescence to a regimen of indoctrination more extensive and effective than any in the history of religion.”

Politics: Was Jesus Political?

“Was Jesus political? Yes, according to N. T. Wright, ‘he was anything but apolitical.’ Excerpts from his book, Simply Jesus follows …”

Poverty: * Lipscomb on the Poor VII; * Churches and Poverty by Larry James

* “The poor fail to attend religious worship, especially in the cities, not because they are less disposed to be religious than the rich, but because the pomp, dress, parade, equipages and style of these services declare plainly to them, they are not for you. The spirit of the church must be changed–radically changed in this respect, before it can be truly the Church of Christ. The thousands of the poor in the cities and in the country, must be sought out –preached to–must have congregations whose dress, style, manners and associations will draw them, rather than repel them from them, and these congregations, so conforming themselves to the true spirit of the Gospel, and adapting their habits to the necessities of the poor, will alone constitute the Church of Christ.”

* “… what can churches do to enter the battle, the war on poverty? Here are a few beginning ideas/suggestions …”

Universal reconciliation: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation by Richard Beck

“… Protestants are more interested in being saved than in being good. The results of this emphasis, if you look around, are pretty obvious.”