Today’s Scripture Focus: Acts 14:21-28
Our scripture focus this week is from the book of Acts. We have been using The Books of the Bible: New Testament to read through the entire New Testament during Lent. Let’s share some information on Acts from this book:
“The second volume, the book of Acts, has six parts. Each one describes a successive phase in the expansion of the community of Jesus-followers outward from Jerusalem. The divisions between them are marked by variations on the phrase, The word of God continued to spread and flourish.
: In the first phase, the community is established in Jerusalem and becomes Greek-speaking, enabling it to spread its message throughout the empire.
: In the second phase, the community expands into the rest of Palestine.
: In the third phase, Gentiles are included in the community along with Jews.
: In the fourth part, the community intentionally sends messengers westward into the populous Roman province of Asia.
: In the fifth phase, these messengers enter Europe.
: In the final phase, the community reaches all the way to the capital of Rome and into the highest levels of society. God’s invitation is thus extended to all nations”
Acts 14 takes place in that fourth phase. Paul and Barnabas had been set apart as missionaries by the church in Antioch, and were sent into what we would now call Turkey. In each city where they ministered, they would preach to the Jews, persuading some, until their message was rejected, then they would preach in the marketplace. In Lystra, a man who had never walked in his life was listening to them preach when Paul, looking at him, got “in the Spirit” and commanded in a loud voice for him to stand. The man not only stood but jumped and walked! This is the first healing done by Paul in scripture. This caused quite a stir in the city, and eventually attracted the attention of religious authorities who turned the crowed. Paul was stoned and left for dead.
However, Paul was able to get up and continue his ministry. He and Barnanbas then returned to each city where they had preached in order to organize the churches there. They did this by encouraging the new believers to remain faithful, appointing “elders”, or leaders to oversee the work in each church, praying and fasting for these leaders, then finally reporting the new works to the sending church. Humans have used many methods to attempt to grow churches through the ages, but twenty centuries later, the Acts 14 model of growing God’s kingdom is still works best.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask the discussion questions below*. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
* Have you ever fasted? Why did you fast, and what was the experience like?
* Why is it important to pray before making decisions and choosing leaders in a church?
* As you read the Bible this week, what is something you noticed for the first time?
* What questions did you have?
* Was there anything that bothered you?
* What did you learn about loving God?
* What did you learn about loving others?
- How can we pray for you this week?