Discussion Guide: The Best Is Yet To Come Week 14

PRAYER

Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.

Today’s Discussion

This week we continue our series titled “The Best Is Yet To Come.” We will be walking through the book of Acts and looking at who Jesus has called us to be and what Jesus has called us to do in light of all that He has already done. As we study the descriptive history of the early church our hope is that these truths will move in our hearts to become a prescriptive call to go into all the world and be witnesses for Christ.

Discussion Questions

What is the most loving thing someone has ever done for you?

What is the most loving thing you have ever done for someone?

Philippians 16:13-15

On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer and spoke to the women who had come together.  One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods.  The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.  And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.”  And she prevailed upon us.

When Paul arrived in Philippi, it was a group of women God opened the door of the Gospel to. One woman in particular, Lydia, then welcomed Paul and his team into her home to provide rest and hospitality. This home would soon become the launching point of the Philippian church.

Has God ever used someone you least expected to impact your life for His glory?

Why do you suppose God uses the most unlikely of people to accomplish His will in the world, and in our own lives?

Leader Notes

1 Corinthians 1:27-28 tells us that God chooses the foolish and weak things of the world to shame the wise and strong. In other words, God does things in such a way that it shows the systems and powers of the world that His way is higher than our ways, His Kingdom is not like any kingdom of this world. God wants the world to know that His is a different kind of Kingdom all together. It’s a Kingdom founded on love, mercy, and grace, not on power, control or intellect. When God uses the kind of people no one else would have chosen to use in order to accomplish His will then He is serving notice to the powers and principalities that His Kingdom is unshakeable and His glory stands above it all.

Why do you think Lydia wanted Paul and Silas to come to her home?

Why do you think Paul & Silas went back to Lydia’s home after they had been set free from the prison?

When it comes to relationships, what does a home offer that a church building does not?

Acts 16:16-24

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling…Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”  And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.  When they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.  He put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Paul & Silas go about the streets of Philippi doing good and even delivering this slave girl from demonic possession and oppression. As a result of their service they are thrown into a dank and dark Roman prison.

Why do you think the systems and powers of our world stand against the Truth of the Gospel?

 

Leader Notes

The powers that be in our world are founded on strength, intellect, appearance, surface looks. They operate based on conditions, a tit-for-tat kind of system. It is all a power grab. Yet, the Gospel steps in and says that the greatest power in the Universe is founded on unconditional love, freedom, justice, equality and grace. This Gospel flies in the face of how the systems of the world function and in doing so it threatens those in positions of power and control because it promises a freedom that cannot be threatened or taken away. It is like pulling back the curtain an realizing the Great and Powerful Oz is just an insecure old man pulling some levers and pushing some buttons. The powers of this world are disarmed in light of the Gospel. Their threats lose intimidation. Their promises lose influence. And no one who is hungry for power and control likes it when that power and control is stripped from them, and that is precisely what the Gospel does.

Why do you think it is such a hard pill to swallow when we see bad things happening to people we consider to be good people?

 

Leader Notes

It’s hard to swallow because we operate from a mindset of fairness. From the time we are children we are told that things should be fair. Everyone should get a reward for their good work or a consequence for their bad work. And of course, in our day and age, everyone does good work and therefore deserves a good reward. So, when we see someone we deem as good and worthy of a reward, instead end up suffering unjustly it violates our sense of right and wrong and we just have a hard time reconciling how a God who is supposed to be good (i.e. fair) could allow such hardship to fall on one of the good people. The fundamental error in this thinking, however, is we base a person’s goodness on how we feel they compare to our own righteousness rather than God’s righteousness. If we see someone who we personally judge to be better than us, or even just slightly not as good as us, then we judge that they are a good person and therefore deserve good things to happen. If someone is not as good as us then by definition we must judge them as bad in order to maintain our status of good and therefore they deserve consequences. But, if we were to judge ourselves, and everyone else, in light of God’s perfect righteousness then we would rightly see as the Apostle Paul saw, “there is no one who is good, no not one person. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

How did Paul & Silas respond to their predicament? 

How does their response differ from the way you would have responded?

What do you think was the motivation behind their response?

Acts 16:25-31

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  Immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.  When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”  Trembling with fear the jailer fell down before Paul and Silas.  “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Why do you suppose none of the prisoners ran out of that prison?

What could possibly motivate these prisoners to show such compassion and concern towards the one who had kept them in chains?

Why did such compassion and concern move this jailer to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”

Knowing how this story ends, does it change the perception to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” If so, how?

Closing Thought

Having looked at the birth of the church in Philippi, what thoughts do you have in regards to who and what God is calling this community group to be and do?


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